For the past six weeks, we’ve spent every spare moment judging the hundreds of entries submitted for WritersWeekly’s most recent 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 SPRING, 2022 TOPIC
All the townsfolk said she’d not survive out here alone. Yet, here she was, working the soil for the second Spring. After a frigid winter, she could finally dig her fingers into the warming Earth. She patiently sifted clumps, making way for the tiny roots her carrots would put down as they sought ancient nutrients left there by their rotted brethren.
One clump did not feel like dirt at all. Puzzled, she grabbed hold of it, pulled, and…
(Stories needed to only touch on this topic in some way to qualify.)
Before you continue reading, take a moment to consider where you would take that story…
We also always add this special hint to our contests:
CRUCIAL HINT! Whenever a contest happens during a big news event or crisis, lots of entrants insert that into their stories. Before you think about including a pandemic, quarantines, protests, global warming, anything political, or anything else that is all over the news right now, please know that lots of entrants are thinking the same thing. So, you might want to avoid those topics.
**WHAT’S THE MOST COMMON MISTAKE WRITERS MAKE?
Giving us a bad and/or boring ending!
Please give us a great ending! **WE LOVE SURPRISE ENDINGS!!**
Congrats to the top three winners!
1st PLACE – All Hail the Queen by Andres Diz
(Andres won $300 PLUS a free book publishing package from BookLocker.com valued at $975!)
2nd PLACE – Dirt by Eric E. Wallace
(Eric won $250!)
3rd PLACE – The Law o’ Teeth by Allie Erickson
(Allie won $200!)
100 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:
We received lots of sci-fi stories, many of those taking place on other planets.
We also received tons of nuclear war stories, as well as dystopian ones.
We were surprised to learn how well plants grow when you add blood to your garden! Seriously, though, lots of stories featured blood in the dirt.
Some characters found doors under the dirt, and entered through those doors. As you can imagine, bad things typically followed for those characters.
There were lots of bodies and body parts in the gardens.
There were also numerous boxes pulled from the dirt.
And, it should come as no surprise that lots of characters found buried jewelry in the garden
In many stories, the woman was a widow.
As with all contests, some common themes come back again and again, no matter what the topic is.
The reader finds out at the very end that the main character is actually dead.
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 an animal.
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 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 telling 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.
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). Some also use Angela’s family members’ names in their stories.
IMPORTANT: We are seeing an increasing number of stories that incorporate current events (what’s ALL over the news right now) in them. These include pandemics, quarantines, vaccine mandates, protests, an invasion by Russia, global warming, political upheaval, heated social issues, a hated president (or hated past president), etc., etc., etc. Any topic that has received saturated coverage in the news should be avoided at all costs. We’re all drowning in it all day, every day. Nobody reading fiction for entertainment wants to read that stuff when they’re trying to relax so it’s wise to simply avoid it. REMEMBER, PEOPLE READ FICTION TO BE ENTERTAINED, NOT AGITATED.
You can increase your chances of winning one of our 24-Hour Short Story Contests by avoiding all of the common themes mentioned above. Step outside of the box and WOW us with something completely original!
Links to the winning stories of the current contest (and all past contests) appear RIGHT HERE.
1st prize: $300 + a book publishing package from BookLocker valued at $875
2nd prize: $250
3rd prize: $200
40+ honorable mentions
+ 60 door prizes!
103 prizes total!
You can see the complete list of prizes, and sign up for the next contest, here: https://24hourshortstorycontest.com
Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela Hoy.
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 has lived and traveled across the U.S. with her kids in an RV, settled in a river-side home in Bradenton, FL, and lived on a 52 ft Irwin sailboat. Angela now resides on a mountaintop in Northwest Georgia, where she plans to spend the rest of her days bird watching, gardening, hiking, and taking in all of the amazing sunrises.
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 https://twitter.com/AngelaHoy
BOOKLOCKER ON FACEBOOK - Provides links to free excerpts!
ANGELA ON FACEBOOK
ANGELA ON LINKEDIN
Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE
How Many Copies Of Your Book Would You Have To Sell In Order To Break Even?
QUERY LETTERS THAT WORKED! Real Queries That Landed $2K+ Writing Assignments
Peek over the shoulders of highly successful freelance writers to see how they earn thousands per article! The query letter is the key!
In these pages, you'll find real query letters that landed real assignments for national magazines, websites, and corporations.
- Abbi Perrets' form letter that brings in $30,000-$45,000 annually
- Sample phone query from Christine Greeley
- The Six Golden Rules of Queries and Submissions...and How I Broke Them! by Bob Freiday
- Your Rights As a "Freelancer"
- and ANGELA HOY'S SECRET for finding ongoing freelance work from companies that have a stable of freelancers, yet never run ads for them!
90+ DAYS OF PROMOTING YOUR BOOK ONLINE: Your Book's Daily Marketing Plan by Angela Hoy and Richard Hoy
Promoting your book online should be considered at least a part-time job. Highly successful authors spend more time promoting a book than they do writing it - a lot more.
We know what you're thinking. You're an author, not a marketer. Not to worry! We have more than a decade of successful online book selling experience under our belts and we're going to teach you how to promote your book effectively online...and almost all of our techniques are FREE!
Online book promotion is not only simple but, if you have a step-by-step, day-to-day marketing plan (this book!), it can also be a very artistic endeavor, which makes it fun for creative folks like you!
Yes, online book promoting can be EASY and FUN! Let us show you how, from Day 1 through Day 90...and beyond!