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Story Unlikely Annual Short Story Contest 2022

A $500 $1,000 prize package will be divvied up like so: $500 first place, $300 second place, $200 third place. The winning story will be featured on

Submit To Story Unlikely Annual Short Story Contest 2022

Story Unlikely Annual Short Story Contest 2022

Contest guidelines below. READ CAREFULLY. Failure to do so may result in disqualification!

Submission Guidelines

The short story contest is open to everyone with a brain (this is more restrictive than you think). 

Don't be fooled by our promo illustration, there are no restrictions on genre: fantasy, sci fi, memoir, fiction/nonfiction, etc - we don't care as long as it's a good story.

 The story itself cannot exceed 2,250 4,500 words. 

There are no restrictions on age of participant, and no need to ask us for permission to participate in the contest - just follow the guidelines below.

What do I win?

A $500 $1,000 prize package will be divvied up like so: $500 first place, $300 second place, $200 third place.

 The winning story will be featured on Story Unlikely's website.

 All three placing stories will be published in the monthly issue, and all three will illustrated by our crackpot team of digital editors!

Don't forget about the honorable mentions! That's right, you honorable little losers, you. Is that harsh? It's supposed to be a compliment.

 Anyway, we do NOT notify honorable mentions ahead of time, because we're lazy busy, so very, very lazy busy. Rather, we announce them in the monthly issue along with the winning story, which you need to sign up for in order to be eligible to enter. If your name appears on this list of honorables, you'll be prompted to contact us and we'll send you a fancy-schmancy certificate for proof that you, indeed, almost won a writing contest. But not quite.

When can I submit?

The submission period runs from October 1st through December 31st. Our reading period is January through March.

When will my story be published?

Stories will be published - at our whimsical discretion - the following calendar year between June and December. Winning authors will be notified, at the latest, by June 1st. All authors MUST be signed up for the Story Unlikely monthly magazine (free!) to be eligible for prize and publication. (Don’t worry, we only send out ONE issue (email) a month – we can’t stand getting our emails blown up, and we know we’re not alone in that).

How do I submit?

We accept email submissions only.
Attach the entire story to the email (Microsoft word doc or docx).

 Be sure to remove ALL forms of identification from the story (If your story happens to be about you, just be sure to remove your last name).

Send your story in the following manner:

BY EMAIL: UPDATE: Due to our endless quest to get our stories past overreactive spam blockers, we've changed our submission email to: dan@storyunlikely.com. Sure, organization was easier with a different address, but as long as you type the word 'Submission' in the title, your story will end up in the right place. And this is important, so we'll say it again: make sure you type the word 'submission' in the title of your email, otherwise it may be lost! So email submissions to dan@storyunlikely.com in the following format:

Email Subject Line must be in the following:

Submission: Title, Author Name, Fiction/Nonfiction, Sub Genre (if applicable or desired)
(In the text)
Dear Editor,
[Insert FIRST 250 words of your story (rounded to the nearest sentence) here]
# (insert page break)
(Insert short author bio, including any previously published stories, as you want it to appear below your story if/when published)
(Tell us how you found Story Unlikely)
Contact information (best email contact, phone number (just in case), country and state, and email)
And let us know how you found us.

Do you accept multiple submissions?

No, one submission per author.

Do you accept simultaneous submissions?

No – do not send your story entry out to other publishers prior to June 1st.

What type of formatting should the story be in?
We actually prefer block paragraphs (if for no better reason than to see who actually read this), but anything remotely standard is fine - we're not picky on formatting, so long as its not obnoxious.

Any tips on winning this thing?

Most stories get ‘bumped’ before we finish reading the first page (that’s right, we’re a merciless bunch). A trained eye can tell the quality of a story and the ability of the storyteller from only a few sentences, so tighten that opening! It also helps to read some of our past issues, like our 2022 contest winning story HERE. Besides, you want to become the best writer you can be, right? Well then, to do that, you need to read the from the best writers out there, and who's publishing better stories than us?

What are you looking for?

To put it simply, good stories. Entries will be judged both by the technical and literary quality as well as the author's ability to tell a story. All entries must be previously unpublished. Here’s what we’re NOT looking for: Excessive anything. 

Think PG-13, R if necessary. We're not attempting to salt the earth with more cultural dogma couched as mediocre fiction, or writers who are jockeying for the title of Most Woke. There’s enough of that already out there. You want to impress us? Write a good story. You want to win? 

Write a great one.

Anything I missed?

Likely you skimmed over two things, and they're OH so important:

#1. To be eligible for the contest, all writers must be signed up to Story Unlikely's monthly issue. Did we mention it's free? Because it is. Totally free. You can unsubscribe at any time, just wait until the contest is over, otherwise we'll consider that a withdrawal of your entry. Scroll down for the sign up form.

#2. Re-read HOW we want you to submit (like, the first 250 words of your story, we really do need that in the body of your email - it is of utmost importance to us). It's so important that we will post a sample below...

Story Unlikely retains First North American Serial Rights upon publication. The author retains all other rights to their story. (In other words, you can publish your story anywhere else after it's been published here, we just ask that you mention that it was published in Story Unlikely first.)

Other Writing Competitions To Enter

  1. Blue white Dot Short Story Writing Competition 2022
  2. Voice Club Flash Fiction Contest
  3. Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Contest 2022
  4. Lilith Annual Fiction Contest
  5. Elizabeth Alexander Writing Award 2022
  6. Orna Ross Green Stories Novel Prize 2022
  7. Stories Unlikely Annual Fiction Contest
  8. Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest 2023
  9. Nine Dots Prize 2023
  10. Ako Caine Prize For African Writing
  11. Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest
  12. Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest
  13. Welkin Writing Prize 
  14. Tartts Fiction Award 2023
  15. Elie Wiesel Prize In Ethics Essay Contest
  16. Jack Hazard Fellowship For Fiction Writers
  17. Profile In Courage Essay Contest
  18. Ballard Spahr Prize For Poetry
  19. Zocalo Poetry Prize
  20. Chestnut Review Poetry Chapbook Contest
  21. Stacy Doris Memorial Poetry Award 2023
  22. Global Essay Competition 2023
  23. International Student Essay Competition 2023



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Pawners Paper: Story Unlikely Annual Short Story Contest 2022
Story Unlikely Annual Short Story Contest 2022
A $500 $1,000 prize package will be divvied up like so: $500 first place, $300 second place, $200 third place. The winning story will be featured on
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