Topic, Common Themes, and Winners of the Spring, 2017 24-Hour Short Story Contest!

Topic, Common Themes, and Winners of the Spring, 2017 24-Hour Short Story Contest!

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

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 wind suddenly picked up as she looked out from the porch. A wall of dark clouds was pushing across the horizon and a light chop had developed on the lake, gently rocking the tiny rowboat tied to the dock. The changing seasons always brought unpredictable weather. Just as she was about to turn toward the door, movement in the water caught her attention. She squinted and then her eyes opened wide. Rushing down the stairs, she kicked off her shoes, and raced to untie the boat…

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

Congrats to the top three winners!

1st Place – Woman’s Work by Annette Rey
(Annette won $300!)

2nd Place – Fierce Protector by Ramona Scarborough
(Ramona won $250!)

3rd Place – Stick to the Plan by Susan Fabio
(Susan 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.


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

-Most of the stories were about saving a drowning victim.
-The second most common theme was about saving a drowning dog.
-Many stories featured bodies that were supposed to sink but, oops, they floated back to the surface!
-We received a few stories where the characters had multiple personality disorder (a.k.a. Dissociative Identity Disorder).
-Surprisingly, several stories also had characters racing out to save a person, only to discover it was actually driftwood or another item not at risk of “drowning.”

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.
-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.
-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. This was particularly prevalent with the Spring topic.
-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.

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, RIGHT HERE.


Sign up today right HERE:


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One Response to "Topic, Common Themes, and Winners of the Spring, 2017 24-Hour Short Story Contest!"

  1. pamelaallegretto  June 8, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Congratulations to the winners!