Monthly Archives: February 2018

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Listen up Minnesota student writers: Nine fresh writing competitions are calling for your attention—and work. Whether you’ve entered a writing contest in the past or you’re waiting for the perfect opportunity, now’s the time to get crafting and submit. These nine contests cover the gambit of ages, topics, and genres, which means no student is left out. That’s right, there’s no excuse not to enter! So put down your phones, pull up a chair, and check out this listing of Minnesota student writing contests for Spring 2018:

Frankenstein Project – Novella Contest 2018

Theme: One or more fundamental themes of the Mary Shelley novel Frankenstein

Age: Any person living in southeastern Minnesota/SELCO library region

Contests participants are asked to write a novella on a Frankenstein theme, like vengeance and futility or creativity and the responsibility of what has been created. Submissions must be between 20,000 and 50,000 words. The contest is free to enter and includes monetary prizes and publication in an anthology. Deadline for submissions: March 4, 2018.

https://www.rochesterpubliclibrary.org/services/frankenstein-project

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis – Student Essay Contest 2018

Theme: Should the Federal Government increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour?

Age: All high school students living in the Ninth Federal Reserve District

Essays must be limited to three pages on the topic and under the direction and supervision of a teacher. Monetary prizes for 30 finalists, along with first, second, and third cash prizes and a paid summer internship for the first prize winner. Teachers can also receive cash prizes. Deadline for submissions: April 20, 2018.

https://www.minneapolisfed.org/community/financial-and-economic-education/student-essay-contest

Minnesota State Fair – K-12 Competition

Theme: Reports and Creative Writing

Age: K – 12

Teachers or students submit work as an exhibit. Online registration begins May 7, 2018. Students may submit a variety of items; projects executed at home and school are welcome. Projects include drawings, paintings, reports, and creative writing. Entry is free. Deadline for submissions: August 7, 2018.

http://www.mnstatefair.org/competition/edu.html

Twin Cities Juneteenth Celebration and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s Youth Drawing and Essay Contest 2018

Theme: What Juneteenth means to you or your family or Why is Juneteenth an important historical event?

Age: 11-18

Juneteenth celebrates the end of African slavery in the U.S. Entrants must write a 250-word essay on one of the above themes. Contest is free to enter. First and second place winners are awarded prizes and honored at the Annual Juneteenth Celebration on June 16. Deadline for submissions: June 1, 2018.

http://www.juneteenthminnesota.org/JUNETEENTH%20FORMS%202018/YouthEssayWritingContest2018.pdf

2018 Lutherans for Life Minnesota Essay Contest

Theme: From Age-to-Age the Same and Bible verse Isaiah 46:3b-4

Age: Lutheran students in grades 6 – 12

Students must write a life-affirming essay on the topic, no more than 400 words for grades 6-8 and 750 words for grades 9-12. Monetary awards are given to top winners, along with advancement to the national contest. No entry fee. Deadline for submissions: March 18, 2018.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5122917ce4b08a7615958803/t/5a58c638ec212d907568a790/1515767352973/2018+Minnesota+Essay+Contest+RulesV1.pdf

The Great River Shakespeare Festival/Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest 2018 (Winona)

Theme: Sonnet (see information below)

Age: Youth Category, ages 17 and younger

According to the website: “Sonnets may be written in Shakespearean, Spenserian, Petrarchan or Non-Traditional rhyme schemes, but each must be in the fourteen-line, iambic pentameter form.” Best youth category for this contest awards three winners, who will receive cash prizes. No fee to enter for youth category. Deadline for submissions: June 1, 2018.

http://sonnetcontest.org/

The Great American Think-Off Writing Contest 2018

Theme: Which plays a greater role in shaping one’s life: success or failure?

Age: All ages

Essays must be no longer than 750 words. Four winners receive cash prizes and an invitation to a live debate on June 9 in New York Mills, MN, to answer the question. No fee to enter. Deadline for submissions: April 1, 2018.

https://www.kulcher.org/think-off/the-great-american-think-off/

2018 SCSC Writing Contest (South Central Service Cooperative & Minnesota State/Mankato)

Theme: Conservation and Sustainability

Age: Students in grades K - 12

Write a poem, fiction, or nonfiction piece that relates to the theme. Word length varies. The contest was created to recognize talented young writers in south-central Minnesota. Awards include publication in an anthology and copies for themselves and their school. Additional prizes may be awarded. Entry fee of $3 per submission, multiple submissions accepted. Deadline for submissions: March 19, 2018.

https://mnscsc.org/scsc/media/student/docs/2018-writing-contest-flier.pdf

Lake Superior Writers 2018 Annual Contest

Theme: Rescue

Age: Must be 18 or older – open to college students

The LSW 2018 Annual Writing Contest covers multiple genres, including poetry, short-short fiction, short fiction, and creative nonfiction. Monetary prizes and publication for winners. Entry fees are free for members of LSW; $35 fee for nonmembers. Deadline for submissions: April 1, 2018.

https://lakesuperiorwriters.org/2018-writing-contest/

Good luck to all contestants!

Image by photosteve101

 

 

 

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In today’s world of loose rules and anything-goes sentence structure, bad grammar often gets a pass. But using effective grammar is essential for readability, credibility, and clarity in writing. If you think you could use a grammar refresher, look no further. These five tips will help you hone and improve your grammar—so you can give your readers a satisfying, stammer-free experience.

Take a Class

Why not enroll in a grammar refresher course? They’re fun and challenging and help sharpen this important writing skill. Recommended classes include the Editorial Freelancers Association's Grammar Combo course, ed2go’s Grammar Refresher, and Media Bistro’s Grammar and Punctuation. You might also check with a local college or community education program for onsite grammar refresher classes.

Download a Grammar App

There are many grammar apps out there, so why not take advantage of this useful tool? Grammar apps do everything from point out errors in your writing to offer quizzes and games to make learning fun. Some of the most popular grammar apps include Grammarly, Oxford A-Z of Grammar and Punctuation, and Grammar Up, but an online search will reveal many more.

Explore a Grammar Site

Websites set up to assist with grammar can be a great resource for those especially interested in learning more about the mechanics of good writing. Three to consider are GrammarCheck, Daily Grammar, and Purdue Online Writing Lab. These sites include newsy information on today’s use of grammar as well as helpful hints to keep your grammar spotless—and spot on.

Invest in a Good Style Guide

This is a must if you’re a writer. Style guides give rules for how editors (self-editors too!) should handle all kinds of grammar-related issues—from basic mechanics to word usage. For tips on choosing a style guide, check out Allena Tapia's article on the subject. Style and usage books, like the classic On Writing Well by William Zinsser and Strunk’s The Elements of Style, offer important grammar help for writers, too.

Read

You’d be surprised at how many grammar tips you can pick up by just reading a book. Plus, reading is an entertaining and informative way to hone your craft. So go ahead and read to your heart’s content. But instead of reading as a reader, try reading as a writer. Your grammar won’t just improve; so will your overall writing.

Don’t let your grammar fall by the wayside. Take it seriously, and make your writing as professional and crystal clear as it can be.