From an original field of over 4,700 writers and after four intense rounds of competition, we finally have a winner!  Congratulations to Rae Stringfield (Knoxville, TN, USA) for winning the competition with her final round story "Bird".  In the final round, Rae and 39 other finalists were challenged to create a story no longer than 1,250 words based on the open genre, comeuppance (subject) and a ne'er-do-well (character) in just 24 hours.  Congratulations to the top stories listed below and thanks to everyone for participating!


Top Stories from Final Round:

HM = Honorable Mention


#1 - ''Bird'' by Rae Stringfield SYNOPSIS - It was the summer of Heidi Ward’s car wreck, and we were still figuring out what to do about it.

#2 - ''Layabout'' by Gina L. Grandi SYNOPSIS - Your husband is gone. Are you sure you don’t know what happened?

#3 - ''Seaworthy'' by Steph Ryan SYNOPSIS - When his no-good little brother is lost to the sea, Eli’s not convinced he got anything less than he deserved. Yet each night, he finds himself lured down to the water...

#4 - ''Baba Yaga's Gifts'' by Sonya Bennett-Brandt SYNOPSIS - A woman gets a phone call from her Grandma Golde, the wicked and wild terror of her childhood. Grandma Golde wants her help giving a murderer a terrible gift – and she can be very persuasive.

#5 - ''The Little Lives of Fireworks'' by Connor Thompson SYNOPSIS - On the Fourth of July, an old con man waits on one final job, and a waitress serves a final slice of justice.

#6 - ''Bend, Don't Break'' by Weston Cook SYNOPSIS - Hank knows farming. He's still learning to deal with children.

#7 - ''Nana'' by Emma Preston SYNOPSIS - Ollie doesn’t always like his mum’s rules, but he knows he must follow them – his life might depend on it.

#8 - ''Roads'' by Gunter Schellens SYNOPSIS - Between a field and a mountain, a sixteen-year-old boy reflects on what it means to be stranded.

#9 - ''A Tale In Three Follies'' by Myna Chang SYNOPSIS - A cutpurse takes a chance on the lucky scale of a Red Dragon. Will his gamble bring good fortune?

#10 - ''Without Country'' by David Burg SYNOPSIS - A Black veteran of the Great War rides the rails, in search of promise and on the run from the bulls.

#HM - ''The Last Hotel'' by Kevin Joffre SYNOPSIS - A person capable of “stepping-into” others’ bodies seeks a new host.

#HM - ''Pine Creek Flume'' by Allison Quiller SYNOPSIS - A woman takes a bet.

#HM - ''When We Were Mermaids'' by Elaine Lies SYNOPSIS - Folklore says they are descended from mermaids, but everything is far too human for the two sisters as they gather with their family for a time-honored custom – preparing the final garments to send their mother on her way.

#HM - ''Gods Plan, Titans Laugh'' by Trey Dowell SYNOPSIS - As mortals spread across an increasingly problematic ancient world, Zeus turns to an old foe for assistance.

#HM - ''Hooks'' by Dick C. Moon SYNOPSIS - Monty Crawford returns to his hometown—not for his grandparents' funerals, but for the pickup truck.


Competition Links: 

1st Round: Kickoff Email | Assignments | Results

2nd Round: Kickoff Email | Assignments | Results

3rd Round: Kickoff Email | Assignments | Results

Rules: Official Rules & Participation Agreement


The 14th Annual Short Story Challenge is a creative writing competition open to writers around the world.  There are 4 rounds of competition this year.  In the 1st Round (January 17-25, 2020), writers are placed randomly in heats and are assigned a genre, subject, and character assignment.  Writers have 8 days to write an original story no longer than 2,500 words.  The judges choose a top 5 in each heat to advance to the 2nd Round (April 2-5, 2020) where writers receive new assignments, only this time they have 3 days to write a 2,000 word (maximum) short story.  The judges again choose a top 5 in each heat to advance to the 3rd Round (May 15-17, 2020) where writers receive new assignments and have 2 days to write a 1,500 word (maximum) short story.  Judges select finalists and the remaining writers are challenged to write a 1,250 word (maximum) story in just 24 hours (June 19-20, 2020) in the fourth and final round of the competition.  Feedback from the judges is provided for every submission and there are thousands in cash and prizes for the winners.  Sound like fun?  Join the competition below and get ready for January 17th!


Registration is now closed.  There will be many more exciting challenges in 2020, so make sure to join our mailing list or follow us on facebook or twitter to be the first to know when they are announced.  Thank you!


While we send e-mails at the beginning of each round to all registered writers, many times e-mails go to junk mail folders, spam, or are blocked by servers for unknown reasons.  We recommend that everyone marks their calendars with the start dates of each round, especially the first challenge at 11:59PM EST on January 17, 2020 so that you know when to expect an e-mail.  Use the "Add to Calendar" buttons below to add to your calendar!


  1st Round: January 17-25, 2020  

2nd Round:

April 2-5, 2020


3rd Round:

May 15-17, 2020

  4th Round: June 19-20, 2020  



Not only does every writer receive feedback from the judges for every story submitted, but a special review forum is available for the participants to submit their stories for review from fellow writers throughout the competition.  During the Short Story Challenge 2019, there were over 11,500 comments made on the 800+ stories submitted on the forum.  Click here to visit the forums.



Carrie S.
San Francisco, CA, USA
“Done! So excited....this is such an exhilarating exercise. :)”
Kim B.
Hixson, TN, USA
“And with less than 50 minutes to deadline, I have done this thing I thought I could never do and submitted a short story in a major contest/challenge. Whew, now to rest and wake up tomorrow beset with anxiety and fear while I wait.”
Dave M.
Katy, TX, USA
“That was exciting! Nothing like a tight deadline to get the creative juices flowing.”
Miguel R.

New Jersey, USA
“Done. It made my wife cry, I'm taking that as a good sign. Although it was comedy, so maybe not.”
Kai Love
Hazel Crest, IL, USA
“Submitted and feeling a great deal of relief. This was such a great learning experience for me. Good Luck to all!!!”
Janet P.
Newberg, OR, USA
“Wahooooooo.Done.Crazy fun.”
Rachel C.
Jumbunna, Australia
“Mine is in. Not a genre I was comfortable with but proud of what I submitted. Good luck to all!”
Cheryl B.
Greenville, SC, USA
“All done! Phew! That was down to the wire. I can't wait to what everyone else came up with on the forums!”
Dawn F.
Indianapolis, IN, USA
“First stab at political satire is saved, stored, backed up and submitted! So much fun!”
Ileana J.
Happy, TX, USA
“This was immense fun! Luck to all!”










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