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Written by Grace Tierney   
2005-07-26

Make ‘em Laugh – Humor Writing Contests

by Grace Tierney

‘I find the contest, you write the entry.’

Ever since the first writer in a cave somewhere scribbled a painting asking “Why did the chicken cross the road?,” writing humor has been a tricky task. Generating laughter can be tougher for a writer than prompting tears. Each human being has a unique sense of what is funny. Written words seeking giggles can lead to incomprehension, or worse, offense. Humor writers live a troubled life as a result. However, if you do pull it off, there’s something exquisite about knowing you’re causing smothered giggles on commuter trains, knowing smirks in pubs, and raising the spirits of those who read your work.

Fortunately writers love to share tips on how to write humor and there’s plenty of reference material available for you to shape to your own needs. Phil Truman’s book Writing Humor for More Than Laughs (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/
0970750781/qid=1121982192/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/104-7
076707-3441507?v=glance&s=books
) provides tips, examples, and markets for a writer who wants to add laughs to their writing. While How to Write Funny: Add Humor to Every Kind of Writing by John B. Kachuba (http://www.amazon.com/
exec/obidos/ASIN/1582970548/qid=1121982192/sr=2-1
/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/104-7076
707-3441507
) includes interviews with well known humorists such as Dave Barry and Bill Bryson in which they try to analyze how humor writing works.

So, we’ll assume that everything you write is funnier than Monty Python crossed with Steve Martin, now what? You could enter a humor writing contest. They aren’t as plentiful as poetry contests but they do exist. Many only run once and offer quirky prizes but others run annually in the name of a well know humorist and would look nice on your resume – you can decide for yourself which ones you’d like to pursue. I’ve provided a selection below.

Bear in mind that any contest entry can be written in a humorous style. In fact, unless the contest is for a very serious literary prize, the judicious use of humor can greatly raise your chances of winning any writing contest. Afterall editorial guidelines constantly state that they love to see humor and every reader adores a tummy-tightening giggle in their fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. As for screen-plays and other spoken writing – where would we be without the witty one-liner?

So why did that poor chicken cross the road? To enter the humor writing contest of course!

Don’t forget to scroll down for my regular contest round-up for the coming month.

Happy Writing!

+O+O+

Unless otherwise noted, contests are annual and open to all writers.

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ThatComedian.com Photo Caption Contest
http://www.thatcomedian.com/Photocaptioncontest.htm
humorous photo caption
Monthly

+O+O+

Margie Culbertson Humor Writing Contest
short humor
http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Gallery/4111/menu.html
every two months

+O+O+

Holdemhumor.com Poker Contest
Humor - Poker Jokes and Humorous Stories about Poker
http://www.holdemhumor.com
September 10

+O+O+

No Fee but Lots of Fun Writing Contest
short fiction, report, poem, even a ransom note, so long as it addresses the all-in-good-fun theme “Editors Are Evil"
www.writesideout.com

September 15

+O+O+

The Mona Schreiber Prize for Humorous Fiction and Non-Fiction
humor, comedic essays, articles, short stories, poetry, shopping lists and other forms
http://www.brashcyber.com/mona.html

December 1

+O+O+

The Foster City International Writer's Contest
fiction, poetry, children's fiction, humor, personal essay
http://www.geocities.com/fostercity_writers/categoriesinfo.html
December 31

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Erma Bombeck Writing Competition
personal essays in the categories of humor or human interest writing
http://www.wcpl.lib.oh.us/adults/erma.html
(link down at time of writing but this is the correct link)
February 18

+O+O+

Listowel Writers Week contests
Details of the 2006 competition will be announced in November but in 2005 included; short fiction, humorous essay, poetry, poetry collection, and one for a full length play
www.writersweek.ie
March 1

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Cartoon Competition
One panel cartoon, artwork is secondary
http://www.angelfire.com/biz/funnypaper/fpguide.html
March 15

+O+O+

Coming Soon to the Writing Contest Department

Forthcoming features will focus on short story contests, travel writing, writing for children, speculative fiction, contests with unusual prizes, mystery writing contests, and romantic writing contests.

I’m always looking for new contest types to research so if you’re looking for a particular type of contest for your writing, just drop me a line. I’d also love to hear from you if you win a contest you read about here or if you have a contest to suggest for inclusion. Please note that I will only include contests which are open to writers anywhere in the world as our readers are geographically dispersed.

Contest Deadlines from September 1 to 15

September 1
Omph Fiction Book Contest
fiction book
http://coffeecrampreviews.tripod.com/id161.html

+O+O+

September 1
Dark Tales Flash Competition
flash fiction - horror and dark fantasy
http://www.darktales.co.uk

+O+O+

September 1
Mattia Family Poetry Competition
Poetry
http://www.mattia.ca/contest6/rules6th.html

+O+O+

September 1
Helen Schaible Shakesperian/Petrarchan Sonnet Contest
Poetry
http://www.illinoispoets.org

+O+O+

September 1
Illinois Poets Poetry Contest
poetry - free verse, formal verse, prose poem
http://www.illinoispoets.org/contest.htm

+O+O+

September 1
Robert Frost Foundation Poetry Award
Poetry
http://www.frostfoundation.org/

+O+O+

September 2
Bill Naughton Short Story Competition
short fiction
http://www.aghamoregaa.com/society/shortstory.htm

+O+O+

September 3
International 3-Day Novel Contest
Novel
http://www.3daynovel.com/

+O+O+

September 9
Surrey International Writers' Conference Contests
short fiction, non-fiction, poetry
http://www.siwc.ca/contest/

+O+O+

September 10
Alabama NLAPW Literary Competition
poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction
http://alabamapoets.org/poetry_contests.php?contest_id=26

+O+O+

September 10
Holdemhumor.com Poker Contest
Humor - Poker Jokes and Humorous Stories about Poker
http://www.holdemhumor.com

+O+O+

September 10
Bullfight Little Book Prize
Book
http://bullfightreview.com/prize.html

+O+O+

September 15
gritLit Short Story Contest
short fiction
http://www.gritlit.ca/shortstories.htm

+O+O+

September 15
No Fee but Lots of Fun Writing Contest
short fiction, report, poem, even a ransom note, so long as it addresses the all-in-good-fun theme “Editors Are Evil"
www.writesideout.com

+O+O+

September 15
Russell Edson Prose Poem Contest
prose poetry
http://www.gcwriters.org/contest_links.htm

+O+O+

September 15
V.ox Prose Poem Contest
prose poetry or prose vignettes
http://www.voxjournal.com/

+O+O+

September 15
Rrofihe Trophy
short fiction
http://www.opencity.org/rrofihe

+O+O+

September 15
The HSA Bernard Lional Einbond Renku Competition
Haiku
http://www.hsa-haiku.org/res-hsa-contests.htm

+O+O+

September 15
New York Stories Fiction Prize
short fiction
http://www.newyorkstories.org/

+O+O+

September 1
Saturday Writers Short Story Contest
short fiction
http://www.saturdaywriters.org/contest.htm

Grace Tierney is a freelance writer who lives in Ireland. When she’s not researching writing contests, she enjoys gluttony, reading, gardening, and travel. Her short stories have been published internationally in magazines, books, and online media. Her non-fiction has been published in Ireland, the UK, America, and Australia. She is a staff writer with Writer Online, Netsurfer Digest, and The Good Book Guide. Contact Grace via www.gracetierney.com

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