Jeff Hirsch Presents: The Three Settings Contest

Jeff Hirsch is author of The Eleventh Plague, a new dystopian novel that Suzanne Collins called an “excellent, taut debut.” (You can start reading it for a limited time on Figment.) Today, he’s here to present a writing contest, just for you Figs!

Stephen Quinn, the main character in The Eleventh Plague, was born years after a massive world war wiped away nearly everything we think of as civilization. No government. No school. No electricity. He’s never seen a TV show or movie. He’s never slept in a bed. He spends his days traveling through what’s left of the United States with his dad and grandfather, scavenging everything they need to live one day to the next.

Like characters in many dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels, everything Stephen believes, everything he wants, everything he is, was influenced by the world he lives in.

Since setting is so important in dystopian fiction, try using this contest as a way to experiment with how settings can inspire you and how they can influence characters, conflicts, and relationships.

In no more than 1,200 words write a story comprised of three scenes, using these three settings in any order:

– A crowded train station in a major city.
– An abandoned church.
– The Mojave Desert at noon on the hottest day of the year.

How to Enter:
1. Read the full contest rules.
2. Write your entry.
3. On the “Details” tab, in the “Tags” box, put: 3settingscontest.
4. Press “Publish Now.”
5. In about two hours or so, your story will appear among the contest entries, which you can read by clicking the link below.

The deadline for entries is Monday, October 17 at 6:00 p.m. EDT. Then you vote for the finalists until Friday, October 21 at 6:00 p.m. EDT. I’ll be choosing the winner out of the top five (5) hearted finalists! The winner will receive a copy of The Eleventh Plague, a Figment tote bag, and a $35 gift card to Amazon.

Can’t wait to read your entries!

Want more Jeff Hirsch? Read his thoughts about why writing YA is so fun (and challenging) and whether dystopias really are bad for teens.

38 thoughts on “Jeff Hirsch Presents: The Three Settings Contest

    • Hey Emma,

      It really doesn’t matter which city you choose – you can even make the city up if you want to. The setting just has to have the characteristics of a major city: it should be crowded, it should have a variety of people, it should be well-known in your society. Feel free to email me if you have any other questions:


  1. I have another concern! So I posted my story last night, and tagged it “3settingscontest” but now it isn’t showing up! What’s going on?

  2. This looks like fun! Although the settings are a bit of a challenge, I’ve got something in mind. Perhaps a dream, or series thereof. Or maybe an alien apocalypse?

  3. Hi everyone! So excited to see these entries coming in already. Remember to have fun with the settings and let them inspire you. Can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

  4. Can the “crowded train station” be a monorail station? They’re technically called “trains” or “train cars.”

  5. Hey! Say, hypothetically, we had a brief(like minus 30 word) passage that existed outside the three settings,but didn’t add a third one(like an internal monologue). Is that okay?

  6. So I can do the scenes, but does it have to be one character? like say use three different characters in each scene that somehow come together?

  7. I also entered mine like honestly 15-10 minutes before the actual deadline (which is 6pm EDT like it says so it should still count) and it hasn’t shown up :[

  8. Sorry! I forgot my sister was still on her account when I made that comment (the one above this with the name Persona), but now I see my entry so never mind -sorry again!

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