An image of the logo for Write Now: The University of Iowa's Writing Contests.

Ready, set, write!

The University of Iowa Alumni and Friends Flash Writing Contest is officially underway. You have until 4 p.m. (CST) on Sunday, January 16, 2022, to compose and submit your short story.

Writing prompts

You must select one of the three prompts to incorporate into your story.

Prompt A

Genre: Mystery
Character: Makeup artist
Object: An onion

Prompt B

Genre: Fairy tale
Character: Ticket taker
Object: A toothbrush

Prompt C

Genre: Writer's choice
Character: Writer's choice

Prairie Fire, by Virginia Myers

If you select this prompt, you can choose your own genre and character. Your story must tie to your interpretation of the artwork (object) provided, not the artist or title of the artwork.

This artwork, Prairie Fire, was created by Virginia A. Myers and is part of the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art collection.

Here are a few other important things to keep in mind before you start typing:

  • Deadline: Completed stories must be received by 4 p.m. (CST) on Sunday, January 16, 2022. All entries not received by the University of Iowa Center for Advancement by that time will be ineligible.
  • Length: The maximum length for each short story is 1,000 words, not including the title page. Entries with more than 1,000 words will be disqualified. Contestants may only submit one entry for this contest.
  • How to submit: Stories must be uploaded here or submitted via email to The submission details will be announced on this site at the start of the contest at 4 p.m. (CST) on Friday, January 14, 2022.
  • File format: The story must be uploaded as a Word Document (.doc), Text File (.txt), or in Rich Text Format (.rtf). Stories submitted in Apple's Pages format will not be accepted. The name of the file must be the title of the story. For example, if the title of your short story is "Autumn," then the name of your file must be "Autumn.doc," "Autumn.txt," or "Autumn.rtf."
  • Font: Submissions must be typed in 12-point Courier, New Courier, or Times New Roman typeface.
  • Anonymity: The author's name must not appear anywhere in the short story document. The author's name will be submitted only on the web entry form.
  • Rules: View the contest rules. If you have questions, email

Contest prizes

A winner in each of the four grade school categories will receive an Iowa scribe pack that includes a writing journal, canvas bag, and $25 gift card. The winner of the adult category will receive a handcrafted wooden pen made from a tree that was located on the University of Iowa campus and a $25 gift card. In addition, the top entry in each age category will be posted on the Write Now website.

More information

If you have any questions, email

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