Okanagan College is calling all budding writers to exercise their creativity and participate in the 3-Hour Short Story Contest taking place on all four college campuses Nov. 1.
The recent accolades lauded on short story authors are a testament to the genre’s increasing popularity.
Last year, Alice Munro won the Noble Prize in Literature for her body of work and Lynn Coady won the prestigious Giller Prize for a book of shorts called Hellgoing.
“There’s a lot of talk these days about the short story being a more relevant form for the digital age, since information and entertainment are moving steadily towards shorter texts, videos, and sound bites that can be easily consumed and enjoyed in one sitting,” said Okanagan College English professor and event organizer Corinna Chong. “Short stories are also the best way for a writer to learn and practice the fundamental principles of narrative before they move onto longer forms like the novel.”
For this contest, writers will not only be challenged with a time constraint – all stories must be written in a designated location within a three-hour time period – but they’ll also have to find a way to incorporate a secret phrase that won’t be revealed until the moment the contest begins.
Last year, more than 70 students took part, including Okanagan College student Mary Bevan from Kelowna, who won with her story The Use in Usefulness.
“The surprise phrase and the three-hour time limit meant no one was more prepared than anyone else,” said Bevan. “We were all starting with a blank sheet.”
The 3-Hour Short Story Contest is open to students in Grade 11 and 12, and those attending Okanagan College. The competition takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1 at the college’s Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton campuses.
Writers will work on college computers and will not be able to access any pre-written material or anything online.
Four prizes of a $250 tuition credit will be handed out – one for each campus winner. The grand prize winner will be chosen from those four and receive an additional $250 tuition credit as well as have his or her story published in a limited fine-print edition by the Kalamalka Press.
This popular contest is free but can only accommodate a limited number of entrants, so interested scribes are encouraged to register early. Deadline for entry is noon Oct. 31. Visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/3hourwriting to sign up.