Storytelling is an art that changes with each medium. I started my craft working on novel length stories, but a few years ago I realized that short stories offered a different challenge and as I like to always keep learning and stretch myself, I embarked on learning their craft.
Additionally, short stories offer new markets to sell my work. The best of the short story market for new writers in the speculative fiction field is unquestionably the Writers of the Future contest. The contest is open to non-professionals, the criteria for non-eligibility being a novel or three short story sales to pro markets, and provides a generous prize and more importantly, writing credentials to help get the toe in the publishing door.
I entered the contest a few times without knowing much about what they were looking for. I later learned the contest likes Science Fiction and Fantasy with a capital S and F, not the lower case near-future type of stories I submitted the first few quarters.
The contest publishes an anthology of the winners each year and after reading the last few years of anthologies I understood where I was going wrong. And for those readers that enjoy reading speculative fiction short stories, the anthology is a must read each year. I still get goosebumps when I reread Jordan Lapp’s After the Final Sunset, Again.
So this latest quarter, I submitted a story I thought met the capital SF&F expectations and I was rewarded with an Honorable Mention. By most estimations, two thousand entries are submitted each quarter. Three win the contest, eight are deemed finalists, another eight are semi-finalists, and about sixty more get an HM. So I’m happy to reach the top 1% of the contest, but I’m hungry to do better.