Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 15, 2011

In The Snake Writing Contest

Summer 2011 Elephant Prize for Short Fiction

We are currently accepting short story submissions for the Summer 2011 Elephant Prize. Submissions must be under 7500 words. Multiple submissions are accepted: you may submit as many stories as you like.

There is an $8 reader’s fee per entry. We understand the reluctance many writers have toward reader’s fees. The contest entry fee allows us to pay out prizes and keep our site running. We try to keep our fees at a minimum. If you do not wish to pay the fee, you may still submit your story to us via Standard Submission, which implies no fee.

All contest entries are also considered as standard submissions and are eligible for the standard payment of $50 per story if accepted.

We accept all genres; however we do prefer general literary fiction. Appropriate works include stories that focus on the evolution of a character through new encounters and interpersonal relationships. We also have a special interest in Science/Speculative fiction, as well as works of magic realism and surrealism.

Contest prizes are as follows:

First Place prize is $350 and publication in In The Snake.
Second Place earns $175 and possible publication.
Third Place earns $125 and possible publication.
In addition, 10 finalists will receive honorable mention.

Contest begins on Friday July 1, 2011, and ends Wednesday August 31.

Winners will be announced on October 31, 2011

They believe every story is meaningful in that it is the expression of a creative human mind. However, not all stories fit their criteria for publication within In The Snake. There is no single formula or model for writing a good story, but here are a few suggestions based on what their editor are seeking.

Even if you do not plan to submit, you should take a minute and read below, since in my opinion it is what most publisher are looking for when they read a manuscript.

Above all else, we are looking for stories that have compelling plots. Such stories grab a reader’s attention and connect to the
reader through the events of the plot. Character development through conflict, climax, and resolution is essential.

We also look for what we call the ‘X-factor’. What makes a story stand out above others? This trait is loosely defined and can come from any number of elements such as a unique and interesting central idea, a powerful theme, or a strong connection to the protagonist.

We look for a well-developed theme. In most cases, the theme should be expressed through the events of the story and not through direct indication by the author. (Show it, don’t Tell it.) Keep in mind that a theme is not a moral. We are not looking for lectures in morality. A theme may be simple or complicated; but it should be powerful enough to cause the reader to reflect on the story after reading it.

Every writer has a unique voice, and we enjoy discovering the diversity of style among the submissions that we receive.
However, there are a few choices in style to avoid.

Avoid language that is flowery and ornate. Using a lot of long, eloquent words to describe a simple idea is not appropriate. A seasoned writer will know when to use poetic prose, and when to simply tell it as it is. Avoid longwinded descriptions, unless they are necessary.

Please do not include explicit sexual descriptions or excessive violence.  (You may include encounters of a violent or sexual nature, as long as they are not explicitly described and are relevant to the plot.)

Existential Conflict
We are very interested in stories that focus on the evolution of characters, questions of identity, and perception of self. A good story will involve some form of identity crisis. Circumstances such as a new encounter or a changing world will force a character to take on a modified sense of identity; either by adapting to change, or rejecting it. A character’s identity should be established through the events of the story. Try to focus on the existential context, including the following:

  • State of mind
  • Beliefs
  • Perceptions
  • Purpose
  • Motivation

We look for stories that build strong, dynamic characters that reflect the nature of the human experience.

Click Here to Submit  –  Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I’m loving the description of the type of work they’re looking for. Generally, most publishers are looking for the same thing, but on occasion, the way the criteria is described or the words that are used really “say it.” I’m printing this out! Thanks, Kathy and In the Snake Magazine 🙂


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