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The Contest for Aspiring Writers


by mimiruyumi

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The Story Telling contest - Everybody wants to win it. I mean, who wouldn’t? With 2,000 Neopoints, a rare item, and of course the best prize of all, that adorable little JubJub trophy! Yes… all together now, AWWWWWWW!

The best thing about this contest is you do NOT have to be a seasoned writer! It is much easier to only write a section of a plot instead of worrying about a beginning middle and end. If you are aspiring to write for the Neopian Times, this contest is a great place to start!

If you’ve been trying forever to win the Story Telling contest but seem to keep missing, then hopefully my tips on how to write a successful submission will help you out!

The Basics

If you are new to the Story Telling Contest it would be best if you started out by reading the FAQ. You can locate this on the main Story Telling page. As a quick synopsis, every Monday a beginning to a story will be posted on the Story Telling page. You’re job is to come up with the rest of the story, one piece at a time. To submit your part, you type your story into the box at the bottom of the main page. Each contest ends on Friday, after nine user-submitted sections have been selected. You’re job is to be one of the nine! To get an idea of what kind of entries are usually accepted, it might be helpful to read some of the finished stories from past weeks.

Starting Out

If you are trying to get into the Story Telling Contest for the first time, there are some useful tips to keep in mind. I think the Neopets Team really looks for certain qualities in a story before they pick them. The good thing is that you can submit more then one story line each time, so it doesn’t matter if you have lots of ideas floating around in your head! No matter how bad you think your plot idea is, ALWAYS enter it! You never know what it could evolve into. I always try to enter every week, even when I think the chances of my story being picked is low. That way you’ll never miss a chance!

Long or Short?

A lot of people worry about the length of their entry. I think it’s best not to be too concerned about how long it is (unless you’re planning to write a fourteen page part complete with a thesis statement). The main thing to be concerned with is how far you’ve moved the plot along. This can be the hardest part of the writing process. You need to keep in mind that the plot has to have a conclusion in nine entries. You have to make sure you aren’t forwarding the plot too much that it will end to soon, or if you don’t advance it enough so it can’t reach a conclusion in the remaining parts.

It really depends upon the writer how long you like to make your stories. If you’ve read any of mine, you’ll notice they are on the shorter side, around seven to nine paragraphs. However, I have seen extremely long ones (around 14 or more paragraphs) make it in. The real determining factor is how far you have advanced the plot.

Colorful Language

By colorful language I do not mean taking out your crayons and coloring in your words to make them look pretty. I mean you need to try to use words that are more interesting. The most common offender is “said”. There are SO many other words to use then said! I’ll give you a few examples:

Accused, acknowledged, bayed, beckoned, chanted, chatted, coaxed, discerned, divulged, dreamed, droned, grumbled, grunted, gulped, hedged, joked, insisted, instructed, interjected, lied, lisped, muttered, petitioned, pronounced, screamed, sputtered, squawked, stressed, quacked, purred, rehashed, sneered, bluffed, appealed, chided, brooded, bellowed, babbled jeered, mispronounced….

And the list goes on and on and on! I have over 1,000 words that are synonyms for said! Words like these help make your writing less repetitive and just more interesting in general. Don’t be afraid to pull out a thesaurus to replace the average words with more exciting ones!

Characterization

This is another very important aspect. If you are entering earlier on in the week, this is easier since you will be forming the characters personalities for yourself. If you are entering later in the week however, you will need to pay special attention to how the characters have acted in the previous entries.

Was the character shy? Brave? Hungry? Bringing in past personality traits is one factor that will defiantly help you win. Make sure that the actions or dialogue that the character is doing or saying won’t conflict with a previous belief or action.

For instance, if in the beginning your character is a clumsy Uni, later in the story don’t have her single-handedly defeat an army of evil minions expertly. You’re story won’t likely get in with this contradicting fact. Instead, have the Uni do something clumsy that ends up destroying the minions by accident.

Endings

A common trend in the Story Telling endings is that they always have something called a “hook”. A hook is a drop off point, something that leads a mystery waiting to be solved by the next writer. These are key- they can make or break your story. If you don’t leave enough of a hook, the next writer will have a hard time jumping into the story. The best way to end an entry is by cutting off mid sentence. Another way to judge if you’ve left a good ending is to think of it as a movie. Would there be a “dun dun dun” at this part? If so, then you are all set.

Tying Things All Together

Now you’re ready to start writing your story! Keep these tips in mind, but don’t be afraid to break them! Your imagination is the key to this contest, and the more interesting your story is the better chance you have of winning!

I hope to see you win the Story Telling contest soon!

Good Luck and Happy Writing

 
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