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Short Story Writing Contest

The Amelia Island Book Festival is pleased to support emerging authors and aspiring writers by encouraging and recognizing their work in our Short Story Contest.

The 2021 theme is:

"The Unexpected Happening"


We invite all middle and high school students in Nassau County, Florida 

to submit their work. 

(public school, private school, homeschool, and virtual students are eligible)

The submission deadline for all entries is March 15th, 2021, no later than 5:00 p.m. 

Late submissions will not be accepted. 

Have Questions after reading the guidelines below?

Please send an email to shortstory@ameliaislandbookfestival.org

Submissions are now closed.

Winners to be announced soon!

Amelia Island Book Festival Short Story Writing Contest Rules and Reminders


  • Your story must be between 500 – 1,000 words written on the theme “The Unexpected Happening.”

  • It must be a new, original work - not previously written or published

  • Submissions must be in Times New Roman, 12-point typeface, double-spaced; entry must include:

    • Your name

    • E-mail address

    • Grade, school, and short story title on first page

  • Must be sent as an attachment in MS Word format; email to:  shortstory@ameliaislandbookfestival.org  Students are encouraged to keep a copy of submitted stories in case of technology issues

  • Entries that do not meet all criteria will not be judged, will not be eligible for awards/prizes and will not be considered for publication

  • Submission deadline for all entries is MARCH 15th, 2021, no later than 5:00 p.m.

  • Judges will be local literary experts and board members/leaders with the Amelia Island Book Festival (AIBF)

  • Prizes include the following:

    • One cash award of $175 for each middle school and high school first-place winner

    • One cash award of $100 for each middle school and high school second-place winner

    • Several $50 cash awards for winners across both middle and/or high school entrants for creativity, writing style and other criteria as determined by the judges


  • Prizes will be announced/awarded at a time and venue yet to be determined

  • Winning entrants will have the opportunity to meet a New York Times bestselling author at a time and venue as yet to be determined

Short Story Writing Contest Writing Tips


Contest judges will read each story and will consider the following elements, along with your creativity and writing style:


  • The Plot or events that occur.

  • The Characters.

  • The Setting, or time and place.

  • Your incorporation the Theme, “The Unexpected Happening.”

  • A Beginning, Middle and End to each story, and the proper Sequence of events.

  • Use of Proper Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation.


Helpful Hints:

Consider having a coach or mentor read your story and provide feedback.  This can be a family member, teacher, media specialist or friend.  Make sure you allow enough time for feedback.  Then, incorporate the feedback before submitting your final work.  Remember, it is important not to view their comments as criticism, but as advice to strengthen your story.  And don’t forget to have fun!!! 


Need more information?  Send an email to shortstory@ameliaislandbookfestival.org or visit us at www.ameliaislandbookfestival.org/short-story-writing-contest.  We will respond as quickly as possible.  We look forward to enjoying your short stories.  Thank you!

Short Story Writing Contest Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q.  Just making sure…does my short story about “The Unexpected Happening” have to be about real people or can it be fiction? 

A.  Your short story about “The Unexpected Happening” can be fiction or non-fiction.  Please know that all entries will be judged based on the short story elements described in the “Short Story Writing Contest – Writing tips,” along with your creativity and writing style. 


Q.  I have won this contest before.  Am I eligible to win again?

A.  Yes!  Absolutely!


Q.  If I attend private school or am home schooled, may I enter the contest?

A.  Yes!  The only requirement is that you are in grades 6-12 in Nassau County.


Q.  May I submit a graphic story?

A.  No. Since this contest is judged on the written word, we cannot accept a graphic short story.


Q.  My story is longer than 1,000 words. – may I submit it?

A.  No. Your entry will not be accepted if it is longer than 1,000 words or shorter than 500 words.  You must edit your story to fit the guidelines.


Q.  If I can’t get my story in by the deadline, will you take a submission after the 5 p.m. deadline on March 15th, 2021?  

A.  No.  We cannot accept submissions after the deadline.


Q. I go to private school or I am homeschooled, can I participate? 

A. YES. ALL students in 6th to 12th grade registered in a Nassau public or private school are encouraged to participate. Virtual students residing in Nassau County, Florida are also eligible to participate. 


Still have questions?  Send an email to shortstory@ameliaislandbookfestival.org 

Congratulations to the 2020 Winners!

Students were asked to submit original works of 500 to 1,000 words based on the theme, “Once Upon a Time.” Entries represented Fernandina Beach High School, Florida Virtual School (the state’s Internet-based public high school), Hilliard Middle and Senior High School, Callahan and Yulee Middle Schools, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Nassau County.


Judges awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for high school and middle school students. They also awarded finalists in those categories for entries worthy of honorable mention. The Boys & Girls Clubs had two first-place awards. 




1st Place: Madelyn Maguire, “Nature’s Daughter”, FBHS grade 12

2nd Place: Amelia Wright, “Once Upon Our Time”, FBHS grade 9

3rd Place: Penny Carr, “Princess Penelope and the Purple Dragon” FBHS grade 12



Joseph Henry Perry, “Old Smelly Hound,” FBHS grade 12

Carly Terry, “Sugar Plum Fairy,” FBHS grade 12

Sierra Baldwin, “Avril’s Decision,” FLVS grade 11




1st Place: Bailey Fouraker, “Nevermore,” FLVS grade 8

2nd Place: John Addington, “The Cursed Emerald,” FBMS grade 6

3rd Place: Bailey Rounsville, “The Russian Watch,” CMS grade 8



Gage Dickerson, “The Greatest Gift,” YMS grade 8

Kaeris Allen, “A Girl and her Dog,” HMS grade 8

Olivia Risinger, “Seeing in Color,” CMS grade 8




Trinady Shields, “When in Reality”

Craig Manning, “The Trip” 



Prizes included:


·       $175 for each high school and middle school first-place winner

·       $100 for each high school and middle school second-place winner

·       $50 for finalists based on creativity, writing style and other criteria as determined by the judges

·       $75 to winners from Boys & Girls Clubs of Nassau County