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Writing will fulfill you

Writing will be worth the sacrifice

Writing will make you more than you are



What you can Expect from Creative Writing Institute

• Fantastic creative writing courses

• The individual attention you so richly deserve

• Your own private tutor six days a week

• Prodding when you lag behind

• A challenge to become more than you are

• Unbeatable prices

• Rapid progress

• Personal encouragement

• Start your course within 24 hours

• Save time and money



Our Goal

To rescue storm tossed lives, one by one, and escort writing students from their present level to their highest potential.



Student Testimonies

* I took two Creative Writing courses at our local college several years ago and made no advancement in creative writing skills. Once I found Creative Writing Institute, and sent a short manuscript for evaluation by Lynn Carroll, I knew this was the most hopeful doorway for me and signed up. After only three lessons of Creative Writing 101, the drive to become a student and writer again was confirmed and on I went.  My tutor, Jo Popek, cheered me every inch of the way. Even the busy CEO, Deborah Owen, took time to write encouraging words. What a great staff. Betty C.

* I just wanted to let you guys know I was assigned to create a newsletter in my technical writing class. We had to write articles based off a fake company we created. I, of course, chose to "own" a used bookstore. So the articles in my newsletter had to be about things people who shop at a used bookstore would read. I wrote several articles, turned them in, and got and 100%! She said my articles were amazing, informative but encouraging, and she absolutely loved them. I wanted to thank both of you and let you know. You really have trained me well! You have given me skills that will help me with future jobs, and school! Thanks!! Arial P.

* This is exactly what I've searched for - [Introduction to Poetry] - poetry forms and rules, punctuation and line breaks. I constantly stumble over the latter. I deeply appreciate your comments and suggestions. There is nowhere else for me to turn for help. Thank you for spending your valuable time teaching this class. I've searched hard for a [poetry] class like this one and am excited to find it at CWI. Terri C.

* I have been absorbing more than I ever dreamed. The dynamic non-fiction course is just that. Dynamic. My dearest friend and writing buddy has her master's thesis in the Library of Congress and has been reviewing my assignment analyses with me at the end of each lesson. She can't get over how extensive the material is that is being taught. > Lynn answers all my questions promptly, satisfactorily, and with humor. Thanks for everything. Shirley D.

* The [Creative Writing 101] course provided the kind of detailed comments and suggestions for my writing that I have been craving and have not received in other face-to-face classes.  Diane M.


How to Win a Short Story Contest

by Hugh Wilson

Volunteer Staff

If you want to win a short story contest, STUDY THE RULES. Many entries are disqualified because the story has not met every requirement. If the rules state a maximum of 1000 words, a 1009-word story, however brilliant, will be disqualified.  

Assuming you’ve done that bit right, the judges will be looking at four elements:

• Originality

• Creativity

• Style

• Technique

Don’t let those official sounding words put you off. They are only words. Let’s look at each and see what they mean to us as writers.


Winning stories come from second, third, and tenth thoughts. Some contests give you a theme – “Wedding Day” for instance. What’s the first thought that comes to mind? Whatever it is, forget it. You can bet your last dollar that everyone else will have thought it, too. Make your story have a unique angle.


Don’t wrack your brain to get ideas. Relax, get your conscious, critical mind out of the way, and allow ideas to bubble up from your subconscious. In other words, daydream.

Ask yourself who, what, where, when, how, and “what if?” Let the trains of thought go where they will. There are NO new ideas, but there are new angles and that’s what makes one story different from another.  

Example: what if a shy looking woman sits alone at a wedding? At the reception, she avoids conversations, eats and drinks, then quietly leaves.

Back in her lonely, one room apartment she scans the Forthcoming Marriages column in the local paper to see where her next free food and wine is coming from.


You won’t go far wrong if you remember three little words: keep it simple.

Don’t try to impress the judges with long, obscure words and “writerly” language. Like any other reader, they want a story that is easy, involved, and interesting.

