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CRAFT 2024 Short Fiction Prize

Guest Judge: Deesha Philyaw

$2,800 Awarded + Tech Bonus

March 18 – May 19, 2024

Welcome to the CRAFT 2024 Short Fiction Prize! Since our launch in 2017, CRAFT has been a premier online home for the contemporary short story. We admire self-assured style and unabashed ingenuity, a willingness to explore and expand the form.

For this year’s contest, Guest Judge Deesha Philyaw dares writers to indulge, to be bold and defiant:

For me, a short story succeeds when I see, on the page, the writer indulging their own desires, interests, quirks, and demons; when I see the writer daring to write like themselves, eschewing mimicry and playing it safe. Not being daring for the sake of being daring or performative, but daring because they’re defying the person or rule that told them, “You can’t write about that,” or “You can’t write like that,” or “You can’t write.” I’m looking for fearlessness and audacity. I’m looking for characters making a mess of it all, then putting the pieces of themselves back together (or not). I’m a Virgo, so naturally I want the writer to mind the details—physical, emotional, and spiritual.

The first-place winner will receive a $2,000 award, online publication, a subscription to Journal of the Month, and—new this year—a writerly Tech Bonus worth up to $500! The second- and third-place finalists will receive $500 and $300, respectively, along with online publication. The 2024 Short Fiction Prize opens on March 18 and closes on May 19, 2024. Send us your most audacious short stories!


  • CRAFT submissions are open to all writers.
  • International submissions are allowed.
  • Please submit work primarily written in English, but some code-switching/meshing is warmly welcomed.
  • We seek short fiction only for this contest: 1,000 to 5,000 words in length.
  • We review literary fiction but are open to a variety of genres and styles—our only requirement is that you show excellence in your craft.
  • Submit previously unpublished work only—we do NOT review reprints for contests (including work posted on blogs, personal websites, social media, etc.). Reprints will be automatically disqualified.
  • We allow simultaneous submissions—writers, please notify us and withdraw your piece if your work is accepted for publication elsewhere.
  • We allow multiple submissions—please submit each piece as a separate submission accompanied by an entry fee.
  • This contest requires a $20 entry fee per submission.
  • All entries will also be considered for publication in CRAFT.
  • Please double-space your submission and use Times New Roman 12.
  • Include a brief cover letter with your publication history (if applicable).
  • We do not require anonymous submissions. However, we do anonymize the fifteen shortlisted stories before sending them to the guest judge.
  • Writers from historically marginalized groups will be able to submit for free until we reach fifty free submissions. (This free category is now closed. No additional fee waivers will be granted for this contest.)
  • AI-generated work will be automatically disqualified.
  • Entries that do not adhere to these guidelines will be automatically disqualified.
  • We do not discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, disability, family status, gender identity or expression, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation, or for any other reason.
  • Additionally, we do not tolerate discrimination in the writing we consider for publication: work we find discriminatory on any of the bases stated here will be declined without complete review.


  • Winner receives a $2,000 cash award, a free four-issue subscription from Journal of the Month, and our Tech Bonus: their choice of an iPAD 10th Generation, reMarkable 2, or a Freewrite Traveler (up to $500 value).
  • Second- and third-place finalists receive $500 and $300, respectively.
  • The top three stories will be published in CRAFT, each with an introduction by the guest judge.
  • Each publication will also include an author's note (craft essay) by the writer.

Fine Print:

  • Friends, family, and associates of the guest judge are not eligible for consideration for the award.
  • Our collaboration with editorial professionals in the judging of our contests and the awarding of our prizes does not imply an endorsement or recognition from their agencies, houses, presses, universities, etc.
  • Read our 2023 contest winners for examples of work chosen in the past.
  • As we only consider unpublished writing and will publish the winning pieces in October 2024, anything under contract to publish prior to January 2025 should not be entered.

Our Guest Judge:

DEESHA PHILYAW is the author of the debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, which won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize, the 2020 Los Angeles Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies focuses on Black women, sex, and the Black church, and is being adapted for television by HBO Max with Tessa Thompson executive producing. Deesha is also a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow and a Baldwin for the Arts Fellow. Her debut novel, The True Confessions of First Lady Freeman, is forthcoming from Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, in 2025. Find her on Twitter @DeeshaPhilyaw.

Our Contest Partner:

JOURNAL OF THE MONTH sends a new print literary magazine to your mailbox on a regular basis. Which one? What you receive changes month to month, but every participating magazine is a highly regarded actor in the contemporary literary scene that publishes exciting fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry from new and established voices.

Optional Editorial Feedback:

You may choose to receive editorial feedback on your piece directly through the contest submission form. We will provide line-level marginal notes, as well as a two-page global letter discussing the strengths of the writing and the recommended focus for revision. While editorial feedback is inherently subjective, our suggestions are always actionable and encouraging. We aim to have feedback completed within twelve weeks from the close of the contest. Should your story win, no feedback will be offered and your fee will be refunded. Please note that work we critique is not eligible for future CRAFT contests.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.