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Write a good short story, enter a great writing contest

Fiction writing contest – American style

Once again The Saturday Evening Post has issued a call for short stories (1,500 – 5,00 words) for their Great American Fiction Contest. The magazine writing contest entries are to be submitted through the online entry form by the July 1st, 2013 deadline. The winner’s story will be published in the magazine and on the Post’s website and the winning author will receive $500. Runner-ups will be published and receive a cash prize, too.

Before you run to the computer to pull up a story that’s ready to go, you may want to read on and then check out the complete guidelines and rules.

The first rule in contest writing is to define the type of material the contest wants. If it’s a mystery contest, don’t send them a romance. It doesn’t matter that the writing is stellar and the story is well-crafted. It won’t fit the guidelines so it will be an easy and automatic reject as the judges seek to pull as many manuscripts as they can out of the huge pile of entries. You don’t want to be an early victim of the winnowing process.

What kind of story is wanted for this contest?

The editors have provided a few clues as to the type of story they want to read. First, it’s fiction. Second, they’ve provided a list of celebrated authors whose short fiction has graced the magazine’s pages in the past including F. Scott Fitzgerald; William Faulkner; Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; Ray Bradbury; Louis L’Amour; Sinclair Lewis; Jack London; and Edgar Allan Poe. That gives you an idea of the quality or promise of the writing they’d like to see.

Write a good story

We are looking for stories with universal appeal touching on shared experiences and themes that will resonate with readers from diverse backgrounds and experience,” says Joan SerVaas, publisher of The Saturday Evening Post.

Celebrate America

Not only are they looking for well-crafted stories with universal appeal, they want the material to follow the slant of the magazine in that the story should celebrate America. You set your story in America’s past, the present, or even in the future. I would take a cue from the following line in the guidelines:

“The Post has historically played a role in defining what it means to be an American.”

Great American Fiction Writing Contest 2013 winner Lucy Bledsoe

Lucy Jane Bledsoe
Post 2013 Fiction Contest Winner

The good news is that this is the second year for the contest. Last year’s winner is available to read and study. In addition you can order a copy of Best Short Stories from POST Great American Fiction Contest 2013.

Share your thoughts and comments below and be sure to read the writing contest rules, last year’s winning short stories, and other resources.  Tell me: Have an idea or ready to submit?

Contest submission guidelines

  • Stories must be submitted by the author, previously unpublished (excluding personal websites and blogs)
  • 1,500-5,000 words in length.
  • No extreme profanity or graphic sex scenes.
  • All stories must be submitted online
  • All stories should be in Microsoft Word format
  • First page should have the author’s name, address, telephone number, and email address.
  • Include $10 entry fee (helps defray costs).

    Win wiriting contests by selecting the RIGHT contests for YOUR essays, short stories and poems.

    Writing contest resource

  • Upload story using the “Fiction Contest Entry Form.”
  • Deadline: 11:59 p.m. (EST), July 1, 2013

Short Story Contest Entry Form submission link

Contest resource links

  • IMAGES & AFFILIATE CREDITS: book covers and titles via affiliate program; Images: Saturday Evening Post logo; Great American Fiction Contest banner & Lucy Bledsoe photo via Saturday Evening Post; Ray Bradbury and cat via disneyandmore.

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  • ahmed

    ahmed ,

    I am from Algeria Can I participate in the contest

  • Vikk Simmons

    I would read contest guidelines and rules. I didn’t see where it was necessary to be in the US. It sounds like it is more that your work’s content is specific to what they are wanting. But I’m not sure. There’s still time for you to email them and see if you get a response. Or you could enter and see what happens. It’s up to you.