53-Word Story Contest

It's free, it's fun, and the winner gets published in Prime Number Magazine and receives a free book from Press 53.

Read Our Winning Stories

Open for entries the first day of each month.

Deadline for entries is the 21st day of each month.

Winner will be announced on the first day of each month along with our new prompt.

Email your 53-word story to 53wordstory@gmail.com

Congratulations to our winner for August 2019: “Ding Dong Ditch” by J. William Ross (forthcoming in Issue 163, October 1, 2019) To read our winning stories right away, subscribe to Prime Number Magazine for free to receive an email on the first day of each month with our winning story and the prompt for our next contest.

New! Notable Entries

Our 53-Word Story Contest is becoming quite popular, with entries approaching a thousand in a single month. We have had student winners (thank you, teachers, for using the 53-Word Story Contest in your classrooms) and international winners, and we thank everyone for sending us their stories. Reading for this free contest is a great joy for us and leads to interesting discussion, and sometimes debate, over which story will be selected as our winner. For this reason we will begin including "Notable Entries" in our email to subscribers, naming the other stories that made this month's contest difficult to judge.

August 2019 Notable Entries:
“Brother's Got Beef” by Trisha Matthews
“Computer Virus” by Angelina Mosounov
“Dashed Delight” by Amy Joy
“Left on Read” by Samantha Eusantos

Your Prompt for September


It’s September: month of the vernal equinox, when summer becomes autumn. We’re counting down the days—twenty-two, in fact. But by our calculations, there’s twice as much summer in September as in June (which includes twenty spring days). So don’t pack up those swimsuits and barbecues yet. It’s not over until it’s over.

Write a 53-word story about making something last

Our judges for the 53-Word Story Contest are the editors of Press 53 and Prime Number Magazine. Our winner for September will receive a copy of The Lightness of Water and Other Stories by Rhonda Browning White, winner of the 2019 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction, which opens for entries today for the 2020 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction. The winning story for September will be published, along with the author’s photo and 53-word bio, in Issue 167 of Prime Number Magazine on January 1, 2020.

Please note: the deadline is the 21st day of each month.

Guidelines and Information:
–53 words—no more, no less—titles are not included in the word count. Stories not meeting this rule will be disqualified. Send only stories; poetry with line breaks will not be considered.

–1 submission per person.

–Email your submission directly to 53wordstory@gmail.com by midnight Eastern Standard Time the 21st day of the month. The winning story will be announced the first day of the following month along with a new prompt for the next contest.

–No attachments, please. Paste your story into the body of your email so we can more easily copy and paste. Stories sent as attachments, or images embedded in the email, will not be considered.

–Titles are not included in the word count. Please title your story as follows: Title of Your Story by Your Name. If your story is Untitled, please use Untitled as your title.

By entering this contest, the author grants Press 53 First Serial Rights to publish the story in Prime Number Magazine. All rights revert to the author upon publication.

Note: Be careful of word count. Hyphenated words count as one word. If you are using Microsoft Word's word-count feature, do not use spaces before ellipses or em-dashes, but do include a space after.