For the past six weeks, we’ve spent every spare moment judging the hundreds of entries submitted for the WritersWeekly Fall, 2017 24-Hour Short Story Contest. In case you’re not familiar with our quarterly contest, this is how it works. On the date of the contest, at start-time, we send out the topic for that specific contest to all registered entrants, while also posting it on WritersWeekly.com.
Entrants must be registered before the contest begins and there is a limit of 500 participants per contest. Entrants then have 24 hours to write and submit their stories via email. The stories “must deal with the topic in some way to qualify” and they must not exceed the pre-assigned word count, which is announced with the topic.
After reading the entries for each contest, we can see how difficult it is to come up with a unique plot when working with an assigned topic. But, inevitably, a few writers do manage to successfully break away from the pack.
THE FALL, 2017 TOPIC:
She wasn’t too comfortable letting the children go trick or treating by themselves but her son was almost 11 now. Surely he could keep an eye on his little sister, right? She heard them laughing as they stepped into the chilly night, with the crackling of orange and red leaves under their feet. Less than an hour later, she heard someone at the door once again, and expected to see ghosts and goblins from the neighborhood. However, it was her children. Back so soon? The children silently walked past, handing her their candy bags for inspection. She walked to the dining room table, and dumped the contents of her daughter’s bag on the table. And, that’s when she saw…
Before you continue reading, take a moment to consider where you would take that story…
Congrats to the top three winners!
1st Place – Souling by Skip Dyer (Skip won $300!)
2nd Place – Candy From Hell by Robert R. Gass (Robert won $250!)
3rd Place – Night of the Three Cats by Eric E. Wallace (Eric won $200!)
85 other participants won prizes as well!
The top three winning stories, along with a list of the other winners, are posted RIGHT HERE.
COMMON THEMES SUBMITTED
Here are our notes about common themes that emerged with this topic:
Many candy bags contained bloody body parts. Fingers and toes were very popular.
Several stories featured guns in the candy bags.
There were also lots of kittens and other “pets” in candy bags.
The items in some goodie bags let the children know that Mommy was cheating on Daddy.
Of course, in the reverse, there were more cheating husbands than we could count.
Popular costumes included witches, vampires, knights, and “Elsa.”
The mother in many stories was suffering from depression, alcoholism, or another illness.
There were lots of Salem witch trial stories.
The most common story title was simply “Trick or Treat.”
As with all contests, some common themes come back again and again, no matter what the topic is. These include:
The story is about a writer and/or it’s a writer participating in a writing contest (groan).
We always receive countless domestic abuse stories.
We find out at the end that the entire story was just a movie/TV scene/play or we find out the first scene of the story (usually the topic itself) is from a movie or TV show/play, or even a book or article one of the characters is reading.
The reader finds out at the very end that the main character is actually dead (is a ghost or spirit of some sort).
The reader finds out at the very end that the main character is actually an animal.
The main character dies at the end, and is met by a loved one or an angel of some sort. We also see lots of dead friends/relatives trying to convince the characters it’s their time to die, too, helping them to cross over, etc.
We always receive numerous stories about characters with dementia.
The story is dramatic but you find out at the end the characters are really children playing make-believe.
We find out at the end that the main character is actually an unborn child, telling their story from the womb. You only find out it’s a baby at the end.
The main character of the story is a writer or someone in the story (usually the main character) is named Angela (the same name as the publisher of WritersWeekly).
A common fairy tale is the basis of the story and/or a well-known character is featured in the story. (Writers should create their own characters.)
The writer uses well-known fictional characters and real people from the past. Again, writers should create their own characters.
You can increase your chances of winning one of our 24-Hour Short Story Contests by avoiding these common themes. Step outside of the box and WOW us with something completely original!
Links to the winning stories of the current contest appear RIGHT HERE.
1st prize: $300
2nd prize: $250
3rd prize: $200
20+ honorable mentions
+ 62 door prizes!
85 prizes total!
You can see the complete list of 85 prizes, and sign up for the next contest, here: http://24hourshortstorycontest.com
The NEXT CONTEST will be held on January 20, 2018.
Sign up today RIGHT HERE.
- 14 Tips To Give Yourself A Leg Up In Writing Contests!
- Sign-up for the next contest!
- List of ALL PAST TOPICS and WINNERS of the WritersWeekly Quarterly 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
- From WritersWeekly Short Story Contest Winner to Simon and Schuster Contract!
- We’re Launching an Ongoing WritersWeekly’s “Find the Typo” Contest on Facebook! We post screenshots of articles online and you get to find the typo. Be the first, and win a Free Print Book!
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the author of 19 books, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
Angela lives on a 52' Irwin Center Cockpit Ketch (sailboat) with her family and pets. Keep up with her family's adventurous liveaboard lifestyle at GotNoTanLines.com
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
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Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE
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