now incorporating the Sudbury Hill and Wood End Times

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Notes on short story competition entries

About one in every ten is disqualified, mostly for including the author's name in the manuscript. Other reasons: no email address, no entry form, not a short story.

Please do not send novels or novellas, just because there is no formal word limit. If you don't know what a short story is, you're not going to win, are you? For rough guidance, imagine you are submitting it to the New Yorker weekly magazine. They are not going to put a novel or a novella in a weekly magazine. They have a story every week, sometimes quite short or anything up to about 8,000 words.

It has to feel like a short story. No matter how short it is, if it reads like a mini-novel it's no good. It doesn't matter if it's a little over 8,000 as long as it feels like a short story, not a mini-novel or novella. There comes a point where the piece is so long that it cannot possibly feel like a short story. To date, we have had industrially bound novels with prologues and chapters, one with 221 pages etc. These people are wasting time, postage, money and trees.

The real heart of the definition of a short story is a tale that can be told in one session. Too long and you lose your audience. The longer you make it, the better it had be. [Grammar? Ed]

Excerpts, examples and links to some stories we like are available on the New Short Stories website.

Please do not send requests for entry forms or result notifications, we cannot supply them. The entry form, rules and results are and will be available online only (


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