Dark Descent

$20,000 Grand Prize

Days
Hours
Minutes
Seconds
Submissions Closed

About the Contest

Write a story involving darkness, descent, and a torch.
$20,000 grand prize.

Are you afraid of the dark? Do you hesitate at the basement stairs, unwilling to go down? We can delve further, into pitch-black caves. Deeper still, to the ocean depths. Even sleep is sinking into darkness, especially when the nightmares come. Do you dream of death, the ultimate descent into the unknown?

Humans don’t like deep, dark places. Those who do are branded adventurous, or insane. What happened down in the pitch black to cause such emotions, such tightness in our bellies? Rational minds have an innate aversion to tight, lightless spaces, yearning instead for open fields and sun. There’s a reason we call losing your mind a descent into madness.

This contest invites you to explore the darkness, whatever that means to you. Mystery, fantasy, romance, crime. All genres are welcome.

Submissions close November 30th at 11:59 pm EST. More details below.

Share this contest with friends.

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Meet the Head Judge

Max Gladstone

Hugo-, Nebula-, and Locus Award winning author Max Gladstone’s works include Empress of Forever, the Craft Sequence of fantasy novels and games, and, with Amal El-Mohtar, the internationally bestselling This is How You Lose the Time War. His interactive projects include the XYZZY-nominated Choice of the Deathless and Deathless: The City’s Thirst, which take place in the world of the Craft Sequence. Gladstone created the Serial Box series Bookburners, and the interactive television series Wizard School Dropout.

Contest Short Rules


Who can enter?
Anyone, worldwide (excluding Quebec), ages 13+. Must be an Elegant+ member. We also ask pros not to submit. Full details here.

Prize: $20,000 USD. The winner and other selected stories will also be purchased at 10 cents ($0.10) per word and published in the magazine.

How to enter: Sign up for an Elegant+ Membership and visit the Members Area, or click “Submit Story” in the navigation bar. Fill out the form and copy/paste (preferred method) or upload a file containing your work.

Important Dates: 
The contest opens at 12:01 am EST on November 1st.
The contest closes at 11:59 pm EST on November 30th.
Winners will be announced on January 1st.

Entries: 
Unlimited. English language only. Must follow the contest theme/prompt and include the word “torch”.

Length:
Minimum 500 words. Maximum 2000. Word count does not include title of work.

Head Judge:
Max Gladstone

Selection Criteria:
The Judge will choose the winner based on:

Creativity
Character
Structure & Flow
Quality of Writing

For more information, please see the full Contest Rules.

For answers to common questions, please see the FAQ.

We have a uniquely streamlined Publication Process. Read about it here.

See our Submission Guidelines for information on how to increase your chance of selection.

Dark Descent

$20,000 Grand Prize

Days
Hours
Minutes
Seconds
Submissions Closed

About the Contest

Write a story involving darkness, descent, and a torch.
$20,000 grand prize.

Are you afraid of the dark? Do you hesitate at the basement stairs, unwilling to go down? We can delve further, into pitch-black caves. Deeper still, to the ocean depths. Even sleep is sinking into darkness, especially when the nightmares come. Do you dream of death, the ultimate descent into the unknown?

Humans don’t like deep, dark places. Those who do are branded adventurous, or insane. What happened down in the pitch black to cause such emotions, such tightness in our bellies? Rational minds have an innate aversion to tight, lightless spaces, yearning instead for open fields and sun. There’s a reason we call losing your mind a descent into madness.

This contest invites you to explore the darkness, whatever that means to you. Mystery, fantasy, romance, crime. All genres are welcome.

Submissions close November 30th at 11:59 pm EST. More details below.

Days
Hours
Minutes

Share this contest with friends.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email

Meet the Head Judge

Max Gladstone

Hugo-, Nebula-, and Locus Award winning author Max Gladstone’s works include Empress of Forever, the Craft Sequence of fantasy novels and games, and, with Amal El-Mohtar, the internationally bestselling This is How You Lose the Time War. His interactive projects include the XYZZY-nominated Choice of the Deathless and Deathless: The City’s Thirst, which take place in the world of the Craft Sequence. Gladstone created the Serial Box series Bookburners, and the interactive television series Wizard School Dropout.

Contest Short Rules


Who can enter?
Anyone, worldwide (excluding Quebec), ages 13+. Must be an Elegant+ member. We also ask pros not to submit. Full details here.

Prize: $20,000 USD. The winner and other selected stories will also be purchased at 10 cents ($0.10) per word and published in the magazine.

How to enter: Sign up for an Elegant+ Membership and visit the Members Area, or click “Submit Story” in the navigation bar. Fill out the form and copy/paste (preferred method) or upload a file containing your work.

Important Dates: 
The contest opens at 12:01 am EST on November 1st.
The contest closes at 11:59 pm EST on November 30th.
Winners will be announced on January 1st.

Entries: 
Unlimited. English language only. Must follow the contest theme/prompt and include the word “torch”.

Length:
Minimum 500 words. Maximum 2000. Word count does not include title of work.

Head Judge:
Max Gladstone

Selection Criteria:
The Judge will choose the winner based on:

Creativity
Character
Structure & Flow
Quality of Writing

For more information, please see the full Contest Rules.

For answers to common questions, please see the FAQ.

We have a uniquely streamlined Publication Process. Read about it here.

See our Submission Guidelines for information on how to increase your chance of selection.