Nancy's Books

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Conflict/Contest/Student Publishing

For the next several weeks, I will post publishing opportunities for students in the Contest/Call for Submissions section of this blog.

Conflict, A Writer’s Best Friend

In the writing world, conflict is good. The greater the conflict, the stronger the story. I remember when I first began writing, I read an article that stated we should treat our characters badly, then treat them worse. That was an ah-ha! moment. Characters need goals, but they also need obstacles to those goals. The reward comes at the end of the story when the character shows evidence of growth.

Conflict, internal or external, brings the character to life and adds depth to the story. Without conflict, a character is uninteresting and flat. With conflict, a character is compelled to take action. The characters actions and reactions keep readers engaged in the story.

A character should work at solving the problem. Failure to do so is an integral part of the plot because the character is forced to work harder. Repeated failure requires the character to rethink and retry different avenues to resolving issues. The knowledge gained from failure leads to growth.

A character needs an antagonist, a worthy opponent, to keep the conflict believable and who creates challenges and motivation. The character’s actions and reactions will drive the plot. Allow the character to be torn between two choices and forced to deal with difficult decisions, exposing raw emotions. Readers will want the character to succeed and will hang in there to the last page.

These rules apply to picture books, chapter books, and novels. In fiction, don’t run from conflict, run with it.


Eric Hoffer Award for Short Prose
Each year, outstanding works of short prose deserve wider recognition. The Eric Hoffer Award for short prose recognizes excellence in writing with a $500 prize and various honors and distinctions. Works of short prose must be less than 10,000 words, previously unpublished, or published with a circulation of less than 500. The winning prose and selected nominations are published annually in the anthology
Details at

For Students:
Two age groups (7-10, 11-14).
Grand Prize: One year subscription to Backyard Poultry,
Official Gertrude McCluck plush toy, book choice of Storey's
Illustrated Poultry Breeds or Your Chickens ($60 value)
2nd Prize: One year subscription to Backyard Poultry and
Official Gertrude McCluck canvas bag ($40 value)
3rd Prize: One year subscription to Backyard Poultry and
Gertrude McCluck notecards ($30 value)
Honorable Mention: Backyard Poultry "Have you hugged your
chicken today?" t-shirt
All contestants will receive a Gertrude McCluck sticker
with a letter notifying them of the results. Winners will
be posted in the Dec./Jan. issue of Backyard Poultry and
on the Gertrude McCluck website. Write an original story
that includes Gertrude McCluck. You can write about anything
- what happened when Gertrude discovered an ostrich egg in
the coop? Hitched a ride to the fair? Met the poultry in
your flock? Use your imagination to take her on an adventure.
Type the story using 500 words or less. Good stories have
a beginning, middle and an end. Please use 1" margins,
double-spaced and 12 pt.font. Send story in e-mail or
postal mail by October 15. Include your name, age,
address, phone number and e-mail (if you have one) with
the story (not just on the envelope or in the e-mail).

Details at

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