Check, check and re-check!
In my interview for ‘The Write Place’ (http://www.writersbureau.com/editorimages/Issue%207a.pdf) I was asked to give a tip for copywriting students. I advised on making sure that they read the brief from the client very carefully. A similar point can be applied to writing competitions, whether they’re poetry, short story or article writing competitions. This point concerns reading the rules of the competition.
Always make sure you read these thoroughly. If the rules state that 40 lines of poetry is the limit, don’t send off an entry that’s 50 lines long. If a short story competition states that entries must be typed in double spacing, type your story in double spacing. An article writing contest may have a set theme. Make sure you write about that specific theme and don’t send in an article about something else entirely just because it’s your favourite piece of work.
When you’ve finished your poem/story/article and are ready to enter the competition, re-read the rules. It’s so easy to read them and then become so absorbed in your work that the rules are forgotten. A final check ensures that you don’t disqualify yourself straight away. Then you give yourself every chance of winning.