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National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo Short Story Contest

November 1-18, 2020

November is National Novel Writing Month, and we're celebrating with a friendly short story competition.

Who: Calling all UD students ready to exercise their creative writing skills!

What: Craft an original fiction story using one of the prompts below, or on a topic of your choice. Submissions should be no longer than 3-5 pages, and shorter submissions will be accepted. Students can submit multiple entries if they wish.

When: Submissions accepted until Wednesday, November 18, 2020. The top 5 submissions will receive a Doordash gift card via email on November 20th.

How: Upload a PDF or Word document file using this Google form.


Use one of the prompts below, or choose your own.


  • One bright morning in May, all domestic pets start talking.
  • Boot-wearing cats are the secret rulers of the world. The twist: their superiority is being challenged by a rising cabal of top-hatted stoats.


  • David is a senior software engineer for a major tech company, and he spends most days knee-deep in other people’s databases, trying to figure out what they did wrong. One day, he happens across a piece of malicious code designed to steal financial information. He reports it and deletes it, but he comes across that same code again—in the database of a completely different company. He finds it again; and again. And the fifth time around, his manager drops a hint that the higher-ups think he’s the best person to figure out who’s planting it. Undercover, they send him to each of the company’s data centers: one in London, one in Boston, one in Dallas, and one in Seattle. It’s going to be his job—socially anxious as he is—to interview everyone and find out who’s planting that code and why.
  • Mars is colonized, though there’s no air outside the domes. Travel from dome to dome is by train. The Eberswalde Express is the “luxury” locomotive, filled with old-timey elegance and charm. It takes a day and a half between stops to give wealthy patrons full time to enjoy the amenities. AND WOULDN’T YOU KNOW IT…THERE’S A MURDER! Weirdly, this murder mimics the plotline of The Orient Express, and Elsa, a librarian and mystery buff, recognizes the details. With a murderer on board and nowhere to go, everyone is in danger. Can Elsa solve this murder before the killer strikes again?


  • Fun fact: There was a remarkable cat in World War II named Unsinkable Sam, who survived the sinking of not one, not two, but THREE vessels in the war. This is so marvelous that we’re going to go in two different directions with it: First, write from the perspective of Sam the magical cat, whose job is overseeing burgeoning romance among humans. Describe his frustration over the fact that every time he’s just about got the right couple together, SOMEBODY has to go and sink the boat. Again.
  • A woman who is deeply in love is crushed when her fiancé breaks up with her. “In life every ending is just a new beginning,” says Dakota Fanning’s character in Uptown Girls.


  • A high-schooler from fifteen hundred years in our future is assigned a one-page writing project on a twenty-first century person’s life based entirely on TV commercials. Write the beginning of the essay.
  • It turns out dinosaurs were completely sentient creatures, thank you very much, and most of them actually left the planet in their gigantic and REALLY WEIRD spaceship when they realized an asteroid was coming. They’ve decided that enough time has passed and the Earth has probably recovered by now, so today, at twelve noon, they’re coming home.


Behind the Name is a resource for discovering the meaning and history of first names.

The Writer's Digest website lists additional prompts and writing tips.

Learn more about National Novel Writing Month here.


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