For the past six weeks, we’ve spent every spare moment judging the hundreds of entries submitted for the WritersWeekly Summer, 2016 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 SUMMER, 2016 TOPIC
Her shoes clip-clopped along the concrete like
a sticky metronome. Approaching a hot dog vendor,
she said, “What types of mustard do you have today?”
He responded, “I had a pure-bred Schnauzer but
now he only has three legs.” He then handed her
a sweating bottle of water before turning away.
A few feet away, a metal newspaper dispenser
reflected the harsh sunlight. She stepped closer,
blinking at the headline…
Before you continue reading, take a moment to consider where you would
take that story…
Congrats to the top three winners!
1st Place: Seeking Redemption by Faye E. Arcand
(Faye won $300!)
2nd Place: Life As Seen By Otto by Katharine Craven
3rd Place: It Was Supposed To Be Sunny Today by Sarah Jane Shaffer
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:
Most stories had the “mustard,” “three-legged dog,” and/or “water” as code for a secret mission.
There were lots of confused hot dog vendors.
Oddly, many stories featured people getting hit by cars, some being thrown in front of cars by the woman or the hot dog vendor.
We received several time travel stories.
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).
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 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
The FALL CONTEST IS ONLY THREE WEEKS AWAY!
Sign up today right HERE.
Angela Hoy lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.
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Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!