The spring contest is open!

Every individual has a unique story to tell — and we want to hear yours!

Beginning on Feb. 28, anyone in the Penn State community, University-wide, can have the chance to be published in Penn State University Libraries short story dispensers, around the University Park campus and worldwide! Simply write a short story based on the theme of “New Beginnings,” enter your information on the Short Stories website by April 20, 2018, and watch for winners to be announced before the end of the semester.

Stories will be posted online as they are submitted to encourage the public to vote for their favorites. The earlier you submit your story, the more time readers will have to read and vote for your submission! Simultaneously, the (editorial team!) will also read and select winners during this time.

Theme & rules

Everything has a beginning: relationships, conversations, seasons. You can begin a life, a day, a project, and sometimes you might even “begin again.” Often, beginnings are a big surprise, but in the end, the most exciting part of any beginning is how the story unfolds and what you do with your new beginning.

To welcome spring and fresh starts, our contest theme is “New Beginnings.” To be accepted, your text must be significantly tied to this theme.

Once you’ve figured out what you’d like to write about, your next step is to compose a story of no longer than 8,500 characters, including spaces, pertaining to the established theme. When your masterpiece is complete, simply login and submit your story to to be considered for judging.

Voting will end on April 20, after which the winning stories, both fan favorites and editorial team selections, will be published on Penn State short story dispensers for the public to read and enjoy!

Winners and prizes will be announced by or before Friday, April 27, 2018. Good luck to all applicants!


Submission Guidelines

Short stories will be accepted as long as they adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Fit within the contest theme of “New beginnings”
  • Within the contest theme of “New beginnings,” your short story may fall into one of the following genres: Suspense & Crime; Romance; Science Fiction & Fantasy; Humour; Fiction & Drama; or Children’s Stories
  • Maximum length 8,500 characters including spaces
  • We will NOT accept: biographical narratives, historical narratives, news-related texts, social issues written in a journalistic style, pornographic or erotic texts

Formatting Your Story

Please format your short story in a way that is easy to read on a screen or on the specific papyrus paper sheets used in our dispensers. Proofread all work prior to submission. Additional formatting suggestions include:

  • Dialogue. Any portions of dialogue should be enclosed in quotation marks.
  • Italics. Titles of work, narrator thoughts, emphasis on words, and words in a foreign language should be italicized.
  • Line breaks. Insert a single blank line between paragraphs for ease of reading.
  • Short Story Titles. Titles for submitted works written in capital letters will not be preserved, with the exception of acronyms and initials. Please follow typographical norms for writing your title (i.e. capital letter with each word – The Great Gatsby, A River Runs Through It, etc.).
  • No indentations. Please do not indent any lines.


Our editorial team may make corrections to misspellings and minor grammatical mistakes (conjugation, missing words, inattention errors, etc.) but will not make larger changes. We will remove any repetition of the title, personal information, or signatures included in the submission. Your footnotes and dedications will be preserved.