After 2 rounds of competition and from an original field of over 3,000 writers, 80 writers were challenged to create a short story no longer than 1,500 words in just 24 hours based on the following assignment:


Genre: Open

Subject: A sunrise

Character:  An undertaker


The winners are listed below!  Congratulations to the finalists for making it so far and to everyone that participated this year for rising to the challenges.  Thanks for another great competition!


#1 ''The Undertaker'' by Sarah Martin  SYNOPSIS - A little boy buries his teddy bear at sunrise.

#2 ''Close Your Eyes'' by Jordan Ellis  SYNOPSIS - An undertaker guides me through the process of letting go.

#3 ''To Be Set Free'' by Allison McKnight  SYNOPSIS - After confronting a terrible childhood trauma, Alex does what he must to be set free.

#4 ''Fiat Tenebris (let there be dark)'' by Leslie Beckmann  SYNOPSIS - For Lucy Overton, the dark soul of grief is a place in the night-time desert and a promise her dead uncle is trying to keep.

#5 ''Sky Glow'' by Kerri Ward  SYNOPSIS - A grieving man and his teenage daughter climb a mountain in the dead of night in a quest for closure.

#6 ''Jane Doe at Sunrise'' by James Townsend  SYNOPSIS - A beautiful young stranger comes to a small town in Texas to commit suicide, leading to a long overdue confrontation between the undertaker and the love of his life.

#7 ''Family Undertaking'' by Robert Williams  SYNOPSIS - Some sloppy work by an undertaker’s grandson leads to an unwelcome guest in the funeral parlour.

#8 ''Waiting For The Sun'' by Faye Upton  SYNOPSIS - I tell people I’m a funeral director. It’s almost the truth.

#9 ''Solace and Solstice'' by Cory Harris  SYNOPSIS - An undertaker searches for meaning in his demanding life on an island where one person dies each morning.

#10 ''Curtain Call'' by Kristin Vlasto  SYNOPSIS - On opening night, a young girl must watch her parents play their parts on stage. She had been told that it was all make-believe, but as the climax builds, it all seems far too real.

#Honorable Mention ''Lubec Sunrise'' by Kris Faatz  SYNOPSIS - In small-town Maine, in the 1930s, aspiring sculptor Deirdre Moore decides to take a job at her uncle’s funeral parlor. Her husband, Rob, has his own ideas about what a woman should and shouldn’t do.

#Honorable Mention ''Rise and Set, and Rise Again'' by Jenni Cook  SYNOPSIS - An undertaker contemplates selling the family business. A chance friendship with a high school student causes her to rethink her position.

#Honorable Mention ''Petra's Lullaby'' by Kristine Haryanto  SYNOPSIS - Synopsis: Shimon, a man defined by his love for silence and solitude, is disturbed to discover that the corpse he’s been working on is livelier than one would hope from a dead woman.

#Honorable Mention ''Concerning the Death of Leighton Caulfeld'' by Alissa Butterworth  SYNOPSIS - A group of soldiers hold a hated embalmer’s body hostage and write a ransom letter to demand payment for its safe return home. A young bugler relays an opposing set of events that led to the embalmer’s death.

#Honorable Mention ''Notes on the Underworld'' by Ingrid Bohnenkamp  SYNOPSIS - Luxury death tourism is all the rage – but be sure to read the fine print.

#Honorable Mention ''Memo'' by Rick Wheelock  SYNOPSIS - A soldier documents the aftermath of a lost battle.

#Honorable Mention ''The Sky Burial'' by Alex Verma  SYNOPSIS - On a remote mountain in Tibet Donny awaits an unusual funeral rite. As the sunrise approaches he wonders if his father would have wanted to be buried this way.

#Honorable Mention ''Find the Light'' by Sarah Stevens  SYNOPSIS - Sole survivor of a virulent plague, Carika ritually prepares her crewmates on the mining station for their last resting place in the sun.

#Honorable Mention ''The Little Bird'' by Patsy Pratt-Herzog  SYNOPSIS - As an undertaker, Amanda tried very hard not to bring her work home with her, but it often had other ideas. Though she could lay the bodies of the dead to rest, their spirits weren't always so willing to sleep.

#Honorable Mention ''Readying the Dead'' by Matthew C Lamb  SYNOPSIS - Snooping around a funeral home gives a young soul a glimpse into the strange lives of the parlour employees. But in the end it's his own life—and death—that he learns the most about.



View the Assignments

View the Results



View the Assignments

View the Results



The 11th Annual Short Story Challenge is a creative writing competition open to writers around the world.  There are 3 rounds of competition.  In the 1st Round (January 20-28, 2017), 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 (March 23-26, 2017) where writers receive new assignments, only this time they have just 3 days to write a 2,000 word (maximum) short story.  Judges choose finalists from the 2nd Round to advance to the 3rd and final round of the competition where writers are challenged to write a 1,500 word (maximum) story in just 24 hours (May 5-6, 2017).  A panel of judges review the final round stories and overall winners are selected.  Sound like fun?  Join the competition below and get ready for January 20th!



Registration is now closed.  Make sure to join our mailing list so you are the first to know about our next competition announcement.  Good luck to all the participants!


Official Rules & Participation Agreement



  Final Entry Deadline: 8PM EST on January 20, 2017
  1st Round: January 20-28, 2017

2nd Round:

March 23-26, 2017

3rd Round:

May 5-6, 2017



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 2016, there were over 5,800 comments made on the 400+ 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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