Cell phones all over the county simultaneously shrilled
that morning. Residents quickly scanned the emergency
alert, and then raced to gather their family members, and
prepare. Meanwhile, in the national forest, there was no
cell phone access. The small family camping on the
peaceful, meandering river had just put out their
breakfast campfire and the children were laughing
excitedly as they donned their hiking gear...
Your story must touch on this topic in some way to qualify.
During each contest, several writers ask if they must quote
from the topic directly. No, you don't. You are even
permitted to change the gender and age of the character(s),
as well as other details. However, it must be obvious to us
that the story was written specifically for this assigned
**WORD COUNT: Stories for today's topic must not
exceed 850 words. (Your story's title is *not*
included in the word count. We use MSWord's word count
function to determine the final word count for submissions.)
WHEN SENDING US YOUR STORY: Type "24 Hour Contest" in the
subject line of your email entry! This will enable us
to pull any wayward entries out of our sp*m filter.
**IMPORTANT NOTE!! We have added a list of "common
themes" to this notification. Please read that now to avoid
submitting a story that will be too similar to others. Hint:
Please don't send us a story about domestic violence. We
receive far too many of those. More hints are below. Please
read them before you begin writing.**
*****REMINDER: WE LOVE SURPRISE ENDINGS!*****
HINTS FOR PARTICIPANTS ARE HERE: http://wp.me/p6AmOv-642
If you submit your story early, be sure to check your email
about an hour before the deadline tomorrow to ensure we've
sent you a confirmation (so you'll know your story made it).
Don't wait until the last minute! Also, don't want until the
very last minute to send your story. Some ISPs (yahoo and
other large ones in particular!) take too long to send out
emails and your story might arrive late.
Even if you are a past-participant, please read these rules
in their entirety
1. Your story does NOT need to include the exact topic,
word-for-word, as written above. It must only touch on
this topic in some way to qualify. Lots of writers ask
this question during each contest, so we want this to be
perfectly clear. You don't have to quote the topic
word-for-word, but you may if you like. It's your
decision. Yes, you may change the gender and/or age of the
character(s), as well as other minor details. However, it
must be obvious to us that the story was written
specifically for this assigned topic.
2. Don't forget to name your story!
3. Word Count. Short stories for today's contest must not
exceed the word count above. Short stories exceeding the
word count will be disqualified.
**Your story's title is NOT included in the word count.
4.a. *Very Important* - Type "24 Hour Contest"
in the subject line of your email entry! This
will enable us to pull any wayward entries out of our sp*m
4.b. Type your name, email address, mailing address,
phone number and word count at the **END** of the story.
(Lots of people break this rule. Breaking this rule is
grounds for disqualification.) We will only use your phone
number in case there is an emergency regarding your entry
or if, heaven forbid, your winning check is returned
undeliverable. And, we never, ever share entrants' emails,
phone numbers, addresses, names or anything with any other
person or company. We do publish the email addresses of
the winners on the WritersWeekly site so our readers can
compliment their stories and send congratulations. You can
request we not publish your email address if you're a
winner. No problem at all. Yes, you can use a pen name if
you'd like but be sure to give us your real name, too, in
case we need to mail you a check.
5. Send your story in the text of an e-mail message. DO
NOT SEND EMAIL ATTACHMENTS unless it is an emergency (your
email starts cutting off parts of the story). If you must
send an attachment, it must be a TEXT-ONLY file. All other
attachments will be deleted. No fancy formatting, please,
even in the body of the email, and no html emails
permitted. Text-only emails and attachments. Italics may
be indicated by using underscores around the italicized
area _like this_.
6. Submit your story to firstname.lastname@example.org
by the deadline, which is 12:00 p.m. Central Time tomorrow
7. Very Important. Please don't submit your story early,
and then continue to make corrections, and submit your
story again... and again...and again. Do not send your
story more than once. REPEAT - DO NOT SEND YOUR STORY MORE
The only exception to this rule is if you submitted your
story early, and if you haven't received a confirmation
email just before the contest is about to end.
We will use the first version of the story you send in.
Any others will be deleted. The occasional typo will be
overlooked, so don't get stressed if you find one in your
story later. We're looking for good writers, not editors.
Everybooty makes typos, especialley under presshure, and
we understann dis. However, if a few stories are finalists
and we're having a hard time making a decision, a story
with few or no typos will come out ahead of one with
8. For easy reference, the guidelines (and hints) are
online at: http://www.24hourshortstorycontest.com
9. Sometimes writers submit their stories and later find
odd characters, or that they are missing vast chunks at
the ends of paragraphs because they have cut and pasted to
their mail program from their word processor. (Please
write your story in a text program, NOT A WORD PROCESSING
PROGRAM, if you're not using your mail program as this
will cut down on the possibility of missing chunks and odd
characters appearing.) Typing the story in the body of
your email is the best way to send it without problems.
Please make sure your entire story appears in your email
before clicking "send." When we email you to confirm that
we have received your story, your story will be included
in that confirmation email. Please make sure the entire
story is there...because that will show you what we
received on our end. We can't be held responsible for
partial entries. If you find part of your story missing,
try sending us a text-only attachment. If you find odd
characters appearing in your story, but it's still
readable, don't worry. We can work with it.
