Insider Tips for Dan’s Literary Prizes for Nonfiction

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For those of you thinking about entering the Dan’s Papers $10,000 Literary Prizes for Nonfiction for 2016, please allow me to offer 16 writing tips to get you started, or get you to the finish line.

1. If you write using quill and inkwell, do not allow thirsty cats into the room.

2. Always know beforehand how a story will begin, progress through the middle and come to an end. Write the beginning, write the middle and, if it takes a strange turn, go with it. It will figure out its own ending.

3. The rules for the Dan’s Literary Contest are that the essay must be between 600 and 1,500 words. If you are struggling and failing to get it to go over 600, keep going until you do. If you get to 1,499 words, stop.

4. Let your first sentence grab the reader, tie his hands behind him, throw a bag over his head, throw him in the trunk and drive off.

5. If you want to write something really nasty about somebody, walk around the block before sitting down to write. If you still feel you want to get nasty, do it, but change his name.

6. If you write a poison pen letter, don’t lick the tip.

7. To overcome writer’s block, whisper “I think I can I think I can I think I can” until it either goes away or you hear a train whistle.

8. If you require complete silence in the place where you write, always keep a bowl of raw eggs near at hand to throw at people who come by.

9. Never write while driving, having sex, talking on the phone, running, eating, drinking, taking a bath or sleeping.

10. If you write old-school on a typewriter while sitting in a club chair by a fire, resist the temptation of throwing a disappointing manuscript into the fire before you make a copy of it.

11. If you write on a lawn chair at the beach, be sure to have a clear plastic cover on your keyboard.

12. If you write about a robber, be sure to include the word “heist” somewhere.

13. If you write about a celebrity, always use phrases such as “made an appearance” or “was spotted.”

14. If you think of a word that is important, write it in capital letters. If you think of a word that is to be a secret, type it in italics. If you think of the name of someone important, put it in capital letters. The names of people who are short go all in lowercase letters.

15. If you write on the Hampton Jitney, set your typeface large so the person next to you can read it out of the corner of his eye.

16. Never plagiarize. Don’t even write down this rule without changing it around a bit.

The 5th Annual Dan’s Papers Literary Prize for Nonfiction celebrates the deep connection between writers and the East End of Long Island, with prizes totaling $10,000. The Dan’s Papers $6,000 Literary Prize for Nonfiction is open to writers of all ages. The Dan’s Papers $4,000 Emerging Young Writers Prize for Nonfiction is open to writers age 25 years and younger. All entries must be an original work of nonfiction between 600 and 1,500 words, and must make references to the East End of Long Island in a meaningful way. Poetry is not accepted. Entries are accepted now through August 14, 2016. 

Winners will be announced at a ceremony at Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater in East Hampton on Thursday, September 1. Major funding is provided by Barnes & Noble. Sponsorships are provided by Bridgehampton National Bank, Ben Krupinski Builders and Montauk Rumrunners. Support for the Emerging Young Writers Prize is provided by Alec Baldwin.

Visit for rules and to enter the Dan’s Papers $6,000 Literary Prize for Nonfiction or the Dan’s Papers $4,000 Emerging Young Writers Prize for Nonfiction.

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