Prose & Poetry Creative Writing Contest

Rules for the DemiCon 31 Prose & Poetry contest are:

  • Stories and poems are to be written in the genre of science fiction or fantasy. Points will be deducted for non-genre entries.
  • Prose is limited to no more than 7,500 words.
  • Poetry is limited to no more than 100 lines.
  • Entries must include the sentence “Only in darkness can light be found.”
  • The deadline for receipt of entries is Thursday, April 2, 2020.
  • Entrants may submit up to two items, i.e., a poem and a short story or two short stories or two poems.
  • To be eligible to participate, entrants must have a membership to DemiCon 31. This may be an Explorer, one-day, or full convention membership.
  • DemiCon is a family-friendly convention and all entries must be suitable for open reading at the convention and posting on-line.

Entries may be posted on-line after judging is completed and will be available for reading in print form at the convention. In addition to judges’ comments, members of the convention will be invited to give their feedback to the writers.

There will be first-, second- and third-place winners. Judging will be based on an overall ranking and on three broad categories. Winners will be selected based on total points, with any ties broken using the overall rankings.

The categories for short stories are Character, Description, and Continuity based on their effective use within the story. Character includes growth of characters, use of dialogue, and believability of characters. Description includes the general use of description, how technological or fantastical items specific to the story are described, and description that sets the scene. Continuity includes consistency of writing, general adherence to the theme, and if the story or poem progresses true to the story’s world.

The categories for poems are Rhythm, Imagery, and Coherence. Rhythm includes how the poem sounds when read aloud and how well the poem works within its particular form (e.g., free verse, iambic pentameter); plus, for poems following established styles, how well the poem adheres to the established structure. Imagery includes description but, more so than with stories, how well the scene is evoked. Coherence includes how well all parts of the poem go together.

The DemiCon Writing Contest focuses on judges as readers more than as writers. Judges will be well-read individuals who are not published writers or editors and may include members of DMSFFS.

Please proofread your entries in addition to checking the spelling. Judges do not deduct points for typographical errors, but misspellings and incorrect word usage do distract from the writing.

Send your entries no later than April 2, 2020, to RTF is preferred over .doc or .docx files. Entries should include, on the first page only, the author’s name, the title of the story or poem, and contact information for the author. The judging will be blind, i.e., the judges will not know who wrote which story or poem. Please mark the end of your stories and poems with “# # #.”

You will be sent an email to confirm your entry was received. If you have not received a confirmation within three days of submitting your entry, please contact and If you prefer to submit your entry by U.S. mail, send it to: DMSFFS – DemiCon Writing Contest at PO Box 7572, Des Moines, IA 50323.