The 2020 Competition

The Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition draws its opening and closing lines from a classic work of fiction. To participate in the competition, you must write a short story that starts and ends with the same opening and closing lines.

Note: we haven't yet officially announced the 2020 competition, so we can't tell you the opening and closing lines for the contest. But stay tuned! In the meantime, you can learn a little bit more about the parameters of the contest....


Your story must satisfy the following basic requirements: it should be well-written; it should include the opening and closing lines; 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. Be creative! Be daring!

Also, remember that you are not trying to rewrite the novel from which we've excised the first and last lines. 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 a classic work of fiction. You may write any kind of story you'd like in any genre — it can be science fiction, fantasy, horror, meta-fiction, poetry, whatever! — 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 may also pick up last year's anthology, Pleasure to Burn, or the three anthologies from 2018, 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 2020 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 2020 Literary Taxidermy Anthology. Honorable-mention authors will have their name included on a special page in the anthology.


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!)