Three Surefire Ways to Make Your Writing Come Alive
by L. Diane Parker
It's happened to all of us at some point. You work really
hard on a piece of writing, and yet, you know in your
heart, it lacks that special something. It's correct. It's
logical. But it's a little dull despite your best efforts
to breathe life into it. Whether it's a short story, a
chapter of your novel, an article, or a class assignment,
here are three ways to turn okay writing into sensational
1. Include some figurative language. Create a
simile or two, a metaphor, some imagery. Appeal to the
reader's senses, and weave a magic spell to captivate your
audience. Remember, whatever devices you choose need to be
handled with care and precision. Avoid clichés.
2. Watch your sentence variety. If your prose
sounds choppy, you may have too many short, simple sentences.
Try combining two or three. Use a semi colon if it suits
your purpose. Add a short, punchy sentence in just the
right place. It'll stop the reader. You will underscore
your point. If reading your piece out loud leaves you
breathless, you may have run on sentences. Divide and
3. Choose your words carefully. Bigger isn't
always better. Again, be precise. What exactly were you
trying to say in the first place? Reevaluate to see if you
have achieved your original purpose. And be vivid. Use
your thesaurus to get ideas.
Finally, when you think it's perfect, put your writing
aside -- for an hour, a day, a week. Return to it with a
fresh perspective. Give it one last polish, and you may
discover you've got a real gem. Be proud. You deserve it!
L. Diane Parker published her first poem at age twelve.
She has taught writing in the Parkway School District in
a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri for twenty years. Her
poems and essays have appeared in St. Louis area
publications, Washington University in St. Louis Magazine,
and Touchstone. She is a former fiction editor at River
Styx, a literary magazine. She is at work on a novel and
a collection of essays.
Always keep writing.
We cover elementary to college teens. Each week we
carry 12 or so opportunities for all ages. Read each
market closely. Some cover a wide range and others
address a very small age group. Always read the directions!
We need guest articles. Have you considered writing a
guest article for WritingKid? Are you a student, a parent,
a teacher? All are eligible. Just make sure the topic
touches upon writing and runs no more than 500-550 words.
Those under 16 receive the book of their choice. Those
over 16 receive $10-$20, depending on the quality of the
piece, the amount of editing required and the obvious
amount of research. Send any submissions to email@example.com and label it SUBMISSION TO
EARLHAM SCHOOL OF RELIGION ESSAY CONTEST http://esr.earlham.edu/events/50years/essay.html
NO ENTRY FEE
ESR is celebrating our 50th Anniversary in 2009-10! In honor
of this occasion, we are holding an essay contest. Essays
need to address the following question:
What message or gifts do Quakers offer today in answer to
the world's greatest needs?
Contest winners will be invited to attend ESR's 50th
Anniversary kick-off event on Saturday, September 26th
and read their entries. Their essays will also be printed
in a commemorative booklet, and excerpts may be printed in
Quaker publications. Essays will be read and judged by a
three-person panel. One essay will be chosen and given a
cash prize in each of the following categories:
Under age 19 - $300 cash prize
Age 19 and over - $700 cash prize
Essays for the under age 19 category cannot exceed 2,500
words, and essays for the age 19 and over category must be
a minimum of 5,000 words and not exceed 7,500 words.
Deadline May 31, 2009.
KIDS ARE AUTHORS http://www.scholastic.com/bookfairs/contest/kaa_about.asp
Kids Are Authors is an annual competition open to Grades
K-8 and is designed to encourage students to use their
reading, writing, and artistic skills to create their
own books. Under the guidance of a project coordinator,
children work in teams of three or more students to write
and illustrate their own book. The creative process of
working in teams helps provide a natural environment to
practice editing, teamwork, and the communication skills
necessary for future success. All students involved get a
sense of pride and accomplishment from submitting the team
project. Two Grand Prize winning books will be published in
each of these categories: Fiction and Nonfiction. The winning
books will be published by Scholastic and sold at Book Fairs
throughout the country. Deadline March 15, 2009.
Tikatok(TM) is where kids channel their imagination into stories,
and publish those stories into books for you to share and
treasure with friends and family. This is a place that
encourages kids to write and illustrate books that can then
be published and ordered. A do-it-yourself book program.
People can then buy the book online at the web site.
NATIONAL KIDS-IN-PRINT BOOK CONTEST FOR STUDENTS http://www.landmarkeditions.com/Scripts/contest.asp
$10 ENTRY FEE
A qualified panel of judges, composed of professional editors,
writers, illustrators, teachers, and librarians will judge the
book entries on the merits of originality and the writing and
illustrating skills displayed. Landmark House, Ltd. will then
publish the three winning students' books, one from each of
the three age categories. The books will be printed and
assembled according to the finest quality standards of book
publishing. What wonderful experiences await the three winners!
