Archive for April 7th, 2014

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest: More Advice from the Judge

7 April 2014

You have a little more than three weeks to enter this year’s Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest sponsored by Winning Writers. The best story will receive $1,000, the best essay will receive $1,000, and we’ll award ten Honorable Mention prizes of $100 each. The winning entries will be published on our website. Submit entries by April 30.

Arthur Powers is the judge of this year’s contest. We are pleased to present his thoughts on essays. (We published Mr. Powers’ thoughts on fiction two weeks ago.)

I do not want to overly influence any writer—it is the individuality of your work that makes it interesting. But here are qualities I am looking for in essays:

  1. Have something to say.
  2. Say it in a way that makes readers see differently or understand differently—that provides a new angle or a new insight, without necessarily doing acrobatics to try to be different.
  3. Say it with style—a style that has texture, that readers can savor.
  4. Make it memorable—words, phrases, thoughts, images that will stay in readers’ minds for days—perhaps years—that will give them something to ponder.
  5. Develop it beautifully (whether the subject is beautiful or not)—with a quality that carries readers along with you, whether elegantly or on a bumpy (but meaningful) road.

May you break any of these guidelines? Of course. Surprises are always welcome. Write with your best craftsmanship—I look forward to reading your work.

The entry fee for this contest is $16. Each entry may contain up to 6,000 words. Entries may be published or unpublished. All themes and genres are welcome, and you may enter as many submissions as you like.

Submit online here