The Annual Spectrum Short Story Contest Returns!
Please make sure you read through all of the requirements before submitting and have fun with your entry!
It’s simple: to submit, you need to have either:
- attended at least one critique meeting in the last calendar year (determined by the contest submission deadline), or
- participated in any of our previous contests over the last 4 years.
Please note: By entering the contest you are committing to reading all other competition entries, voting in the contest and providing critiques on three entries (further information below).
In 2020, the top spot was snagged by Allan McKinnon, with his story “Lucky Jenny”.
Contest Submission Guidelines
- ANONYMOUS submissions only. Do not put your name/email/etc anywhere on or within your entry (including in the file name), or you will be disqualified!
- You must address this year’s theme, Depths, in some way.
- Submit using the special story contest upload page. Do NOT use the regular submission page for critique meetings.
- DEADLINE: 23:59 on 31st August 2020.
- STRICT WORD LIMIT: 5,000 words. As there will be a lot of reading to do with everyone’s submissions together, we cannot have any story exceed this amount. If yours is found to be any longer, you will be disqualified.
- Any story submitted must be your own work, and original. Please see the contest as an opportunity to develop something new.
- You must not share your competition story or identify your story to any Spectrum members during the competition period, including for the purposes of critique. Doing so will result in your story being disqualified.
- This competition is a fun way to get our members used to writing to a brief and entering contests, not hold them back. Simultaneous submissions are allowed, however we ask that whatever you’ve written is new material for the contest, not a previously written piece.
- We will include a list of content warnings in the submission form; these will be included in the entries booklet as a reference page at the end, so that readers can be prepared for any difficult or upsetting themes and content in your story. Please take care to note any applicable warnings to your story when submitting.
- Submissions must be in manuscript format, double spaced with numbered pages.
- … And again because there’s always someone who makes this mistake, do not put your name on it!
All submissions will be made available for download via the website in PDF, Mobi/Kindle and EPUB formats on September 12th.
Voting will open in early October and will close at 23:59 GMT on October 17th.
- Best Plot
- Best Dialogue
- Best Worldbuilding
- Best Characters
- and lastly, “I Don’t Know Why, But I Liked It”.
Some rules on voting:
- To ensure a fair contest, we expect everyone who enters to read the other entries and take part in voting. If you enter the competition you are committing to reading and voting on all entries, please only enter if you are happy to do so.
- The only exception is any member of the organising team who check the submissions and votes on the backend to ensure the process runs smoothly. They are permitted to enter the competition, however as backend support necessitates they know author identities they will be disqualified from voting. For transparency these organisers will be identified when voting opens.
- No voting for your own story in any category. Any self-votes will not be counted and your story will be disqualified.
- Further information on voting, including how to vote and more information on each category will be added to the members' section of the website when voting goes live.
The stories submitted will be assigned for critique among the participants of the contest, and attendees at the award meeting. Everybody will get at least 3 critiques for their story.
There will be a special meeting held on October 30th to announce the winners in each category and the overall winner. This will be a virtual event, to make it easy for our international and far-away members who have submitted this year to attend.
The winner of Best Overall Story will get to choose the theme for next year's contest!
Any story receiving first place in one of the voting categories will receive a Spectrum mug! (Limited to one per story.)
Design TBC; but it'll probably look something like this:
All stories that place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the voting categories and overall will also receive vouchers to The Portal Bookshop.
This year we’re delighted to announce that the overall winner will receive a critique on their story by the author C.L. Clark!
Good luck and happy writing,
One last thing…
As a reminder, Spectrum is able to run competitions like this because of the goodwill of our members. This will not impact your competition entry in any way (Allan, stop saying wink wink nudge nudge) but if you would like to support Spectrum to host fun competitions like this one, continue to invite brilliant speakers and keep doing unsung work like running the website, then please donate via our Ko-Fi page: