A Very Short Story Contest – 2021

It may be apocryphal, but the story goes that Ernest Hemingway won a bet by writing a short story that ran fewer than ten words. One version of the story places the bet at the famed Algonquin round table. Whether true or not, there is an actual bet-winning short story attributed to Hemingway:

For sale. Baby Shoes. Never worn.

You have to admit it’s pretty good. It builds, and there’s a whole world of background and emotion lurking beneath those words.

We would like to make a similar bet with you. Write a great short story in ten words or fewer. (You may use a title, but that goes into the word count.) Submit it to our contest. Entry is free. Winner of the bet gets a free Gotham 10-week workshop. (For any Gotham class except select premium classes.)

We did this contest two years ago, and here are some of the best entries:

She sat in the car wondering what other children did.
Maribel Ledezma-Williams
New York, NY
One heartbreaking cry. Hello, my baby. Goodbye, somebody else's daughter.
Casey O’Callaghan
York, PA
He looks like Pittsburgh, I thought. He's definitely my father.
Darlene Coker
Tampa, FL

The Details:

  • Submit an original, unpublished 10-word short story.
  • Entries must be submitted online by 11:59 pm Eastern Time, Monday May 31, 2021.
  • Entry is free. Limit one entry per person.
  • Entry must consist of no more than 10 words. Longer entries will be disregarded.
  • Entry must be original and unpublished.
  • Entries will be judged on originality, quality, spelling, and grammar.
  • Gotham will post the winning entry at GothamWriters.com.
  • The winner will be notified by June 18, 2021.