So you want to enter our writing competition? Wonderful. And if you’re an experienced writer then you probably know exactly how to go about it.


But what if you’re a beginner? Or maybe haven’t written anything in a while? Or even just want a few tips to help you get started? Well, here are eight things you might like to consider.


» Study the rules! It might seem obvious, but it’s common for well written entries to be excluded due to very simple errors. Make sure you have the topic, the word limit and the format clear in your head before you start.

» Plan before you write. You only have a few hundred words, so make the most of them. Work out an outline of what you want to say in advance. It’s much harder to make it up as you go along.

» Start strongly. A good first line or sentence will grab the judges’ attention. Remember that we will be reading dozens, or even hundreds, of entries. Make yours memorable from the beginning.

» What’s your USP? How does your entry stand out from all the rest – what is its unique selling point? A quirky character, an unusual viewpoint, a clever plot twist or an exotic setting might just give you the edge.

» Spelling and grammar are important. It’s boring but true. Judges hate entries full of mistakes. It gives a bad impression of your writing and detracts from the content too. And word processors will do most of it for you these days.

» Avoid clichés (like the plague). I’m not going to beat about the bush here. In a nutshell, there are certain phrases that you should never use. As sure as eggs are eggs. And you can take that to the bank.

» Read and re-read your entry. Think about how you can improve your work. Make sure the message you want to portray comes through strongly. And delete any words or phrases that don’t add anything. You might just end up with a few more words to play with where you really need them.

»Check and proof read once more before submitting. It’s amazing how often you can read something you’ve written yet not see an error simply because your brain knows what should be there. So come back to your work after a day or two and read it over one last time.

I hope this helps you to take that great idea you have for a piece about Power and turn it into a terrific submission. 

“Gordon Johnston is the Chair of Bipolar Scotland and one of the judges for the Writing Awards. His first novel, the Glasgow based psychological thriller Calling Cards, was published in February 2014 (Ringwood Publishing)”

Sound easy? Download the guidance and enry form here and get started! 

Don’t forget to look out for more expert tips from Gordon over the next three weeks.