Panacea Short Story and Essay Contest - The Journey So Far
Precious Adeyemi is a Co-founder at Panacea.ng. She is also the chairman of the governing board of the competition arm of the organisation. Here's what she has to say about the Short Story and Essay Contest.
When did the competition begin and what's the story behind its conception?
Panacea's short story and essay competition began as an idea to harness writing talents, promote creativity among young people in Africa, promote a reading culture amongst young people, and also to increase the awareness of our organisation and what we do. The Panacea team thought that the competition would be a great way to accomplish these objectives, whilst still giving back to the African community.
Our pilot edition held in December 2019, after a few weeks of publicity on social media. The theme was "An Unforgettable Christmas". We had a good number of entries, some painstakingly and deliberately written and some averagely written. I could say that our pilot outing was a success. We have recently concluded the second edition which was an even bigger success.
What does the review/grading process entail?
The process of reviewing the entries involves scoring each story according to the contest score guide. Marks are given for the length of the story, originality of the story, author's story telling ability, and a few other items on the score guide. Grading is done by judges from the Panacea team. The scores are then collated and the winners are ascertained.
Has there been any improvement between the first and second editions?
Yes, there have been many improvements. We keep trying to make it better as we go along.
The first edition was a tedious process because contestants sent in their entries via mail. Hence, sorting each story so none is missed out and everyone is given their due score, was an uphill task. The judges however did their best to ensure that scores were given without any bias.
The first edition also had less publicity compared to the second. By the second edition we had learned from the first, so we embarked on one-month publicity on social media prior to the start of the competition.
In the second edition, a page on our website was dedicated to the submission of entries which eliminated the sorting process. We also had three judges, as compared to two in the first edition, who independently accessed the platform to read through each story and input their scores. Scores were then automatically collated and calculated, and the winners were declared and contacted. The second edition was therefore a great improvement on the first. We hope to keep improving as new editions are conducted.
Asides cash prizes, what other benefits are winners of the contest entitled to?
Depending on their position, winners are given between 3 months to 1 year free subscription on our e-library. They also have their profiles and a brief review of their story published on our blog for the world to see. Finally, their stories are published on our e-library as premium books for which the winners receive payment. We look forward to adding more benefits to the list as time goes on.
What is the competition process like for you?
The whole process for me is usually a thrilling one. It's exciting to see people respond when we call for entries, and to see the amount of work they put into writing these stories. I'm also usually very thrilled when the winners are informed of their winning stories. It's indeed a rewarding venture from start to finish.
On a final note, what should we look forward to in the coming editions?
Oh well, please look forward to more engaging and challenging short story and essay themes. We're also working on a special edition targeted at secondary school students. This will be conducted during their holiday period so they are not left out of the competition. Moreso, we hope that with the help of sponsorships, our prizes will become more attractive and encouraging to the young people so they can cease this opportunity to let out their creativity and be rewarded for their hard work.
So, do look forward to many more editions, including special editions for certain target groups, more engaging themes and, of course, bigger prizes!