Hint Fiction

New Hint Fiction Contest

Next month it will have been 10 years since I published a silly little essay called “Hint Fiction: When Flash Fiction Because Just Too Flashy” at Flash Fiction Chronicles (which no longer seems to exist) and hosted a contest at my blog.

It was meant to be something fun, nothing serious, though I was fortunate that author Stewart O’Nan agreed to be the final judge. His involvement no doubt helped give the idea legitimacy and caught the attention of the publishing industry, most notably W. W. Norton who subsequently gave me a contract to put together an actual anthology of hint fiction stories.

In 2010, W. W. Norton published Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer, which is still in print. It was received well critically for the most part, and still continues to sell, and from what I can tell based on emails and what I see online, it’s used in various creative writing programs around the country.

For the first couple years I continued the tradition of hosting hint fiction contests (James Frey was the judge in 2010, Joyce Carol Oates in 2011, and Benjamin Percy in 2014) but after a while my own writing started to take more and more of my time, and I just lost interest in hosting any further contests.

That is, until now.

I mean, we’re coming up on the 10-year anniversary, people! How could I not let that go by without celebrating with a new contest?

This year's judge is the one and only Roxane Gay. She’s the author of the books AyitiAn Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Bad Feminist, the nationally bestselling Difficult Women, and the New York Times bestselling Hunger. She is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. Her story “The Copper Miner’s Sad Sad Song” appeared in the Hint Fiction anthology; her story “I Know Things about the Girls Next Door” appeared in the special hint fiction issue of Wigleaf.

The submission period will be from April 1 to April 30 at this website. You can submit up to two hint fiction stories. After April 30th, I will come up with a top 15 - 20 stories which will then be sent to Roxane so that she can review and pick the winners.

The prizes are as follows:

  • 1st place $100, 2nd place $50, 3rd place $25.

  • All winners and runners up will receive signed copies of the Hint Fiction anthology.

  • W. W. Norton has donated copies of New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, edited by James Thomas and Robert Scotellaro, to the winners and runners up as well.

There is no entry fee.

Still 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 $1.99 on KindleNookKoboiTunes, and Google Play.

So check back here April 1st. In the meantime, have fun!


The very awesome and talented Dustin Grella animated the winning story of this year's Hint Fiction Contest. In case you missed it, here's the story:

AT THE SEASHORE by Monica Wang

After the accident that summer, he stopped listening to seashells. The ocean was bad enough—what it told him to do was worse.

Now here's the animation.


Check out more of Dustin's work!

And The Winners Are ...

Over 500 stories were submitted to this year's Hint Fiction Contest. From that 500 a top 20 was chosen. From that top 20, 483 votes were cast. Finally, a top 10 was declared. However, as the creator of Hint Fiction, I felt at least two stories deserved a shot as finalists, so 12 stories were sent to Benjamin Percy. And, interestingly enough, the two stories I included ended up in the top five. Anyway, without any further adieu, I present to you this year's winners ...

1st Place

AT THE SEASHORE by Monica Wang

After the accident that summer, he stopped listening to seashells. The ocean was bad enough—what it told him to do was worse.

2nd Place


“Got a sleeper cab?”

I nodded.

“Good enough.” She kissed me. She tasted like Old Style, asphalt, and menthols. Not you, but yes, good enough.

3rd Place

RED ALERT by Kevin Curow

Forgot my mask on the subway. Recess was in the bunker, anyway. Momma packed mushrooms again. Gramps says the birds we read about could sing.

Honorable Mentions

BYGONES by Lisa Rubenson

He swirled his cocktail and walked in circles on a pile of my mother’s clothes. Every few steps, we’d hear the crunch of plastic hangers.

NO MORE by Frank Ladd

Steady snow erased her trail to the lake’s precipice. Broken ice would scab by morning, and what would the old biddies in town say then?


Congratulations to this year's winners!

Hint Fiction Contest IV Top 20

After much consideration and counsel with close friends -- one of whom is Ben White, the editor of Nanoism -- I now present to you the top 20 finalists of this year's Hint Fiction Contest. It's always tough narrowing down the best stories, and several stories came extremely close to making the final cut. In fact, I could have easily included a top 30. But a top 20 is much more reasonable, especially as I'm now going to open it up to you to vote for your favorites. Out of the 20 stories here, you can pick up to 3 stories. Tell your friends, family, whoever! Every vote counts.

Voting will remain open until the end of the month. Then the top 10 will be sent to Benjamin Percy to pick the winners. The poll box can be found at the bottom of this post (note: for some reason the poll box was not compatible with my current theme, so this rather boring layout is only temporary).

Now here are the top 20 Hint Fiction stories, in no particular order:

EDIT: The stories have been deleted.