Terms and Conditions of Writing Competition


A compilation of the best entries is published as the anthology THE RIDER.  You can read the BEST OF THE REST of the stories on our website.

Please read these guidelines through carefully because abiding by them will ensure your story has the best shot at success.
Don't worry - we've tried to keep it all as simple as possible.

The judges for the competition are Veronica Castle, Lynne North and Clive West. Carly McCracken, proprietor of Crimson Cloak will be keeping track of the lists, without judges knowing which story belongs to who.
* Veronica is the chief editor of Crimson Cloak Publishing and loves stories with a good solid structure to them.
* Lynne North is an author of several books and Marketing Manager of Crimson Cloak Publishing.
* Clive is a busy commercial writer as well as author of a number of books including the blockbuster white-collar crime story, The Road.

Competition opening date - Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Competition closing date -  January 31st, 2017
Lower word limit (minimum) - 1,500
Upper word limit (maximum) - 3,000
Entries are welcome from all countries but must be written in English.

First Prize - $150 (this will be increased if there are a high number of entries so watch this space)
Second Prize - $100
Third Prize - $50
Runner Ups - Free entry into the next competition

Please look carefully at the picture - there are several key features which stand out, these being:
•    The hooded rider
•    The horse with red eyes
•    The body hanging from the gibbet
•    The castle with its single tower                                            
•    The high mountain in the background
•    The lake, sea, loch, or fjord (etc)

We expect you to bring all of them into play although the scene depicted by the image may occur at the beginning, in the middle or at the conclusion of your story - that's entirely up to you.
If you've never written anything in the fantasy genre before, please don't let that put you off. A fresh perspective may be just what will catch the judges' attention.

The entrance fee is $10, payable by going here. Make a careful note of the transaction ID that you will receive (this happens automatically although it may take a few minutes for it to arrive in your email account).

We'll keep it simple!
1.    Use an easily readable font (Courier, Arial or Times fonts in 12 point size, color black.
2.    No indents, bullet-points (can't think why you'd want those), tabs, tables or other formatting features.
3.    Do not leave lines between paragraphs.
4.    Italics are OK (if absolutely necessary) but no bold or underlining.
5.    Insert page numbering at the bottom right of each page.
6.    Your story should include its title but bear no other identifying marks as we want to judge it blind (in other words, don't include author/pen name).
7.    Put the finished document into one of these formats - .doc, .docx, .rtf or .odt - and give it a name which begins with your Transaction number and ends with its title. Thus your file name might look like - 1A123456BC1234567-MyFantasyStory. Do not insert your name or any other identifying features into the file title nor put your name anywhere in the document itself. This is very important.
8.    Write in English only (either US or UK English is OK but be consistent) although you may invent words or use the odd foreign phrase if it's relevant. If you do that, try to make the surrounding dialogue explain what the word or phrase means.
9.    Prose only please - no poetry, and no would-be novel chapters.
10.  Fill in the form here and upload your file using the appropriate button.

A.    Submissions must be made using the form on this page.
B.    No submission will be read without the $10 fee having first been paid. You can pay it here.
C.    Family, friends and relatives of the judges are excluded.
D.    Please comply with the instructions about file-naming. We want to be scrupulously fair by judging blind and this will help us to achieve that.
E.    The judges' decision will be absolutely final and no correspondence or discussions will be entered into regarding non-winning submissions.
F.    There will be no feedback provided for submissions - we'd love to but it's just not possible; so please don't ask.
G.    Please make sure that your file is backed up properly as we cannot help authors who've lost the only copy of their file.
H.    Copyright of the work remains yours at all times.
I.    Your story must be original and cannot have appeared anywhere else at any time.
J.    By submitting your work to Crimson Cloak Publishing, you are consenting in the first instance to granting Crimson Cloak Publishing the right to publish your story before all others - either in print or online. You also agree to granting Crimson Cloak Publishing the non-exclusive rights to your work, including the right to include your work in an anthology for which you would be paid the corresponding proportion of royalties (thus an anthology of ten stories would result in each author getting a tenth of the accrued royalties).  You also confirm that Crimson Cloak Publishing can hold your story in their files for an indefinite period.
K.    The announcement of winners (which will take place on this website), releases first rights back to all non-winning authors.
L.    Non-winning entries may be used as the author sees fit although winners may not publish or use their stories elsewhere within a period of one year from the closing date of the competition without the express written permission of Crimson Cloak Publishing.
M.    You may make multiple entries if you wish but each entry must be submitted separately and each must be accompanied by the $10 entry fee.
N.    This competition is open to entries from anywhere in the world although submissions must be in English.
O.    Once a submission has been made it can only be withdrawn, not altered. If you do want to withdraw your entry, write to Carly McCracken however no refunds of entry fees will be given. Do not use this email address for correspondence about the competition as it will not be answered - sorry but we can't do that.
P.    Please stick to the word count range (1,500 to 3,000) as entries outside of this will not be considered and no refund of fees will be given. The title does not form part of the word count.
Q.    You must be 18 or over to enter this competition.
R.    Winners will be notified in writing and details of them posted on this website.

Here are some clues about what we're looking for. These aren't hard and fast rules written in stone but we'll take some convincing to move away from them.
Showing and telling
It's truly cringe-worthy when a writer has to resort to lines like "Oh look, there's my brother Bill, he's the accountant at Megacorp." No-one talks that way so don't have your characters sounding like they just crawled out of a 1950s soap.
The last perpetually irritating refuge of the seriously lexicographically challenged, they said, grimly. Honestly, adverbs are like highlighting - a little makes text stand out, a lot just gives you eye-strain and headache.
Lexicographical Variety
No-one likes repetition. Repetition is boring. Repetition is also unnecessary. Repetition is redundant. It's also tedious when someone sounds like they've swallowed a thesaurus. Steer a path between the two.
Yes, if you want to include it, do, however Crimson Cloak Publishing does not handle erotica therefore any story where the sex element is overly-graphic or where it appears to be the main story-line is going to instantly get rejected (but split infinitives are not barred so you can boldly go if you so desire).
Of course you ****ing can if you want! However, if just about every sentence is choked with cussing, that just shows that you are 'lost for words'. This translates to it being highly unlikely that you'll win.
Blood and Gore
Again, no problem, but splatter-fests are just tedious and will not get you a gold star. Make sure that any violence is relevant and handled appropriately.
Beginnings and Endings
A rough rule of thumb goes as follows:
First line - should capture the reader's attention.
First paragraph - should hook the reader.
Last line - should confirm the reader made the right choice in reading the story.
Endings Specifically
 A story should have a message as well as an ending that satisfies the reader and makes them feel that they have experienced something memorable. We're looking to see entries which draw us in from the first line and which make us bond with the characters.
Dialogue and Narrative
Strike a good balance between the two. Don't overdo any regional accents and remember that people use elisions a lot in the way they speak.
Quirky, flawed, interesting, exciting - these are good adjectives to describe how your characters should come across.
Ideally avoid it but, if you must include it, make it relevant and understated.
Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation
OK, this isn't an English examination but a poorly-edited piece of work suggests a generally careless attitude underlying it. Making no mistakes isn't a requirement for winning the First Prize but it is a big step in the right direction. Check what you've written, check it again and then check it again before sending it. Don't loose your chance at wining by making a lot of miss takes (sic!)

Finally, we wish you the very best of luck and very much look forward to reading your entries. We check every single submission without favor or preconception - that is our promise to you. Whether you normally write war stories or already have ten bestselling fantasy novels out there will make no difference to how we view your story.

Image courtesy of