Story zone: Big writing contest strikes again

Have you had the good luck to meet someone who lived to tell about a transoceanic journey in a boat with wild animals for company? Have you deciphered secret messages hidden in a famous painting? Or have you merely survived childhood, which is all Flannery O'Connor said was necessary to create a good writer?

Even if you haven't done any of those things (except survive), it's time for you to take your seat in front of the keyboard and begin to cast your magic spell. Tell your story. The Hook Fiction Contest is back.

As we did last year, we're asking all entrants to pay a $5 per story entrance fee, with all proceeds going to the winners. It's a small pittance to support your talent.

Prizes and such

 The first-place winner receives $600. There's $150 each for two or three runners-up– who will be published in the spring.

In addition, Meridian, a UVA literary magazine, is offering a year's subscription to the winner and runners-up.

Finally, food for your thoughts. Al Dente restaurant on the Downtown Mall is offering dinner for all the winners and judges. Juicy!

But, read on, there's more.

The winner and runners-up will also be officially saluted at the opening event of this year's Virginia Festival of the Book ( on Wednesday, March 24. This year's Festival hotshots (besides you, of course) include Michael Ondaatje, Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon, and Lawrence "Hitman" Block.

Three special celebrity judges will make the final decision: last year's winner Deborah Prum, Meridian editor Stephen Boykewich (who's also The Hook's Performance editor), and well-known George of all genres, George Garrett.

The Rules

Deadline: 5pm, Tuesday, February 3. We don't care about postmarks; the manuscript must be in the Hook newsroom by deadline.

All manuscripts must be typed in 12 pt. or larger font, double-spaced, on 8 1/2" x 11" paper. (No sunset-scenes or pandas in the background, please.)

All manuscripts must be stapled, and with the author's name, address, phone, and email (if any) clumped within a match-book-size area on the cover sheet (so we can temporarily cover the name during the judging). Entries with your name on in a header or footer on each page will be discarded.

We're looking for short stories of no more than 3,500 words that have not been published either in print or electronically.

By entering, you give The Hook permission to use your name, story, and even your smiling face in our pages.

We usually get more than 100 submissions, so, in keeping with our name, make sure your story "hooks" us from the first page, and please make sure it has conflict, dialogue, action, and resolution. Essays are not stories.

You retain all rights to re-publish your story in other publications (hmm... how about The New Yorker?) after it has run in The Hook.

Anyone is eligible: professionals, students, professional students, homemakers, dentists, miners and minors, snake-charmers, etc.

There is a limit of two (2) manuscripts per author.

Please check your manuscript for errors; we can't accept hand-corrected copies.

If you need acknowledgement that your story has been received, enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard. If you're addicted to your Underwood #5 typewriter, suppress your Luddite tendencies and patronize a copy machine. We can't return entries.

Those whose stories withstand the scorching heat of our judges' scrutiny will win and will be notified by the end of the day Wednesday, March 5.

Don't forget to enclose your entry fee of $5 for one story or $10 for two stories.

Show, don't tell. Give us the truth. Start typing!

No emailed entries!

Mail or carry your entry to

Fiction Contest

The Hook

100 Second St. NW

Charlottesville, VA 22902

434.295.8700 . fax 434.295.8097

Deborah Prum

George Garrett


Stephen Boycewich