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Short story competitions can be a great way to stir up imagination about a particular subject and can create a great selection of interesting ideas that might never have been thought of. These sorts of events can be organised in a variety of ways, but it is recommended to introduce the participants to the topic before setting the challenge of writing their short stories.

This can either be done through a short presentation or a “meet the researcher” type of event. Following this, you would set the audience a challenge to write and submit a short story based on what they have learnt. Then after the deadline, shortlist a few of the best entries and showcase them and award them prizes.

Although these short story writing challenges mostly appeal to younger audiences, adult versions of this event type are possible but may take additional collaboration with writing groups.

Target Audience
  • Adult citizens
  • Children 3-6
  • Children 7-12
  • Teenagers

You can do it with all those groups, but we did it with professionals from different fields like public engagement or the cultural and creative sector.



This is a great follow up activity to an event, it allows for the participants to continue to think about the topic and recontextualises information, as well as giving a greater opportunity for the concepts to be learnt and re-visited.


The short story aspect of an event is easy to set up. First of all, you need to decide on a topic and format for the short stories, and let entrants know of any and all rules they need to follow, and how they submit their stories. Before the start of the event, you also need to decide on a way to judge the entrants. Decide on a suitable prize and a format for the prize giving to occur. You then need to market the competition, most likely in collaboration with another similar activity or a science festival, where you can showcase the submissions, and the winning entries.


Science-me a Story is a writing competition that was born in 2018 with the aim of promoting scientific outreach in a fun and engaging way appropriate for primary school children. The ultimate goal of the contest is to promote the scientific spirit and inspire the next generation that will later build our future. We hope to achieve this through the communication of scientific achievements, findings, methods, and anecdotes in the form of short stories. This initiative is sponsored byFundación Lilly and has the support ofPrincipia, the University of Liverpool and the Instituto Cervantes in Manchester.

Write the World is a global online community for young writers and features regular writing competitions on a variety of topics, as well as organing writing workshops.

Lit Lab is an example of a science writing competition, featuring talks from researchers.


Outside of a school setting or writing group, it might be hard to get people to submit stories, due to the extended effort needed for these sorts of activities. Therefore, a good prize or incentive might be required.