Hint Fiction Contest IV

From now until the end of this month, submissions are open for this year's Hint Fiction contest, judged by Benjamin Percy. What is Hint Fiction? 

A story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story. Think of Hemingway’s apocryphal six-word story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” It doesn’t have a title, but those six words convey a punch. Not only that, they stand on their own. They’re not the first line of a story, or a random sentence plucked from a longer story.

About the judge: 

Benjamin Percy is the author of two novels, Red Moon and The Wilding, as well as two books of stories, Refresh, Refresh and The Language of Elk. His honors include an NEA fellowship, the Whiting Writers’ Award, the Plimpton Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and inclusion in Best American Short Stories and Best American Comics. His story “Impact” appeared in the Hint Fiction anthology.


  • 1st place $100, 2nd place $50, 3rd place $25.
  • All winners and runners up will receive signed copies of the Hint Fiction anthology, as well as signed copies of my very short fiction collection Phantom Energy.
  • Perera-Hussein Publishing House has generously donated copies of their Sri Lankan Hint Fiction anthology Short & Sweet to the winners and runners up as well.
  • Finally, the 1st place winner will also have his or her Hint Fiction story animated by Dustin Grella, who has animated a few Hint Fiction stories in the past (here and here and here).

There is no entry fee.

Not sure what Hint Fiction is? It’s strongly recommended you check out the anthology, which is still available in paperback. Also, Norton has kindly lowered the price of the ebook for a limited time, so you can purchase it for just $2.99 on KindleNookKobo, and iTunes.

You can submit up to two Hint Fiction stories using the form below (subscribers to my newsletter can submit up to three; directions on how to submit the third story can be found in the welcome email). After April 30th, a top 20 will be chosen and will be published online, where readers can vote for their favorites à la American Idol. Then from there a top 10 will be narrowed down, which will be sent to Benjamin Percy (please note that I hold veto power, so if a story I feel strongly about in the top 20 doesn’t make the top 10, I may include it anyway).

Stories should be no longer than 25 words. This does not include the title. If the story is longer than 25 words, it will be automatically disqualified.

Please note: Unless you're a newsletter subscriber, submit no more than two stories. If you submit more than two stories, you will be automatically disqualified.

Using one of my own Hint Fiction stories as an example, please format your stories like this:


It was Fredrick Miller, not his murdered son Matthew, who was executed Monday night at Henshaw Prison.

Good luck!

Edit: Submission period over. Thanks to everyone who submitted.