The Instant Hook Literary Contest (2014)
Deadline: December 2, 2014 (postmark date)
Prize: $300.00 (Canadian)
This is the second annual award. Last year’s winners were Nathan Downey (first prize), Juliet LaCroix and Daniel S. Rubin (joint second prize).
Entrants are encouraged to submit the first 300 words or less of an unpublished novel. As the competition title suggests, the goal is to create an opening that commands attention and makes the reader wish for more. For the sake of this competition, though, there will be no more; the word limit will be strictly adhered to, so the aim is to create an opening so intriguing, so compelling, that it will promise a wealth of ingenious, absorbing, beautifully-written prose to come on its heels.
Sound like fun? Good. The exercise will make those creative juices run and give you something to work with for many weeks, months, and years afterwards.
Here are the rules; please read carefully!
- The awards are open to anyone who is 18 or over at time of entry.
- The submission must be sole-authored, in English, from the very beginning of a novel, and no more than 300 words.
- The novel opening may have been written for the competition or may be part of a manuscript already completed. But it cannot have been published, and cannot have been accepted by a publisher at time of entry.
- These awards are open to new or established, already-published, authors (it does not have to be a first novel).
- This is a blind-judged competition. HB Creativity must not have seen any part of this novel prior to entry; it must not be a work for which I personally have provided tutoring or editing services. I cannot absolutely guarantee I will not recognize a writing style, but I must not recognize the writing, the characters, or the plot.
- Please use 12 Times New Roman font and double space your entry.
- Send your entry by mail only (no emails please) to Paul Butler, HB Creativity, 49 East Valley Road, Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada, A2H 2L4 (make sure you have “Paul Butler, HB Creativity” as well as the address) with a postmark date no later than December 2, 2014. Winners will be announced in February 2015.
- Please do not put your name on your entry! Enclose in a separate envelope your name and contact (email and phone), plus the title of your entry. This envelope will be opened after the winners have been decided. Along with your name and contact please indicate whether you wish to receive our monthly INK STAINS news bulletin (whether or not you wish to receive INK STAINS will not affect the judging of the competition).
- There will be a one time email to entrants to announce the competition winner. There will be no advertising of any kind on this email. If you wish not to receive this email, please indicate this on your entry.
- Do not send your only copy. Copies without sae cannot be returned. If you do not want your entry returned, it will be shredded and recycled.
- There is no cost to enter.
- There is no residency or nationality requirement.
- Copyright remains with the author. We may ask for permission to publish an extract of the winning works on this website but this will not be done without the author’s express permission. Withholding permission will in no way invalidate the entry or disqualify it from winning a prize. By entering you merely give permission for me to use your name and the (provisional) title of the work.
- One winner will receive a cash prize of $300.00 (Canadian), plus a sodalite keychain donated by Open Earth Designs. Sodalite is the stone reputed to give inspiration to writers. Two runners-up will receive a free hour tutorial which (depending on location) will be in-person or over Skype.
Background of the Award
The idea for the Instant Hook contest came a few years ago when I was perusing a library in search of a good book. I was in a restless mood. I knew I wanted to read a novel. I felt I should read a novel. But each time I picked one up from the shelves, looked at a well-written blurb promising all manner of social, historical, or psychological insights, something was wrong. I tried sampling first chapters which were usually adorned with well-metered prose and evocative use of imagery which seemed to meld perfectly with the story’s likely theme. Still, I got a sinking feeling.
However noble the task the writer had set themselves, however admirable the accomplishment in terms of artistic fulfillment, I just . . . well I just wasn’t interested in any of them. Somehow they failed to grip and I was too busy, too distracted or just too lazy to invest the kind of energy I would need to make myself read until one of these novels did grip me.
Then, finally, I picked up a book with a cover more lurid that the others. The first page presented a dramatic situation charged with urgency and a sense of mystery. Naturally I read on. The intrigue and suspense grew more complex, more layered. I took the book home and pressed on. The swift-flowing narrative continued to combine plot twists and revelations with a rather ambitious allegory, something delicate and well-honed that would stay with me long after I had finished — the afterglow a significant work leaves in its wake.
I had entered the library a restless but jaded reader. I returned the book refreshed, remembering at last why people read novels and why they write them.
It occurred to me how often writers forget this simple lesson: you can have your insights, your beautiful use of language, your imagery deftly expanding upon a theme, and you can have a gripping opening as well. And maybe people will be more likely to pick your book up, read it, and discover the artistry lurking beneath the showmanship.
So The Instant Hook is for all those writers, published and unpublished, beginners and seasoned pros, who would like to remind themselves of this.
In the coming weeks I will have news of more events and signings involving my new novel, The Good Doctor. I can also promise some exciting alumni news from HB Creativity clients, as well as updates regarding the intake for the Online Writing Workshop Series, now accepting applications for January 2015.