Registration / The Rules of the Competition / After Your Submit Your Story





Q.  Can writers participate from outside the United States?

A.  Yes.  Writers may participate from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection to upload your stories.


Q.  Who owns the rights to the stories created during the competition?

A.  You, the writer.  NYC Midnight reserves the right to publish the title and synopsis of any writer that enters the competition for publicity purposes, but that's it.  If NYC Midnight is interested in publishing the story, a separate agreement must be worked out between the parties.  We would never publish a story without the written consent of the author.


Q.  Do we have to be in a physical location to participate?

A.  No. The entire competition takes place online and the submissions are required to be uploaded to our website.  So, as long as you have an internet connection, you may participate from anywhere you like. 


Q.  What if I live in a different time zone than New York?

A.  All competition start and end dates are in the Eastern Time Zone (New York).  If you live in another time zone, you will need to make sure you are aware of how many hours ahead or behind you are from New York.  For example, if the competition start time is listed as 11:59PM EST on a Friday and you live in Los Angeles, CA, the competition will begin at 8:59PM local time on Friday.  If you live in London, UK the competition will begin at 4:59AM local time on Saturday.  There will also be countdown clocks on the website to help writers keep track, but we also recommend you mark your calendars with the correct times so you know when the competition starts and ends so there is no confusion later.


Q. Can I participate if I'm under 18 years of age?

A.  Yes, but anyone under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian send their consent to with the following information:
1. The subject line of the e-mail should be: Parental Consent for The Short Story Challenge 2020
     2. Their consent for your participation in the competition in the body of the e-mail. For example, "I am the parent/guardian of __________(Participant Name) and I hereby provide consent for him/her to participate in the Short Story Challenge 2020 on"
      3. The full name and phone number of the parent/guardian in the body of the e-mail.


Q. Can I write under a pen name?

A.  Yes, but please make sure you clarify this when registering for the competition.  We will display the first name, last name, and city, state or province, and country of the registered writers on the website when the competition begins.  If you prefer to have a pen name posted to the website, simply enter your pen name on the registration form where it asks for First and Last.  You will be asked to provide your legal name on the registration form as well, but it will not be used for the website.


Q.  Can teams of writers (more than 1) work on the stories?

A.  Yes.  You may list additional writers on the registration form, but please note that ONLY the writer who registers will be eligible for the prizes.



Rules of the Competition


Q. How closely do we have to follow the assigned genre?
A. Closely.  Your story should not be confused with another genre. For example, if the assigned genre is drama, a story that reads as an outright comedy will most likely be disqualified.  You may add in elements from other genres, but make sure the predominant elements of your story are without a doubt from your assigned genre.  To view a list of genre definitions we've put together, click here.  Please keep in mind these are just suggested guidelines and are not explicit instructions on how to write your story or what elements to include.


Q. What is the assigned subject?
A. The assigned subject must be integral to the plot of the story.  If the subject is used in a way that it has little to no effect on the plot, the story will most likely be disqualified.  For example, if the subject is only mentioned in passing by a character and has no other relevance in the story, it will not be sufficient.  If the references to the assigned subject are very important to the plot and influence the actions of your characters, you should be fine.


Q. What is the assigned character?
A. The assigned character must be a relevant character in the story, but does not have to be a main character.  If the character is simply mentioned in passing and has no effect on the plot, the story will most likely be disqualified.  As long as the character plays a relevant role in the story, you should be fine.


Q. How do you determine the word count?
A. We determine the word count by removing the title page (title and synopsis) and then running counts on both Microsoft Word and Google Docs.  We use the lower count of the two as the official count.


Q. What happens if we go over the word count?
A. There are penalties for exceeding the word count, and please keep in mind that judges are not required to provide feedback on entries that are 100 or more words over the limit.  The penalties for exceeding the word count are below:


         1-25 words over the limit: 10% penalty off total score
        26-50 words over the limit: 20% penalty off total score
        51-75 words over the limit: 30% penalty off total score
        76-99 words over the limit: 40% penalty off total score
        100+ words over the limit: Disqualification.  Judges are not required to provide feedback on submissions 100 words or more over the limit.


Q.  What other requirements are there for the story?

A.  The other requirements for the story are as follows:


ELECTRONIC FILE – The Short Story must be sent as a .doc (Word document 97-2003), .docx (Word document), .txt (Text File) or .rtf (Rich Text Format). The name of the file must be the title of your story. For example, if the title of your Short Story was “Tennis”, then the name of your Short Story must be saved as “Tennis.doc” or “Tennis.txt”.

FONT - Each individual Short Story must be typed in 12 point and in Courier, New Courier or Times New Roman typeface – ONLY.

TITLE PAGE - The Title Page of the Short Story must only contain the TITLE of the Short Story and the BRIEF SYNOPSIS.

BRIEF SYNOPSIS - The brief synopsis must be a maximum of 2 sentences and a minimum of 1 sentence. The brief synopsis serves as a description of the Short Story.

ANONYMITY - The author’s name must NOT appear anywhere in the Short Story, including the title page.


Q.  Are there any margin or spacing requirements for the stories?

A.  No.  We do not have any specific margin or spacing requirements for the stories, but please keep in mind that anything formatted irregularly will most likely make it a difficult reading experience for the judges.


Q.  Can we provide previously written short stories during the competition?

A.  No. All stories must be created during the competition and must be based on the assignment provided.



After Submitting Your Story


Q.  How do I know you received my story?

A.  After you upload your story, you should land on an upload success page in addition to receiving an immediate email stating that we have received your submission.  If you do NOT receive an immediate confirmation e-mail and/or land on the upload success page, your submission may not have gone through and we suggest uploading again.  Please check your junk mail folder for the confirmation email as well.  In addition to immediate confirmations, we will be sending an official confirmation email with more details within 72 hours after the submission deadline.


Q.  When can I share my story on the forums?

A.  We ask that writers wait until they receive an official confirmation email before sharing to our forums.  The official confirmation emails typically arrive within 72 hours after the submission deadline.


Q.  When will I know the results and receive feedback?

A.  The details on result announcement dates will be included in the official confirmation emails and are typically at least 2 days before the next round is scheduled to begin.  Feedback is typically sent within 48 hours after the results are announced.


Q.  Can I post the story I create for this competition on my personal website or social media?  Can I submit it to other competitions?

A.  Yes.  Since you retain all the rights to the stories you create during our competitions, you are welcome to do whatever you like with them. Good luck!




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