Writing Contest Rules


Section 1. Annual Writing Contests
A.    Writing Contests
1)      Five writing contests are held annually. The contests are the Assigned Title or Theme Contest, hereafter referred to as the Assigned Contest; the Open Title Contest, hereafter referred to as the Open Contest; the First Chapter of a Novel Contest, hereafter referred to as the First Chapter Contest; the Novel Excerpt Contest, hereafter referred to as the Excerpt Contest; and the First Chapter of a Nonfiction Book Contest, hereafter referred to as the Nonfiction Book Contest.
2)      Contest submission postmark dates for all five contests begin February 1 and end July 1 during the contest year. Any entries postmarked after the July 1 deadline will be disqualified and returned.
3)      The League First Vice-President presides over and has responsibility for the five annual writing contests. The League First Vice-President will keep a running list of judges available for the chapters to use.
4)      The Assigned Contest, Open Contest, First Chapter Contest, Excerpt Contest, and Nonfiction Book Contest judges may, but are not required to award First, Second, and Third Place prizes and three honorable mentions. Monetary prizes awarded to First, Second, and Third place winners will be determined by the League officers each year. All award winners and honorable mention recipients will receive certificates.  Prizes will be presented at the Annual Conference, timing at the discretion of the current year’s host Chapter.
5)      Each chapter assigned to oversee the Assigned Contest or the Open Contest (see Unit 06: Rotation of Chapter Duties) will select one individual as the Contest Receiver. The League First Vice-President is the Contest Receiver for the three Book Contests. The names and addresses of the contest receivers will be published in the January Leagazette and on the IWL website.
6)      The Contest Receivers will log all entries, provide a judging sheet and a critique sheet for each entry, and forward these and the manuscripts to the selected judges.
7)      Chapters and receivers responsible for the Assigned Contest and the Open Contest must select judges for each contest category. The League First Vice-President is responsible for selecting three judges for the Book Contests. Judges must not be current or former members of the Idaho Writer’s League or immediate family members of current IWL members.
8)      At the end of the judging period, the Contest Receivers will log the results and forward all entries to the League First Vice-President.
9)      Contest receivers will submit a copy of the contest logs to the League Treasurer.
10)   The Contest Receivers will provide the names and addresses of all judges with the contest categories they judged to the League First Vice-President who will maintain a list of judges for future use.
11)   The League First Vice-President will provide the League Treasurer with the list of judges for the Assigned, Open, and three Book Contests, and the amounts due them.
12)   The Board of Directors will determine the amount given to judges of the Assigned and Open contests as an honorarium.
13)   The current year’s conference Host Chapter will collect suggestions for the next year’s Assigned Titles and Themes.  The following year’s Host Chapter will select the Assigned Titles and Themes and announce them at the Conference.
B.     Contest Submission Rules (All Contests)
1)      Only paid members of the IWL may enter.
2)      New members must have their chapter president sign the cover sheet verifying that dues have been paid.
3)      Entries must be mailed to the contest receiver during the contest period above (see section A. (2)).
4)      Entry must be the work of the author, not previously published or contracted for publication (or if self-published, not yet available for sale to the general public) at the time of submission; and not a previous winner in any IWL League contest (either monetary award or honorable mention). See Section 2, (D.Publication, (1)).
5)      Cover Sheet: Each entry must include a cover sheet. The cover sheet will include in the upper left the author’s name, address, phone number, email address if any, chapter name, contest name (Assigned, Open, First Chapter, Excerpt, or Nonfiction Book), contest category (Assigned and Open Contests), title, number of pages (Book Contests), words (Assigned or Open Contests, fiction and nonfiction categories) or lines (Assigned or Open Contests, poetry categories), and Genre (Assigned or Open Contests, Adult Genre Fiction category). Each item must be on a separate line, double-spaced. Failure to include a cover sheet will disqualify the entry.
6)      Manuscript format: Place the title about one-third down from the top margin, centered and in all caps. Drop four lines and begin the writing. Title and page number must be on the top right corner of every page after the first page. NOTE: “Excerpt” manuscript pages may reflect actual pagination instead of beginning with “page 1.” Author’s name must NOT appear ANYWHERE on the manuscript or the entry will be disqualified. Entries must be typed using Times Roman, Courier, or Arial font and double-spaced with one-inch margins all around. Poetry may be single or double-spaced. Do not staple manuscripts. Use paper clips or butterfly clips with manuscripts and synopsis pages.
7)      Entries not complying with rules 1) through 6) above will be disqualified and returned.
8)      Judges’ decisions are final.
C.    Additional Contest Submission Rules (Assigned Contest and Open Contest)
1)      Only one entry per Category per member is allowed in each contest. In the Assigned Contest, members may only choose one Assigned Title OR one Assigned Theme for each category. Only the first entry in any category will be accepted, additional entries will be disqualified. No duplicate entries may be used in the Open or Assigned Contests.
2)      When using either of the Assigned Titles, the exact title must be used. Any changes to the title will result in disqualification.
3)      Categories and word limits are as follows:
Adult Genre Fiction: 3,500 words. A story written in the romance, mystery, western, suspense, speculative, or any other genre, using the elements of plot, theme, character, tone, mood, and style.
Flash Fiction: 400 to 1,000 words. A concise, sharply focused story, also known as a short-short story, with strong, interesting character(s), engaging plot, and selectively detailed setting(s). Its goal is “a single effect from a single cause.”
Teen Fiction: 3,000 words. Concise, sharply focused work of fiction that explores a single idea or emotion, set off by conflict. Written for ages 13-18. The action and plot of the story should center around teenagers.
Children's Fiction: 2,500 words. A fictional prose narrative written for children. Indicate target group (under 8) or (8-12) under title when submitting.
Short Humor: 2,500 words. Fiction or nonfiction that is written to entertain.
Creative Nonfiction: 2,500 words. Nonfiction works that use fiction techniques such as dramatic description, dialogue, and an inner point of view to give the writing the feel of fiction.
Article: 2,500 words. An article is a nonfiction composition that deals with a single topic. It may be instructive, informational, or persuasive, and focuses on people, places, historical events, and personalities, new ideas, how-to, or personal experience. An article usually appears in magazines, newspapers and journals, and often involves research.
Personal Essay: 2,500 words. Nonfiction prose that expresses personal experiences and opinions dealing with aspects of everyday life. It can be entertaining or persuasive, varying from serious to light and humorous.
Light Verse: 100 lines. Is written mainly to entertain and features crispness and unexpected twists. Greeting card verse, limericks, whimsical short poems, etc. Any form, rhyming or free verse.
Serious Verse: 100 lines. May be structured or prose-like, free verse or rhyming, in any meter, on a serious subject or written in a serious tone.

