ACFW Virginia Short Story Contest

The Short Story contest is open to any writer (published or unpublished), 18 years of age or older. You do not need to be a member of ACFW nationally nor of the ACFW Virginia Chapter in order to participate.

The goals of the short story contest are:

  1. Fundraiser for ACFW Virginia Chapter
  2. Introduce readers to Christian authors that may be new to them
  3. Provide opportunity for authors to participate in a juried, published anthology

Important Dates:

  • June 1, 2016 – Contest is open for entries. Start your contest entry by filling out the
    Registration Form.  After the registration form is received, you will be manually emailed a  PayPal Invoice for the entry fee.  After the entry fee is paid, you will be manually emailed instructions on how to submit your file.  Please be sure to follow all instructions below for content and formatting.  Best wishes!
  • June 30, 2016 – Submissions closed (Midnight Eastern Daylight Time).
  • July 1, 2016 – Scoring begins.
  • July 31, 2016 – Scoring ends.
  • August 5, 2016 – Winners announced.


Short Story Details:

Theme: Christmas

An original 4,000 – 6,000 word short story. Entries must not have been previously published in any form.

Your short story can be about anything as long as it fits into the one of the genres listed below, is dependent on the Christmas theme, and has a clear faith element (Christian). The theme should be obvious to the reader, and cannot simply be a story that happens to be set at Christmas time. Christmas must be integral to the story; if you take Christmas out of the story, the story should not work any more.

Categories and definitions:

  • Contemporary: Stories set in year 1960 or after that do not fit in one of the other categories.
  • Historical: Any story with a setting prior to 1960.
  • Mystery/Thriller/Suspense: Contemporary setting. Romantic suspense would fit here.
  • Romance: Contemporary setting.
  • Speculative: Any type of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or combination. If it’s weird, it goes here.
  • Young Adult/Middle-Grade: Contemporary, Earth-based setting. Regular fiction with protagonists younger than 20 years of age.

The Contest Committee reserves the right to combine categories as needed if a minimum of 5 entries are not received.

This is a Christian fiction contest. No objectionable content allowed.

Formatting Requirements:

  1. Name should not appear anywhere on the entry
  2. Bible verses must be referenced in a footnote or endnote (reference and version)
  3. Manuscript pages must be in standard format:
    • Double spaced
    • 1-inch margins
    • Size 12 Times New Roman or Courier font (Including the header)
    • Unjustified and aligned left text with no extra space between paragraphs
    • On first page (only), begin one third the distance from the top margin
    • Scene breaks should be indicated with a single (#) or triple pound sign (###) as their own line with a single blank line above and below
    • Header should contain the category and title aligned left and the page number aligned right. For example:

HISTORICAL/OZARKA RAIN                                                                              1

Entry fee:

Entry fee is payable by PayPal and is non-refundable. Entry fees are used by the ACFW Virginia chapter to finance the contest, as well as raise funds for local chapter events.

  • ACFW Virginia Chapter Members: $10.00
  • Virginia chapter *Non-members*: $15.00


Category Coordinators will determine whether the entries meet the required theme, content, and formatting specifications. Entries that do not meet them will not pass to judging.

First Round judging: Panelists will score entries based on 5 categories. The scoring results will be returned to the contestant as feedback. Panelists can only vote in categories they have not entered as a contestant.

  1. Story & Theme
  2. Characters
  3. Author’s voice
  4. Grammar
  5. Impact

Final Round judging: The ACFW Virginia Chapter Board Members will select stories from the highest rated entries and will award a first, second, and third prize from the entire pool of finalist stories, regardless of genre. In other words, there will not be a first/second/third for each genre category.


The short story of the winners will receive a cash prize:

  • 1st place: $50.00
  • 2nd place: $30.00
  • 3rd place: $15.00



3 thoughts on “ACFW Virginia Short Story Contest

  1. Pingback: Loving the short story–and why it feels like Christmas! | Angela K Couch

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