Category Archives: WVW Contest Frequently Asked Questions

WV Writers Contest F.A.Q. #24

Continuing the series of Frequently Asked Questions about the West Virginia Writers, Inc., Annual Writing Competitions.  To see all of the questions, please click HERE.

QUESTION #1:  I recognize the fact that there are two contests--one specifically for students, and the other just a 'writing contest'. I am interested in entering the regular writing contest, because the young writers one does not include book-length prose. There didn't appear to be any guidelines against me entering the regular contest, but I wanted to be sure before I submitted anything, just in case.

ANSWER #1:  You are right: there are no rules against student-aged humans entering the regular "adult" contest.  Students are welcome to do so, but should remember that they'll be competing with adult writers some of whom have quite a bit of experience.  Unlike the New Mountain Voices Student Contest, which is free, the adult contest does come with fees.  And whereas we notify the student winners in advance of the awards banquet at our Summer Conference so they can attend if the wish, the earliest that winners of the adult contest will learn of their win is at the awards banquet itself (June 8, 2019).  Which brings me to...

QUESTION #2:  In order to enter, must you be positive that you will be at the awards banquet?

ANSWER #2:   You do not have to attend the awards banquet to win.  I'd say probably half of the winners do attend, but it is certainly not required.  We mail out certificates and prize money to the winners early in the week following the awards banquet.  And we try to have the winners listed on our website and via email to entrants by Sunday night of that weekend.  Last year we had them listed immediately following the awards banquet.

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WV Writers Contest F.A.Q. #23

Continuing the series of Frequently Asked Questions about the West Virginia Writers, Inc., Annual Writing Competitions. To see all of the questions, please click HERE.

QUESTION:  For the Social Change (Pearl S. Buck Award) category, the entry form says "nonfiction or poetry...on a topic related to social change," and what I'm wondering is whether nonfiction submissions need to be creative (like poetry) or whether academic, journalistic, and/or otherwise persuasive nonfiction would be acceptable?  Would you address this question for me? Perhaps you could answer by referring to the previous winning pieces.

ANSWER:  The category itself has a lot of range when it comes to subject matter.  Basically anything that isn't outright fiction is fair game.  Academic/journalistic and persuasive nonfiction essays are completely acceptable.  These don't have to be creative, but that approach would be fine as well.

It is difficult to address this in terms of what has won in the past, because any approach could be accomplished to a winning level.  From a sheer statistical point of view, many of the winning entries in previous years were poetry, but again I don't believe this to be a determiner.  First and foremost the entries had to be about Social Change, not simply espousing a viewpoint; secondly, they had to be well-written to be considered for placement.

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WV Writers Contest F.A.Q. #22

Continuing the series of Frequently Asked Questions about the West Virginia Writers, Inc., Annual Writing Competitions.  To see all of the questions, please click HERE.

QUESTION:  I am planning to enter the Children's Book category and would like expanded definitions of the Picture/First Reader/ Middle Grade books. What is a Picture Book exactly? Or a First Reader? Or A Middle Grade book?  Or Young Adult?

ANSWER:  Great question.   

Picture books are children's books that rely heavily on illustrations to help tell the story. They can have few words or many, but illustrations are a heavy component.  Examples of this would be The Cat in the Hat, Where the Wild Things Are, and Walter the Farting Dog.

First Reader books are, according to KidLit.com, "the earliest “chapter” stories that a kid can get. They’re very short in terms of manuscript length (1,500 words max) but are broken up into either chapters or vignettes that will give the reader the feeling of reading a book with real chapters in it. Your target audience for these is kids ages 4 to 8. Early readers feature a smaller trim size, some the size of or slightly bigger than a paperback novel, and can go from about 32 to 60 pages. The font size is smaller and they feature spot illustrations in either color or black and white instead of full color throughout, like a picture book. Some examples of early readers: LING AND TING: NOT EXACTLY THE SAME by Grace Lin (Little, Brown, 2010), the HarperCollins I Can Read! books, and the Random House Step Into Reading books."

Middle Grade books (which for 2018 we have combined with Young Adult for their own category) are, according to FromtheMixedUpFiles.com, "intended for readers ages 8-12, with the protagonist at the higher end of the age range.  The reason for this:  while an 8-year-old would have no problem reading about a 12-year-old protagonist, a 12-year-old may be reluctant to read a book about an 8-year-old.  Subject Matter: MG readers are learning about who they are, what they think, and where they fit in. They do well with books they can relate to. They are still focused inward and the conflicts in MG books usually reflect this. The themes can range from school situations, friendships, relationships with peers and siblings, and daily difficulties that may seem ordinary to the rest of us. The parents are usually seen and have some sort of an influence. Kids at this age are also easily distracted,  so you want a faster pace and short chapters.  Word Count:  Middle Grade used to be 20,000-40,000 words, some say around 50,000 words."

And while we're in the teen-lit topic area...

Young Adult books, according to FromtheMixedUpFiles.com "deal with underlying themes and more complicated plots. It allows teens to examine deeper issues, what their role in life is, the differences a person can make, the importance of relationships, coping with tragedy, etc.  Protagonists are usually searching for their identity, figuring out who they are as an individual and where they fit in. These books generally are more gritty and realistic and the teens choices and actions drive the story. You see less parental influence.  Young Adult word count is generally more around 55,000 to 80,000 words."  

