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Free Microfiction Writing Contest

Summary

UPDATE #1: The contest deadline has been extended to 8pm EST on June 11. Explanation here.

UPDATE #2: Submissions are now closed. Thank you for all your stories! We will provide an update on judging by June 30.

The Story Engine and The Shortest Story are hosting a free-to-enter microfiction contest for original prompted stories of up to 100 words. It's open to any writer, anywhere in the world! 

There is a grand total of $500 CAD in cash prizes and $500 CAD in donations made to the nonprofits of choice for winners and runners-up in two age categories.

Young Writers Category
(up to and including age 17)

Prize (in CAD)
Winner $150 prize + $150 donation to nonprofit of choice
Runner-Up $50 prize + $50 donation to nonprofit of choice
Runner-Up $50 prize + $50 donation to nonprofit of choice

 

Adult Writers Category
(age 18 and up)

Prize (in CAD)
Winner $150 prize + $150 donation to nonprofit of choice
Runner-Up $50 prize + $50 donation to nonprofit of choice
Runner-Up $50 prize + $50 donation to nonprofit of choice

 

All writers retain full rights to their stories. There is truly meant to be no cost or boundary to entering.

I know a lot of us are struggling to stay creative during quarantine. No one should feel pressured to be productive during a pandemic, but for those writers who are looking for inspiration, I want to help provide some. Microfiction is an accessible way to stretch your creative muscles, even if you don't have a ton of time or energy.

Please read the full guidelines below, then submit your story here.

Format

Stories must be equal to or less than 100 words and written with this prompt drawn from The Story Engine deck.

PROMPT: An archivist wants to regain an irreplaceable book but a terrible secret will come out....

"PROMPT: An archivist wants to regain an irreplaceable book but a terrible secret will come out...."

Writers are encouraged to interpret the prompt freely and creatively. You do not need to use the specific words that appear in the prompt, but your final story should reflect each of the elements of the prompt in some way.

Stories must be previously unpublished and should be submitted for judges to read in English.*

Stories can be in any genre.

A story will only be eligible to win if it is equal to or less than 100 words. Titles do not count to toward count. We will be using this free online word counter.

Submissions

There is no entry fee. 

Writers will each be able to submit one story for the contest. Any additional stories submitted by the same author will not be considered for the contest.

You do not have to be a Kickstarter backer or preorder customer to enter. There is truly no cost for entering.

Submit your up-to-100-word story via the submission form here.

Rights

Writers retain full rights to all their stories.

We are not asking for any rights to your work. Winners and runners-up will be given the option to have their stories designed into postcard stories and published on shorteststory.com, but are not obligated to do so. 

Deadline

The story submission form will be closed at 8pm EST on Thursday, June 11.

Judging

A small panel of judges will review submissions. There will be no identifying information on submissions when we read them. 

Good fiction often defies easy categorization, but judges will be considering certain elements as they review stories to keep judging objective and fair. Here are some characteristics the judges will generally be assessing stories by.

  1. Style: Is the writing engaging, clear, and/or descriptive?
  2. Originality: Have we seen a story like this before?
  3. Use of micro-format: Does the story use the compressed format of microfiction to tell a larger story or present a larger theme?
  4. Use of prompt: Does the story interpret, respond to, challenge, or otherwise make use of the prompt?
  5. Je ne sais quoi: Sometimes a story has something special that doesn't show up on any rubric. Judges will have the discretion to highlight story features that accomplish something outside of the areas above.

Judges

Our panel of judges are accomplished writers and editors, who have also served as guest contributors to The Shortest Story and The Story Engine: 101 Postcard-Sized Stories anthology.

If you'd like to get to know their writing and editorial style, please take a look at their work and social profiles linked below.

