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Competitive Writing


Blogling has been a bit quiet as of late. Apparently, to be a children’s author, you actually have to write books, not just blogs. Blogling has been trying his hand at chapter books and novels, and has discovered these take considerably longer to write and edit than picture books, hence the lack of posts.


I’ve also taken the time to enter another competition or two. I’ve had some success in the last few years, making it onto some shortlists, although I haven’t been able to claim the top spot just yet. The trouble is, there are too many authors and not enough competitions. There are probably only about four or five picture book awards in the UK, so winning anything is really tough, especially as it’s so subjective.


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And this got me thinking. I enjoy my sport, although it’s fair to say my best years are behind me. However, even though my ability to compete is heading south at a rate of knots, there’s always some competition I can enter, even if it is Veteran Third Team Reserves, where a match is considered a success if an ambulance isn’t called.


Not so with writing. To win anything, you have to be the best out of hundreds or thousands of entrants, and there are rarely any meaningful rewards for finishing anywhere other than first. This seems unfair. We don’t expect a pub football team to compete against Manchester City; we give people a chance to be the best amongst their peers.


So, if anyone is thinking of running a writing competition, take a look at sport and make it a league. Everyone who wants to take part submits a story. These are ranked and everyone is put into an appropriate league of, perhaps, fifty authors. Each time there is a competition, you earn points depending on where you finish. The top five authors are promoted and the bottom five relegated, with prizes for finishing top of the league.


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This way, Colin the Crab gets a Colonoscopy would be able to compete on a level playing field, battling it out with My First Wart and Self Flagellation is Fun! to be the winner of Division 9 Under 5s Fiction (South East). Everyone has the chance to be a winner and the next level of success is always attainable. Agents would become more like football scouts, observing the lower leagues to spot rising stars, then promoting them to the professional ranks. With any luck, Saudi billionaires will start buying up authors, injecting obscene amounts of money into the leagues (which is fine with me!)


Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. Baby steps first. Although I think there could be some mileage in Fantasy Agents, where you assemble an ‘agency’ of writers and score points over the season…

Until that happens, best of luck to anyone entering a competition this summer and remember, if you don’t win, maybe you just need to be in a different league.


Is your writing more Premier League or Sunday League? Let us know in the comments.



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