Skip to main content
A student typing on her laptop

Fall Fiction Short Story Contest

Do you have a passion for the written word and sharing stories with beautifully crafted sentences full of striking visuals, figurative language to creatively express abstract and familiar concepts, and telling stories of everyday or extraordinary characters? Here is an opportunity to share that passion.

Each year, Southern New Hampshire University hosts a short story contest, which provides writers the chance to show off their creative writing skills and be rewarded for it. Finalists can earn an SNHU scholarship, their story published in The Penmen Review and a writing-themed prize package.

Anyone can enter (exempting SNHU faculty and staff), and it’s free, giving inexperienced and seasoned writers alike an opportunity for share their love of storytelling with a wider audience. 

Writers follow a set of guidelines, and five winners are chosen after expert judging and anonymous public voting. Stories will be evaluated for their originality, thought process and structure, engagement and entertainment, character arc, and grammar and writing style.

The 2020 Fall Fiction Contest

Over 650 stories were submitted for the 6th annual writing contest. The judges carefully read and reviewed the submissions and the public votes added points to each story’s score. Finally, it came down to five stories:

You can learn more and meet the authors in this announcement.

The prize packages have five tiers and change each year.

First Prize:

  • $3,000 SNHU scholarship to be used toward an online or on campus bachelor’s or master’s degree program
  • Short story featured in The Penmen Review
  • The opportunity to read winning piece during a future Word for Word: Student Writer Spotlight
  • SNHU swag
  • “Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel” by Lisa Cron
  • “2020: The Best American Short Stories”

Second Prize:

  • $2,000 SNHU scholarship to be used toward an online or on campus bachelor’s or master’s degree program
  • Short story featured in The Penmen Review
  • The opportunity to read winning piece during a future Word for Word: Student Writer Spotlight
  • SNHU swag
  • “Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel” by Lisa Cron
  • “2020: The Best American Short Stories”

Third Prize:

  • $1,000 SNHU scholarship to be used toward an online or on campus bachelor’s or master’s degree program
  • Short story featured in The Penmen Review
  • The opportunity to read winning piece during a future Word for Word: Student Writer Spotlight
  • SNHU swag
  • “Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel” by Lisa Cron
  • “2020: The Best American Short Stories”

Fourth Prize:

  • Short story featured in The Penmen Review
  • The opportunity to read winning piece during a future Word for Word: Student Writer Spotlight
  • “Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel” by Lisa Cron
  • “2020: The Best American Short Stories”

Fifth Prize:

  • Short story featured in The Penmen Review
  • The opportunity to read winning piece during a future Word for Word: Student Writer Spotlight
  • “Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel” by Lisa Cron
  • “2020: The Best American Short Stories”

You can read about past contests and winners in these articles:

2019 Fall Fiction Contest

2018 Fall Fiction Contest and a chat with winner Mary Wroten

2017 Fall Fiction Contest

2016 Fall Fiction Contest

2015 Fall Fiction Contest and a chat with winner Syche Phillips