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Contest Details

Annual Sledgehammer 36-Hour Writing ContestSH15_Poster-page-001

The 2015 contest will take place Saturday and Sunday, July 25–26.

Cost: $25 for adults, $10 for high school students, and $5 for middle school and elementary school students.

Participants can compete individually or as teams. Write-ins are highly encouraged for writers of all ages and writing styles. Please feel free to print our event poster (SH015_Poster) to post in coffee shops and other areas writers frequent in your area!

How It Works

The contest starts at noon on Saturday, when writers come to our home page to receive their first writing prompt and scavenger hunt clues. They follow the clues to three participating websites to gather all four writing prompts, and have 36 hours to write the best fiction piece they can come up with. Final submissions are due by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.

We’re offering cash prizes in five categories this year:

Team ($500)
Individual ($250)
The Elissa Award (Readers’ Choice; $100)
Judge’s Choice, selected by celebrity judge Kate Gray ($100)
Youth ($100; $50 in each age group)

Participants are invited to video themselves reading their stories. The videos will be posted online with their stories for the Readers’ Choice poll.

Through the Sledgehammer 36-Hour Writing Contest, we support writing as a team activity, foster love for writing communities, and thrive through cooperative creativity among people and across the arts.

2015 Start Location: www.sledgehammercontest.com
End Location: sledgehammer@indigoediting.comIMGP3426


  • Participants can compete in teams or individually. All team members must be on the registration form.
  • One entry per team/individual participant.
  • Preregistration is required. Registration will open in June 2015.
  • Entries must contain all four writing prompts.
  • Entries must be written for an English-speaking audience.
  • Entries must be fiction, entirely created by registered team members within the time frame of the contest.
  • Participants must be willing to be photographed and/or interviewed for publicity.
  • Participants must be willing and able to read at a few events throughout the year.

Indigo Editing & Publications and Sledgehammer Writing Contest are not responsible for the safety of participants or that of people they encounter. Please browse, travel, and write responsibly.Mic


Q: Can I compete from another city?
A: Yes! We’ve engineered an online-based scavenger hunt for writers everywhere.

Q: How many people can be on a team?
A: As many as you want, but you have to figure out how you divide duties and prizes.

Q: Is the team prize for each team member?
A: Nope. We give you the money, and you get to decide how to divvy it up.

Q: Why is it called the Elissa Award?
A: Elissa Nelson was a longtime Sledgehammer participant and fan who even ran some of our monthly Mini Sledgehammers for a while. She passed away in 2013. We miss her dearly and commemorate her with this award.

Q: Can I play with form?
A: Sure! Just make sure your story is fiction and written for an English-speaking audience.

Q: What’s this writing-prompt business? Do I have to do that?
A: Yes, the four components of the writing prompt are required to appear in your final submitted story.

Q: Is there a word count limit?
A: No, but remember that conciseness is usually a sign of better writing.

Q: What if I don’t already have a team but I want to compete with one?
A: Let us know! We’ll try to connect you with other writers to form a team.

Q: How will the stories be judged?
A: For the Team, Individual, and Youth categories, volunteer judges who are pros in the publishing world will evaluate stories based on their creative use of prompts, use of literary devices, cohesiveness, topic, and overall appeal. Contestants are also invited to send videos of them reading their stories and to be posted those with their stories for consideration in the Readers’ Choice poll. Readers can vote for the Readers’ Choice award here on the site. The Judge’s Choice winner will be selected by Kate Gray, author of Carry the Sky and winner of the 2013 Sledgehammer individual category.

Q: Can kids participate?
A: Absolutely! All of our scavenger hunt stops and writing prompts are family friendly, and we love to see young creatives. We even have a special young writers category. Bring the whole gang!

Q: Can winners compete again?
A: Out of fairness to other contestants, Sledgehammer winners cannot compete in the same category again for three contests. They are welcome to compete in other categories.Bob

Terms and Conditions

Sledgehammer Participation Terms and Conditions
By registering to participate in the 2015 Sledgehammer Writing Contest, my team and I agree to the following:
All materials submitted will be original, unpublished, and completely created during the thirty-six hours set aside for the contest. No previously written pieces or late entries will be accepted. All materials must be submitted via email by the deadline. Submissions must be fiction and in English. One entry per team.
There will be no refunds for registrants that register but do not participate. Participants may be photographed and/or interviewed for publicity purposes. At least one person from each team must be willing and able to cooperate. Indigo owns the rights to contest photographs.
Judges and volunteers are prohibited from entering. Indigo may publish winning stories for distribution. All submitted stories will be posted on the Sledgehammer website. Participants offer first print and online publication rights for these purposes.
By registering for Sledgehammer, you agree to these terms and conditions.
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