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Wicked Wonderland

The Elegant Literature award for new writers.

Wicked Wonderland

DECEMBER AWARDS

1st Place:
$3000 Elegant Literature Award
10c/word and publication
Free enrollment in New Novelist Accelerator

2nd – 10th Place:
10c/word and publication

11th – 35th Place:
$20

 

Final Submission Count:

146

 
Days
Hours
Minutes
Seconds
Submissions Closed

About the Contest

Write a story involving Wicked Wonderland, and a button.
$3,000 grand prize

Frost bites your cheek in a cruel caress. Distant lights twinkle mockingly. The landscape is beautiful. Awful in its clarity. Careful not to cut yourself on the icicles sharp as daggers, and definitely don’t listen to the secrets drifting in the snow. Will you survive the chill to tell your tale?

Welcome to a world dancing on the edge of nightmare and fantasy, where reality twists and dusk never turns to dawn. What are the rules when madness reigns? When every choice leads to a riddle, every answer a deeper mystery? Magic, malice, and mazes never-ending. Castles built on clouds, where the royalty are jesters and the jesters, kings. Villains rule, heroes falter, and nothing is as it seems. Surreal. Strange. Spectacular. Lost laughter echoes within the enchanted forest. Forgotten songs wander among the stars. Teacups, trials, and talking toys. A chessboard world, where every move brings you closer and farther away. Can you find your way out, or will you be lost forever in this twisted embrace?

This contest invites you to explore Wicked Wonderland, whatever that means to you. Fantasy, contemporary, romance, crime. All genres are welcome.

Submissions close December 31st at 11:59 pm EST. Contest only open to new writers.

More details below

Share on:

Meet The Guest Judge

Lindz McLeod

Lindz McLeod is a queer, working-class, Scottish writer and editor who dabbles in the surreal. Her short prose has been published by Apex, Catapult, Pseudopod, The Razor, and many more. Her longer work includes the novelette LOVE, HAPPINESS, AND ALL THE THINGS YOU MAY NOT BE DESTINED FOR (Assemble, 2022), her short story collection TURDUCKEN (Spaceboy, 2023), as well as her novels BEAST (Hear Us Scream, 2023), and SUNBATHERS (Hedone Books, 2024). She is a full member of the SFWA, the club president of the Edinburgh Writers’ Club, and is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing.

lindzmcleod.co.uk

Past Judges

Read stories from
the last contest.

Get it in your inbox (it’s free).

Are you a new or unpublished author? We want to see your work. Check out the link below to learn what we are looking for.

Submission Guidelines

Contest FAQ

New or unpublished authors, from anywhere in the world (excluding Quebec, Canada), may enter the contest as long as they are an Elegant+ member.

Writers who are new or have never been published are encouraged to submit work.

Part of our mission is to promote new talent, so we ask authors with certain levels of publication history not to enter.

Please do not submit work if you have:

a) traditionally published a novel of greater than 40,000 words,

b) self-published a novel of greater than 40,000 words and sold 100+ copies,

c) sold four or more works of short fiction to markets paying 8c/word or greater,

d) self-published short fiction work totalling 10,000 words or more, with profits in excess of $500.

e) won a fiction contest with a prize greater than $2,500.

Published authors can still join the community and participate in the Community Workshops.

If you have not met any of the thresholds above, you are considered a new writer in the eyes of Elegant Literature, and are eligible to enter the contest and submit to the magazine.

Yes. We accept worldwide submissions.

The story can be about anything you like, as long as it fits the contest prompt. Our prompts consist of a theme and a prompt word.

The theme is a general topic, like Future Fears, Tricky Time, or Shadows & Knives. As long as your story is related to the theme, no matter how loosely, you’re all set. You don’t need to actually say the “theme” words in your story.

Yes. We accept any genre, and our themes are formatted to give you great freedom, but there must be some connection.

We love being surprised and seeing the theme twisted in unexpected ways, as long as it’s clear the author has incorporated it into their story.

