Down News Short Story Competition Now Open For Entries

Write a short story for Down News and you could win a prize of a book token at Waterstone's Bookshop.


Write a short story for Down News and you could win a prize of a book token at Waterstone’s Bookshop.

Following on from the successful flash fiction competition in 2020, Down News is now running a FREE to enter short story competition for its many readers in County Down.

There will be three prizes:

First: £100

Second: £50

Third: £30

The subject of this exciting competition is quite simple. It’s called:


The Down News Short Story competition is now open for submissions!

You can write in any style you wish, for example, horror, science fiction, domestic drama, crime, a love story, a tragedy, comedy, or just tell a great yarn etc etc. It’s fiction, so you can let your imagination run riot!

As long as it is not about actual people or incidents for legal reasons. It needs to be purely fictional.

The Covid-19 epidemic has tested our society and the resilience of its people in many ways. It has brought tears, spread fears, and brought many people to the brink of despair through loss of loved ones, has increased poor mental health as we have faced a lockdown for the best part of a year. But hopefully now with the benefits of the vaccine, we are coming out of the isolation many of us have experienced.

Working from home has presented its own challenges, as well as businesses struggling with furloughed workers, supply chains breaking down, costs escalating and the business environment becoming very fraught. Stress has seeped into every level of our existence. Life changes = stress!

A few people have relished the isolation of the lockdown as a way of taking the pedal off the accelerator and simply slowing down. Other have missed seeing their loved ones such as grandchildren, grandparents, friends and even neighbours. It will certainly be strange when and if we do return to ‘normal’. But it looks like we are heading in the right direction.

So, the writers task is to focus on a theme of LOCKDOWN, and write round it.


As in all competitions, there are rules. See below for details.

  1. The closing date for the competition is midnight Sunday 30th May and the organiser reserves the right to extend this date for whatever reason.

2. Persons entering must reside in County Down.

3. Contributors must be 17 or over on the closing date of the competition.

4. The use of names of real people, businesses and organisations is not permitted.

5. All submissions must be in the English language.

6. Submissions must not have been previously published.

7. If the submission has been short or long-listed in another short story competition, this should be noted, as winning such a competition will disqualify you subsequently from entry to the Down News competition.

8. Spell check your final version to ensure that the judges fully understand your text meaning.

9.You must write within a prose word count of a minimum of 500 to a maximum of 1500 word.

10. The title of your short story will be no more that six words long and not be included in the story word count. It will be the file name for your submission and therefore you need to save the Word document using the title (six words or less).

11. Put your word count, name and address and email address and telephone number on the first page, start the short story on the second page.

12. Font size should 14 in black and do not include any graphics.

13. A judges panel may shortlist the best entries, but the decision of the Down News editor of the winners is final.

14. Submit entries to by Sunday 30th May.

14. The final shortlisted winners will be published in Down New on Sunday 13th June, and Down News reserves the right to publish the winning and other entries but the copyright of the entry lies with the originator of the work.

16. For all inquiries prior to submission, contact the Editor, Jim Masson at 028 44 615690 or 07855548873, or email:

So, what constitutes a good short story ?

The list below is by no means exclusive and is a just a way of getting those people who have not ventured into short story writing to tackle this fun past-time with a few simple directions. It is really a creative process, so technically anything goes. Let your creative juices flow!

Many of you will have already been writing short stories, and many will for the first time compose a short story. I would recommend reading a couple of short stories by a range of writers such as Irish writer Walter Macken, or the American James Thurber, or Edgar Alan Poe. You will get a flavour of the style and techniques from these classic writers but there are countless more writers to chose from. Check with your local librarian.

Economy of writing. Given that you are writing in a style that requires careful use of your wordage, it is necessary to write only what is relevant to the development of the plot, characters and, theme.

  • Create interesting, memorable characters that bounce off the pages.
  • Make sure the setting is as interesting as possible.
  • Introduce your dramatic tension early on and develop it to the climax and resolution.
  • The plot is driven by the action of the characters so be clear how this is unfolded.
  • Stay true to your theme eg murder mystery, drama, science fiction, etc.
  • Don’t lose the simplicity and clarity of the workflow but imposing too much detail.
  • Don’t try and cram all you information into the opening paragraphs. Keep the action flowing towards the resolution.
  • You can have an ending that ties up the loose ends, or have one with a ‘twist in the tail’ where is presents a hidden and interesting perspective, or you could even create a ‘cliffhanger’ ending where you leave it open and the conclusion is in the minds of the reader.

Note: a classic model of Greek tragedy was used by Shakespeare which is a style that has much shaped literature and drama in the past 2500 years.

A story starts with an introduction followed by a complication, and the dramatic tension builds. Following this the rising action is where the tension mounts. This reaches a climax (catharsis) at the peak of the story, and there is a downward action towards the resolution, and the end.

So, in this short story competition, in terms of style, you can be as creative as you wish, as long as you are not using bad language or describing scenes of an overt sexual nature (as Down News is read by people of all ages.)

The best advice is to read around quality short stories and top authors and get a sense of the range of styles and genres and get a feel for what appeals to you.

Have fun writing your submissions !

And good luck to all the entrants!