Don’t stop to admire the view. Every sentence must move the story forward. The reader doesn’t want flowery descriptions of a rose garden in the moonlight. He/she wants to know what the girl is doing there at two in the morning and what happens next. 


A short story has three distinct parts to think about: beginning, middle and end.

The beginning introduces the main character and what the story is about. The middle develops the theme and keeps the reader hooked. The ending must be believable, sum up all the facts and leave the reader satisfied.

Too many otherwise good contest entries simply stop when they reach the maximum word count. Slice and dice your story until you can produce a great conclusion.  

And finally…

Always write your short story specifically for that contest. Don’t be tempted to re-cycle an old story in the hopes it just might fit the requirements. It won’t. Inserting a theme sentence into an old story will be obvious to the judges.

Above all, enjoy writing it and the judges will enjoy reading it.



The Writing Rut

by Deborah Owen

The only difference between a writing rut and a coffin is that the coffin has the ends filled in. Take a serious look at your position in life and judge yourself.

  • When was the last time you spent one hour writing?
  • When was the last time you completed a project?
  • When was the last time you submitted something?
  • When was the last time you sold something?

Don’t look now, but you’re probably in a writing rut. Answer these questions:

  • Do you procrastinate writing?
  • Do you procrastinate learning?
  • Do you select your market before you begin writing?
  • Do you analyze published articles in your prospective market?

If you don’t write, don’t study, don’t research markets, and don’t analyze what your markets print, how do you expect to make progress? You’re driving nails in your coffin and giving up everything you hold dear. Someday you’ll look back and realize life has passed you by and you didn’t do the thing you valued most.

Are you ready to say, “I want to bust out of my coffin/writing rut. How can I do that?” Now we can help you.

1. Do you want to write fiction or nonfiction?

2. Start reading the genre of magazines that prints articles you want to imitate.

3. For the first week, write 15 minutes at the same time every day. If you can’t think of anything to write, write a letter to the girl/guy who jilted you years ago, or write to a loved one who is gone. Practice writings clear your mind of trivia and help you get in the groove.

4. On the second week, write 30 minutes at the same time every day.

5. If you’re writing a short story, make a rough outline that tells the main point of each scene. Answer 50 questions about the protagonist (hero) and antagonist (villain).

6. Join a creative writing club, either local or online, and become active in it. These are the people that will give you the most important feedback. Two good online writing clubs are and is very large, and is much smaller. Both are excellent.

At this point, you’ve done a self-analysis and taken some steps to correct your course. You’re carving time out of each day to get back on track. What comes next?

Knowledge. Where do you get knowledge? At a writing school. Did you know there are a lot of free writing courses on the internet? But be warned, there is no teacher to grade your work, so there’s no way to tell if you understand the lesson properly and make the proper applications.

Writing is an extremely competitive business. If you enter the selling arena without proper preparation, the chances are good that you’ll get lost in the stampede. Taking writing lessons is not an option. If you want to become a selling writer, writing courses are an absolute necessity. The average writer needs 3-5 courses to learn the basics.

Creative Writing Institute  is a nonprofit charity and for that reason, we can offer the best prices on the net. Every student receives a private tutor, so you can sign up for your writing course by clicking on the course you want (above), and begin within 24 hours!

What? No money? We’ve got you covered. You can break your tuition into four easy payments. We won’t charge you interest. No administration fee. No registration fee.

Today is the day to kick the head and foot out of your coffin, arise from the writing rut, and take your place as a creative writer. Creative Writing Institute will help you every step of the way, but it’s up to you to take the first step.

The decisions you make today will determine your writing future tomorrow.



Getting Started in Writing

What would you give to be a good writer? Would you be willing to study hard? Would you be willing to start at the bottom? Would you be willing to invest in yourself? That’s what learning the writing trade is all about, and most students can learn it in two years or less at Creative Writing Institute.



Writing Tip

Delete as many forms of the verb “to be” as possible, since they usually produce passive voice. That includes is, am, are, was, were, be, being and been. These are dead verbs that say nothing. According to Wikipedia, allowed forms are: become, has, have, had (use sparingly), I’ve, you’ve, do, does, doing, did, can, could, will, would, shall, should, ought, may, might and must. The fact that they are allowed, however, does not make them desirable. Get rid of as many as possible because all of them weaken sentence structure. Likewise, using “could” and “would” will drop you into a trap that you’ll find hard to escape.
























Writing contest extended to Sept. 15!

See Contest Guidelines Below


All Writing Courses on Sale

until September 15, 2015!



CWI, a Nonprofit Charity

that Offers Free Courses to Cancer Patients

We also provide creative writing courses to the general public at bargain basement prices. At CWI, you will receive a private tutor who will provide personal feedback as often as you want it. We go the extra mile that others only talk about!

If you are a cancer survivor and wish to apply for a scholarship, see



Meet "Charlie Faye," our cancer poster lady. If you would like to dedicate your donation to a lost loved one, we will list both you and your loved one on our Golden Sponsors page. Any gift, large or small, is welcome. Of course, they are tax deductible. Click on "Donations" in the left column. God bless.



Get Your Free Writing Evaluation

Learn the truth about your writing skills in this 20-point evaluation. If you don't know what your problems are, how can you correct them? Directions: send a 1,750-word short story written in past tense, 3rd person (he, she, it).

Write EVALUATION in the subject line. Material must be G-rated (no swearing, graphic scenes, etc.). Submit to Allow two weeks. One evaluation per person, please. For the best evaluation, use dialogue and write in past tense, third person. Follow directions! That's the first mark of a serious writer. See evaluation testimonies below.



Creative Writing Institute's Annual Short Story Contest

Be Published with Best-Selling Authors in our 2015 Anthology!

Writing Contest Extended to September 15

That's right! This year's anthology is built around best-selling authors whose company you will want to keep. We were keeping that as a surprise, but now the cat is out of the bag. This is your big chance. You have until September 15, 2015, midnight EST to submit your story. Don't put it off.

No Entry Fee

Did you know 20% of contest entries are disqualified because writers don't follow the guidelines? So here they are!

We would like to see some mystery stories, but the genre is open. If you are not sure how to write a mystery, maybe this will help:

Mystery fiction usually involves a mysterious death, a crime, or an unexplained event that needs to be solved. In a closed circle of suspects, each suspect must have a credible motive and a reasonable opportunity for committing the crime or knowing something about it. The central character is usually a detective, but may be any protagonist who has a stake in the outcome—such as a teen who finds a bloody sword in his back yard. This character must be the one who eventually solves the mystery by logical deduction and facts fairly presented to the reader.

Mystery writing can be a detective story in which the emphasis is on the puzzle or suspense element and its logical solution, such as a whodunit. It may involve a supernatural or thriller mystery where the solution does not have to be logical, and may not involve a crime. Example: A group of kids investigate the “strange” new kid whose family just moved into the broken-down old house in the neighborhood.


*First place: your choice of a FREE writing course with a personal tutor, comparable to $900 USD course at Gotham Writers Workshop and other writing schools. Start your course any time within a year, and you have a year to finish from the day you begin.

*Second place: $50 Amazon gift card OR a $150 USD credit toward a writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $900 USD at other writing schools.

*Third place: $25 Amazon gift card OR a $100 USD credit toward a writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $900 USD at other writing schools.

*Plus: first, second and third place winners, two honorable mentions and TEN additional Judge's Choice stories will receive publication in our anthology and Ebook, which will be available in December.

Accepting entries until September 15, 2015, midnight, USA Eastern Standard Time.


1. This is a themed contest and this exact sentence must appear in the story. (You may change the ending punctuation.)

I got more than I bargained for!

