Skip to main content
A typewriter with a blue background

Fall Fiction Short Story Contest

Each fall, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) hosts a short story contest, offering writers of all skill levels the chance to compete for more than just bragging rights. Finalists of the Fall Fiction Contest can win an SNHU scholarship, publication in The Penmen Review and a writing-themed prize package.

The contest is open to everyone – with the exception of SNHU faculty and staff – and free to enter. All short stories that adhere to the guidelines, which includes a 1,500-word limit, is reviewed by a panel of creative writing faculty and scored on originality, thought process, structure and grammatical correctness.

The scores identify the top five stories, which are then posted anonymously for a public voting round. The number of votes is factored into the individual’s final score.

The 2019 Fall Fiction Contest

We received hundreds of submissions for the 5th annual Fall Fiction Contest, and after a month-long judging period, the top five winners were recognized:

First place: “Love in the Cheap Seats” by Ben Jackson
Second place: “The Thing in My Closet” by E. M. Francisco
Third place: “The Houses on the Sea” by Destiny Rinder
Fourth place: “Forgotten Promise” by Clover Autrey
Fifth place: “The Dunes of Dawn” by Dotty Weaver

You can learn more about the finalists, their writing and the judging panel in this post-contest announcement.

Prize packages are awarded in five tiers, and the contents vary each year. Here’s what the 2019 finalists received:

First Prize:

  • $3,000 SNHU scholarship (to be used for any online bachelor's or master's degree program)
  • Feature profile piece on SNHU website
  • Short story featured in The Penmen Review
  • SNHU swag
  • “Save the Cat! Writes A Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need” by Jessica Brody
  • “2019: The Best American Short Stories”

Second Prize:

  • $2,000 SNHU scholarship (to be used for any online bachelor's or master's degree program)
  • Short story featured in The Penmen Review
  • SNHU swag
  • “Save the Cat! Writes A Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need” by Jessica Brody
  • “2019: The Best American Short Stories”

Third Prize:

  • $1,000 SNHU scholarship (to be used for any online bachelor's or master's degree program)
  • Short story featured in The Penmen Review
  • SNHU swag
  • “Save the Cat! Writes A Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need” by Jessica Brody
  • “2019: The Best American Short Stories”

Fourth Prize:

  • Short story featured in The Penmen Review
  • “Save the Cat! Writes A Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need” by Jessica Brody
  • “2019: The Best American Short Stories”

Fifth Prize:

  • Short story featured in The Penmen Review
  • “Save the Cat! Writes A Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need” by Jessica Brody
  • “2019: The Best American Short Stories”

To learn more about past contests and winners, check out the following articles:

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