Always have an eye and an ear open for story material. It's like collecting scraps of fabric for a patchwork bedspread. They don't look like much individually, but each piece helps to make an amazing finished item. The colour or pattern of one square might inspire a theme for the entire bedspread.
So cherish those odd one-liners and chunks of chat or gossip. Note down clothes, colours, perfumes, pie-fillings, sunsets, storms and whatever else you spot on your travels. Then knit some of them together in your stories for a unique style all of your own.
Great things can grow from bits and pieces. So be observant and never dismiss anything as irrelevant. Some striking imagery, born from a casual observation one day, could catch a judge's eye and lift your competition work up higher than everyone else's.