When their books are selected for publication, they will be
offered publishing contracts. They also will enjoy all-expense-
paid trips to our offices in Kansas City, Kansas, where
Landmark's professional staff will assist them in the editing,
refining, and final production of their books. Within months,
the winners will become published authors and illustrators and
will be paid royalties annually on the sales of their books.
Books by students may be entered in one of three age categories:
1) Ages 6 to 9
2) Ages 10 to 13
3) Ages 14 to 19
Each book submitted must be both written and illustrated by
the same student. Each student's book may be on any subject
and in any genre - fiction, non-fiction, biography,
autobiography, mystery, humor, science fiction, etc. Text
may be written in either prose or poetry. Keep in mind that
the best stories have a well-developed beginning, middle,
and end. Deadline June 1, 2009.
WHAT IF? MAGAZINE http://www.whatifmagazine.com/
What If? Magazine offers Canadian teens a venue to express
their opinions, publish their writing, and display their
artistic talents in a quality, national magazine. Creative
young Canadians deserve a springboard to future careers in
the arts. What If? is not a typical teen magazine, filled
with fashion and dating tips, entertainment news, and jammed
with advertising. We publish poetry, fiction, illustration,
photography, editorials, and reviews by Canadian youth 19
years of age and under.
YOUTHINK MAGAZINE http://www.youthink.ca/regular.html
Become a regular writer with Youthink Magazine. Journalism
must be your passion. You must be eager to go above-and-
beyond to "get the story". Your writing must have flair.
Your attitude must be positive. Your grades must be high,
especially in writing classes or photography classes.
IN YOUR APPLICATION PLEASE INCLUDE:
1) 50-word review of a movie or CD of your choice and
2) 50 words or less explaining why you think you would make
a good addition to the Youthink team.
Youthink Magazine is a monthly magazine that is distributed
throughout high schools in British Columbia and Alberta. The
goal of Youthink is to connect the diverse teen population
with a common, positive magazine that is written entirely
by high-school students.
BOMBADIL PUBLISHING http://www.bombadilpublishing.com/projectweb/portalproject/en_home.html
We are a youth-2-youth publisher publishing books written
for young people by young people. If you fall in that group
and are between the ages of 12-26 and have a manuscript or
even just an idea to one, we would love to hear from you. We
are expanding and need more books. We are a traditional
publisher in most ways, except that it is our reader panel
that decides whether a manuscript should be published and we
use mentors instead of traditional editors. You can see more
YOUNG WRITERS CONTEST http://www.youngwritersofcanada.ca/htmdocs/contests.htm
We are now accepting entries for our 7th Annual Creative Writing
Contest for ages 7-18. You may submit entries anytime, up until
March 31, 2009. Your short story should not exceed 360 words in
length. Please make sure your submission has an entry form
attached. There is no fee to enter our contests! Young Writers
whose work is accepted for publication will be notified by letter.
Unused work will be returned to the school.
CONCERN CONTEST http://www.concern.net/writingcompetition
Tell us what you would write to President Obama on one of
these critical global issues: child labor, climate change
and the developing world, world hunger. Your letter can be
in the style of a factual essay or a fictional story. Must
be in English, unpublished, original and unaided. Deadline
March 22, 2009. Three categories:
Junior: Age 12 to 15 - Up to 1,000 words.
Senior: Age 16 to 18 - Up to 1,500 words.
Adult: Age 19+ - Up to 1,500 words.
Prizes awarded in each category with special awards for
the best entries from third-level and community and adult
education sectors. The prizes for last year's writing
competition included laptops, ipods and subscriptions to
National Geographic Magazine. All of these prizes were
kindly sponsored and we hope to do the same again this year.
Flash fiction - up to 750 words.
Short short story - up to 1,500 words
Poetry - up to three poems, judged collectively
Novella - up to 20,000 words
Creative nonfiction - essay, memoir, etc. up to 5,000 words
Short fiction - up to 5,000 words
Genre fiction - any genre up to 3,000 words
Young writers - ages 13-17, one story up to 5,000 words or
Winning entries will be awarded the Press 53 Open Award
(a beautiful personalized award), publication in the P53
Open Awards Anthology, two complimentary copies of the book
in which the work appears, and a winner's discount on
unlimited additional copies to sell on your website or at
Contact WritingKid (the Business Stuff)
FundsforWriters/Writing Kid make no warranty as to the
accuracy of the contests, awards, etc. but we do try to
check them out in advance to the best of our ability.