10. Late stories are disqualified. During every contest,
a dozen or so entrants submit their story late with an
excuse (I was working in the garden, the baby spilled
juice on my keyboard, my mother in law made me go to the
mall, I got my time zones confused, I forgot today was
contest day, etc.), and ask us to accept it anyway or ask
if they can get a refund or be moved to the next contest.
We can't do that. To be completely fair, everyone must
follow the rules. Stories are due here by the deadline.
Many contestants simply send in their stories late with no
explanation. We assume they think we won't notice the
story is late. Those stories are also disqualified because
they are late. All late stories are disqualified. No
If your email to us bounces back to you, and does not
arrive on time, we still can't accept it. Computers can
easily be manipulated to make it appear something was sent
before it actually was. However, the headers of each email
contain info. that is difficult to manipulate, including
when your ISP actually sent out the email and when it
arrived on our email server.
Sending in a late story with the headers from your
original submission won't work. If your story arrives
late, you need to complain to your ISP, not to us.
Stories must be IN my in-box prior to the deadline. If
your email program tends to send items out late or if you
occasionally forget to release the mail in your queue or
if your ISP has ever sent items out slowly or even if
you're expecting bad weather that might cause you to lose
your power or Internet connection, you should send your
story early to accommodate for these possibilities.
AOL.com, Yahoo, Verizon and several other large ISPs hard
filter more than 30% of legitimate email. If you use one
of these services, you might want to consider giving us an
alternative email address to use for corresponding with
If the deadline passes, please do not email asking us to
accept it late, and please don't send in late stories. We
can't include them anyway. Please don't send irate emails
to us claiming you sent the story in on time. If you sent
your entry in long before it arrived here, you'll need to
register a complaint with your ISP. Our rules are firm in
this area. In fairness to everyone entered, we can't break
the rules for one. All stories ~arriving~ after the
deadline will be disqualified.
11. **VERY IMPORTANT!** And, finally...please, if you
love us, give us a good ending! 95% of the stories we
receive fall flat at the end... even though we've been
posting this particular note about good endings for years
It's very depressing for us when this happens. The ending
can and will make or break your story.
*** We LOVE surprise endings! ***
COMMON THEMES WE SEE WITH EVERY CONTEST
- Please avoid these!
1. Domestic violence stories.
2. The story is about a writer and/or the character is a
writer participating in a writing contest (groan).
3. Vampires, aliens and other scary creatures. We always
see LOTS of those.
4. We find out at the end that the entire story was just
a movie/TV scene/play or we find out the first scene of
the story (usually the topic itself) is from a movie or TV
show/play or even a book or article one of the characters
5. We find out the character is dreaming.
6. The reader finds out at the very end that the main
character is actually dead (is a ghost or spirit of some
sort), or that the main character has dementia. We always
get several retirement home or other senior citizen
7. The main character dies at the end, and is met by a
loved one or an angel of some sort. We also see lots of
dead friends/relatives trying to convince the characters
it’s their time to die, too, helping them to cross over,
8. The story is dramatic but you find out at the end the
characters are really children playing make-believe or
that the main characters are actually animals, not people.
9. You find out at the very end of the story that the
character is actually an animal. This is a VERY common
10. The main character of the story is a writer or
someone in the story (usually the main character) is named
Angela (the same name as the publisher of (WritersWeekly).
11. A common fairy tale is the basis of the story and/or
a well-known character is featured in the story. (Writers
should create their own characters.)
What are the 10 MOST COMMON MISTAKES writers make
during the 24-Hour Short Story Contests?
11. Using a common theme (see list above).
10. Exceeding the word count, or submitting a 100-word
story (obviously not even trying, and simply hoping for a
9. Forgetting to name the story.
8. Putting their contact information (and name!) before
the story instead of after.
7. Making the story about a writer, or about someone
named Angela (my name). Some contestants seem to think
this will make us favor their story more. It's a common
"trick" and it just doesn't work.
6. Lots of typos, misspelled words and grammatical
5. Using what was obviously a pre-written story that has
nothing to do with the topic (but adding a sentence or two
about the topic to try to fool us into thinking the story
is about the topic).
4. Using a word processor to create the story, then
pasting it into an email (causing odd characters to appear
and large pieces of the story to get cut off).
3. Not writing "outside the box." Too many writers use
the first idea that comes to mind when reading the topic.
This always results in several similar stories being
submitted. Again, see list above.
2. Turning in the story after the deadline passes and
then trying to convince us we received it on time, and are
lying to them about that (it's easy to prove when an email
arrived by the headers on the email!). Also, trying to
convince us to accept their story late because they forgot
the contest was today. And, blaming us for emails not
received (it's best to send the story early and then get
confirmation that it was received rather than emailing us
after the contest ends to ask us why confirmation wasn't
And the #1 most common mistake writers make in the
24-Hour Short Story Contests is:
*****1. Giving us a bad, boring ending. Please
give us a good one!! AGAIN, WE LOVE SURPRISE
AGAIN, HINTS FOR PARTICIPANTS ARE HERE: