For the past six weeks, we’ve spent every spare moment judging the hundreds of entries submitted for the WritersWeekly Summer, 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 must be registered before the contest begins and there is a limit of 500 entrants per contest. Participants 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, 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.
Keep reading as this peaceful summer day melts into mayhem…
THE SUMMER, 2013 TOPIC
Holding the sleeping infant on her shoulder, she gazed peacefully at her surroundings. Tourists wandered in and out of stores, an old man was setting up his easel by the lakeshore, and a child’s balloon escaped into the breeze. A moment later, she looked up as shouts startled her and the baby. Everybody was running in her direction…
Before you continue reading, take a moment to consider where you would take that story…
The top three winners of the Summer, 2013 contest are posted HERE.
Here are our notes about common themes that emerged with this topic:
Many stories featured famous artists.
The most common disruptions in the stories were bombs.
Another common disruption was fire.
Several stories made the contest topic the scene of a movie or TV show. (This is a common theme in every contest. See more below.)
Many stories featured fathers abandoning the women and babies. There was also a large number of abused women in the stories.
A number of stories had the father die, but coming back at the end.
Several of the women characters were mentally ill and, in some of those, the baby is what drove her to madness.
In many of the stories, the reader finds out at the end that the baby is really a doll.
In several stories, the people were running toward a celebrity/movie star.
A few stories mentioned Poseidon.
As with all contests, some common themes come back again and again, no matter what the topic is. These include:
Vampires, werewolves, aliens, and other fictional monsters. We always see LOTS of these.
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. We also see lots of dead friends/relatives trying to convince the characters it’s their time to die, too, helping them 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.
A common fairy tale or other well-known tale is the basis of the story.
A well-known fictional character is used in the story or is the basis of the story. (Writers need to create their own characters rather than borrowing from other writers.)
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 of the Summer, 2013 24-Hour Short Story Contest appear here.
1st prize is $300, 2nd is $250 and 3rd is $200. You can see the complete list of 85 prizes, and sign up, here.
THE FALL 24-HOUR SHORT STORY CONTEST IS FAST APPROACHING AND IT’S ALWAYS OUR MOST POPULAR! The topic always includes a crispy Fall theme. The Fall, 2013 contest will be held on September 21, 2013. The winners for that one will be announced before Halloween. Each contest is limited to 500 entrants and they usually fill up so don’t delay if you want to participate!
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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.
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