For the past six weeks, we’ve spent every spare moment judging the hundreds of entries submitted for the WritersWeekly Winter, 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 WINTER, 2017 TOPIC
Holding tightly to her valise, she glanced over her shoulder
before stepping onto the platform. Dark blue clouds stretched
from the prairie to the heavens. The blizzard was coming fast and
the conductor was urgently pleading for everyone to get on board
so they could depart before the storm arrived. As she placed her
foot on the first step, anxiety prickled the back of her neck.
She couldn’t shake the feeling that she’d forgotten something…
Before you continue reading, take a moment to consider where you would take that story…
Congrats to the top three winners!
1st Place – From Scratch by Christine DeRenzis
(Christine won $300!)
2nd Place – The Girl on the Green Line by Brittany Weir
(Brittany won $250!)
3rd Place – The Kindness of Snow by Hannah Froggatt
(Hannah won $200!)
85 other participants won prizes as well!
The top three winning stories, along with a list of the other winners, are posted HERE.
COMMON THEMES SUBMITTED
Here are our notes about common themes that emerged with this topic:
Many stories were about abused women leaving their husbands. Of those, several decided to kill their husbands, and run.
We received lots of Holocaust stories.
There were many criminals using the train to escape, as well as lots of train robberies.
Several valises contained heads or other body parts.
There were many stories about the train crashing after the passenger decided not to get on, or after they missed the train.
We received numerous nuclear winter stories.
Interestingly, this story brought in lots of stories about the storm ending civilization and there were lots of spaceships (instead of trains) leaving earth to save the human race.
As with all contests, some common themes come back again and again, no matter what the topic is.
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.
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).
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 “surprise” animal element is extremely common).
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.)
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 NEXT CONTEST IS COMING SOON!
Sign up today RIGHT HERE.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, 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).
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.
ANGELA ON TWITTER
BOOKLOCKER ON FACEBOOK - Provides links to free excerpts!
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ANGELA ON TUMBLR
Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE
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