Winners of our FREE monthly 53-Word Story Contest

Each month we offer a prompt to subscribers of Prime Number Magazine to write a 53-word story—no more, no less—and send it to us by the last day of the month. Our guest judge selects a winner and we give the winner a copy of the guest judge’s book and publish the winning story here, in Prime Number Magazine. Want to play along? Subscribe to Prime Number Magazine and we’ll send you the prompt on the first day of each month.

Read our winners by scrolling or clicking on the links

September–Mike Tuohy / October–Robert Engel / November–JoAnn Steger Hoffman

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Mike Tuohy

September 2018

Prompt: write a 53-word story about a fall

Judged by Ryan Stone


Followed by 53-word Bio

Taking the Fall by Mike Tuohy

My father pointed and gave me the look. “I told you he was gone next time it happened.”

It was a big pile. Max was a big dog.

“It wasn’t Max. It was me.” I braced for the slap.

My father sighed. “Maybe it’s time you learned how to build a dog pen.”

53-word Bio

Born in New Jersey in Eisenhower times, Mike Tuohy moved to Georgia in 1965 and has sopped up Southern culture ever since. A professional geologist working the environmental consulting rackets by day, he chronicles the preposterous via stories disguised as fiction by night. Free samples are available at his website, (Chronicles page).

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Robert Engel

October 2018

Prompt: write a 53-word story about doubt

Judged by Ann Herlong-Bodman


Followed by 53-word Bio

Everybody=Nobody by Robert Engel

Everybody doubted him, but nobody stopped him. Nobody stopped him, but everybody knew him. Everybody knew him, but nobody loved him. Nobody loved him, but everybody watched him. Everybody watched him, but nobody helped him. And when nobody helped him, everybody regretted it. Everybody doubted him, nobody helped him, but everybody remembers him.

53-word Bio

My name is Robert Engel, and I’m a sophomore at Belleville West High School. I’ve lived in the small town of Swansea, Illinois, my whole life. I live with my mom and dad, and I have two older brothers. I’ve always had a passion for sports and fitness, but school always comes first.

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JoAnn Steger Hoffman

November 2018

Prompt: write a 53-word story about stuffing

Judged by Jen McConnell

Followed by 53-word Bio

Inside Out by Jo Ann S. Hoffman

His chair, their first purchase.  Years later, he complains it’s lumpy, uncomfortable.  When a tear sprouts a tuft of white, he stuffs it back.  But the insides suddenly spew:  a crumpled photo, an unsigned card, a $100 bill, his lost wedding ring.  “Problem is,” she tells the counselor, “he keeps it all inside.”

53-word Bio

JoAnn Steger Hoffman’s publications include short fiction and poems in literary journals, including The Merton Quarterly, Persimmon Tree, Pinesong, New Verse News, Ground Fresh Thursday, and Flying South. Recent contest awards are from Carteret Writers, Pamlico Writers and the Palm Beach Poetry Festival.  An Ohio native, JoAnn lives in Cary and Beaufort, NC.