If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that necessity is the mother of invention. We’ve all had to come up with ways to deal with new realities. The need to do everything differently—work, shop, learn, and have fun—has had us all building coping mechanisms that turn into their own kind of Rube Goldberg machines—complex systems that function properly only when we’re lucky.


In that spirit, the QuaranCon organizers have chosen invention as the theme for our short fiction competition this year. You can treat that theme however loosely you want; composing a short story is itself an act of invention after all.


The rules:

  1. Submissions must be speculative fiction short stories (no poetry, songs, or films, as cool as those competitions would be)

    •  Speculative fiction means anything that falls into the science fiction–fantasy bucket, from fairy tales to magic realism to cyberpunk to horror.

    • The story must be complete, e.g., not a chapter of a book or other excerpt from a longer work.

  2. Submissions must be no more than 2000 words.

  3. Submissions should be in Word or PDF. In addition:

    • They should be formatted in 12-pt Times New Roman font and double spaced.

    • Each page should be numbered.

    • The title and word count should appear in the header of every page.

    • The author’s name should not appear anywhere in the file.

  4. Submissions must be original stories written by the person submitting them.

  5. Submissions may not be formally published.

    • By this we mean it should not be available for sale elsewhere, e.g., as part of an anthology or included in a magazine or journal. Stories posted on your blog or given for free to your newsletter subscribers are acceptable.

Some tips:

  1. A good short story has a resolution; otherwise, it’s just an anecdote.

  2. Poor spelling and grammar will not serve you well in this or any other competition, so give us your best work.


How to submit:

  1. Submit your story between 1 February 2021 and 31 March 2021.

  2. Fill out this form: https://forms.gle/nr8dnU43pLqwAKq89 



A competition manager will ensure that submitted stories meet submission criteria and will ensure author names are removed so that stories are judged anonymously. Judges will select a winner and up to 3 runners up depending on the number of submissions received. Stories will be judged on the usual factors, such as readability (grammar, style, flow, etc.), plot and character development, and overall impression of quality.




The winning story will be read during an awards session of the Con. The winner and runners up will also receive a QuaranCon Short Fiction Competition badge to go with the all-important bragging rights! The top three stories WILL be published in an anthology of QuaranCon prize winning stories. Other prizes may be awarded (TBD).

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