Announcing Our Fourth Annual Short Story Contest

May 3, 2021

Do you have a story burning inside you? Are you up for a challenge? Do you like prizes?


If so, you’re in for a thrill, because our yearly story competition has rolled around again, and we hope you’ll grab your pen (or laptop) to compete!


But first I’m sure you’d like to hear about all the prestige and loot you could gain as a result of your literary genius.



First Place Winner will receive:

  • $150 cash
  • Publication on the Story Embers blog

Second Place Winner will receive:

  • $75 cash
  • Publication on the Story Embers blog

Three Honorable Mentions will receive:

  • Certificate of achievement
  • Acknowledgement in the announcement post

Official Rules

Please read these guidelines carefully and refer back to the list before entering. We reserve the right to disqualify entrants for not following our criteria, and our decisions as judges are final.


  • Word count must be no shorter than 1,000 and no longer than 5,000.
  • The story must be a work of fiction (not a memoir) written in first or third person point of view. The genre is of your choice, though we will ask you to select a category on the entry form for review purposes. Read our Christian Storytellers Manifesto to see the attributes we want stories to display.
  • The story must be original and unpublished. If it has previously been posted online (on a personal blog or elsewhere), that classifies as published. You may acquire the help of beta readers and critique partners to refine your story, but coauthored pieces are not permitted.
  • Entries must be submitted as Microsoft Word documents. If you don’t have access to that program, you can prepare your text in Google Docs and export to Word.
  • Type your story’s title at the top of the first page, but do not include your name anywhere in the document (that information will be collected on the entry form). Use 12 pt. Times New Roman, apply double spacing, left-align text, indent paragraphs, insert a trio of centered asterisks for hard scene breaks, and italicize direct thoughts and words of emphasis.
  • Entries must be text only. Images, graphics, or illustrations (whether enclosed in the file or submitted separately) will be rejected.
  • A $15 submission fee must be paid at the time of entry. This fee is nonrefundable. After you fill out the form and click Proceed to Payment, you’ll be redirected to PayPal to pay the fee.
  • Patrons who pledged at the $8 tier or above may enter for FREE. Type your name/pseudonym and genre in an email, attach your story, and send it directly to me at brianna@storyembers.org. All other participants must submit their stories via the entry form.
  • Only one entry is allowed per person. Once a story has been submitted, we will not accept edits or exchanges, so be sure to polish your work thoroughly and upload the correct document.
  • Entrants must be subscribers to our newsletter. If you haven’t signed up yet, you may do so by visiting our Resource Library.
  • The following individuals are ineligible to enter the contest: Story Embers board and staff members, writers, interns, and forum moderators, as well as the previous year’s first place winner.
  • Entries that contradict our Statement of Faith or contain objectionable content (such as gratuitous violence, profanity, or sex) will be disqualified.
  • The first and second place stories are subject to our Editorial Policy, and Story Embers retains exclusive use of the winning stories for 3 months after publication. Once that time span has elapsed, authors are free to reprint their pieces elsewhere.
  • Only the first and second place stories will be published on the Story Embers blog. If you do not win one of those spots, you can assume we aren’t interested in acquiring your story. Any contest entries that come through our regular submission channel, whether immediately following the contest or much later, will be rejected.

Judging Process

Stories will be evaluated on the basis of style/mechanics, theme, characters, and overall uniqueness. Josiah and I will be serving as judges. We’ve been working together for five years in various capacities, and our different but complementary skill sets make us a dynamic editorial duo.


Josiah is the summit & marketing director at Story Embers, the program director of The Young Writer, and a literature nerd who fell in love with stories at an early age. Because he’s fascinated by human motivations, he enjoys putting normal people in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?) and forcing them to make difficult choices. He will be zeroing in on themes, the motivations behind characters’ actions, and the events that push the protagonists toward the climax. He’s eager to be enthralled by your stories!



I’m the blog and graphics director here at Story Embers. Although I began as a writer, my penchant for noticing typos and obsession with syntax compelled me to wield a red pen rather than a black one. I’m proudly a gold member of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders & Editors Network and have been certified by the Christian Editor Connection. Over the years, I’ve worked on a variety of projects for individual clients, publishers, and organizations. I love aiding writers in achieving their aspirations to captivate and change the world through fiction. I’ll be focusing on the nitty-gritty details of storytelling—from grammar to showing vs. telling to breathtaking prose. I can’t wait to see the magic you weave with your words!


How to Enter

This year’s contest closed at 11:59 p.m. EDT on July 3, 2021. Thanks for your interest! Winners will be announced on or by October 7, 2021. If you place in the contest, we’ll contact you a few weeks prior to that. Otherwise, due to the volume of submissions we receive, we won’t be able to follow up with you on the status of your entry.


Have a question about the contest? Email brianna@storyembers.org or drop a comment below.


  1. Coralie

    It’s back!!! Yay!!!! So excited!

    • Savannah

      Me too!

  2. Lily

    Ooo, this sounds exciting. I do have one question: what constitutes as a ‘hard break’ (where you say entrants must insert three asterisks?) Thanks so much for your time!

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      A hard break is when the POV or time changes in a story. For instance, if the current scene is happening in the morning, but the next scene opens in the afternoon of the following day. Or, the current scene is in Sally’s point of view, but the next scene is in Fred’s. You can see an example of how that works here: https://storyembers.org/first-place-winner-something-green/

      Hope that helps! 🙂 I look forward to reading your entry.

  3. Lily

    Thanks Brianna! Yes, it helped a lot. I’ll take a look at the story!

  4. Sesame Street

    Hi Brianna!
    I’m pretty sure I asked this last year but here I am again due to my forgetfulness. Does the story have to be a ‘new’ story or can I enter one that I’ve been working on for a few years?


    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      The age of the story doesn’t matter. 😉 As long as it’s an unpublished piece, it’s eligible to be entered in our contest.

    • Sesame Street

      Okay, great! Thanks Brianna!

  5. Abigail Rebekah

    I’m wanting to use a piece of flash fiction I wrote and turn it into a short story for this. However, I previously used this piece for a Ydubs competition (I didn’t win, but I posted it on the private community because that was how the competition worked), and have used it for schoolwork. Does that count as published, or can I still use it? Thanks 🙂

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      Since you only shared the story in a private community (school doesn’t count as publication 😉), and you sound like you’re going to change it a bit too, it’s eligible for entry.

  6. Sesame Street

    Hi again Brianna!
    I just realized that the story I was thinking of finishing up to enter in the competition is a bit of a collaboration (some friends supplied the characters and I wrote it)… Does that mean I can’t enter it?

    This next one is just a personal preference question so if you don’t want to answer it, that’s fine… Would you recommend writing a brand new story specifically for the contest or just continuing with one I already have?
    I think if maybe I start a new one with fresh determination, I might end up with a better product.


    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      We don’t allow coauthored entries in the contest. I’m not sure from your description whether your story would classify as that, but it sounds iffy enough to me that I’d recommend submitting a brand-new piece that you created alone.

      My answer to your first question may resolve your second one by default, but even if I hadn’t replied that way, I’d say to do whatever you think will increase your chances of producing a story that stands out. 😉 If that means exploring a fresh idea, then go for it.

  7. Sara Francis

    I just entered my short story! I am so happy I found Story Embers. Your work is exactly what I strive to create! Thank you!

    • Brianna Storm Hilvety

      We’re happy you found us too! I look forward to reading your entry. 😊

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