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Submit Your Stories to the 2021 NC State Fiction Contest

A red plan rests on a notepad.

The NC State Fiction Contest is accepting entries for its 2021 competition.

Drawing more than 300 entrants last year, it’s one of the largest free-to-enter writing contests in the South. This year’s guest judge is Gabriel Bump, author of the debut novel Everywhere You Don’t Belong, winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and a New York Times Notable Book of 2020.

Contestants may enter one story in each of the two contest categories:

  • The James Hurst Prize for Fiction: Submit an unpublished short story of no more than 5,000 words. The winner will receive $500. In addition to the winner, several honorable mention awards will be presented.
  •  The Shorter Fiction Prize: Submit an unpublished short story of no more than 1,200 words. The winner will receive $250One honorable mention award will be presented.

In addition, the best NC State undergraduate entry will receive a $100 prize.

Contest Rules

  1. The contest is open to all North Carolina residents except:
    1. Tenured/tenure-track professors in the University of North Carolina system; creative-writing instructors teaching at North Carolina State University (but teaching assistants and graduate students are eligible).
    2. Writers with a published book of fiction (if we can buy your book online or from a publisher or bookstore, we consider you published).
    3. Previous winners. Previous finalists must submit stories that have not been previously submitted.
  2. Contestants may enter no more than one story in each of the two contest categories.
  3. Entries may not have been previously published anywhere, in print or online, including personal blogs or websites.
  4. All entries must be typed and titled.
  5. Contestants should not include their name on their stories so that their work can be judged anonymously. Instead, contestants should include their name, address, telephone number and email address on a separate cover sheet.
  6. No emailed entries are accepted. Please mail entries to:

NC State Fiction Contest
Department of English
North Carolina State University
Campus Box 8105,
Raleigh, NC 27695-8105

The postmark deadline is Oct. 15, 2021.

Due to volume, we cannot respond to individual queries or return your stories afterward. Winners and honorable mentions will be contacted directly. There will not be a public ceremony this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results will be posted on our website. For more information, visit