Each story must include a word specified by the issue prompt. Writers find this fun, and it ensures work is original. However, it need not constrain you.

The root word must exist in the text, but does not have to be central to the story, or even be in the expected context. For example, if the word is “Hammer”, we’ll accept hammers and hammered and “Ha-ha-ha-HAMMERED”.

You can write about a hammerhead shark and you’ll be fine.

Still, the prompt word must appear in the text in some form. For example, if the prompt word is “cork”, then you can include cork, corked, corks, Cork (Ireland), corkscrew (as in a plane out of control), or C.O.R.K. (an acronym for something).

If the prompt word is “crow”, “crowbar” and “scarecrow” are admissible. As long as the prompt word is the base.

Read any issue and you’ll see the creative ways our authors sneak the prompt word into their stories.

Technically, no. We don’t wish to constrain your creativity with too many rules. However, some content will be less likely to get published. Overly descriptive erotica. Thinly disguised hate speech or rascism. The stuff any reputable publication would refuse to print. We don’t mean you can’t include sex, violence, or hateful characters, only that it should be done in a way that advances the story and doesn’t reflect real world prejudice.

Absolutely. You can submit as many stories as you like. However, we highly encourage quality over quantity.

Contest Short Rules


Who can enter?
New or unpublished authors, from anywhere in the world (excluding Quebec, Canada). Full details here.

Prizes: 
1st place: $3,000 USD. Free enrollment in the New Novelist Accelerator.
2nd – 10th: 10c/word and publication.
11th – 35th: $20 USD and an honorable mention in the magazine.

How to enter: Sign up for an Elegant+ Membership and visit the Members Area (AuthorHQ), or click “Enter Now” on the contest page. 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 December 1st.
The contest closes at 11:59 pm EST on December 31st.
Winners will be announced on February 1st.

Entries: 
Unlimited. English language only. Must follow the contest theme/prompt and include the word “button” (or buttons, buttoned, etc).

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

Guest Judge:
Lindz McLeod

Selection Criteria:
The judges 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.

The Elegant Literature award for new writers.

DECEMBER AWARDS

1st Place:
$3000 Elegant Literature Award
10c/word and publication
Free enrollment in New Novelist Accelerator

2nd – 10th Place:
10c/word and publication

11th – 35th Place:
$20

 

Final Submission Count:

146

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Days
Hours
Minutes

Meet The Previous Winners

About the Contest

Write a story involving Wicked Wonderland, and a button.
$3,000 grand prize

Frost bites your cheek in a cruel caress. Distant lights twinkle mockingly. The landscape is beautiful. Awful in its clarity. Careful not to cut yourself on the icicles sharp as daggers, and definitely don’t listen to the secrets drifting in the snow. Will you survive the chill to tell your tale?

Welcome to a world dancing on the edge of nightmare and fantasy, where reality twists and dusk never turns to dawn. What are the rules when madness reigns? When every choice leads to a riddle, every answer a deeper mystery? Magic, malice, and mazes never-ending. Castles built on clouds, where the royalty are jesters and the jesters, kings. Villains rule, heroes falter, and nothing is as it seems. Surreal. Strange. Spectacular. Lost laughter echoes within the enchanted forest. Forgotten songs wander among the stars. Teacups, trials, and talking toys. A chessboard world, where every move brings you closer and farther away. Can you find your way out, or will you be lost forever in this twisted embrace?

This contest invites you to explore Wicked Wonderland, whatever that means to you.

More details below

Share on

Meet The Guest Judge

Lindz McLeod

Lindz McLeod is a queer, working-class, Scottish writer and editor who dabbles in the surreal. Her short prose has been published by Apex, Catapult, Pseudopod, The Razor, and many more. Her longer work includes the novelette LOVE, HAPPINESS, AND ALL THE THINGS YOU MAY NOT BE DESTINED FOR (Assemble, 2022), her short story collection TURDUCKEN (Spaceboy, 2023), as well as her novels BEAST (Hear Us Scream, 2023), and SUNBATHERS (Hedone Books, 2024). She is a full member of the SFWA, the club president of the Edinburgh Writers’ Club, and is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing.

lindzmcleod.co.uk

Past Judges

Read stories from
the last contest.

