When it comes to writing, age is only a number. You’re never too young or too old to start.
Susan Eloise Hinton, better known as S.E. Hinton, was just 19 when her first novel, “The Outsiders,” was published. Frank McCourt was 66 when his first book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography “Angela’s Ashes,” hit shelves.
Whether a teen or a “late bloomer,” as McCourt called himself, the Acorn Newspapers’ 12th Fiction in a Nutshell storytelling competition is underway and writers of all ages are invited to send us their 100-word submission.
Over the years, we’ve seen our fair share of stories. Here are a few tips to give contestants the best possible chance at crafting a memorable tale that will grab the attention of readers.
Winning entries typically have a strong beginning, a hook in the middle and a surprise ending.
Choose a memorable character, create a plot, add suspense and use active verbs.
William Strunk, author of “The Elements of Style,” had this to say about making every word count: “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentence.”
Or as another William (last name begins with an S) once wrote: “Brevity is the soul of wit.” But brevity doesn’t mean a story should be devoid of details. On the contrary. Your tale should be rich in descriptive language.
Here’s how The Acorn’s popular literary competition works: Submissions must be no more than 100 words (not including the title) and can be on any topic you wish—as long as the story is fictional.
The fiction genre is limitless. You can choose sci-fi, drama, adventure, romance or anything else from the world of make-believe. You’ll be judged on writing, creativity and topic. Remember, fiction only (nothing from the real world). And no poems, please.
Authors may enter in one of two categories: under 18 years old and 18 and over. Only one entry per person, please.
If you’re a teacher out there, this makes for a great writing exercise. Many of our under-18 winners have come from classroom submissions.
The deadline for submissions is Fri., Oct. 29.
Winners will receive a $100 prize and see their stories published in The Acorn newspaper and online at www.theacorn.com.
Email your 100-word tale to firstname.lastname@example.org, and don’t forget to include your name, age, city of residence (no out-of-town entries accepted) and a phone number to ensure we can reach you in a timely fashion.
Remember, the only number that matters is word count (100 max)—not your age.
Creativity is timeless. Let’s get those juices flowing.