Attention writers! CBC Literary Awards wants a word with you

September 14, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

The CBC Literary Awards, an annual competition celebrating original, unpublished writing in both official languages, is looking for submissions for its 2010 edition. There are three categories – fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction – and the prizes are not insubstantial: $6,000 for the winning entry in each category, $4,000 for the runner-up, plus publication in Air Canada’s enRoute magazine and on the CBC’s website. The deadline for this year’s submissions is November 1, 2010.

As with the Ceeb’s annual Canada Reads competition, they are doing yeoman’s work promoting their literary awards online, with a website where aspirants can submit their material and a Facebook group. In addition to information about the submission process, the CBC website also includes writing tips, previous winners’ work, and other features, including an interview with former juror Heather O’Neill, who provides some insight into her criteria for judging the submitted material:

O’Neill admits that the stories’ brevity often determined how she evaluated the writing. “Because of the word count,” she explains, “you’re almost looking for the style of the writer because there isn’t time for story development. You’re looking for a new voice that’s talking to you, so you weed out the derivative stuff right away.”  In terms of personal criteria, O’Neill finds it difficult to pinpoint exactly what grabs her in a story. She takes a stab at it anyway. “It’s funny,” she says, “because you look for something that doesn’t seem laboured, but to develop that, it’s very laboured. I guess I look for something lovely and light, with humour … I like writing that’s funny and sad, that hides the author.”

O’Neill also emphasizes the importance of strong beginnings. “The opening of your story is like a first date,” she says, suggesting that writers need to charm the jurors from the outset.

So dust off those laptops and get writing; the deadline for submissions is less than two months away.