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, 2020 TOPIC
Bluebonnets danced around her white skirt as she turned her
face toward the sun. She only needed a few for the vase.
Perhaps a little joy would soothe the inevitable unease at
the table that night. It was always tense when meeting with
her neighbors. She hoped enough time had passed. They had to
know there was nothing she could do to change what had
(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…
SURPRISE! We added a special note for this contest! It was:
CRUCIAL HINT! You might be thinking there was an illicit affair, or a child born out of wedlock. The fact is, that’s what MOST people reading this topic are also thinking! You should probably take this story in a different direction, don’t ya think? (Wink wink!!)
ANOTHER CRUCIAL HINT! Whenever a contest happens during a big news event, lots of entrants insert that into their story. Before you think about including a virus or pandemic in your story, please know that lots of entrants are thinking the same thing. So, you might want to avoid that topic, too.
Congrats to the top three winners!
1ST PLACE – A Giant Tale by Rachael Clarke
(Rachael won $300 PLUS a free book publishing package from BookLocker.com valued at $875!)
2ND PLACE – The Binder by Leigh Nichols
(Leigh won $250!)
3RD PLACE – An Ocean Of Bluebonnets by Erica Rahaman
(Erica won $200!)
88 other participants won prizes as well!
The top three winning stories, along with a list of the other winners, is posted RIGHT HERE.
COMMON THEMES SUBMITTED
Here are our notes about common themes that emerged with this topic:
Despite our warning, several stories featured pandemics or similar themes. We even noticed several mentions of face masks.
Lots of women in the stories were witches.
For some odd reason, many stories featured characters that had gone through gender reassignment surgery. We’re still trying to figure out how our topic led to that common theme.
We read countless alien stories.
There were several infidelity stories.
Lots of stories featured children who had done something wrong in the neighborhood.
Lots of dogs got killed in the stories.
Several dinners involved people complaining about other neighbors. Lots of gossip themes.
There were plenty of bodies buried among the bluebonnets!
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.
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.
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 (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
25+ honorable mentions
+ 60 door prizes!
88 prizes total!
You can see the complete list of prizes, and sign up for the next contest, here: https://24hourshortstorycontest.com
Don’t miss our ongoing “Find the Typo Contest” and “Trivia Contest.” You can see the current ones here:
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
I admire any writer who wants to tackle a blind character. But so many writers take up this challenge and FAIL. They research blindness by reading other fiction books, by observing their blind colleagues and acquaintances, and by tying on a blindfold and pretending to be blind themselves.
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So, You Wanna Be a Ghostwriter - How To Make Money Writing Without a Byline
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