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Many people ask: Is it worth it to pay for a writing contest? The odds of you losing that contest are extremely high, so that is a factor. However, I think it is worth it if you get feedback from judges, so you are basically paying for a professional critique. In January 2020 I participated in the NYC Midnight's Short Story Challenge. The entry fee was $48 if you signed up early before Dec. 12th and $58 if you signed up afterward. They pin writers from all around the world against each other to write a 2,500 word story in 8 days. They assign a genre, character, and subject to each group of writers. Three judges for each group of about 40 writers choose the top 5 stories to progress to the next round. Every writer that participates gets feedback on what the judges liked and what they think the writer should work on. The participants received the results and the judges feedback at the end of March 2020 just in time for the next round of the contest to begin.
This is the short story I wrote for NYC Midnight's First Round of the 2020 Short Story Challenge. Writers from all over the world are given 8 days to write to an assigned genre, subject, and character. The maximum word count is 2,500 words. There were about 4,000 writers all around the world participating in groups of 40. The top 5 of each group will progress to the next round. The winners will be announced at the end of March/ early April.
My genre was suspense, my subject a path, and my character a beekeeper.