Frequently Asked Questions
Why is there an entry fee?
There’s a lot that goes into running the competition--website costs, P.O. box fees, prize money, etc. The list goes on, but the main wondering that we’d like to address is the idea that people shouldn’t have to pay to enter a contest. But here’s what is different. Every participant receives full, personalized feedback on their story, including a detailed score from our judging rubric, regardless of placement (something few writing competitions can say). And teachers who serve as sponsors get even more--lesson plans to implement in the classroom, certificates of completion, awards for author’s craft, and a few other items. This is more than luck of the draw--it's an experience.
Can the entry fee be waived?
No, but we never want the entry fee to be a barrier to participating. There are always people who are willing to sponsor a writer for this competition. To apply for our scholarship list, click here.
What does scary mean?
We get this a lot. Scary simply means that the reader experiences a changed state of emotion--call it an adrenaline rush. Scary can also be suspense, mystery, eerie, disturbing, chilling, creepy, spooky, nerve-wracking and more. The goal is just to hook the reader and keep them engaged.
Who sponsors or hosts the competition?
We currently do not have a host organization, but we are looking to partner with writing organizations and programs. If you know a group that might be interested in working with us, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When will the winners be announced?
There is a specific competition timeline that breaks down all steps of the process, which you can find here. The short answer is that finalists are announced on the evening of Halloween. Official winners are decided within 5-10 days of Halloween.
Is the creative writing competition a celebration of Halloween?
No. We realize some people do not recognize Halloween as a holiday. However, when it comes to writing a story that is designed to scare, we find it makes the most sense that it fall around this time of year.
What is considered violent?
Judges typically consider a story too violent if there are explicit acts of violence, such as hitting, stabbing, murdering, etc. Our best strategy for avoiding this is to get creative. Parts of a scene can be left out on purpose, causing the reader to piece two and two together. Along the same lines, writers can create suspense without the threat of physical harm. For more details on this, see the Tips for Writers tab.
Why are writers allowed to seek help from peers but not from adults?
There is only so much peer feedback can do. Writers with grammatically perfect papers still have to have a unique idea and creative story development to be a winning submission. Peers can help fix technical mistakes as much as they want, but it is the plot of a story that matters most. And at the end of the day, the ideas come from the original writer. Also, we promote the idea of the writing process. It is important for writers, especially young writers, to understand that writing is a journey which involves a lot of reflection. What we’re truly trying to avoid is overly involved adults who enforce their own ideas on young participants. See our Tips for Writers tab for more info.
Can I submit my story through the website?
Not currently, but we’re working on that! You can register your story online by clicking here, but you’ll need to email us your story directly as of right now. It can be a picture if handwritten.
Can I pay through the website?
Yes, we only accept payments online as of now. You can pay using debit, credit, or PayPal. Click here to register.
Can I enter several stories in one submission?
If you are submitting as a contestant, the answer is no. We only allow one submission per contestant in any given contest period (each calendar year). For sponsors, you may submit as many stories as you’d like. We oftentimes have teachers submit on behalf of a classroom full of students. For more information, visit the Tips for Teachers.
Why are lower elementary students not eligible?
We know that, in most cases, students are just starting to learn the organization fundamentals of writing in third grade--things like plot, introductions, author’s craft, etc. We want students to have a fundamental understanding of writing before entering.
Can I submit the same story that I did last year?
Sure, but if it wasn’t a winning submission in year’s past, the writer should highly critique the aspects that may need improvement.