Writers & Illustrators of the Future Blog

The purpose of this blog is to provide a forum for winners, judges, entrants and anyone interested in sharing information regarding the contests and the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future volumes. For more information you can also go to www.writersofthefuture.com

Friday, December 21, 2007

Words of Wisdom from K.D. Wentworth or Tips On How To Win the Writers Contest - The Year In Review!

Hey, gang, it's the end of the fourth quarter, and I've been thinking back over the year's entries. Here are a few hints to improve your chances.

1. Avoid gratuitous and on-stage sex scenes. Off-stage sex is fine if it's necessary for the plot, but on-stage hijinks would make it inappropriate to market the anthology in as many markets as we would like.

2. Don't write about serial killers unless there's something supernatural going on. Ordinary serial killers do not qualify as fantasy. Also, most serial killer stories are horror, not dark fantasy, and so do not fit our guidelines.

3. Get your best ammunition on the first page. Put whatever makes this science fiction or fantasy up front. Also, don't start with an extended scene that only functions as an info dump. If you think you need a prologue, try breaking the information up instead and salting it throughout the story. Prologues can slow down a reader's immersion in the story.

4. If you're writing hard sf, do your research and get your facts right. The judges love hard sf entries, but the science has to be dead-on. You can't have diamond ships that shatter when iron runs into them or creatures that can blithely go from Earth normal pressure to survive without distress under Jupiter's pressures without explanation. Even though it's only scientific handwaving (because if we really could do these things, we'd be out there doing them, not writing sf stories about them), it has to sound plausible.

5. On the other hand, though, don't spend pages telling me how your space drive works. Again, just make it sound plausible and mention enough accurate scientific details to convince your reader.

6. And, lastly, if you're writing a fight scene, remember that you don't have to lovingly choreograph every single blow on both sides. I've seen too many fight scenes that go on for pages. The reader just wants to know who won and what it cost both the winner and the loser. A short description is fine, but anything longer slows the story down. It doesn't matter who hit whose head/nose/ear/stomach. It just matters who came out on top and what kind of shape they're in now.

Have a great holiday season! K.D. Wentworth - Coordinating Judge of the Writers of the Future


  • At December 21, 2007 at 4:32 PM , Anonymous Thaddeous said...

    Excellent tips! I am glad to find that the story I submitted less than a week ago thankfully fits this helpful criteria, but will definitely keep this information in the forefront of my mind for future submissions (if needed :) ).

  • At December 22, 2007 at 8:38 AM , Blogger Shaun Farrell said...

    Great stuff. Thanks for the tips!

  • At December 27, 2007 at 10:06 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At January 5, 2008 at 2:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hey this is great advice. I've left a few comments asking for a bit more advice like this. I always suspected that you had to hit the reader with a brilliant first page (and that perhaps good stories with a poor first page were removed in editorial Triage - not that K.D. Wentworth's statement actually goes that far). What I would like to know is has any of the winning (and thus published) stories ever recieved a hugo or nebula? If not, why not? Some of this year's stories struck me as being particularly good.

  • At January 5, 2008 at 3:35 AM , Blogger 2write said...


    I have been following the Contest at your website and the recent blog for over a year.

    Finally I got myself to submitting a very short story even though I am intimidated by the ones published by Galaxy Press.

    The PROBLEM is I am unable to secure return postage for a SASE. I mailed it with all my contact details including EMail id . I am also registered at the newsletter section of the site.

    Would a lack of SASE mean disqualification for me ?

    Thanks and Regards,
    Ujjwal Dey
    Bombay, INDIA.

  • At January 15, 2008 at 10:37 AM , Blogger Joni Labaqui said...

    Dear Ujjwal,

    Thank you for your entry and it was received. You do not have to send an SASE at all as long as you included an e-mail address. We can reach you that way. -- Joni Labaqui - Contest Director


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