The 3Ds to winning story competitions in Singapore

Mind you, a disclaimer, I’m totally not a judge of any official writing events or an award winning writer or some teacher or whatever. Heck, you can even see that I’m not writing “proper” here. I am just me. A normal typical person.

Okay, I had to laugh insanely a bit there at the previous line.

ANYWHO! Yes, from my observations, you need the 3Ds to win story competitions in Singapore. Mind you, the 3Ds don’t count if it has a specific genre like chic-lit or romance or science fiction (I forgot the name of that event but yes, there was a sci-fi comp for students last year or so).

You need the 3Ds to win in open story competitions where you’re allowed to write whatever story you want. Only you know, that’s not true. You’re allowed to write whatever story you want but the winners will always be the ones that have the 3Ds. What are they?

The 3Ds by Seriously Sarah:

  • Descriptive
  • Dramatic
  • Depressive

There’s no way around it. Descriptive is a given, it’s good to describe things in a story especially if they’re in a short story format. It gives vivid imagery of what’s happening. Though, if you start describing every single thing and in purple prose, for example:

Her crystalline tears flowed down like waterfalls upon the surface of her alabaster cheek. A cheek so fair and fine that it blablabla…

You get the idea… Too much in the wrong way would be wrong. The next bit is to be dramatic. It makes things interesting, non? The story needs to smack you in the face that you’ll go “Oh gosh! I need to read more!”. Well, you might not say “Oh gosh!” but something to that point.

The first two points works in any of the fictional story competitions and it would be great if you did do that. The third D however works in the others.

The last bit is depressing.


Yes, I have noticed and attended award ceremonies for said competitions. Every time the results are revealed and the stories are read, I go “Oh, good grief”.


Good grief indeed.

It is depressing like heck. Which is to say the stories are good but somehow are always depressing. Someone dies, is dying, dead. Or the characters’ relationship in the story dies, is dying, dead. The world dies, is dying, dead.

There’s other ways of making a depressing story besides making things dead. As long as you make people sob or think depressive thoughts… YOU KNOW YOU ARE A WINNER.

Bonus points if you make it about the current trend of whatever bad is happening in the country at the moment or a social issue of sorts. Double bonus points if you can make it nationalistic and of any social/governmental/educational/etc system we have.

Like someone falls through the cracks of getting help of a social service and then dies or something. Sprinkle in of the good times the character has had before said tragedy happens and you’ll get a heart breaker.

Unfortunately, if you can’t tell by now, I can’t write depressing things. Unless motivated or PMSing. Usually the latter though. Also my dilemma is that even these things win competitions and get into the book of winners or whatever… Who buys it? Or if not buy, who reads it?

The world is not made up with just me so I could be wrong but… most of those who’d buy or read the book of said depressing things are:

  • school types where they go “Oooh, our (insert person) has won!”
  • school types who analyze said work in lieu of literature/English class
  • literary types who go ooh to add to their collection
  • not the common person off the street
  • people like me who’d go “ARRGH, ARRGH?!!?” and are looking at previous winners’ entry to see what to write
  • people who actually do like the collection of said stories
  • depressing people

Maybe not the last one but in any case, not the common person off the street! Still… you know even if it’s no Harry Potter, the prizes for the competitions of open genre-d stories are VERY tempting. So if you want to win them, remember the 3Ds!

Ps. If you’re a judge or whatever for big open genre-d fictional short stories and want to say, “No! We do have happy entertaining stories too!” then, yessss please tell us which competitions are these okay?

Pps. If the upcoming competitions ever do have a true non-depressing story that makes people want to read it for fun, tell me too because that would be a pretty nice entry to read.

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Well, this is seriously Sarah and that's all you need to know for now.

3 thoughts on “The 3Ds to winning story competitions in Singapore”

  1. *struggling student writer-wannabe*

    Clearly I need to write more when PMSing, too!

    Either that, or think of all the futile attempts I’ve made at contests. Depressing enough. 😀

    I love your blog! ^^

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