"Flash" Writing Contest Details

JANUARY 13–15, 2023

Mark your calendars for our Alumni and Friends Flash Writing Contest—a free, online short story competition for a variety of age groups. You don’t have be an Iowa Writers’ Workshop grad or a Wordle extraordinaire to participate.


The contest begins at 4 p.m. CST on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, and runs through 4 p.m. CST on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023. At the start of the contest, we’ll provide you a genre, character, and specific object to incorporate in your story. The rest is up to your imagination.

Submissions must be 1,000 words or less and composed in their entirety within the contest period. All entrants will receive the same writing prompts, which will be posted here at 4 p.m. CST on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023.

We'll narrow down the entries to six winners (one from each age category; two adults), whose stories will be posted here on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023.

The contest is free and open to UI alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends. The age categories include: 

  •  Grades 3 & 4
  •  Grades 5 & 6
  •  Grades 7 & 8
  •  Grades 9—12
  •  Adult (two options: UI alumni/non-UI alumni)


A winner in each of the grade categories will receive an Iowa-themed writing prize pack and a $25 Bookshop.org gift card. The winners of the adult category will each receive an Iowa-themed writing prize pack, a $50 Bookshop.org gift card, and a handcrafted wooden pen made from a tree that was located on the University of Iowa campus. In addition, the top entry (as well as a few honorable mentions) in each age category will be posted on the Write Now website.


View our contest rules for complete details. If you have any questions, email write.now@foriowa.org.


  •  Deadline: Completed stories must be received by 4 p.m. CST on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023. All entries not received by the University of Iowa Center for Advancement by that time will be ineligible.
  •  Length: The maximum length for each short story is 1,000 words. Entries with more than 1,000 words will be disqualified.
  •  How to submit: Stories must be uploaded through the contest website or submitted via email to write.now@foriowa.org. The submission details will be announced on the contest website at the start of the contest at 4 p.m. CST on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023.
  •  File format: The story must be uploaded as a Word Document (.doc), Text File (.txt), or Rich Text Format (.rtf). Stories submitted in Apple’s Pages format will not be accepted. The name of the file must be the title of the story. For example, if the title of your short story is "Autumn," then the name of your file must be "Autumn.doc," "Autumn.txt," or "Autumn.rtf."
  •  Font: Submissions must be typed in 12-point Courier, New Courier, or Times New Roman typeface.
  •  Anonymity: The author's name must not appear anywhere in the short story document. The author’s name will be submitted only on the web entry form.

For more inspiration, read submissions from past UI Flash Writing Contest winners, as well as our fall 2022 Hawkeye Haiku contest winners. Also, explore some of the University of Iowa's writing resources.