“The Churchill ‘thing’ made nighttime passersby disappear. It’s been quiet since summer began.” Thirteen words, one scary story: knock yourself out.
Courtesy of the SOU English Program, all students, faculty and staff on campus are invited to try their hand at the (extremely) short story format by entering a Halloween-themed “13-Word Scary Story Contest.”
The criteria are self-evident: 13 words and scary. All submissions will be judged blindly by English Program faculty members. The contest winner will receive a $50 Barnes and Noble gift card, redeemable at the SOU Bookstore, and second place will be good for a $25 card.
“The entries, thus far, have been great,” said Professor Alma Rosa Alvarez, who is chair of the SOU English program. “The very brief story format allows people to participate with very low stakes.”
Entries should be submitted to Alvarez at email@example.com.
The English Program has been hosting literary contests since 2016, when one of its faculty members read an article about public literary displays. Another school, to get students excited about words, solicited six-word stories that were written in various locations with paint that is visible only after interacting with water. Students and townspeople were amazed by the magical display of words that emerged on the first rainy day.
The SOU English Program followed suit with its own contest of six-word stories about autumn. The stories weren’t published, but students had fun producing them, Alvarez said.
The program now hosts a contest every fall, and this year’s shifted to a 13-word format to coincide with Halloween. The two winning entries and a selection of runners-up will be published on SOU News.
“Many people have expressed that they have had a lot of fun writing their 13-word stories,” Alvarez said.
The SOU English Program also hosts a poetry contest each spring. Winners of that contest receive gift cards, and the writer of the first-place submission is invited to be a featured reader in the English Program’s annual poetry-reading event, which is open to the entire community.
Past writing contests have been restricted to SOU English majors, but the program opened its contests this year to all students, faculty and staff.
The English Program’s mission – which it promotes through its writing contests – is to encourage a love of words, language and literature.