2nd-4th September 2016

Oxford, UK

Home » Short Story Award » Competition rules

Short Story Award rules


  • Opening date is 1st May 2016.
  • Closing date for receipt of entries: Monday 1st August 2016 at midnight GMT.
Maximum 2500 words (no minimum).
  • Historical short stories set no later than 1965.
  • Open theme.


  • The competition shall be open to all delegates of the Historical Novel Society Conference 2016, in Oxford, excluding the competition judges and principal Conference organisers.
  • Entries must be entirely the work of the entrant and must not at any time have been published, self-published, broadcast, or published online on any website or forum (save for a closed forum), or have won or been placed in any other competition.

Theme and length

  • An entry must comprise a complete short story (and not be in the form of a poem or script).
  • Entrants may write on any theme, though only those stories in which the substantive action takes place no later than 1965 will be considered.
  • Time-slip and historical thrillers/detective short stories are admissible.
  • Fantasy, alternate and steam-punk historical fiction is also admissible.


  • All entries must be submitted using the online entry form on this website.
  • The entry form will be available from 1st May 2016.
Please ensure you provide your entry as a Word document (.doc file) with the filename being made up of the story title alone.
Please do not put your name on the document or within the filename.
Payment must be made and cleared before the closing date of the competition.
  • Each entrant may submit only one story.
  • Only paid-for entries will be considered.


  • The entry fee shall be £5 per story.
  • Fees shall be payable in sterling via PayPal at the time of entry, or by cheque made payable to the Historical Novel Society and sent to the address shown on the entry form.

Entry format

  • Entries must be in English, typed in a Word (.doc) file, formatted for A4 paper, one side only, with pages numbered.
  • Each entry must be contained within a separate Word document and payment made on the day of submission or cleared by 10th August 2016.
  • Entries must be double-line spaced and include a word count at the top of the first page.
  • The title and the entrant’s HNSOxford16 booking reference number must also appear at the top of each page.
  • Manuscripts must show no name, address or other identifying marks apart from the entrant’s HNSOxford16 booking reference.
  • Entries will not be returned, so please keep a copy.
  • No corrections can be made after receipt, nor fees refunded.

Receipt of entry

  • An automatic email confirmation will be sent to the address from which the submission was made. No other correspondence will be entered into.


  • Worldwide copyright in each entry will remain with the author.


  • The judges’ decision shall be final and no debate or correspondence will be entered into.
  • Judges will be unable to comment on individual entries.
  • Judging will be fair and unbiased and made without reference to the entrant’s identity.
  • The top three stories will be selected by Ian Skillicorn of Corazon Books.
  • All stories will be read and considered in the first instance by Lorna Fergusson, Deborah Swift and Ouida Taffe. They will select a long-list of ten stories and look for, amongst other things, skill in: Deft use of historical research; characterization; concision; readability; voice.
  • Work must be presented professionally, formatted according to the competition rules and spell-checked.


  • The winner will be awarded the HNSOxford16 Short Story Cup and receive a prize of £100. The Cup will remain the property of Historical Novel Society, and must be returned not later than 1 January 2017.
  • The second and third placed entrants will each receive certificates.

Prize winners and prize giving

  • The long list will be displayed on this website on or around 24th August 2016.
  • The short list will be announced and prizes will be awarded during the prize-giving ceremony at the Conference.
  • With the author’s consent, the winning story will be published on the Conference website after the prize-giving.
  • Entry constitutes acceptance of all the rules. Failure to comply with the entry requirements will result in disqualification.