The 2019 Competition

The 2019 Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition draws its opening and closing lines from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. To participate, you must write a short story that starts and ends with the same opening and closing lines as Ray Bradbury's classic work:

It was a pleasure to burn.
When we reach the city.

Everything you need to know to submit your story to this year's competition can be found on this page. Please read it all!

UPDATE: Unfortunately, this year's competition ended at noon on June 4th, 2019, and our editors are now reading your wonderful stories. If you missed this year's competition, we hope you'll join us next time!


Your story must satisfy the following basic requirements: it should be well-written; it should include the opening and closing lines, as given; and it should be entertaining and/or thought-provoking. Your story must be fewer than 2500 words and formatted appropriately. Make sure you read the FAQ and all the Official Rules before you submit your story.

Your work will be judged on how convincingly — and creatively — you have taken ownership of the opening and closing lines: they should be an intergral part of the story and the transition between these lines and your story should be seamless. We do not want to read a story that feels as if the opening and closing lines were tacked on as an afterthought.

Also, remember that you are not trying to rewrite Fahrenheit 451. In fact, in most cases, you should just leave the source material behind. Your goal is to write a new, wholly-original story that just happens to share the same first and last lines of Fahrenheit 451. You may write any kind of story you'd like in any genre — so long as it fits snugly, seamlessly, between these first and last lines.

Your work will be evaluated by Regulus Press and the competition's Judges, all of whom are writing professionals.


If you'd like to get a feel for what makes a successful literary taxidermy story, you might want to check out The Gymnasium, a collection of stories by Mark Malamud that inspired this competition. You can also pick up the three anthologies from last year's competition, including One Thing Was Certain, Telephone Me Now, and Against the Bar.


The author of the winning story in this year's competition will receive a USD $500 cash prize and a complimentary copy of the forthcoming 2019 Literary Taxidermy Anthology; runners-up will receive a USD $50 cash prize; and both the winner and runners-up will be published in the forthcoming 2019 Literary Taxidermy Anthology. Honorable-mention authors will have their name included on a special page in the anthology.


  1. First, make sure your story satisfies all the story content and formatting requirements as described in the Official Rules. Not following the rules will likely mean your entry is not considered, so please double-check everything. (You might want to use one of our Manuscript Templates to make sure you get the formatting correct.)
  2. Create an email message to
  3. Include the following two items in the body of your email:
           (1) Your full name.
           (2) Your story as a document attachment.
    Do NOT include anything else.
  4. Your attachment must be a Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, or plain text document. (Again, you might want to use one of our Manuscript Templates to make sure you get the formatting correct.)
  5. The filename of your document should derive from the title of your story. (For example: great_story.doc.) Do NOT use your name as any part of the filename.
  6. Make sure to send your story from an email address we can use to contact you if you're a winner or runner-up. (In other words, don't send it from an email account you never check.)
  7. Once you've sent us your story, you must pay the USD $10 competition entry fee. Your story will not be read if you don't pay the entry fee. (If you have a significant financial hardship that makes paying the entry fee too burdensome, or if there’s some other reason that would make the fee unreasonable, you may contact us and we'll consider waiving the fee.)
  8. To pay the fee, enter your email address in the field below and then click the PayPal link. Note: You don't need to have a PayPal account to complete this transaction.

    Your Email
  9. That's it! We will send you confirmation email when your submission has been received and your payment has been processed. We will also send email to the winners and runners-up upon conclusion of the competition. We look forward to reading your work.


Oh, one last thing. Don't forget to subscribe to our mailing list for the most up-to-the-minute news about the Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition. (And NO SPAM — we promise!)