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“Sitting up in the dark, he took a deep breath and scented a familiar, beguiling trace in the air…”

Deep Green Leaves, Alex Clark

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Houses Borders Ghosts

Over the years we’ve found some fantastic stories through the writing competitions we’ve run here at The Fiction Desk. There’s no doubt that our pages have been enlivened by ghost stories, newcomers, and flash fiction that we might not otherwise have had the chance to see – and there’s more to come, as our most recent winners will be appearing in our next anthology.

Still, we’ve decided to take a break. We won’t be running any writing competitions in the foreseeable future – although we continue to welcome both general fiction and ghost stories through our standard submissions system.

So why such a drastic change? There are a few reasons:

  1. By choosing stories through a regular submissions process, we can go much deeper into the work. We can take into account context, and if necessary follow up with the writer before making a decision. We can look at the synopsis, the bio, the writer’s other work, and any other information people choose to include with their submission. We can get back to potential contributors with questions or suggestions if we need to. Publishing is about development as well as selection, and the binary yes/no of a writing competition doesn’t allow for this.
  2. Although rewarding, running writing competitions takes a lot of time and energy: from launching a competition to publishing the winner can take anything up to a year, and we’d rather put that energy into reading regular submissions and creating great anthologies. Freeing ourselves of the competition timetable also allows us to be more agile in terms of trying out new ideas in editorial and publishing.
  3. There are a lot of writing competitions around these days, and more seem to launch all the time. We’re seeing a lot of writers whose bios are little more than a long list of prizes and shortlistings. It’s great if that’s working for them, and writing competitions definitely have their place, but at the moment we can probably make a better contribution to the short story in other, more unique ways.

So there it is. We’re stepping away from writing competitions, but continue to welcome the same kinds of story through our regular submissions system, which we will continue to evolve to create better opportunities and support for writers. If you were thinking of entering one of our competitions, please do consider sending us the story as a regular submission anyway. You’ll find full details over in our submissions area.

Incidentally, the competitions did serve one other purpose: the entry fees helped to keep us going. So if you like what we’re doing, please consider supporting us in the old-fashioned way: by picking up one of our anthologies!