The 2021 First Chapters Writing Contest
Are you ready to put your novel to the test?
With NaNoWriMo officially behind us, I imagine many of you have a newly minted first draft sitting on your desk—meaning now, it’s time to figure out what comes next. Perhaps you still have a few thousand words to write, or maybe you’re ready to begin revisions, hunt for critique partners, or even enlist the help of a professional editor.
However, no matter what your next steps are, there’s one option I think you should consider—and that is entering a contest! Specifically, the 2021 First Chapters Writing Contest.
This writing contest has received a major overhaul since this article was published. You can find the updated contest page, as well as a record of past winners, here.
What is the First Chapters Writing Contest?
When many people think of writing contests, they imagine huge ordeals that require weeks of work and a finished novel to even consider submitting to. Of course, editing a novel is a big task, so unless you’ve already made considerable progress, it’s easy to let these competitions pass you by—you simply don’t have to time to enter.
Fortunately, we do things a bit differently for the First Chapters Writing Contest!
Rather than having you submit your entire draft, all you need is a well-written first chapter to enter the contest. That makes this an awesome opportunity for writers of all skill levels to get in-depth feedback on their stories. Since you’re only submitting your first chapter, you should have plenty of time to polish it over the next few weeks in order to put your best foot forward.
This is also a great way to prove you’re taking your writing seriously—both to yourself and others. Even though NaNoWriMo is over, that doesn’t mean your writing should end up on the back burner!
By entering the contest, you might win:
- 1st and 2nd Place: A critique of your submission and an hour long story consultation to discussion your next steps.
How to Enter the Contest
To enter the First Chapters Writing Contest, you’ll need to complete a few steps. Luckily, none of these should take more than a few minutes:
- Fill out this short survey to submit your entry (up to 5,000 words) as either a PDF or .docx file.
- Make sure your submission is free of major errors and is in a standard, 12 point font.
- No gore, horror, or erotica submissions (these will automatically be disqualified).
- Submissions will remain open until December 19th.
- The winners will be announced on the blog on December 21st.
If you’re ready to submit you entry right away, great! However, I do recommend polishing your first chapter before entering it into the contest. This will maximize your chances of winning.
I’ll be looking for these traits in the winning submissions:
- Entries should be thoroughly proofread, with no major grammatical or spelling errors.
- They should have an intriguing hook that encourages readers to want more.
- You should include a strong premise with your submission.
- Entries must follow ALL contest guidelines—failure to do so will result in disqualification.
Need help sprucing up your first chapter? Here are some articles that can help:
- Proofreading Your Novel: 8 Ways to Edit Your Final Draft
- The Secret to Writing a Page-Turning Novel
- The 10 Steps of Editing a Novel
- How to Perfect the Opening Line of Your Novel
- The Two Types of Conflict Every Novel Needs
- The Story Structure Series Pt.1: Act 1 and the Hook
Rules of the 2021 First Chapters Writing Contest
With that said, as with any contest, there are some rules to follow. A few of these are legally required, but most are simply there to ensure the contest runs smoothly and fairly for everyone.
Before submitting your entry, take a moment to look through
the 2021 contest rules here.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below or contact me via email. I’m excited to receive your entries and read all the amazing stories you’ve written. 🙂