Topic, Common Themes, and Winners of the WritersWeekly.com Winter, 2013 24-Hour Short Story Contest!

Print Friendly

Angela’s series, How to Compile and Publish an Anthology, will resume next week.

For the past six weeks, we’ve spent every spare moment judging the hundreds of entries submitted for the Winter, 2013 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 online. Entrants then have 24 hours to write and submit their stories. The stories “must deal with the topic in some way to qualify” and they must not exceed the pre-assigned word count.

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.

A thump on the porch, swirling snow, and a note fluttering in the wind?

THE WINTER, 2013 TOPIC

Hearing a light thump outside, she walked to the front door and opened it slowly. Wind and snow swirled and the cold lashed her cheeks. By her feet she discovered a small pot with tiny white flowers. She recognized it as a Galanthus nivalis. Footprints in the snow led to and from the porch and a note tied to the slender stalk fluttered in the icy air…

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

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

Dozens of stories had the exact same one-word title: Snowdrop

Most stories took place in a remote cabin.

Most stories were love stories…or unrequited love stories.

Many characters were drinking hot tea on that snowy day.

Several characters followed the snowy footprints.

Many stories had mental illness themes.

Alzheimer’s was a common theme because a compound in the Snowdrop is used to treat that disease.

The most common characters appearing in the stories were:
widows
abused women
alcoholics / wife beaters
child molesters
witch doctors
horticulturalists / gardeners
ghosts

  • Despite the rule specifying otherwise, we always get a handful of stories where a character is named Angela or Angie


  • Also despite the rule specifying otherwise, we always get a few stories where the main character is a writer or a journalist of some sort and some of them are dealing with writing for a short story contest. Those stories are particularly disappointing because we see so many of them during each contest.


As with all contests, some common themes come back again and again, no matter what the topic is. These include:

  • 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/TV show/play.


  • 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.


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


  • A common fairy tale or other well-known tale is the basis of the story.


  • The story either begins with a dream or you find out at the end that the story was all a dream.


Links to the winning stories appear here.

You can see the complete list of 85 prizes, and sign up, here.

The Spring, 2013 24-Hour Short Story Contest, which will be held on April 13, 2013. Each contest is limited to 500 entrants and they usually fill up so don’t delay if you want to participate!
Enter here: http://www.writersweekly.com/misc/contest.php

PRINT ON DEMAND PRICE COMPARISON

>>> BookLocker: $517 (Deduct $200 if submitting your own cover) <<
Rated “Outstanding” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.
**(If you want to bypass the formal submission process, you can email your manuscript to Angela directly for consideration at angela -at- booklocker.com).

>> Trafford: $624.00 <<
Rated “Publisher to Avoid” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

>> CreateSpace: $978.00 (Deduct $299 if submitting your own cover) <<
Rated “Just OK” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

>> Lulu: $1248.00 (Deduct $450 if submitting your own cover) <<
Rated “Pretty Good” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

>> iUniverse: $1299.00 (includes 5 “free” copies) <<
Rated “Publisher to Avoid” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

>> AuthorHouse: $1593.00 <<
Rated “Publisher to Avoid” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

>> Xlibris: $1972.00 – (includes 5 “free” copies) <<
Rated “Publisher to Avoid” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.

***Prices above based on least expensive package offered by each publisher on similar offers targeting U.S. authors. Fees include interior formatting (based on a 200-page book), original cover design with up to 5 images, print proof, ebook creation, up to 25 interior photos/graphics, an ISBN, barcode, a listing on the publisher’s website and distribution by Ingram, all within 6 weeks.

MORE DETAILS HERE.