So You Think You Can Write…

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Yinka Olatunbosun

Nowadays, book launches are commonplace. The irony is that just a few writers are born or made, as the case maybe. Compelling writers with high quality writing are diminishing in figures while many writing contests have emerged to strengthen young African writers. In Nigeria, young writers often fall short of several international writing competitions that require their works to be published outside the shores. Whatever the case, history shows that the stake has been so high for budding writers in Nigeria.

Hence, to sustain the literary habits in Nigerian youths, a feature story writing contest by OVH Energy Marketing tagged “So You Think You Can Write” has been initiated. The first edition in this Prodigy Series was won by Dr. Rachel Adeyeye Adetola, a young female medical doctor in 2016. The Prodigy series is a project designed to support arts in Nigeria and this contest is just a fraction of the whole.

If the title reminds you of a popular television series, then you’re thinking right. It is selected to challenge ambitious writers who are willing to submit their works for close examination by a team of six internal judges and an external judge. This year, the external judge for the writing competition is renowned writer, journalist and former Presidential Adviser on Research and Documentation, Mrs. Molara Wood.

The writing challenge has the theme, “Corporate Social Responsibility” which should inspire contestants to suggest how corporate organisations can fulfill this role; impacting positively on social welfare while serving economic benefits. This is quite different from the

“We will always be passionate about environmental safety and sustainance but we are also aware that other areas of CSR apart from environmental sustainability can also make a difference,” said Mr. Seun Adeosun, the Head, Corporate Communications, OVH Energy Marketing, while explaining the rationale behind this edition’s theme.

To qualify to compete, you must be a Nigerian living in Nigeria. So, if you’re one of those who live in one of Nigeria border towns, you may want to relocate so that you won’t miss this fine opportunity. Naturally, in this contest, the winner gets it all- that is a sum of N500,000 and need we add, a year long boasting right?

According to Mr. Seun Adeosun, every entry will be subjected to rigorous and unbiased examination for organisation of thoughts, grammatical structure, depth of research and originality of ideas. Also, a previous winner is eligible to contest again in this edition. Although there are no consolatory prizes for this writing contest, the competition will challenge other budding writers to develop cutting-edge writing skills.

To develop competitive writing skills, the trick lies in reading. One of the pieces of advice that a copywriter gets at the start of a writing career is to read wide and be absorbed in a wide-range of subjects. As a writer, you may not love wild parties but if you have to create a scenerio like that in your fictional writing, your imagination must be fuelled. From March 20 till April 21, budding writers can fuel their creativity with national developments to create a brilliant piece that will possibly be a judge’s pick.

Undoubtedly, this initiative is part of the 17 of the 2023 Developmental goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Though it is targeted at youths, there are no age restrictions in this competition and as they say- it is for both the young and the young at heart. Only one entry is allowed by each contestant, which must be written in English language, with not more than 1500 words. Though a lot of research work had been done by joint writers, in this competition, only solo effort will be allowed.

Before the winner of the competition is declared,  a shortlist will be announced in May. Entries that make the shortlist must have been found to be strong in structure and coherence, quality of argument and analysis, mechanical accuracy and other benchmarks. The selection usually takes place in four stages. The internal judges handle the first two stages while the long list is sent to the external judge who makes the final three selections before the winner is declared. The number of entries received each year may determine the time for the announcement of the overall winner.

The competition is solely sponsored by OVH Energy Marketing, a licensee of the OANDO Plc.