Registration for the eighth annual Three-Hour Short Story Contest is open until Nov. 17 and the competition takes place on Nov. 18. (Contributed photo)

Students participate in short story contest

College and high school students invited to compete in three-hour short story contest

To write, or not to write?

That is the question Okanagan College students and Grade 11 and 12 secondary students across the valley will be asking themselves in anticipation of the eighth annual Three-Hour Short Story Contest.

Students will be spinning stories, telling tales and mastering metaphors in a timed short story writing contest Nov. 18, presented by Okanagan College’s English department. Participants will be challenged to go out of their comfort zone to write and edit an original story in just three hours.

“The pressure of this contest is energizing and liberating for writers of all levels,” says Dr. Sean Johnston, contest organizer and English professor at the college. “It forces a writer to be free and uninhibited and quite often they produce surprising results that show them a way forward in their artistic development.”

Pitted against the clock, students will also be required to weave a mystery phrase into their story, revealed at the start of the contest. Participants in previous years were required to incorporate phrases such as “under the weather,” “downy moustache” and “soggy bread” into their stories.

Writers will be competing for glory and prize money towards tuition. A judging panel, made up from the college’s English department, will review stories and select four regional winners. Each winner will receive a $250 tuition credit and an overall grand prize winner will take home an additional $250 tuition credit and have their story published in a limited fine-press edition by the Kalamalka Press.

“What we hope to see in the stories is something human and startling, something that makes us see a bit of our world in a new way,” said Johnston. “Each year it is astonishing to see the scope of creativity and talent in such a short amount of time.”

Registration is open until midnight, Friday, Nov. 17. The contest is free to enter and takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. at Okanagan College campuses in Salmon Arm, Penticton and Vernon. The Kelowna contest will be held at Kelowna Secondary School. For more details, complete contest rules and registration, please visit

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