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Inspiration

There is a lot resting on those ‘25 words or less’ answers to competitions. Just a quick survey of the myriad of awesome prizes that await a dedicated comper who can turn their words into something creative that will stand out from the rest, shows this. While a large number of entries submitted to a random draw are more likely to increase your chances of winning, in a skills-based competition it will be the quality of your entry that might make it one of the top ones for consideration by the judges.

With this in mind I have been doing a lot of thinking and a little bit of research to enable me to enter the most reputable competitions with the best entries I can create. Sometimes it’s hard to get inspired but I have recently come across an interesting site – www.winspiration.co.uk. It is full of all the words you might find useful in coming up with a catchy paragraph or rhyme. This site also gave me my first two pieces of good advice. That is to be prepared and think theme.

Christmas and New Year have already come and gone. So have Australia Day, Valentines Day and St Patricks Day. So many of the competitions over the last few months have had questions based on themes around these key dates. With Easter closing in fast and in order to get a head start on other compers, its time to think Easter. We’re talking Easter hat parades, chocolates, Easter eggs, Easter holidays. There is very likely to be questions such as ‘what is your favourite destination for your Easter holidays?’ or ‘your favourite chocolate recipe’ or the like. Any photos you have stored away with Easter themes might come in handy too. Mothers Day in May will be next but why not get even more prepared by thinking winter too. Such as winter sports, your favourite winter recipes, snow and skiing and how you love to spend your winter nights.

The third piece of advice that I have gained from personal experience is to be a little quirky. Easier for some than others, I must admit. It just takes a little time to think outside the square, play with some words and ideas and come up with something a little different. I find a walk around the block helps. Chatting with a friend or two can also start a new train of thought. But don’t be too worried if you can’t come up with something unusual, just give it your best shot.

It is always a good idea to mention the sponsor’s brand or product in your answer but only if it makes sense and doesn’t look too much like you are just trying to impress them and haven’t given much other thought to your answer. There needs to be a genuine feeling about it too as they want it to reflect their brand and may use it for further promotion. Those are my forth and fifth pieces of advice.

The sixth involves an ongoing conundrum – to rhyme or not to rhyme. As these skilled-based competitions are judged and all judges have different ideas about what entries will be entitled to win prizes, it is difficult to know in advance whether a rhyming answer will impress or not. If you can put in more than one entry you could try one rhyming one and one non-rhyming one. Otherwise you might just have to take a punt. I have won prizes with rhyming answers and I still do submit them but I try not to be too corny. If you don’t feel creative enough to rhyme your answers have a look at www.rhymer.com. That might help.

Finally it is vital to always keep to the word count. If it is 25 words they are after, then make sure you only write 25 words. Some entry forms count the words for you which is very useful if you are making it up on the spot, but I prefer to think about the answers for a while first, write them on a piece of paper and when I am completely sure I can do no better, enter them. But I am a little old school. For those who might like help with counting their words online I suggest trying www.wordcounter.net. It will count words and characters.

*inspiration* by Cornelia Kopp
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After working for thirty years as a journalist/historian, Jenny started writing sci-fi for children and adults and occasionally illustrating them (when she was not spending time with her grandkids). Most have been published in The School Magazine, anthologies and online. She has also been contributing to a wide variety of magazines such as Antiques and Collectables for Pleasure and Profit, Australiana and Nurture. Now essentially retired Jenny has taken up a challenge of entering and (hopefully winning) competitions. Jenny will track her journey through this challenge here at www.competitions.com.au.

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