D.    Additional Contest Submission Rules (Book Contests)
1)      Only one entry per member is allowed. Entries from the same book in the First Chapter and Excerpt Contests are NOT allowed; i.e., no “cross-entries.” Members may submit a joint entry, but may not submit an additional individual entry. Additional entries will be disqualified.
2)      An entry fee of $30.00 payable to IWL is required with the entry. Personal checks or money orders are preferred.
3)      Submissions must include a synopsis for the book up to two pages single spaced and a manuscript up to twelve pages using the manuscript format (see B. Contest Submission Rules (6)) Manuscript format:).
4)      Synopsis pages must include the word “Synopsis” and the title in the upper right corner of each page. Each page after the first must include a page number after the title in the upper right corner. Author’s name must NOT appear ANYWHERE on the synopsis or the entry will be disqualified. If no Synopsis pages are included the entry will be disqualified.
5)      Manuscript pages must be numbered separately from the synopsis pages.
6)      Three copies of the synopsis and manuscript must be submitted in the entry. Only one cover sheet is required. Entries with fewer than three copies of the synopsis and manuscript will be disqualified.
7)      The First Vice-President will select three judges for the Book Contests. Judges must not be current or former members of the Idaho Writer’s League or immediate family members of current IWL members. Contest expenses such as awards and postage will be funded from the League general funds. The entry fees will be divided among the three judges as an honorarium. All entries will receive critiques.
E.     Vardis Fisher Award
Judges for each writing contest category will choose the most humorous entry and designate it for a separate judging for the Vardis Fisher Award. Only one entry per category may be submitted as a Vardis Fisher nomination. The League First Vice-President will select a judge outside of the League to pick one winner. No judge used to judge any of the Open or Assigned Categories shall be used to judge the Vardis Fisher nominations. The prize will be determined each year by the League officers.

