Fiction in a Nutshell marks 10th anniversary

This is the age of fast content—short and sweet, quick and dirty, in and out. If you can’t make an impact in 140 characters, hit delete and try again.

The digital media notwithstanding, there’s still a place for good writing in today’s world. But in order for intelligent composition to survive, students need to be challenged both in the classroom and out. Public schools haven’t forgotten the age-old principles of reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, it’s just that more and more, the writing portion has been supplanted by emojis, cryptic hash tags and social media acronyms.

In one sense, The Acorn sees itself as a guardian of the written word, a port of entry for excellent storytelling from authors of all ages and skill levels. It’s our contention that a tall tale replete with a strong beginning, a hook in the middle and a surprise ending is a piece of real art that will stand the test of time. Writers, celebrate your roots.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the newspaper’s Fiction in a Nutshell contest, the popular storytelling challenge that requires submitting writers to pen a complete fiction story in 100 words or less.

Writing a fiction story in just 100 words isn’t as easy as it sounds. Don’t forget: Beginning, middle and end. Characters, conflict and plot twist. The winning entries must be impactful, compelling and eyeopening. It’s brevity and it’s bombast, and the landing can be soft or hard.

Writers in two categories, 18-and-over and under-18, are allowed to submit stories in a multitude of genres—sci-fi, adventure, romance, to name a few. Stories in past contests have dealt with death, loss, old age, extraterrestrials and transcendent love. Other popular themes are murder, food and animals, lots of animals.

More than once, The Acorn judges have been caught off guard by unexpected endings and double crosses. (“Idiot,” whispered the old woman. “Did you think you were the only one who wanted that money?”).

In previous contests the metaphors have rung out and the imagery has sparkled. (“Her eyes shone bright like crystals in a haze of black.”)

Writers must be on their game to win Fiction in a Nutshell, and past winners have proven up to the challenge.

Submit your 100-word Fiction in a Nutshell story to, and please include name, address, phone number and email so we can get in touch if our judges name you the winner.

The deadline for submissions is Fri., Nov. 3. Winners will be announced in the newspaper and online Thurs., Nov. 30.