Hint Fiction Contest The Third

In one more day, Hint Fiction will turn two years old. Hard to believe that what originally started as a not-so-serious essay which was intended to be read by only a handful of people turned into something this big. After all, Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer came out in November to very positive reviews. It was featured on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon. It was chosen as one of The Nervous Breakdown’s favorite books of the year. And the Gotham Writer's Workshop featured Hint Fiction as their writing contest this past fall. So yes, a lot has happened in the past two years, and to celebrate Hint Fiction's continuing success, we're having another contest!

First, what is Hint Fiction? Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s infamous six-word story — “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn” — Hint Fiction is a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story. These are complete stories that hint at a larger story, not a first sentence or random sentence plucked from a larger work thinly disguised as a story. To see examples, look at the past two years' winners and finalists (2009 and 2010), or check out examples of my own Hint Fiction. Or, better yet, read the anthology.

This Year's Judge:

Two years ago the very first Hint Fiction contest was judged by Stewart O'Nan. Last year it was judged by James Frey. This year? Why, this year's judge is the legendary Joyce Carol Oates, who really needs no introduction (though I will mention that her story in the Hint Fiction anthology was the much-loved "The Widow's First Year").


  • The first place winner will receive $100; the second place winner will receive $50; the third place winner will receive $25. The first place winner will also receive a slew of  journals and anthologies donated by a handful of publishers:
  • All runners-up will also receive a copy of the Hint Fiction anthology, signed by over a dozen contributors, including Benjamin Percy, Michael Martone, Edith Pearlman, Randall Brown, Roxane Gay, and more.


The contest starts now and will take entries until midnight April 30th eastern time. There is no entry fee. You are allowed to submit up to two stories of no more than twenty-five words each in the comments section of this post or, if you would prefer, in the alternative submission form below. (The submission form is for those writers who do not wish for their stories to be publicly read or who have concerns that, because the stories will appear in the comments section of this blog, they will be considered published. I personally don't think it's a problem, but I don't want to leave anyone out, so the submission form is an alterative.) Any writer who submits more than two stories will be disqualified. If submitting two stories, submit them at the same time. At the end of this contest, all submitted stories will be deleted from the comments section. No reprints. Titles are not required but encouraged, as they can create an extra layer to the story. Winners will be contacted by email and announced here. In the meantime, "like" Hint Fiction on Facebook or follow Hint Fiction on Twitter for any and all Hint-related news. Have fun!