2. No swearing, profanity, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, etc. (Swearing includes but is not limited to the following: hell, damn, bitch, etc., and using God's name in vain. If you have a question, write to the head judge:

3. Entries must be 1,000 to 2,000 words. Place the word count at the top of pg. 1.

4. One entry per person, please.

5. By entering this contest, you are stating that the story is your own copyright, that it has not been previously published by a professional or semi-professional publication, and you grant minor editing rights for publication. If chosen for publication, Creative Writing Institute has first, non-exclusive, electronic rights and First North American Print Rights to publish your story in our 2015 eBook and anthology. If you do not agree to publication, you cannot be a winner. All rights return to you upon publication.

6. Entries will be judged on originality, creativity, style, and technique.

7. We will deduct points for poorly structured sentences, spelling and grammatical errors.

8. If you choose to single space your story, double space between paragraphs and do not indent. If you double space, indent paragraphs.

9. Submit entry at

Do not submit your entry by email or to a judge. Winners will be notified on or before October 30, 2015.


Write NEW material specifically for this contest, centered around the theme sentence. Everything should build up to the statement - I got more than I bargained for! That should be the turning point in your story.

Hook the judge with your very first sentence by opening in the middle of an action scene. You can build the backstory (background) in as you go along.

Stay away from internal dialogue (showing a character's thoughts). Far better to have your characters speak aloud, even if they're only speaking to themselves or to a pet. Internal dialogue should be in italics and don't use quote marks. When you use quotes, be sure to proofread closely to be sure they are closed.

A twist ending is always fun!

When finished, ask a writing friend to edit your entry. (Please do not ask a CWI staff member.) LISTEN to their advice!

Before you post your entry, go over ALL the rules again and be sure you followed them. We want our anthologies to be family oriented -- and for you to learn how to follow instructions.

Good luck!

Deborah Owen
CEO, Creative Writing Institute




I'm happy to have found your writing site as your cause is dear to me. I am a many-time cancer survivor and love the opportunity you have taken to help cancer patients. At age 23, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer that had metastasized to ten lymph nodes. In 1997 I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. I have also had 3 squamous cell and 2 basal cell carcinomas removed. Yet, here I am at age 72, happy, healthy, cancer-free and writing. Anonymous ___________

The CWI is a great organization that fosters the love of creative writing in everyone. Kudos! Paul T.___________

The evaluation helped me because I had no idea what my strong points were. It showed what parts of my story was weak and that I should focus on those areas until they become strong points. Annette T.___________

Wow and way wow!! I really didn't expect such a complete job. So kind of you. I feel like I owe you big. I know I have some weaknesses but I never could find them. I can go over other's work - I do it all the time in class - but not my own. I want to communicate my stories to others. I believe it is my one gift that God has given me to share his love. I am a natural storyteller. However, I have always told instead of written. I so appreciate the direction. I have earnestly been praying for this and I feel like this is my first real solid answer. I will be seeking to hone my skills. I will be seeking YOUR HELP in my new mission field. Lavonne C. __________

Lynn was very thorough, thoughtful, encouraging, knowledgeable and motivating. The one-on-one class experience is like no other class I've attended. I believe this promotes the desire to learn and helps with follow-through. Lynn gave me such a confidence boost, all the while being candid about my strengths and weaknesses. He was understanding when I had a crazy couple of weeks and allowed flexibility for homework. I so appreciated Lynn's honesty and heart. You said you enjoyed having me as a student, but you have no idea how the whole class and mentoring system helped me. I'll be forever grateful for all that Deb, Lynn, and Jo have given me. You are all truly unique. Linda C. __________

[I] received a wonderful and detailed writing evaluation of a fantasy short of mine from @deborahowen ; she's awesome; I highly recommend her. Tracy K._______



Reader, Student, and Staff Accomplishments

Step right up and be counted. No matter how big or how small YOUR accomplishments, send them to and see them published in this column.

1. High fives to one of our writing judges, Jianna Higgins, who won first place in the Chatelaine Awards! She also won a gold medal in the Global eBook Awards and was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Kindle Book Awards. Jianna has been studying with Creative Writing Institute for some time. She has already formed her writing platform and accomplished outstanding achievements. Congratulations on a job well done, Jianna! We are so happy for you.

2. Congratulations to our tutor, ​Emily-Jane Hills Orford. Her new book, "To Be a Duke," has been named a Finalist in the Animals/Pets category of the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She will receive a Finalist Certificate and a medal. Along with other finalists and winners, recognition of this achievement will be published at Additionally, "To Be a Duke" will be listed as a Finalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards online catalog and brochures will be handed out at Book Expo America (“BEA”) in New York.

3. Congratulations, Terri Cummings! Dorothy Alexander of Village Books Press will publish her first book of poetry. It is due to roll off the press in the spring of 2016 in time for the Scissortale Creative Writing Festival. Terri is presently studying Short Story Safari. You go, girl!

4. Read Christine Cassello's poem in the Weekly Avocet - #114.  Please share this issue with all those you know who love poetry and nature. Congratulations, Christine!

5. One of our own tutors was once a little angel in a church pageant - well, almost. Read Emily-Jane Hills Orford's recently published story, "The Littlest Angel," and share a chuckle (or two). Go to and find the story on page 19.

6. Congratulations to our Writing for Children tutor, Diane Mae Robinson, on her two newest book awards. Sir Princess Petra's Talent (book two) won a bronze medal in the 2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Awards, grade 4th – 6th category. Sir Princess Petra (book one) won 1st place in the 2013-2014 Sharp Writ Book Awards, children's books category. This is the 4th book award for Sir Princess Petra since its publication in 2012, and the 1st book award for Sir Princess Petra's Talent since its publication in fall of 2013.

7. Tutor, Emily-Jane Hills Orford, has had another memoir/story published in the Curious Tourist Guide (Vol. 17 Issue 7 August 2014). Her story, "The Stagecoach Ride" is on page 23. *High fives, EJ!

8. Hi Deborah. I wanted to share the good news with you and Jo Popek about my recent writing successes. I feel I owe it, in large part, to my fantastic experience in Jo's Creative Writing classes. My short story, "Summer Tale," has just been published in the July issue of Still Crazy magazine. A second story, "Dearly Beloved Daughter," was selected in a competition held by the Great Lakes Commonwealth for inclusion in their anthology, Imagine This which will be published this fall. The Oak Park Writers Group has published my memoir piece, "Bombs Bursting in Air" and a poem, "Dark Lover" in their anthology, Keystrokes Volume IV.

Diane says, "And . .  I've made the first cut in a flash fiction contest sponsored by Women on Writing with The Whole Truth, a piece that grew out of an assignment for one of Jo Popek's classes. Winners will be announced this fall. I've recommended a variety of your classes to numerous writing buddies and will continue to do so in the future. Again . . thank you, thank you, thank you! Diane Maciejewski

* CONGRATULATIONS, DIANE! We gave you the material, but you're the one who did the work and made it happen, girl.

9. CWI writer Zena Shapter has been nominated for a Ditmar Award for Best New Talent! The Ditmar Awards recognize and celebrate achievements by Australians in speculative fiction writing: Zena said: “I’m seriously chuffed to have received this vote of confidence from a community of writers I respect so much.”

*Well done, Zena!


Connect with our CEO

Twitter: @DeborahOwen




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A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in

pictures of silver.

Proverbs 25:10


Deborah Owen and Creative Writing Institute, Inc., its board and staff make no warranties or guarantees of any kind. Writing success comes from study and persistence. We endeavor to be accurate in every way, but the publishing industry and research material fluctuates almost daily. Deborah Owen, Creative Writing Institute, Inc., its board and staff may not be held liable for damages of any kind.

Travel the writing road at your own risk. We all do. Direct questions to our CEO,