Topic, Common Themes, and Winners of the Spring, 2015 24-Hour Short Story Contest! By Angela Hoy

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For the past six weeks, we’ve spent every spare moment judging the hundreds of entries submitted for the WritersWeekly Spring, 2015 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

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.


Sitting on the porch steps, she stared, ignoring the scent of lilacs from the overgrown bush. Her heart lurched when she saw the mail truck approaching, dust in its wake. Would it arrive today? The ancient mail carrier took his time handing her some envelopes and, finally, a large package in brown paper. As he drove away, she dropped the envelopes on the porch, and walked quickly around the side of the house, praying nobody inside saw…

(Stories only needed to touch on that topic in some way to qualify.)

Before you continue reading, take a moment to consider where you would take that story…

The top three winners of this contest are posted HERE.


Here are our notes about common themes that emerged with this topic:

The most common theme was child abuse.

There was lots of spousal abuse, too, with battered women ordering things to help them start a new life.

There were lots of stories about adopted children looking for their birthparent(s).

Along the same lines, several children had been kidnapped as babies or small children, and the package would help them reclaim their lives.

Numerous stories featured women having affairs, and receiving packages from their lovers.

Some of those women were being fooled by their estranged husbands, who were trying to rekindle their romance.

Several time machines arrived in the mail.

Lots of stories featured needed money arriving in the mail.

And, many stories were told from the family dog’s point of view (i.e. dog vs. mailman).

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).

Vampires, aliens and other scary creatures. We always see LOTS of those.

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), or that the main character has dementia. We always get several retirement home or other senior citizen stories.

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.

The story is dramatic but you find out at the end the characters are really children playing make-believe or that the main characters are actually animals, not people.

The main character of the story is a writer or someone in the story (usually the main character) is named Angela (the publisher of WritersWeekly).

A common fairy tale is the basis of the story.

Links to the winning stories of the current contest appear HERE.


1st prize: $300
2nd prize: $250
3rd prize: $200
20+ honorable mentions
+ 62 door prizes!

You can see the complete list of 85 prizes, and sign up for the next contest, HERE.

The SPRING CONTEST is scheduled for coming up!

Sign up today right HERE!

About The Author


Angela Hoy is the publisher of, and the co-owner of (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees). - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. - 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. - "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.

Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela.

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.


BOOKLOCKER ON FACEBOOK - Provides links to free excerpts!


Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!

Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE