That's a wrap! Congratulations to all our winners. The Book Arts Bash now has its own domain name, and a brand new web site for a new Bash in 2010. Visit us here!
Please visit the Favorite Poem Project, and hear Americans read the poetry they love.
Henry James once said that a short story is a story that can be read in one sitting. Of course some of Henry James' short stories were over 20,000 words long, so maybe his definition of "one sitting" was a little generous. For our purposes, a short story is between 500 and 5000 words. The genre can be any you choose, from historical to literary to science fiction or fantasy. We welcome any type of story from a slice of life vignette to an action-packed plot-based story to a character study.
Stories should be between 500 and 5000 words. Stories must be typed in 12 point font, double spaced, and printed on one side of the paper. One page of 12 point font, double spaced, roughly translates to 250 words, so we're looking for between 2 and 20 pages. Stories should be stapled, entry form clipped to the front, and your name should appear on every sheet of paper you submit. Illustrations are optional. If you illustrate your story, include the pictures in the sheaf you staple together, but please put each on a separate sheet of paper.
Teens and adults: we are not opposed to challenging material, but will not be passing any erotica or overly violent stories on to our judges. Do your best work, use your best judgment, and keep it PG-13.
Teaching This Genre:
A short story is more than a scene and less than a novel, but it can be hard to define the scope of such a work. If you're looking for guidance, or direction for your children, here are some thoughts:
The basic structure of any story, short or long, is the resolution of a problem. Give your character a problem, make it worse, and then let him fix it. While a novel has many different settings and takes place over a longer period of time, a short story can happen in one place and all during one time frame. While a novel has many characters, a short story may just introduce the reader to a few people. A short story tends to take a detailed look at a small piece of life, so it's a closer, tighter examination than a novel. While a novel might start with the first problem a character ever had and move on through many scenes and settings, a short story will look at one event, one moment, in detail.
Some classic short stories don't involve much plot movement at all, no peril or discoveries or falling in love. Maybe the most significant and defining element of a short story is the change that happens from the beginning of the story to the end. This change can be a plot point that happens within the time the story takes place, or it can be a change in the way the reader sees a character or understands a situation, based on a piece of information that is revealed.
A short story is often about that day (or moment) in a character's life when something changed forever. When a decision was made or an event happened or new information was discovered that made it impossible to go back to business as usual. Since the scope of this form is narrow, it's interesting to think about your choices regarding exactly where the story is going to begin. Given that a character's story really begins with his birth and ends with his death, any fraction of time in between is fair game for your plot. Knowing where to begin (and where to end) is critical to creating a successful short story. Start close to the action, as close to that "point of no return" as you can get. End as soon as you can after the action is over.
List of links to the texts of a huge collection of stories, weighted heavily to Chekhov and O'Henry.
Another massive list of links to the full text of classic short stories.
Full text of many short stories including the awesome P.G. Wodehouse.
Some of our favorite short story writers: Flannery O'Connor, James Joyce, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Roald Dahl, Ray Bradbury, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, D.H. Lawrence, Jack London, Katherine Mansfield, Isaac Asimov.
Abigail M., "The Little Blue Kitten"
Sam S., "Cinderella -- Memoirs Of A Stepmother".
Miriam M., "A Mysterious Comb".
Ruth F., "A Smile On Her Face".
Lena G., "A Home, A Family and A Story".
Mikah S., "City Slicker Misadventures".
Alexandra M., "Playground of the Imagination"
Amy C., "Who's The Weirdest?"
Lisa S., "She Poops".
Jennifer E., "Joella's House".
Matthew E., "Lost Treasures".
Naji M., "At your Doorstep".
For 2008 results, look at our winners page.