Uncharted Magazine Cinematic Short Story Contest - Uncharted

Uncharted Magazine Cinematic Short Story Contest

Uncharted Magazine Cinematic Short Story Contest

April 14 to June 16, 2024

Judged by Matt Bell

We invite writers to submit to the Uncharted Magazine Cinematic Short Story Contest from April 14 to June 16, 2024. This award is for all of our genres: Science Fiction/Fantasy, Thriller/Mystery (Horror), Historical Fiction, and Young Adult. Guest Judge Matt Bell will choose three winning stories from our shortlist. We’re excited to offer the first-place winner of this contest $2,000 and publication, while the second- and third-place winners will receive publication and $300 and $200, respectively.

Contest Prompt:

For this short story contest, we want to read your most cinematic stories! We want stories that we can clearly visualize, that make us feel like we’re there in the moment, and that activate all of our senses. We want worlds that pop up in our minds, characters who are fully articulated and bent on breaking their rituals. We want stories with vitality and velocity that rely on swift cuts of action and reaction.

Consider crafting your story based on the most important moments in your character’s life, and fully envelop us in this story. Think of the opposites of shadow and light, and the gray areas in-between, and write the stories we can’t look away from. We especially love stories that incorporate aspects of all genres, so consider how these combined elements might enhance your story. We’re drawn to stories that take advantage of their conflicts to create tension and resonance.

Our Contest Judge:

Matt Bell is the author most recently of the novel Appleseed (a New York Times Notable Book) and the craft book Refuse to Be Done, a guide to novel writing, rewriting, and revision. He is also the author of the novels Scrapper and In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, as well as the short story collection A Tree or a Person or a Wall, a nonfiction book about the classic video game Baldur’s Gate II, and several other titles. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Esquire, Tin House, Fairy Tale Review, American Short Fiction, Orion, and many other publications. A native of Michigan, he teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.

Our Contest Partner:

For the first time, we’re thrilled to partner with Lost Mountain Entertainment, who will provide the writers of the top five stories with individualized one-on-one consultations, which will include:

  • instruction in the basics of screenwriting or an overview of the film and television industry;
  • specific suggestions on cinematic story elements such as structure, pacing, tone, dialogue, and characterization;
  • referral to helpful resources, such as books, webinars, classes, and online platforms;
  • advice on preparing marketing materials such as loglines, one-pagers, pitch decks, series bibles, and lookbooks; and
  • advice on pitching.


  • The deadline for entry is June 16, 2024. We will announce the shortlist within 1214 weeks of the contest’s close. All writers will be notified when the results are in.
  • Your $20 reading fee allows ONE cinematic short story of 1,001–5,000 words per entry.
  • Writers from historically marginalized groups may submit for free until we reach a cap of 25 submissions in this category. No additional fee waivers will be granted for this contest.
  • We encourage multiple submissions—each story should be a separate submission accompanied by a reading fee.
  • Please submit short stories only—5,000 word count maximum.
  • We only consider unpublished work for contests—we do not review reprints, including self-published work (even on blogs and social media). Reprints will be automatically disqualified.
  • Simultaneous submissions are okay—please notify us immediately and withdraw your entry if you find another home for your writing.
  • All entries will also be considered for publication in Uncharted.
  • Double-space your submission and use Times New Roman 12 (or larger if needed).
  • Please include a brief cover letter with your publication history (if applicable).
  • Please include a content warning to help safeguard our staff (if applicable).
  • We only read work in English, though some code-switching/meshing is warmly welcomed.
  • We do not read anonymous submissions. However, shortlisted stories are sent anonymously to the judge.
  • Work generated by AI will be automatically disqualified.

Some Submittable Hot Tips:

  • Please be sure to whitelist/add to contacts this email address so notifications do not get filtered as spam/junk: notifications@email.submittable.com.
  • If you realize you sent the wrong version of your piece: It happens. Please DO NOT withdraw the piece and resubmit. Submittable collects a nonrefundable fee each time. Please DO message us from within the submission to request that we open the entry for editing, which will allow you to fix everything from typos in your cover letter to uploading a new draft. The only time we will not allow a change is if the piece is already under review by a reader.

Optional Feedback on Your Writing:

You may choose to receive editorial feedback on your piece. We will provide two-page global letters discussing the strengths of the writing and the recommended focus for revision. Our aim is to make our comments actionable and encouraging. These letters are written by editors and staff readers of Uncharted. A significant portion of the editorial letter fees goes to our feedback editor. Should your story win, no feedback will be offered, and your fee will be refunded.