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Enter the Reader’s 2012 Short-Fiction Contest! Deadline September 7! PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 26 July 2012 12:22

We recently freed our short-fiction-contest troll from his five-year captivity in the River Cities’ Reader dungeon, and based on the rules he devised for the 2012 competition, he’s grumpy. (Some might note that Jeff is always grumpy, but never mind.)

Let’s start with the easy rules.

A) Entries, including titles, must be 250 words or fewer. The Reader short-fiction-contest troll will make the final judgment on word count, so we recommend being careful or leaving some breathing room.

B) Entries must be typed.

C) Entries must include the author’s name, mailing address, and daytime phone number.

D) Entries must be previously unpublished. (As you’ll see, that shouldn’t be an issue, but you never know ... .)

E) Entries must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, September 7. We shall accept submissions by e-mail ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with “Fiction Contest” as the subject line); mail (532 W. 3rd St., Davenport IA 52801, with “Fiction Contest” on the envelope); and fax (563-323-3101).

Okay, now for the hard part.

F) All entries must include one option from each of the first three categories. The fourth category (“In the style of ... ”) is optional. (Please note which options you’re using, just in case the troll is hung over and having difficulty concentrating.)

1) Genre
a) ghost story
b) romance
c) noir
d) tall tale
e) biography

2) Point-of-view character
a) inanimate object
b) child
c) polygamist
d) criminal
e) nun

3) Action/conflict
a) betrayal
b) reunion
c) shame
d) obsolescence
e) unrequited love

4) In the style of ... (optional)
a) Dr. Seuss
b) Ernest Hemingway
c) William Shakespeare
d) William S. Burroughs
e) Twitter

So, for example, you might write a (1) ghost story with (2) the point-of-view character of a child in which (3) the primary conflict/action is a reunion. Or you might write a (1) noir with (2) the point-of-view character of a nun in which (3) the primary conflict/action is obsolescence (4) in the style of Dr. Seuss. Your choice.

We’ll publish a collection of our favorite entries in our September 27 issue.

Comments (5)Add Comment
written by Brad V., July 29, 2012
Are obscenities or risque narratives dealbreakers? Not looking to cross any lines, just want to know if there are any.
Jeff Ignatius
written by Jeff Ignatius, July 31, 2012
Brad V.: There are no rules against such things, but you'd be wise to keep it relatively clean. The troll frowns upon gratuitous attempts at titillation.
written by Zach W., August 24, 2012
If I wrote my story in the third person, but the child is my main focus, is that okay?
Jeff Ignatius
written by Jeff Ignatius, August 24, 2012
Zach W.: The contest rules say "point-of-view character" rather than "narrator." It's a subtle distinction, but they are different.
written by Jack S., September 08, 2012
I think this contest is great and am looking forward to the results, but the rules should be a bit clearer. For example, it never said in the rules specifically to note one's story-choices in the entry. Just some feedback! Thanks!

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