Budding writers are urged to submit their entries for the annual Okanagan Short Story Contest.

Now running for 21 years, the short story contest has a long tradition of introducing new and emerging writers to the Okanagan community. The competition is open to fiction writers in the Southern Interior of British Columbia: east of Hope, west of the Alberta border, north of the US border and south of Williams Lake.

The Okanagan Short Story Contest is organized by UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies (FCCS). Prize sponsors include the Kelowna Capital News, the Central Okanagan Foundation and the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation.

Dania Tomlinson, a lecturer with UBC Okanagan's Creative Writing Program and previous contest winner, will have the task of selecting the best new short stories.

“Competitions like the Okanagan Short Story Contest are where most writers get their start,” Tomlinson says. “In fact, this competition, in particular, holds a special place in my heart and winning the contest in 2016 marked the beginning of my professional writing career. It’s so important for writers, both new and veteran, to send their work out.”

All original entries must be between 1,000 and 4,000 words and writers are welcome to submit as many entries as they choose. There is a $15 entry fee for each story, but no charge for high school students. All proceeds go towards the FCCS Creative Writing scholarships at UBC Okanagan.

“Besides strong characterization, what I value most in short fiction is cohesion: when a variety of aspects—imagery, voice and structure—parallel or answer to one another without it feeling contrived,” says Tomlinson. “A story that accomplishes cohesion creates its own symbolism, its own logic.”

The deadline to submit stories is Jan 31.

Winners will be announced in March at a public event where short-listed authors will be invited to read from their work.

The first-place author will win $1,000, second-place will receive $400 and third-place will receive $200. Top high school student will also win a $200 prize.

For a full list of contest details and rules, visit okstorycontest.org.