LSSU High School Short Story Prize

Photography by the late Eddie James, III, longtime Sault Sainte Marie resident and featured photographer for Border Crossing vol. 3.
Photography by the late Eddie James, III, longtime Sault Sainte Marie resident and featured photographer for Border Crossing vol. 3.

The LSSU High School Short Story Prize is an international literary competition run by the Lake Superior State University Creative Writing Program for high school writers with a cash award and scholarship. The competition is open to all high school students residing in the United States or Canada. Entries are accepted January 1 through April 30, each year. Our mission is to create excitement about writing and reading in high school students, as well as to raise awareness about our English and creative writing programs.


A number of students participating in last year’s survey suggested that the contest focus on realism in future years, so the theme of the contest this year will be realistic fiction. Any form of realistic fiction will be accepted as long as stories are set in the real world.  The first-place winner will receive publication in Border Crossing and a $500 cash prize that can be increased to a $1000 cash scholarship if the winner chooses to attend LSSU. The second-place winner will receive a $250 cash prize; the third-place winner a $100 prize.

This year, our judges are looking for a realistic short stories written in a compelling voice with a well-developed story, character depth, a detailed setting, attention to language, and a deeper meaning. You can read the 2016 contest winner here and the 2015 contest winner here (the 2016 and 2015 themes were alt-history short stories and post-apocalyptic fiction, respectively).


Teachers, parents, and students interested in the contest are encouraged to sign up for the contest newsletter to receive contest updates.




The following realistic short stories are all available online:

“Dead Men’s Path” by Chinua Achebe
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin
“A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell
“Araby” by James Joyce
“To Build a Fire” by Jack London (includes audio)
“Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield

Below are some very short realistic fictions written by teens that we also recommend as models:

Perfect” from Teen Ink
Shattered Glass” from Teen Ink
You can read more realistic fiction published in Teen Ink here (look for the MAG icon).  


To enter, high school writers submit an original, unpublished story that meets the following guidelines:
1. Entrants must be high school students and residents of the United States or Canada. All entries will be read blind, with the identities of authors revealed only after judges’ final decisions are made; location will be checked after decisions are made.
2. Stories must qualify as realistic fiction. For the purposes of this contest, this will mean fiction that takes place in the real world. We are looking for stories written in a compelling voice with a well-developed story, character depth, a detailed setting, attention to language, and a deeper meaning.
3. Stories may be no longer than 5,000 words.
4. Students may enter only once, and stories must have individual authors.
5. Address and contact information should be entered in the form only; please do not enter contact information on the story itself. Stories will be read blind.
6. On the upload form, enter your grade, high school, and current English teacher’s name.
7. Entries must be previously unpublished, online or otherwise, at the time of submission. (There is no need to withdraw stories if they are selected for publication after submission.)
8. The winner will be asked to provide proof of residency and high school student status (homeschool status is acceptable as long as documentation can be provided).
9. The winner must sign a standard Border Crossing publication contract (for first-time North American serial rights only–all other rights remain with the author). For legal minors, the winner’s parent or guardian will co-sign.
10. Per Border Crossing editorial board policy, the winning story may be subject to editing. The judges reserve the right not to award the prize if no entry of winning quality is received.


Enter your story using the Border Crossing submissions manager onlineThere is no fee for entering.


2016: Alt-History Short Stories Lesson Plan, Model Texts, and Contest Results

2015: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction Lesson Plan, Model Texts, and Contest Results


Contact the contest coordinator, Prof. Mary McMyne, at 906-635-2327 or

Did you know? At LSSU, you can major or minor in creative writing, literature, and English education. We have been voted Department of the Year twice in recent years by Student Government!  Learn more about LSSU English Majors here.

11 thoughts on “LSSU High School Short Story Prize

  1. Noticing most of these people are from Michigan, and only a few places in Michigan at that…biased judges?

    1. Thank you for your comment. In response to your concern regarding the possibility of biased judges, per the contest rules, the entries were actually read blind (that is, without names or any identity attached). When we analyzed our submissions after decisions were made, we did note that we received many more entries from Michigan students than elsewhere. In the future we would love to receive more entries from all over the Midwest. One of our goals for next year’s contest is actually to work on publicizing the contest better in other states.

  2. Hi there! I’m the second runner up! Thanks so much for the great contest! My question is, is there any way to see the feedback on my piece? I’d love to know where I can improve to make my writing even better (and maybe win next year 🙂 ). Thanks!

  3. I entered last year and I found it fun and it opened me up to a new genre I didn’t even know I liked! These contests help me explore and interact with things outside of “my box”. I think I may join this contest too! 🙂 Thanks for doing this!

  4. So exciting to see the semifinalists! Will the first place winner be chosen from these short stories listed? Thank you Border Crossing for an excellent contest!

  5. We are hoping to select finalists by the end of the month, but the process may extend into June. Both the finalists and then, ultimately, the winner will be chosen from the stories listed here.

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