Contest FAQs

1000 Word Writing Contest Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  Does it really need to be exactly 1000 words?
A:  Yes, we only accept stories that are exactly 1000 words.

Q:  My story is 998 words.  Is that close enough?  I didn’t go over 1000….
A:  Our rules require your story to be exactly 1000 words.  If you are under 1000, try looking for contractions that you can expand.  That is usually the easiest way to add a word.  (For example, make “I’m” into “I am”.)

Q:  Do I have to type my story in the submission form box?
A:  No.  You can write your story in your favorite word processing program or text editor and copy/paste it in to the box on the submission form.

Q:  My word processor says I am at 1000 words, but when I paste it into the box, it says I am at 999.
A:  Different programs count words slightly differently.  The submission form has the final say – if it tells you your story is 999 words, you’ll need to edit it to add a word.  The word count on our form is very close to Microsoft Word, so if you use Word you will be OK most of the time.

Q:  Do the title and author’s name count in the 1000 words?
A:  The title and author’s name are entered in separate fields on the submission form.  They should not be included in the box for the body text.  If you submit a story with the title and author included in the body text, the judges will disqualify it.

Q:  Can I use special characters and formatting?  I want to make my story stand out.
A:  We cannot guarantee that non-standard formatting, fonts or characters will be maintained in the submission process.  We care about the content of the story – character, dialog, setting, etc.  Focus on the substance of your story for the best chance at winning a prize and getting published.  Creative use of language is strongly encouraged!

Q: When I pasted my story into the box on the website, the paragraphs got squished together. How can I fix that?
A: Yes, the program removes the paragraph spacing that is set by Microsoft Word. It doesn’t matter for the contest, but if it bothers you, all you need to do is hit the return twice after each paragraph, and the space will remain. Similarly, if you want to have extra spacing between paragraphs to convey, for example, the passage of time, hit the return key an extra time – the more times you do it, the more space you will create on the submission form.

Q: I inserted a horizontal line at a break point in my story, but it doesn’t appear when I pasted it into the submission form. How can I convey a break in my story line?
A: The program does remove those kinds of characters when you paste it in to the form. The only way to do this is to add extra space using the Return key – the more time you press Return before starting to type the new paragraph, the more space you will have.

Q: Can I use a bunch of dashes or underlines or equal signs instead?
A: Nope. Those will be counted as a character against the word count in the submission form, but they do not count toward the judging. In other words, judges will disqualify you if they see a story with keyboard characters used in any way except in words for the story.

Q:  Can I submit a 1000 word poem?
A:  No, we only accept fiction stories at this time.  Poetry and non-fiction essays are not eligible.

Q:  I’m in 5th grade.  Can I enter the contest?
A:  Sorry, but the contest is only open to students in grades 6 – 12.

Q:  I am home-schooled.  Can I enter the contest?
A:  Of course!  So long as you are in the equivalent of grades 6 – 12 you are eligible.

Q:  What is the contest deadline?
A:  The contest will close February 1st at 11:59:59 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Q:  When will the contest be open?
A:  We will begin accepting submissions on December 1st at 12:00:00 AM Pacific Standard Time. Please use the Contact Us form and opt in to our mailing list.  A notification will go out once we begin accepting stories.

Q:  How many stories can I submit?
A:  Only one story per student per year is accepted.

Q:  I don’t live in the Bay Area or even California. Can I still submit a story?
A:  Yes. We are open to any student in the equivalent of grades 6 – 12, from anywhere in the world.