For the past six weeks, we’ve spent every spare moment judging the hundreds of entries submitted for the WritersWeekly 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 WINTER, 2018 TOPIC
Even with the heater on high, and wearing her snow pants,
parka, mittens and scarf, she was shaking from the cold.
Her shoulders tensed as she she peered over the steering
wheel, dodging black ice and snow banks. She knew she’d
picked the wrong time of year to pull this off but it
was too late to change her plans now. Her mind briefly
wandered as she fantasized about her destination. And,
that’s when she misjudged a curve.
As she quickly rounded a curve, she was instantly pulled
out of her reverie. A tiny, shivering boy was sitting
alone by the side of the road…
(Stories need 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…
Congrats to the top three winners!
1st Place – Harold and Janet Go to Town by Colleen J. Karnas (Colleen won $300!)
2nd Place – Richie’s Story by Charles H. Milam (Charles won $250!)
3rd Place – Mountain Descent by Emerson Rose Craig (Emerson 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.
COMMON THEMES SUBMITTED
Here are our notes about common themes that emerged with this topic:
Lots of cars had broken heaters.
The child ended up leading the driver to who they were looking for.
Lots of stories featured runaways or escaping orphans. Some ended with the driver adopting the child.
There were lots of children taken to the authorities to be reunited with their parents.
We read about countless car wrecks.
A number of stories featured what appeared to be a small boy, but he was actually a dwarf.
In a few stories, the “child” was actually a snowman.
There were lots of criminal hitchhikers.
Many characters were escaping the north…specifically heading to Florida.
A few stories had the woman picking up a child that she’d lost in the past (spirits).
A handful of stories featured characters living inside a snow globe.
And, several stories featured a set-up where the child was used as bait to victimize the driver.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
You can increase your chances of winning one of our 24-Hour Short Story Contests by avoiding these common themes. Step outside of the box and WOW us with something completely original!
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, HERE.
The NEXT CONTEST will be held on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
Sign up today RIGHT HERE!
- 14 Tips To Give Yourself A Leg Up In Writing Contests!
Sign-up for the next contest!
- List of ALL PAST TOPICS and WINNERS of the WritersWeekly Quarterly 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
- From WritersWeekly Short Story Contest Winner to Simon and Schuster Contract!
- We’re Launching an Ongoing WritersWeekly’s “Find the Typo” Contest on Facebook! We post screenshots of articles online and you get to find the typo. Be the first, and win a Free Print Book!
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 lives on a 52' Irwin Center Cockpit Ketch (sailboat) with her family and pets. Keep up with her family's adventurous liveaboard lifestyle at GotNoTanLines.com
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
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!