The Wytheville Chautauqua Festival’s Creative Writing Contest is taking submissions.
The contest is open to amateur writers, in these age groups: students in grades 6-9, students in grades 10-12, and adults (which includes college students).
The categories are: short story (under 5,000 words), creative nonfiction essay (under 2,000 words), poetry (under 50 lines) and new this year, flash fiction in the adult category only (under 750 words).
Prizes will be awarded in each category if the judges determine that the quality of the entries merits recognition. First, second and third place prizes will be awarded, ranging from $10 to $50.
There is no in-person award ceremony this year, but organizers hope to return to normal for Chautauqua 2022.
This year’s Chautauqua Festival in the Park will take place at the Elizabeth Brown Memorial Park July 29-Aug. 1. Typically held the third week in June, the festival date has been pushed back this year due to maintaining compliance with state and local mandates related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Although our contest looks different without the presence of a guest author and awards ceremony, the committee is working hard and looking forward to next summer when we will add some in-person creative writing activities,” Deanna L. Bradberry, contest chairperson, said in an email.
“I know that many spent their quarantined days in the past year writing for a myriad of reasons - to create, to document, and to heal. I know that I did. So, it's time to polish those pieces and submit them here to share,” she said. “Literature is indeed a keeper of history. This historical time period will be seen for centuries as a time of reflection. It would be difficult to write any kind of fiction or nonfiction now that does not refer to the struggles of the past year, but we do not provide a prompt or a topic for writing. We welcome any unpublished piece.”
This year, there is a new category – flash fiction.
Bradberry said that flash fiction is a style of short story that is typically under 2,000 words, (the contest requires under 750 words), it focuses on a single moment in time, and it has a quick start.
“Like poetry, flash fiction focuses on the economy of carefully chosen words and typically highlights sensory detail. Due to the brevity of the piece, dialogue can be present, but limited. It is the perfect category for a quick turnaround contest as the Chautauqua Creative Writing contest is this year.”
Because this category does require some experience with editing for brevity, the contest committee limited the flash fiction category to adults.
This year, the entry fee for students has been waived to encourage them to enter.
“The children, who are so inundated with standardized tests and prompted writing, should have the opportunity to submit in any category without the fee,” Bradberry said.
Here are the contest rules:
• Open to only amateur writers. You will be considered professional if you receive at least one third of your income from writing or if you teach creative writing at the college level.
• Do not submit works that have been previously published.
• In the creative writing categories, submit only one manuscript per category (i.e., only one poem, one creative nonfiction essay, one short story, one flash fiction story), but enter as many categories as you wish.
• Submit two typed originals or typed photocopies: one to be retained by committee, one to be sent to judges. Please retain a copy of your manuscript, as none will be returned. Include with each manuscript a removable title page containing your name, address, phone number, email address (if available), age group, and the literary category. Your name should not appear on any other page. You may also email your entry (one copy only) to email@example.com .
• Enclose a check or money order for entry fee as follows: $15 for each adult category entry; free for each 6-12 grade student entry. Make checks payable to Wythe Arts Council. For electronic payment, email Deanna for more information.
• Send entries to Deanna Bradberry, Chair, Chautauqua Creative Writing Contest, 670 North Third St., Wytheville, VA, 24382. Entries may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org .
● Emailed entries must have a subject line with “Chautauqua Creative Writing,” the age group, and the category. The entry attachment must be formatted in a Word document or saved as a pdf or rft file.
• Entries must be postmarked by Thursday, July 29, 2021.
• Winners will be notified prior to August 15, 2021. Non-winners will not be notified.