Style Guide

You Want to Impress the Judges?

Every year we receive many good entries but they are not always well-written or well presented. Here are some tips to help you avoid pitfalls that may ruin your chances of selection for publication.

Read your work aloud carefully before submitting. Listen for these things:

Ask someone else to read your work. Choose someone who you know will give honest and fair advice, and ask this person to look out for the things mentioned in the previous paragraph. Writers know their work well but do not always include everything that the reader may need; equally, it’s easy to over-explain when it’s better to back off and let the reader do some work. Give your work a read-test with the audience.

Paragraph carefully. A paragraph (stanza or “verse” in a poem) should work arm in arm with those on either side of it, to develop stages in a line of thought, or to indicate a change of focus. In dialogue, it indicates a change of speaker. Paragraphs help you and the reader to understand your text.

Before you send your entries, proofread them beyond the level of an electronic spell-check. The recommendations above are the sorts of things it takes a flexible human brain to detect. When you do spell-check, set the Language function to English (New Zealand) or English (UK).