Golden Donut Short Story Contest 2021 Contest Details

Open to all writers. Win the prestigious Golden Donut Award!

The Golden Donut Short Story Contest Rules

The rules are simple. Write a story about the photograph provided using exactly 200 words — including the title. Each story needs an original title, and the image must be the main subject of the story. No clues as to the subject matter of the image or where it was taken. You decide. Let your imagination run wild. Remember though, what you see in the image absolutely must be the main subject of your tale.


Entry Fee: $25 per submission

3 submissions allowed.

Submission deadline: Midnight (EST) July 1, 2021

  • 200 Words

    No more. No less. Including the title, the story must be 200 words. "Don't" is two words. "OMG" is three words. "Smith-Jones" is two words. Count them.

  • Finished Product

    All stories are to be polished and complete. They must have a beginning, middle and a twisted, surprise ending.

  • Fairly Judged

    The Golden Donut contest is judged blindly. Each entry is assigned a number so the judges do not see the writers' names.

  • Reader Panel

    A panel of readers will select their 12 favorite stories and then forward them to the final judge. All decisions are final. The judge will review and send the winning entry to the WPA.

  • Contest Judge - Linda Landrigan

    Linda Landrigan, editor-in-chief of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, will read the top twelve entries and then pick the winning story.

  • Winner notified by email

    The contest winner will be notified by email. The top ten stories to be posted in September 2021 on The Graveyard Shift blog. 

  • Open to All

    Contest is open to everyone. You don't have to attend the conference to win. You don't even have to be a writer!

Submission Guidelines

Contest Opens

Contest opens March 14, 2021. Do not send entries before this date.

Contest Ends

Submission deadline is midnight (EST) July 1, 2021. Any submissions after this date are not eligible.

200 Words

Any entry not meeting the exact 200 word requirement will be disqualified. You will not receive notice of disqualification. Please be sure your word count is accurate and that all words are counted.

Hyphenated Words

Hyphenated words, for the purpose of this contest, will be counted as two words, or three, etc., depending upon how many words make up the hyphenated phrase/word.


Contractions will be counted as two words (it’s, don’t, etc.).

Every Single Word

Every single word will be counted as a word. This includes: “a,” “and,” and “the.” If it’s a stand-alone letter or group of letters, count it as a word. If it’s a number, count it as a word. ocial media and texting abbreviations will be counted as individual words. For example: OMG = three words.

No Refunds

No refunds for any reason.

Up to 3 Entries

Each author may submit up to three entries. Each entry must be accompanied by the corresponding entry fee ($25 per story).

Public Domain

By submitting an entry to this contest authors agree to allow The Graveyard Shift/Lee Lofland, the Writers’ Police Academy and/or affiliates to publish/reprint the story as a part of The Graveyard Shift blog and/or as advertisement for the Writers’ Police Academy or in other publications and media.

Reserved Rights

The Writers’ Police Academy reserves the right to exclude or delete any entry without cause, reason, or explanation.

General Audiences

ABSOLUTELY NO profanity, erotica, or the promotion of a specific hot-button agenda, including but not limited to politics of any type and/or racial issues.


Have questions? Send questions via email to [email protected]

Submit Your Story

Simple, easy to follow registration gets you one step closer to the infamous Golden Donut Award. After entering your contact information, and story, just hit Submit to pay and send. Good luck!

Contest ends July 1, 12:00 am

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