USU Creative Writing Contest

Photo: Andrew Romriell

The USU Creative Writing Contest is open to all USU undergraduate students from all departments and majors. Each year, the contest receives hundreds of entries, and the judging is often competitive and close, so we want to thank and congratulate all the students who have participated. We urge all USU students to cultivate their talent and to keep writing—for love of the word and the craft. The submission deadline each year is the first week in February. 

Results will be made public by the end of March. Winners will be contacted as soon as they are determined. Winning submissions are published in a special contest issue of USU's international undergraduate literary magazine, Sink Hollow. A reading of the winning work and a Sink Hollow Special Contest Issue release party will be held at Helicon West the 4th Thursday in April.

Entry Deadline: 4:00 p.m., February 5, 2024

IMPORTANT: All submissions to the contest this year will be electronic. No paper copies will be accepted. Follow the directions below and submit your properly formatted work to by the deadline. 

Contest Information and Submission Guidelines

  • The contest is open to all USU undergraduate students on all USU campuses. Submitters must be currently enrolled, or have just graduated the previous fall semester to submit.
  • Undergraduate Creative Writing Contest and Sink Hollow interns ARE PERMITTED to enter the contest. All judging is by blind review, the interns never see or are permitted to handle the judge's results, and in fact, the interns have no contact with judges concerning the contest whatsoever.
  • All work submitted to the contest must be previously unpublished. Work that has already been published in print or online will be disqualified for the competition.
  • You must notify the contest director immediately if work that has been simultaneously submitted is accepted for publication elsewhere. Failure to do so will result in disqualification. 
  • By submitting your work to the contest, you agree to have any of that work—if selected—published in the special contest issue of Sink Hollow, and used in whole or in part as promotional material for the contest and the magazine.
You may submit one entry in each of these categories:

     Poetry (one entry is up to three poems)
     Short Fiction (maximum 17 pages)
     Non-Fiction Essay (maximum 17 pages)
     Artwork/Photography (maximum 20 submissions)

Poetry can follow any form. Maximum length on all three poems mst be less than or equal to 17 pages and should be in 12 pt. Times New Roman font.

Short Fiction can be any fictional tale. Must be less than 17 pages, double-spaced in 12 pt. Times New Roman font. Flash fiction is allowed but only a single entry is allowed and will be judged alongside the longer work.

Creative Non-Fiction or Personal Essay should be based on fact, but presented in a literary fashion. Must be less than 17 pages, double-spaced in 12 pt. Times New Roman font. Flash nonfiction is allowed but only a single entry is allowed and will be judged alongside the longer work.

Art submissions may include photography, paintings, drawings, ceramics, sculpture, or installation, but all must be submitted in an electronic form (i.e., a photo of an installation or ceramic work) assembled into a single PDF. Choose a resolution that gives a clear sense of the work, but that does not create a PDF that exceeds 15MB. If selected as a winner, a higher resolution image will be requested. You may submit up to 20 different images of your artwork.

To have your work accepted for the contest, you must prepare it according to the following steps. Submissions that have not followed these directions will be disqualified.

  1. Be sure your entry file(s) do not include your name anywhere on them. If you use your own name in the work, change it for the submission. If selected as a winner, we will change it back to the real name.

  2. In a header or footer, include your A#, the genre, the title, and the page number, like this:
    A00123456 / Fiction / "All My Stories Are About the Same Thing" / p2

  3. Create a PDF file for each entry/genre. You may submit one entry in each genre: art, fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Each poetry entry may contain up to 3 poems. Each art entry may contain up to 20 images.  You may only submit one file per genre—so be sure if you are submitting poetry or art that you combine all poems/artworks into a single file!

  4. Name your PDF file(s) with your A# and the entry's genre, like this:
    A00123456.fiction.pdf,, A00123456.nonfiction.pdf

  5. In the body of the submission email, include all of your Submission Contact Information, like this:
    Name: Jane Ecrivain
    Major: English—Creative Writing (or undeclared if you have not yet chosen a major)
    Undergrad: Undergraduate
    A#: A00123456
    Phone: 435-123-4567
    Entry Genres: Art, Poetry
    Entry Titles:
    Art: Kittens are Cute I, Kittens are Cute II, Kittens are Cute III, Fluffy Cloud Resembling My Mother I, Fluffy Cloud Resembling My Mother II (titles are in order of appearance in the PDF)

    Poetry: Ode to my Cat, Elegy for a Fluffy Cloud, Sonnet for Sorbet (titles are in order of appearance in the PDF)

    Missing information equals disqualification. To make sure you have it all, just copy and paste this form into the body of your email and fill it out:

    Submission Contact Information
    Entry Genres:
    Entry Titles:

  6. Send just one email with all entries attached to by the deadline.

Entries in each category are read or viewed by qualified judges who have extensive professional experience in their genre. Judges are asked to rank the entries in order of merit. Until the contest is over, the judges will not know who wrote the entries or how the other judges ranked them.

Contest Director Contact

Ashley Wells

Ashley Wells



Office Location: Logan (RWST 312F)