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FAQ

General:

Is Seattle Writing Contest actually based in Seattle?

Yes, we are based in Seattle and hire locally.

Are you run by the city of Seattle?

No, although we do have deep ties to the community, we are a private organization independent of control by the city of Seattle.

What is your goal specifically?

We want our competition winners to be the next big thing. We hope to connect talented, passionate writers with key members of the literary industry.

Why do you care for the success of your competition winners?

Mainly because success for our writers, our judges, and the submissions of work themselves, means success for us. Each body of work goes through a long journey and Seattle Writing Contest takes pride in our contribution to the final product.

How can I become a judge?

The finalist judges of Seattle Writing Contest are selected by invite only. Unfortunately, there is no formal method in which you could apply for consideration. We do accept, however, applications for screen readers.

Why do you charge an entry fee?

The fee helps to ensure that each submission is given enough time to be read critically, thoroughly, and by as many screen readers as possible. Additionally, we must facilitate contact with various literary professionals and firms, whose attention we see as the real prize.

Competitions:

Do you have a submission per person limit?

No, as long as each submission has a full entry fee, we do not restrict the number of submissions per person.

What are the different competitions you host?

  • Poetry Competition, twice yearly
  • Short Story Competition, twice yearly
  • Long Fiction Competition, annually

When are these competitions held?

  • The poetry competition deadlines are June 15th, and December 15th of every year.
  • The short story competition deadlines are March 15th and September 15th of every year.
  • The long fiction competition deadline is December 15th of every year, just like the December poetry competition.

Do you have specific format restrictions for the competitions?

  • Our Poetry Competition has a length restriction of 33 lines.
  • The Short Story Competition has a 3 page or 1500 words length restriction.
  • The Long Fiction Competition has a length restriction of up to the first 30 pages.
  • None of the competitions have minimum lengths
  • Try to keep your font selection to something legible, and your font size to at least 11.
  • There are no genre restrictions for any contest.

What if my work does not fit under any of the said competition categories or formats?

We are working toward releasing new competition formats in the near future. Unfortunately, we do not have a time frame on this yet, but we do recommend trying to size down your work in the meantime. As Shakespeare once put it, “…brevity is the soul of wit.”

What if I miss the competition deadline?

Turn in your submission to the next competition. The next contest should always be available.

Why do I have to wait to hear back on the results?

The deliberation period for the Poetry Competition is 45 days, 60 days for the Short Story Competition, and 75 for the Long Fiction. During this period of time we are reading each submission multiple times. The finalist submissions are then sent to our judges who must give consent to language which protects each submission from unauthorized publication or plagiarism, at which point we can finally receive notice on who the winners are.

Screening/Judging:

How can I pass the screening process and become a finalist?

Simply put, take care in not only what you are writing, but how you are writing it. This means that while the creativity or originality of your work is important, it is only as good as the writing technique itself.

Make sure that your work is error-free, grammatically sound, and covers well the basic literary elements of plot, characters, dialogue… etc…. Also keep in mind the 5 questions, “Quis, quid, quando, ubi, cur“, or, “who, what, where, when, and why”?

Finally, go beyond and find your own unique voice. Don’t be afraid to stick to the cookie cutter if that is where you find expressing yourself to be most natural. In contrast, withholding one, some, or even all of these elements can be accomplished; but it must achieve a higher insight or goal.

Skillful manipulation of these basic elements creates the endless variation on a timeless medium which keeps us enthralled, even though some scholars state that literature is just a history of repeated archetypes and re-purposed plot events!

How can I get a copy of the screening rubric?

We can’t spell out the ingredients of the secret sauce. Our screening rubric has been meticulously developed and is highly proprietary. The same rubric we use for our contests is used for our screen reading services.

Is there really no way I can become a judge?

We are highly selective with our invitations and do a lot of research into each invitee judge. We consider it a high honor to be invited, as it should be. Most invitees are trusted figures in the world of literature or otherwise.

Will you post the names/identities of your judges?

Along with the winners/finalists, the names of the invitee judges who agree to have their identities published will be found promptly after the conclusion of each contest in our Blog. Notification of results will also be sent via email to all entrants.

Are Judges/Staff of Seattle Writing Contest allowed to compete?

It should go without saying, but, no. All persons involved with the screening or judging the contest are barred contractually from entering the contests until and unless 6 full months have passed since they were in any way affiliated with the screening/judging process.

This affiliation includes any referred parties that are either part of the finalist judges or employed as a screening reader.

What if I disagree with the results?

Unfortunately, all decisions made are final and further correspondence will not be considered. Ultimately, we respect the decision of our finalist judges and urge all our entrants to do so as well. Their consensus represents what is most apt to be successful in the industry and may not necessarily represent any judge’s individual opinion.

Do you have any recommendations for prospective entrants?

  • Make sure you have enclosed the full entry amount if you are mailing in your submission.
  • Make sure that your font size is at least 11 and you have chosen an easily legible font.
  • Please double, triple, quadruple check for common errors in spelling or punctuation. These are often the easiest to fix without having to readjust the actual content.
  • Allow some time before re-reading your submission. 24 hours seems standard, but it’s different for every person. Allowing for some time to pass before you re-read your work allows for your eyes and mind to detach from the work, giving you fresh insights you might not have before.

Submissions:

Is there a difference in submitting online or by mail?

There is no difference in consideration between the two options. However, we always suggest online submission. The process is much more quick and simple. Incidentally, it also saves trees in the process.

What happens if I mail a check and it doesn’t clear?

Upon notification of the failed check, we will contact you at your listed contact information, asking if you would like to process the entry fee in a separate method. There is a fee incurred when a check does not clear, so make sure that all fund committed are available. The check bounce fee must be fully paid to re-gain entry, and will pursued if not resolved.

Any final tips to prospective submissions and entrants?

  • It’s not a race. Take your time, make sure that you have covered all the bases. Submitting is a simple process, but forgetting even one of the steps could cost you a lot of time and headaches.
  • We take plagiarism very seriously. Any submitted work that is found to be plagiarized on any level will immediately disqualify the submission. This policy is retroactive, meaning that it affects past winners and winning submissions.
  • Have fun! We appreciate the dark, tortured nature of the writers’ soul, but if you love what you do, it will show.
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