 Sonya Ballantyne is a filmmaker and writer originally from Misipawistik Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba. Her work focuses on Indigenous women and girls in non-traditional film genres such as horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. Her first film Crash Site has played in festivals internationally and she hopes to direct a Superman film adaptation in the future. (Twitter / Facebook)
S.M. (Samantha Mary) Beiko is an award-winning author of young adult fantasy. Her titles include The Lake and the Library, as well as the Realms of Ancient Trilogy (Scion of the Fox, Children of the Bloodlands & The Brilliant Dark), all from ECW Press LTD. She is also the artist and creator of the webcomic Krampus Is My Boyfriend!, and the editor of the comics anthologies Gothic Tales of Haunted Love and its follow-up, Gothic Tales of Haunted Futures. She has worked in the publishing industry as an editor of fiction and comics, as well as a graphic designer, since 2010. Learn more about her projects at www.smbeiko.com. (Twitter / Facebook)
Peter Chiykowski is the creator of The Story Engine deck of endless storytelling prompts, the author of the weekly microfiction project The Shortest Story, and the creator of the two-time-Aurora-Award-winning webcomic Rock Paper Cynic. His writing, art, memes, and other hijinks have appeared or made mention in BuzzfeedEntertainment WeeklyNewsweekBoingBoingThe Huffington Post, and Bored Panda. (Twitter / Facebook / Instagram)
Kat Kruger's author portrait

Kat Kruger is Dungeon Master on the actual play podcast d20 Dames, Chief Wordsmith at Steampunk Unicorn Studio, and Story Architect for Multiverse. Her D&D adventures can be found on DMs Guild and DriveThruRPG. Follow her on Twitter/Instagram (@katkruger) and keep an eye out for her latest releases in the Unbreakable Anthology, on d20dames.com, and in the Eyes Unclouded Anthology inspired by Studio Ghibli. (Twitter / Instagram)

Kari Maaren is a writer, cartoonist, musician, and academic whose first novel, the YA fantasy Weave a Circle Round, was published by Tor Books in 2017. It tied for the 2018 Copper Cylinder Award (YA category), was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, and was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award (YA category). Kari has a completed webcomic, West of Bathurst, and an active one, the double-Aurora-winning It Never Rains, and she has produced two independent albums, Beowulf Pulled My Arm Off and Everybody Hates Elves. She lives in Toronto with too many musical instruments and an astounding number of books. (Twitter / Facebook)
James Mark Miller is the author of A Small Fiction, a microfiction project popular on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. A new, expanded edition of the first A Small Fiction collection will be available from Andrews McMeel in September. James is also co-founder of the creative team Embros Creative, writer for the webcomic Dear Toadington, and a fan of stories of all kinds.
(Twitter / Facebook / Instagram)
Jordan Shiveley Jordan lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota where he writes weird things. Sometimes they appear in games. Most recently he wrote the Codex of the Deep Spire supplement book for the SPIRE roleplaying game. His new horror-comedy book Hot Singles in Your Area is forthcoming from Unbound in 2021 and is available for pre-order right now. (Twitter / Instagram)


Winners

Judges will select a winner and two runners-up for each of two age categories:

  • Young writers (up to and including age 17)
  • Adult writers (age 18 and up)

That's a total of 2 winners and 4 runners-up.

Prizes

I believe writers should be paid for their writing. There will be payment in real money. (Not exposure!)

Young Writers Category
(up to and including age 17)

Prize (in CAD)
Winner $150 prize + $150 donation to nonprofit of choice
Runner-Up $50 prize + $50 donation to nonprofit of choice
Runner-Up $50 prize + $50 donation to nonprofit of choice

 

Adult Writers Category
(age 18 and up)

Prize (in CAD)
Winner $150 prize + $150 donation to nonprofit of choice
Runner-Up $50 prize + $50 donation to nonprofit of choice
Runner-Up $50 prize + $50 donation to nonprofit of choice

 

Money will be sent via PayPal and converted to the recipient's preferred currency (as long as it is supported by the PayPal) using the exchange rate on the day it is sent. All transaction fees will be paid by the contest. The writer will receive the full amount.

*Authors writing in languages other than English are welcome to submit their original story translated into English, but they are responsible for producing or commissioning the translation. The judges will only be assessing the translation, and will not be told that the story has been translated. If you submit a translation, you are encouraged to submit the story as a joint submission with the translator credited as a second author.

4 comments

  • I have entered the contest as a suggestion by a co-worker, my first time trying to write a story within the limits of 100-words. Can’t wait to see how well I did for my first time. It is a accomplishment to enter and be reviewed by you.

    colleen m tice
  • Hi! For some reason, the form is not working and I can’t submit my story.

    MARCELO FARIA
  • Interesting contest! Thanks for hosting it. Is there a way we can convey italics via the online form? Maybe asterisks to mark the start and stop of the italics? Thanks!

    John Adams
  • I’m extremely excited that I found out about this! I read the prompt and had an immediate idea, I’ll be submitting it by the end of the night, after I spell check and proof read all of it :)

    Garrett

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