Take your pick for inspiration and write a short story


For Round 4 of the 2022 Writing Challenge, writers must choose one of these three photographs as the starting point for a short story of no more than 750 words. The submission deadline is 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 24. Three new invitees will be offered for Round 5 in our July 28 and 29 editions. ERIC STRACHAN / FLORIDA WEEKLY

A ring bearer on the run.

A drowned twin – real or imagined?

A tiny dancer devastated by a small misstep.

Step back in time to a college rock concert.

A reunion full of promise.

A bad number that went terribly wrong.

A love letter from a Civil War soldier.

Growing cannabis in Everglades National Park.

All of the above — and more — appeared in the entries we received for Round Three of the 12th Annual Florida Weekly Writing Challenge. This week begins Round 4, and we can’t wait to read what’s next in the contest that challenges readers to create short stories based on photo prompts selected by our editors. Here’s how it works:

For Round 4, you have until 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 24 to send us your original story using one of the three photographs featured here as a starting point. That’s right: you must choose one of the three and submit only one story. This is different from how the challenge has worked in previous years.

LEAH GRIFFIN / FLORIDA WEEKLY

LEAH GRIFFIN / FLORIDA WEEKLY

Limit your entry to a maximum of 750 words, please; there is no minimum word count. And no poetry, thank you.

Run your story through Spellcheck.

Put your first and last name, email address, phone number, and city/state of residence at the top. Then give a brief description of the photo that inspired your story (for example, “birds on a wire,” “state lines,” and “Mona Lisa” are good for Round 4 offers).

After the information above, center a title at the top of your masterpiece.

Then email it, either as an attachment as a Word document or just pasted into the message box, to [email protected] Do not send PDFs, text files, Pages files, or anything in a format other than Word; if you don’t work in Word, simply copy/paste your story into the body of your email. Do not embed any images in your entry.

This is important: put the words WRITING CHALLENGE in the subject line of your email. You will receive an acknowledgment within a day or two.

EVAN WILLIAMS / FLORIDA WEEKLY

EVAN WILLIAMS / FLORIDA WEEKLY

Offers by post cannot be taken into account.

Questions? Email [email protected] We will get back to you.

Round 5 and beyond

We’ll be printing three new photo prompts for Round 5 on July 28 and 29, and you’ll have until 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 7 to send us another story – just one. And so on, with new guests every two weeks, for a total of nine rounds this year. The deadline to participate in Round 9 will be Sunday, October 2. Participate in as many rounds as your creativity, time and discipline allow, but only one story per round.

The winner of the 2022 writing challenge and three honorable mentions will be notified by October 10, with the first-place winner having the choice of registering for the Sanibel Island Writers Conference in person (scheduled for Nov. 3-6) or at an online Gotham Writers’ Workshop. Honorable mentions will receive Amazon gift cards.

We will publish the top four stories in our October 26 and 27 editions (winning authors will be interviewed for an article accompanying the publication of their stories). Our fifth through 10th place picks will be posted based on available space in the following weeks.

So re-read the rules, study the photo prompt for the first round, then tap into your creativity. Remember: the deadline for Round 4 is Sunday, July 24 at 5:00 p.m. We look forward to hearing from you. ¦

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