The Genre-Bending Cinder Contest!

Sometimes, the combination of two things that seem wildly different leads to something incredible. Ice cream and pretzels, for instance. Jumbo and shrimp. Grown men and My Little Pony.

Marissa Meyer’s new novel Cinder–which you can start reading for a limited time here on Figment–integrates two seemingly at-odds literary genres: classic fairy tale and futuristic cyberpunk. Cinder is a part-human-part-cyborg (with a tiny, long-since-outgrown cybernetic foot) who runs a mechanical repair shop and lives under the oppressive thumb of her stepmother. When Peony, her loving stepsister, catches the incurable plague that is decimating the human population,  Cinder is sold away as a plague research test subject–which is essentially a death sentence. Once she makes it to the labs, hidden truths slowly come to light. Who is Cinder–and what does she have to do with the future of her planet?

Inspired by this (AH-mazing) mash-up of genres, we want you to write a story (in 2,000 words or fewer) that integrates elements of two or more seemingly unrelated genres. It could be a high-school YA drama set on a space station. It could be a story of magical realism in a contemporary urban setting. Need inspiration for your mash-up? Pick one genre from column A, one from column B, and get cracking! Note: These categories are completely optional! Feel free to make-up your own.

Column A:

  • Science Fiction
  • Cyberpunk
  • Black Comedy
  • Magical Realism
  • Issue Fiction
  • Steampunk
Column B:

  • Romance
  • Western
  • Historical
  • Fairy Tale
  • Memoir
  • Paranormal

How To Enter:
1. Read the full rules here.
2. Create an account on
3. Start a new writing. Your entry must be 2,000 words or fewer.
4. Tag that writing with cindercontest on the Details tab.
5. Press “Publish Now.”
6. You should receive a pop-up confirmation of your entry, and in about two hours or so, your piece should appear among the submissions.

You have until January 17, 11:59 p.m. ET to enter your submission. Voting will run until January 24, 11:59 p.m. ET, at which point the 10 most-hearted entries will be sent to Marissa Meyer, author of Cinder, who will read the entries and choose our winners. First place will win a copy of Cinder and a $15 Amazon gift card. Second place will win a copy of Cinder and a Figment tote bag. Third place will win a copy of Cinder.

Click here to read the finalist entries. Click here to see who won!

34 thoughts on “The Genre-Bending Cinder Contest!

  1. Sorry, this is most likely going to make me look foolish, but what is Issue Fiction? Is it fiction based mostly on the conflict of the story? I really don’t know what it would be other wise…

  2. I’m trying to submit my entry, and when I tag it “cindercontest” I don’t get a pop-up verification. Also, when I search “cindercontest” under tags, mind does not show up. What am I doing wrong?

  3. If we want to use “fairy tale”, can we mix some fairy tales up (take characters from several, for instance, and throw them together) and have it still count as the fairy tale genre?

  4. Wow – love the concept of mixing up genres. Especially twisting fairytales.
    I’m from the UK and in the rules it says that the contest is only for people in the US. Can I enter just for fun?
    And will you be doing some contests that aren’t just US-based sometime soon? It feels like it’s been ages.

    • Hi Kate,

      You may certainly respond to the contest prompt, but if you become a finalist, your entry will unfortunately be automatically disqualified.

  5. Does “magical realism” mean that magic is real? Because my story involves a fairy, and I want to mix that genre with romance.

  6. It is unbelievably unfair that these competitions are not international! Surely it’s not that difficult to read something from someone who lives in the UK and if they win to send them the prize?
    Is there NO contest that is international?D:

    • Hi Rose,

      Yes! As long as your entry shows up on the contest page and it has been submitted within the entry period stated in the official rules, it qualifies.

    • Hi Rose,

      Not a silly question at all! You can “heart” your story once by clicking the heart icon below your story. You can heart other entries by doing the same. Good luck!

  7. Hello! I’ve had a great time working on my story (The Nebula Realm) for this contest. My story is actually a serial, and since the voting period ended yesterday, I was wondering if I could “continue” working on it and exceed the 2,000 word limit. Obviously I don’t expect the new sections to be considered for the contest, I just want to make sure what has been written won’t be disqualified because of the word count post voting period… Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Hi Kaket,

      You may work on more chapters, but please do not do so until after the finalists have been announced. If you are a finalist, please do not start adding to your word count until the winners are posted, or you will be disqualified for exceeding the word count. If you still have questions, please email

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