It’s that time of year again to see if you have the talent to sit among the ranks of O. Henry, Edgar Allen Poe or Nikolai Gogol. The Austin Chronicle is once again accepting entries for the 21st Annual Short Story Contest, and now may be the time to see if all of those horror/sc-fi stories you wrote while bored at work are worth the cut.
Entries must be submitted and postmarked by Monday, December 10, but even if you don’t already have something saved up, you only have 2,500 words to go. You probably had college essays about Shakespearean sonnets that were longer than that. It’s an amount that can be knocked out the next time you spend an afternoon at your local coffee shop (like any worthy aspiring writer would do).
While that sounds like a manageable amount of words to throw together on paper, just keep in mind that stories this short need to be lean, mean and straight to the point. Even if your first draft is easily under the 2,500-word limit, don’t be afraid to trim some fat — whether it’s needless exposition, secondary characters, or pointless adverbs.
If your story makes an immediate and lasting impression, it’s just that easier to stick out from the crowd of entries.
And just what is the prize to reward you for the labor of love that we all know is only for the sake of art itself? Try $1,500 divided among the top five winners. That also includes your shot to get publihed, by having your work featured in The Austin Chronicle.
Dust off the old typewriter and make sure it’s oiled up, because now is the time to write the first entry in your future short story anthology.