Short story contest winners in 2019 included Sandy Fontaine (third place), Mathew Meir (second place) and Susannah Meir (third place). Not pictured: Carmen Stelin (first place). (Submitted Photo)

Quesnel’s short story contest has appropriate theme for 2020

Contestants will be asked to write a 500-word story about being “stranded”

After a long postponement, the sixth annual Quesnel Short Story contest is back. The new entry deadline is Nov. 12.

Appropriately enough, the theme for 2020 is “stranded,” although organizers Bernice Heinzelman and Linda McIntyre are quick to point out the theme was chosen in February.

“It was just one of those things,” McIntyre said, laughing. “It just worked out that way.”

The usual live celebrations and reading of the winners will not be held to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The contest is a partnership with the Friends of the Library, Literacy Quesnel, the Quesnel Wordspinners, and the Quesnel and District Community Arts Council.

Youth and adults will submit a 500-word short story, with the best six splitting $300. The stories will also be published in the Observer.

“Part of the prize for anyone who enters is detailed notes on their story and mechanics,” McIntyre said. “Anyone who enters receives a package on things they can work on and things they did right, all that kind of good feedback.”

That cycle of feedback has led to improvements among writers who have submitted stories over the years.

“I feel the stories have improved,” Heinzelman said. “One person had entered and said she read the comments several hundred times and made changes.”

McIntyre feels the feedback is more valuable than the prize money.

“People are terrified to share their art with other people, and it shouldn’t be that way,” she said. “Everybody’s voice is valid — whatever you have to say is valid. Just get it out there on paper. Get it to us so we can give you good constructive criticism about it.”

McIntyre is a published author, having written three novels. She said tackling a short story can be more challenging than writing a whole book.

READ MORE: Following her literary passion

“When you’re writing a novel, you can wander quite a bit — I do novels because I can’t do short stories; I have too much going on in my head,” McIntyre said. “What you need to do when you do a short story is concentrate on one idea and maybe one child of that idea.”

Applicants can download a submission form from Submissions must be 500 words or less, typed and double-spaced.

READ MORE: Quesnel Literacy Society to open learning centre Sept. 8

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