Young Adult books are combined with Middle Grade for 2018.

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WV Writers Contest F.A.Q.#21

Continuing the series of Frequently Asked Questions about the West Virginia Writers, Inc., Annual Writing CompetitionsTo see all of the questions, please click HERE.

QUESTION:  As some sort of reference for me, I was wondering if you could possibly forward the winning entry of the Social Change (Pearl S. Buck Award) category to me so I can get an idea what to shoot for?

ANSWER:  I'm afraid the winning entries from previous years are no longer in our organizational possession.  The judges destroy them at the end of the judging period.  However, perhaps coincidentally, we have the 1st place and honorable mention award-winner from 2014, Dawn A. Baldwin, reading her winning pieces as part of a January 2015 episode of the WV Writers Podcast.  She was kind enough to come to Lewisburg and read as part of the Literary Tea series at Greenbrier Valley Theatre back in September of 2014.  Hear her story HERE.

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WV Writers Contest F.A.Q.#20

Continuing the series of Frequently Asked Questions about the West Virginia Writers, Inc., Annual Writing CompetitionsTo see all of the questions, please click HERE.

QUESTION:  When submitting an excerpt, should the word count on the cover page indicate the number of words in the excerpt or the total number of words in the entire work?

ANSWER:  The word count should indicate the number of words in the excerpt.  

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WV Writers Contest F.A.Q.#19

Continuing the series of Frequently Asked Questions about the West Virginia Writers, Inc., Annual Writing Competitions.  To see all of the questions, please click HERE.

QUESTION: I have a piece that I would like to submit for the contest but I have also submitted it for publication. If it is accepted, it won't be published until late spring. Who/how does one make the call on that as to the guidelines for the contest?

ANSWER:  As long as the piece was not published before January 2, 2019, you're good to go.  Even if it's accepted for publication, it won't be published until later in the year at the earliest, so you're still within the guidelines of the contest.

 

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WV Writers Contest F.A.Q.#18

Continuing the series of Frequently Asked Questions about the West Virginia Writers, Inc., Annual Writing Competitions.  To see all of the questions, please click HERE.

QUESTION:  I have an entry which is ready and I would like to send it off.  However, I think I may want to enter one or two other categories once I have a chance to polish my entries a little more.  On the entry form it says "Only one entry form per person is necessary."  But what if I send entries at different times before the contest deadline?  Should I include a separate entry form for each mailing, or just attach a note to subsequent entries saying that I have already filled out an entry form with my first submission?

ANSWER:  You may send a separate entry form for any additional submissions sent later.  It's basically one form per packet of entries.  The "one entry form per person" thing is mainly to indicate that it doesn't have to be one form per entry within a given submission shipment.  You can always send more later with a separate form.

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WV Writers Contest F.A.Q.#17

Continuing the series of Frequently Asked Questions about the West Virginia Writers, Inc., Annual Writing Competitions.  To see all of the questions, please click HERE.

QUESTION: Should the one-page synopsis be more like the "teaser" summaries that explain what a book is about without spoiling the ending or should it try to tell as much as possible about how the story ends?

ANSWER:  No.  In fact a synopsis should definitely spoil the ending.  One of the frequent things we have had to do in the past is communicate with writers to ask for more detailed synopses to be sent because the one submitted did not give the full story of the manuscript in question.

For a synopsis you need to describe the entire plot of the book, in thumbnail form, in one page.  The judge has to be able to see the overall arc of the book's plot, which will help them see how the excerpt submission fits into that picture.  So spoil away!

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WV Writers Contest F.A.Q.#16

Continuing the series of Frequently Asked Questions about the West Virginia Writers, Inc., Annual Writing Competitions.  To see all of the questions, please click HERE.

QUESTIONFor Book Length Prose, I know that the cover page must have the title, category and word count on it, but should the narrative also begin on the cover page or on the second page? Should any other "front matter" be included, such as dedications or attributions for quotations from public domain sources? Is the title and other front matter included in the word count? (My first chapter happens to be just under 5,000 words.)

ANSWER:  Cover pages and front matter are not necessary, though they do not count against you either.  Our judges mainly need the writing itself, as that is what is being judged.  Our standard formatting is to just put the category and word count at the top of the first page, leaving the title for just above the beginning of the text.  We would not encourage including dedications or attributions.  They just eat into your word limit and are not necessary to the judging process.

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WV Writers Contest F.A.Q.#15

Continuing the series of Frequently Asked Questions about the West Virginia Writers, Inc., Annual Writing Competitions.  To see all of the questions, please click HERE.

QUESTION: Should manuscripts be stapled or paper-clipped?

ANSWER:  Both are acceptable, though stapling the entry pages together and affixing the entry form and check with a paperclip is preferred.  Stapled entry pages reduce the risk of any pages getting lost in the shuffle.  If we feel like a manuscript needs a staple, we'll add one at no charge.  But we don't go so extreme as to discard entries that lack a staple or paperclip.  We just add them where they're needed.

Of course, the best way to avoid any staple or paperclip issues is to submit your entries online via Submittable.

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