The Story Embers Short Story Contest

Do you have a story idea burning inside of you? Our short story contest awards Christian writers proficient in the art of storytelling. It provides the top finalist with the opportunity to workshop their entry under the direction of our editorial team and receive recognition for their work through publication on our blog. You can read the official rules and learn how to enter below. You can also check out the winners of past contests here.


First Place Winner will receive:

  • $500 cash
  • Publication on the Story Embers blog

Second Place Winner will receive:

  • $100 cash
  • Acknowledgement in the announcement post

Three Honorable Mentions will receive:

  • Certificate of achievement
  • Acknowledgement in the announcement post

Dates & Deadlines

Contest Opens:

May 1, 2023 at 10 a.m. EDT

Contest Closes:

June 30, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. EDT

Winners will be announced on or before October 2, 2023.

Submission Instructions

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  • The story must be original and unpublished.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.
  • 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.
  • Entries that contradict our Statement of Faith or contain objectionable content (such as gratuitous violence, profanity, or sex) will be disqualified.

Judging Process

Stories will be evaluated on the basis of style/mechanics, theme, characters, and overall uniqueness. Josiah DeGraaf and Brianna Storm Hilvety will be serving as judges.

Josiah is the marketing director at Story Embers, the director of operations for 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!


Brianna is the blog and graphics director here at Story Embers. Although she began as a writer, her penchant for noticing typos and obsession with syntax compelled her to wield a red pen rather than a black one. Over the years, she’s edited a variety of projects for individual clients, publishers, and organizations. She loves aiding writers in achieving their aspirations to captivate and change the world through fiction. She’ll be focusing on the nitty-gritty details of storytelling—from grammar to showing vs. telling to breathtaking prose. She can’t wait to see the magic you weave with your words!

Publication Rights

The first place story must adhere to our Editorial Policy:

Because Story Embers advocates excellence in writing, the top winning entry is subject to a comprehensive editing process that involves macro as well as micro changes to strengthen the structure and sentences. We retain the right to reject a story at any time during this process for any reason, including nonconformity to our guidelines or refusal to cooperate with our editorial staff. We will edit the story for content, length, clarity, flow, style, and grammar/spelling, although we strive to maintain the author’s voice and intent. Our goal is to polish the story to reveal its underlying luster and ensure that the prose is as clear and concise as possible to provide an optimal reading experience for our audience. When you enter our story contest, you consent to have your work refined at our discretion.

We also retain exclusive use of the first place story for 3 months after publication. Once that time span has elapsed, the author is free to reprint their story elsewhere.


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 leadership team members, operations team members, writers, interns, and their immediate family members, as well as the previous year’s first place winner.


A $20 submission fee must be tendered 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 for 3+ months may enter for FREE. Type your name/pseudonym and genre in an email, attach your story, and send it directly to brianna@storyembers.org. All other participants must submit their stories via the entry form.

Contact Information

Have a question about the contest? Email brianna@storyembers.org.

If you place in the contest, we’ll contact you a few weeks prior to October 2nd. 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.

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