Get it in your inbox (it’s free).

Are you a new or unpublished author? We want to see your work. Check out the link below to learn what we are looking for.

Submission Guidelines

Contest FAQ

New or unpublished authors, from anywhere in the world (excluding Quebec, Canada), may enter the contest as long as they are an Elegant+ member.

Writers who are new or have never been published are encouraged to submit work.

Part of our mission is to promote new talent, so we ask authors with certain levels of publication history not to enter.

Please do not submit work if you have:

a) traditionally published a novel of greater than 40,000 words,

b) self-published a novel of greater than 40,000 words and sold 100+ copies,

c) sold four or more works of short fiction to markets paying 8c/word or greater,

d) self-published short fiction work totalling 10,000 words or more, with profits in excess of $500.

e) won a fiction contest with a prize greater than $2,500.

Published authors can still join the community and participate in the Community Workshops.

If you have not met any of the thresholds above, you are considered a new writer in the eyes of Elegant Literature, and are eligible to enter the contest and submit to the magazine.

Yes. We accept worldwide submissions.

The story can be about anything you like, as long as it fits the contest prompt. Our prompts consist of a theme and a prompt word.

The theme is a general topic, like Future Fears, Tricky Time, or Shadows & Knives. As long as your story is related to the theme, no matter how loosely, you’re all set. You don’t need to actually say the “theme” words in your story.

Yes. We accept any genre, and our themes are formatted to give you great freedom, but there must be some connection.

We love being surprised and seeing the theme twisted in unexpected ways, as long as it’s clear the author has incorporated it into their story.

Each story must include a word specified by the issue prompt. Writers find this fun, and it ensures work is original. However, it need not constrain you.

The root word must exist in the text, but does not have to be central to the story, or even be in the expected context. For example, if the word is “Hammer”, we’ll accept hammers and hammered and “Ha-ha-ha-HAMMERED”.

You can write about a hammerhead shark and you’ll be fine.

Still, the prompt word must appear in the text in some form. For example, if the prompt word is “cork”, then you can include cork, corked, corks, Cork (Ireland), corkscrew (as in a plane out of control), or C.O.R.K. (an acronym for something).

If the prompt word is “crow”, “crowbar” and “scarecrow” are admissible. As long as the prompt word is the base.

Read any issue and you’ll see the creative ways our authors sneak the prompt word into their stories.

Technically, no. We don’t wish to constrain your creativity with too many rules. However, some content will be less likely to get published. Overly descriptive erotica. Thinly disguised hate speech or rascism. The stuff any reputable publication would refuse to print. We don’t mean you can’t include sex, violence, or hateful characters, only that it should be done in a way that advances the story and doesn’t reflect real world prejudice.

Absolutely. You can submit as many stories as you like. However, we highly encourage quality over quantity.

Contest Short Rules


Who can enter?
New or unpublished authors, from anywhere in the world (excluding Quebec, Canada). Full details here.

Prizes: 
1st place: $3,000 USD. Free enrollment in the New Novelist Accelerator.
2nd – 10th: 10c/word and publication.
11th – 35th: $20 USD and an honorable mention in the magazine.

How to enter:
Sign up for an Elegant+ Membership and visit the Members Area (AuthorHQ), or click “Enter Now” on the contest page. 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 December 1st.
The contest closes at 11:59 pm EST on December 31st.
Winners will be announced on February 1st.

Entries: 
Unlimited. English language only. Must follow the contest theme/prompt and include the word “button” (or buttons, buttoned, etc).

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

Guest Judge:
Lindz McLeod

Selection Criteria:
The judges 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.