“Stories Out of School” Flash Fiction Contest

Teachers have the most fascinating, difficult, and important job on the planet, and their work days are filled with stories. Yet teachers seldom appear in fiction. This annual contest was created to inspire honest, unsentimental stories about teachers and the rich and complex world of schools. Our partner this year is Electric Literature. There are a few criteria for submissions. The story’s protagonist, or its narrator, must be a K-12 teacher. Stories must be between 6 and 749 words and previously unpublished. Any adult over the age of eighteen (whether a teacher or not) is welcome to submit. Only one submission per writer. Sentimentality is discouraged and education jargon is forbidden.

The first-prize winner will receive $1000 and the story will be published online by Electric Literature in The Commuter. The second-prize winner will receive $500. Susan Choi will judge this year’s contest. She is the author of five novels: My Education, A Person of Interest, The Foreign Student, American Woman, and, most recently, Trust Exercise. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and the PEN/W.G. Sebald award.

Submissions for the 2020 contest are no longer being accepted. The deadline was Tuesday, October 1, 2019.

2019 Contest

Santian Vataj, first prize for “A Brief Description of Mister Kuka”

Danielle Stonehirsch, second prize for “The Language of Space”

Cheryl Strayed, author of the #1 New York Times-bestselling memoir Wild, selected the winning stories which were published online by Tin House.

2018 Contest

Walker Rutter-Bowman, first prize for “Crafts”

Emily Zdyrko, second prize for “I Often Tell People”

Santian Vataj, honorable mention for “The Usurper”

Devan Aptekar, honorable mention for “The Fourth Sink”

Karen Russell, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her novel Swamplandia!, selected the winning stories which were published online by Tin House.