Section 2. IWL Awards

A.     IWL Published Poet of the Year, Published Writer of the Year, and Lifetime Service Awards

1)   The League Second Vice-President has the responsibility for the three IWL awards.
2)   Any chapter or member may nominate one current IWL member per year for these awards. Nominees must have been a member of the IWL during the year prior to the nomination. Authors may be re-nominated if not selected. Previous Published Poet of the Year or Published Writer of the Year winners may be re-nominated.
3)   Three copies of all nominations must be mailed to the League Second Vice-President. Postmark deadline is June 30 for any nominations.
4)   The League Second Vice-President selects three judges for Poet of the Year and Writer of the Year Awards. Judges must not be current or former members of the Idaho Writer’s League or immediate family members of current IWL members. A judge may judge one or both award nominations. The prizes will be determined each year by the League officers. Lifetime Service Award will be determined by a panel of three Board members representing each of the three regions, as chosen by the Second Vice-President.
5)   The awards may be presented in any given year to a worthy nominee or nominees, but do not need to be awarded every year.

B.     IWL Poet of the Year and Writer of the Year Awards

1)   Criteria for nomination:
a)      Publication (see D. Publication) of written work during the previous year.
b)      Nominee must be an IWL member during the year of nomination and the year prior to nomination.

2)   Nominations must include:
a)      A completed Nomination form,  click the appropriate award name for a copy of the form: POET  or  WRITER 
b)      A letter of introduction about the nominee.
c)      A resume of the writer's work published in the previous year (e.g., work published in 2012 for the 2013 award).
d)     Original copies or photocopies of work(s) published in magazines, journals, newspapers, etc., including the masthead of the publication showing the date of publication. Entire published books should be sent; these will be returned.

C.    IWL Lifetime Service Award

1)   Purpose for award
a)      The IWL Lifetime Service Award is established as the highest honor the League may bestow on any of its members. The award may be presented in any given year to a worthy nominee or nominees, but does not need to be awarded every year.
b)      The IWL recognizes that members make many sacrifices to provide leadership and service to the League and the chapters.
c)      The IWL presents this award in recognition of outstanding service given by members to the League, their chapter, and their community.

2)   Criteria considered for nomination:
a)      Current member of the IWL with a minimum of eight consecutive years as a member of the IWL prior to the nomination.
b)      A minimum of five years of service to the IWL at the League and chapter level with two or more years as a League and chapter officer. Service must consist of any of the following:

1.    Any League elected officer position.
2.    Any chapter officer position.
3.    League or chapter secretary.
4.    League committee chairperson.
5.    League or chapter newsletter editor.
6.    League writing contest receiver.
7.    Participation in IWL sponsored community service.

c) Written works, whether published or not.
d) Cannot be a previous Lifetime Achievement or Lifetime Service Award winner.
e)  Nomination must include:
1. A completed Nomination form.(Click here for copy)
2. A cover letter from the nominator.
3. List of years as a member of the IWL.
4. Summary of IWL service at League or local level.
5. Samples of written work. Minimum page limit 10; maximum 25.

D. Publication
1)      Publication for all Contest and Awards categories include any of the following:
a)  Self-published books or booklets for sale to the general public.
b)  Published books or booklets for which the author received payment.
c)  Magazines, newspapers, literary and other journals, and any other publications which may or may not pay in kind or in cash, but which provide a byline for the author.
d)  Chapbooks of poetry, essays, articles, or short stories published by chapters, the author, or outside publishers which are for sale or are available to the general public, which may or may not pay in kind or in cash, but which provide a byline for the author.
e)  Electronic or other media which includes byline.