Jersey Shorts

Jersey Shorts

A Statewide Prose-Writing Contest for students Grades 9-12

Jersey Shorts is a contest celebrating New Jersey student prose-writers. All students– public and private schools, as well as home-school and alternative school environments– in grades 9-12 (or the equivalent) are eligible.

A total of three New Jersey students are selected. Writers will participate in an evening where their works will be read by professional actors. All winners will receive a Governor’s Award.

Students are asked to submit two pieces of “Flash Fiction” (each a maximum of 750 words) based on a theme decided annually by the Jersey Shorts contest organizers. This year’s theme is “caregivers.”

For more detailed information and rules, see the various tabs below.

Contest Timeline

Submissions Open: June 1, 2018

Submission Deadline: January 15, 2019


Awards will be given in the following categories

  • Grades 9-10
  • Grades 11-12

Three students will be selected for each category for a total of six winners.

All current New Jersey residents, grades 9-12 (or the equivalent) in the current school year. The contest is open to students in public, private, and religious schools,  as well as home-schooled students, and students in other non-traditional learning environments.

What Is “Flash Fiction?

Take a look at the Writer’s Digest definition of “Flash Fiction” and its multiple variants.  Remember, this contest is looking for pieces of 750 words or less. In some circles this is called “Sudden Fiction.”

Read this article from the online source The Review Review for some insights into writing “Flash Fiction.” There are multiple perspectives in the piece, which makes it especially useful.

Selection Criteria


Unique Voice. A sense that the story is not interested in being derivative, someone who is honoring their particular take on the world.

Originality of Thought. Is the idea expressed in the story new or unusual? Is it saying something familiar in a new and different way?

Authenticity. Are the sentiments expressed strongly and deeply held by the writer?

Sophisticated understanding of what good prose can be and do.  Does the writer have a sophisticated sense of the unique way a story can evoke meaning?

Craft. Does the story exhibit an understanding of the craft associated with the form it is using?

Intention. Does the story seem to have a clear point in mind?

Successful Execution. If the point is clear, does it successfully get to where it intends to go?

Submission Guidelines and Procedures

Jersey Shorts is open to students in public and private schools, as well as students in homeschool and alternative school environments, Grades 9-12 (or the equivalent).

In order to participate in the contest, you need to submit:

  • Two pieces of “flash fiction” (also known as “Sudden Fiction”), limit 750 words, based on the prompt Jersey Shorts has determined for the year.

All submissions to the contest must be made through the official submission form found at the bottom of this page. Required fields on the form are indicated by asterisks.

There is an upload field in the submission form. You may upload both submissions at the same time.


Formatting Your Story– Important! Please read carefully!

Stories should be submitted as follows:

  • A cover page with the title of the story and your name.
  • Do not put your name anywhere else in the story (e.g., headers or footers).
  • Formatted for 8.5 X 11″ paper.
  • Times New Roman Font  12pt (no “fancy fonts,” please)
  • 1″ Margins
  • Double Spaced.
  • Paginated, with only the title in the header for each page.

Formatting Your Submission Files

  • Submit each story as a separate file.  You can upload both files at the same time on the submission form.
  • Check that your files are named correctly and are in the correct format. Acceptable formats are: Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx), Rich Text File (.rtf), or PDF file (.pdf). Please note we prefer Word or Rich Text Files. Name your files as follows (no punctuation): LAST NAME FIRST NAME TITLE of Story. Example– If Alice Walker were submitting her short story Flowers, the file would look like this:

Walker Alice Flowers


All stories will be read by two New Jersey professional prose writers. A select group of stories will be presented to a panel for final selection.


Submission Form


Other Opportunities for Student Writers and Performers