FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Why can I only write 1200 words in my story?

There are no real rules as to how long the “short story” is but when we first did our research to explore setting up the competition in 2013, there were several other competitions which also imposed a limit like this. 1200 words is about 2.5 pages of A4 in 12 point text. It seems to us a good length and forces you to be pithy and succinct! After all Mark Twain once wrote that he didn’t have time to write a short letter, so he was writing a long one!

Is the 1200 word limit strictly applied?

Yes! It wouldn’t be fair to everyone else if we accepted a story over the word limit. Having said that, there’s nothing stopping you submitting a shorter story and there have been great short-listed stories with approximately 800 words in previous years.

Why is there an entry fee at all?

All the organisers are volunteers but there are lots of costs involved in running the competition. This includes setting up and running a website, getting a book published, printing posters and flyers so people know about it, giving prizes, hiring a venue, offering workshops, paying for our judges to travel to Strasbourg. The book tends to pay for itself, but the other costs are generously covered by the entry fees, any margin on book sales and our sponsors. Any venture needs some start-up funding and we are particularly grateful to the three founding associations the ESC, the AIA and ESU who have believed in us since the start!

I haven’t heard anything else since I uploaded my entry. Why not?

Your entry consists of your entry form, your story, plus your confirmed payment. The organisers are volunteers with other kinds of work or
jobs to do. So someone will get back to you soon when your method of payment has been confirmed. We get PayPal confirmations straight away but confirmation of cheques and IBAN payments can take longer. Also our treasurer travels a lot and sometimes we have to wait for him to get in touch to confirm an IBAN payment. If you got confirmation at your end that the payment was successful then it was probably fine. We’ll be in touch as soon as we can!

I haven’t heard anything else since I registered for my workshop. Why not?

When you registered and hit “Send” and then you didn’t get a confirmation email to the email address you supplied, then please get in touch with us at info@sxb-write-a-story.org. Otherwise someone will be in touch with you in the week before the workshop to check you are still interested, as per the email you got on registration. In the past we have found that people wait until the last week to register anyway, so if you got a confirmation then it’s fine. You have a place at the workshop.

Why does it take so long for me to find out if I’ve been shortlisted?

The judging period takes between 6-8 weeks after the deadline for submission of entries. Judging is a two-step process.  First, because of the sheer number of stories the competition receives each year, the Organizing Committee uses a standardised rating system to screen the stories and submits 10 stories from each category–40 stories total–to the judges for their review.   The judges then read the stories, discuss them, and create a shortlist of five entries from each category, which includes the winner and runner-up in that category. 

When will I know if I’ve been shortlisted? When is this year’s Awards Ceremony?

Once the Organising Committee receives the shortlists from the judges, it will contact each entrant and let them know if they’ve been shortlisted or not.  Then the book needs to be prepared and printed and the Awards Ceremony needs to be organised, and that takes time. The winners and runners-up from each category will be announced at the Awards Ceremony, which will be on Saturday, 17 April 2021. Because of COVID-19, it has yet to be decided whether the ceremony will be live or online.