Write a chilling ghost story…international competition and publishing opportunity
The Fiction Desk publish an anthology series dedicated to new short fiction, with volumes published in January, May and September. Individual books are available for £9.99, either from their website or from bookshops. It also possible to take out an annual subscription.
You can submit stories in two ways: through the general submissions system, which is always open, or through one of their regular competitions. Right now they are running a ghost story competition with a first prize of £500, a second prize of £250, and a third prize of £100. The deadline is February 28th. Entries should be between 1,000 and 5,000 words in length and the entry fee is £8 for each story. They will have a flash fiction competition in the spring and a competition in the autumn specifically for newcomers.
This is what they are looking for in a ghost story:
“…from an encounter with an actual phantom to more unusual paranormal phenomena and unexplained events. All types are welcome, so feel free to experiment: we’re very unlikely to disqualify a story for stretching the definition of a “ghost”. Keep in mind that our general readership (and by extension our judge) may be more likely to respond well to psychological chills and unexplained mysteries than in-your-face gore.”
There has to be atmosphere in a ghost story. There has to be suspense. Film director Alfred Hitchcock said that a bomb going off in a cafe is a 15 second surprise. If the audience sees someone plant the bomb, know it will go off at one o’clock and there is a clock on the wall showing that the time is now quarter to one, you have 15 minutes of suspense.
If you would rather submit through the ordinary route stories can be from 2,000 to 20,000 words and are submitted through their online form. Fiction Desk say that most of the stories they publish are unsolicited submissions. It’s free to submit but they have a voluntary £2 submission fee to help with running costs. If you choose to pay it, the response time is speeded up from three months to two weeks.
Fiction Desk pay £15 per thousand words for stories they publish (for example, £75 for a 5,000 word story, etc.) and contributors get two complimentary copies.
International competition entries and submission are welcome – so this is an opportunity for everyone, even for writers who don’t like ghosts. If you want to see the kind of stories that Fiction Desk publish (always useful research) you can download the first anthology for free from their website.
Good luck and if you are writing a ghost story, the test is the hairs on the back of your neck. The poet Robert Frost said no tears in the author and there will be no tears in the readers. The hairs on your neck? They should be standing up by the end of the first draft.
photo credit: mr.push via photopin cc