2021 Writing Contest Guidelines and Rules

2021 Writing Contest Guidelines


Contest is open to anyone over 16 years old. Entrants between 16 and 18 must have a parent or legal guardian permission to enter the competition.


  • Submissions must be original and unpublished.
  • Manuscripts being considered, but not under contract, by publisher are eligible for submission in this contest.
  • All entries must follow the rules in this document.


FLASH FICTION (up to 500 words) – Flash fiction often contains the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to remain unwritten, yet hinted at or implied in the written storyline.

SHORT STORY – THEME (1500 to 3000 words) – Short Stories are an invented prose narrative, shorter than a novel, that usually deal with a few characters and aim at unity of effect. It often concentrates on the creation of mood rather than plot.

     For the 2021 contest, the short story theme is THE WEST. The stories may be any genre so long as it has to do with the west. Keep in mind this is a wide range. It can be historical, modern, futuristic, fictional, fantasy, and set anywhere so long as it is west.

CHILDREN’S STORY (1000 to 2000 words) – Stories in this category should apply to children between 6 and 10 years old. Consider the guidelines of Children’s Highlights magazine in your submission. Read their guidelines: https://highlights.submittable.com/submit


Flash Fiction – $10 per entry

Short Story – $15 per entry

Children’s Story – $15 per entry

     Online Entry: Fill out the entry form on the website, enter your full name under signature, and pay your entry fee via PayPal button on the page.

     Mail-in Entry: Print your entry form from the website, fill it out completely, sign it, and attach your check made out to High Sierra Writers and mail to: High Sierra Writers, PO Box 12241, Reno, NV 89510

     In-Person Entry: Print your entry form out as directed above. Bring your cash or check to a High Sierra Writers meeting (assuming we will have physical meetings by October) and give it to the treasurer, Rene Averett.


  1. You may submit up to two entries in any or all categories. Each entry will require a separate fee. However, you may only win one time in any category.
  2. Do not put your name on any pages of your entry; your name, phone number, and email address, along with the title of your entry, go on a cover page.
  3. All contest entries must be printed in Times New Roman 12-point type and double-spaced as a WORD document.
    1. Use one-inch margins all around.
    2. Indent each paragraph 3 to 5 spaces.
    3. Entries must be typed according to appropriate, professional form.
    4. The title of the work and a page number should appear on every printed page.
    5. Entries must be in good taste, easy to read, use proper grammar and punctuation, and correct spelling.
    6. Do not use fancy or script fonts for your text, except when stating character thoughts, which must be in italics.
  4. Do not include illustrations or pictures in the manuscript.
  5. Do not staple the pages together. Use a paperclip.
  6. Submit the entry in an 8 ½ x 10” envelope with the cover page and entry form included.
  7. Any deviation from these rules could be the basis for disqualification.

     Review the guidelines one final time before submitting. No re-submissions will be accepted.

Congratulations! You have taken a bold step toward believing in yourself and your writing.


You may begin submitting on June 1st, 2021. The contest deadline is October 15, 2021. Any entries mailed in and postmarked by that date will be accepted. Be aware that if you miss a post office pick-up deadline, the postmark will be for the next day, so be sure to get it in the mail in time. You can bring the entry or entries to a High Sierra Writers meeting (if we have one) in an unmarked 8-1/2×11-inch envelope and give it to one of the contest committee members.


Contest entries will be blind-judged by professionals who are not High Sierra Writers members. Names of the judges will be revealed when they are set. Entries will be judged on the criteria set on their judging forms. Written feedback will be given on all winning entries.


Awards will be presented at the December 11, 2021, High Sierra Writers meeting.  Award cash distributions will be as follows:

            Flash Fiction – 1st place $  50, 2nd place $25,  

            Short Story  – 1st place $100, 2nd place $50

            Children’s Story   –  1st place $100, 2nd place $50

            All 3rd place winners will be awarded a 2021 HSW Membership ($25 value). Winners in each category will receive a printed certificate. Honorable Mentions will also receive a certificate.


            If you have questions about the Guidelines, send an email to board@highsierrawriters.org. Put HSW Contest in the subject line.

            Technical questions relating to digital submissions, email RPAverett@gmail.com. Put HSW Contest – Tech in the subject line.

Committee members are Rene Averett, Matt Bayan, and Troy Becker.