A Call to Pens


Short Story Competition

Take up your pens and prepare to write! Students between the ages of 12 and 18 are invited to submit original works of fiction that thoughtfully reflect some aspect of God’s truth, in accordance with the rules and guidelines of two separate divisions. Further details are below.

If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Armstrong at shortstory@phc.edu. Some questions may also be answered on the Call to Pens blog.

Submitting Your Entry

To submit your manuscript, you have three options. (NOTE: If you submit your entry online, you do nothave to mail in an entry form as well.)


(1) Hard-Copy Submission

Please fill out the entry form (you can type in the PDF) and mail it to us with a check for the appropriate fee and a stapled hard copy of your manuscript.

(2) Email Submission

You can also email your manuscript to shortstory@phc.edu as a MS Word document. If you choose to email your submission, please include a copy of the entry form as well. (Please be aware that if you choose to email it, it will be set aside until your entry fee is received.)

Submit all fees, entry forms, and printed manuscripts to the following address:

ATTN: PHC Short Story Competition
Patrick Henry College
10 Patrick Henry Circle
Purcellville, VA, 20132

Manuscripts will not be returned, so don’t submit your only copy.

Prizes, Fees, Deadlines & Dates

There are three prizes in each division, as follows:

  • 1st: $225

  • 2nd: $125

  • 3rd: $75

There is a $10 fee per manuscript; two manuscripts per person are allowed. The deadline for submission has been extended to March 21, 2016. Check above for submission information.


The First Division

Theme: Unmerited Compassion

Age group: 12-15

Word limit: 1,500

The Second Division

Theme: Perseverance Through Failure

Age group: 16-18

Word limit: 2,500


Rules on Format & Content:

  1. Submit an original, unpublished work of narrative prose fiction (an ordinary short story). No poetry, essays, novellas, etc.

  2. Double-space the text.

  3. Use a regular font and size (e.g., 12-point Times New Roman).

  4. Entries must be typed. No handwritten entries!

  5. Number each page in the upper right hand corner.

  6. Do not put your name or contact information on the manuscript itself. (Do title your work, however.)

  7. Do your own revising and editing: no one else is allowed to do this for you.

  8. Failure to comply with the rules may result in disqualification.


  1. Winning entries will thoughtfully reflect a Christian worldview, but not necessarily in an overt manner.

  2. Edit and revise several times before you submit! Clarity of style and grammatical excellence are both a “must.”

  3. If you have more general questions about the themes, good writing, or even the link between fiction and Christianity, please submit them to the blog! We will try to answer such questions there in more depth.  

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