If you’ve been on the FaithWriters message boards recently, you’ve likely  heard that the Writing Challenge is going to be changing. And maybe you’re curious what those changes might be. Well, here’s your answer: these will be going into effect beginning THIS THURSDAY, October 6. Read on – and please feel free to ask if you have any questions. And JOIN IN! The challenge is a great way to hone your skills – perhaps now more than ever!! (and feel free to click on the links in this post for more information)

THE WRITING CHALLENGE – BEGINNING OCTOBER 6, 2011

The FaithWriters.com Writing Challenge runs over three separate periods every twelve months:

* July to October;
* November to February; and
* March to June.

Each four month period has a different theme as its focus, and all Challenge topics during that time relate to that specific theme.

A new topic is announced at approximately 10 am (EST) every second Thursday morning, and entry for that topic is open to Gold and Platinum members at that time.

Once the new topic has been announced, members will have two weeks to submit their entry. Entries for that topic will close on Thursday morning, two weeks after the topic was announced, at approximately 9:59 am (EST), unless the cap of 200 entries is reached prior to closing time. Winners for that topic will be announced two weeks later.

Visit the Challenge Schedule Forum for the latest Challenge dates.

There are four levels of entry for each topic:

* Level 1 – Beginners;
* Level 2 – Intermediate;
* Level 3 – Advanced; and
* Level 4 – Masters.

These levels provide an opportunity for members to be encouraged and rewarded at their level of ability. Each member is responsible for choosing their initial level of entry and should read the Level Selection Guidelines to help make that choice.

Entries must be between 150 and 750 words long, and should use the topic as their central focus. Entries that fall outside those word count limits will be disqualified and removed; however, every attempt will be made to contact the author in time for them to re-submit their entry.

All entries MUST be conceived and written AFTER the topic is announced. No previously written material should be submitted. This is because the Challenge is designed to act as a tool to help writers develop their ability to write to topic, deadline and word count.

Entries may be in any style or genre, and they do not need to be overtly Christian in message. However, they should at least reflect a Christian outlook and should not be overly violent or sensual. Language deemed inappropriate for Christian readers will be removed.

Once entries close for a topic, those entries will be displayed for reading and comment by members. Members who leave feedback on Challenge entries will be in the running to win the bonus Ratings Feedback Report prize for that topic.

Entries are judged by a team of professional editors using eight specific rating categories. Each entry is judged on its own merits, based on those categories. You can find out more about the rating categories rating categories here.

The judges’ highest rated entries for each topic will receive the EDITORS’ CHOICE AWARD on their entry, and these winning entries will be published in upcoming FaithWriters’ books. The Editors’ Choice award is not based on the level of entry. Any entry from any level has the potential to place in the Editors’ Choice.

The judges’ five highest rated entries for each level of ability (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Masters) for each topic will receive a LEVEL CHAMPION AWARD on their entry. Please read our Guidelines for Choosing a Level before submitting your entry

There are TEN Editors’ Choice awards for each topic, and TWENTY Level Champion winners for each topic.

The highest ranked entry overall for each topic will then go into the running for the annual BEST OF THE BEST AWARDS, with three cash prizes on offer. The Best of the Best 1st place winner each year will win $300.00, 2nd place will win $100.00, and 3rd place will win $75.00. The Best of the Best winners are announced on July 1 each year.

Challenge entrants are encouraged to join a Challenge Buddy/Critique group to help fine-tune their entries before submission. You can find out more about Challenge Buddy groups here on the message boards.

After an entry is submitted, it cannot be viewed publicly until after entries close, and it will not appear in the author’s list of Challenge entries until after the winners are announced. Also, the author’s name will not appear on the entry until after the winners are announced. This is to ensure anonymity for judging purposes.

After submitting your entry, you should be taken to a page saying your entry was successfully submitted. If you do not receive this page, please re-submit immediately or contact FaithWriters for confirmation.

Entries cannot be edited by the author once they are submitted, so it is very important that all editing be done before submission.

It is also VERY IMPORTANT to be aware that entries cannot be removed from the Challenge once entries have closed for that topic.

The winners will be announced two weeks after entries close for that specific topic. The list of winners can be found here and on the FaithWriters’ Message Boards in the Writing Challenge Results forum. You will also find all the highest rankings for each level in that forum.

Each fortnight, one member will be chosen from the comments left on a randomly selected Challenge entry for that topic. The chosen member will receive a free RATINGS FEEDBACK REPORT. This bonus prize is a way of encouraging more members to actively comment on other entries, as the giving and receiving of feedback is one of the highlights of Challenge involvement.

(Silver members, you can join in the fun by simply upgrading to a GOLD or PLATINUM MEMBERSHIP from as little as $5.95 a month. The Challenge is an excellent tool for helping writers hone their skills, get feedback, and possibly even publication.)

So, what do you think of the changes? Looking forward to jumping in? Sounds like a great opportunity to me. See you in the challenge!

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