Want to Win the Defy the Dark Contest? Read This!


Are you super excited about our Defy the Dark ContestIf you win, you’ll story will be published in a real-life book from HarperTeen! Amazing, right? You know who else is excited? Defy the Dark editor Saundra Mitchell! And she’s got some great advice for everyone who’s entering the contest . . .


Dear Figs,

My name is Saundra Mitchell, and like you, I’m a writer. I started telling stories in kindergarten and never stopped. I won’t creak my rocking chair at you and tell you how strange (and lonely!) it was to be a writer before the Internet. I didn’t have a critique partner, or a writing group . . . or a word processor, for that matter.

At the same time, I didn’t have thousands of professional voices telling me how hard a career in writing would be. No one told me the odds, so it never occurred to me to give up. You hear about the odds all the time—but I don’t want you to stop trying. I know you can do it. So do HarperTeen and Figment. That’s why they’re sponsoring the Defy the Dark New Writer Contest.

Defy the Dark is my first anthology as an editor. And for one of you, it will be your first anthology as a professional author. There’s no mystery involved here, I’ll tell you exactly what I’m looking for in a winning story.

I want the truth. Not a true story, not something that really happened to you. But a story that genuinely scared you when you wrote it. Or made you laugh so hard you cried. Or left you breathless and falling in love. Don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out what genre I like best. I like them all; I love them when they’re really, really good.

So be fearless. Be daring. Be strong. But most of all, be the writer that you are, with the voice that’s inside you. This anthology isn’t just about things that happen in the dark—it’s about the people we are when we defy it.

You have four thousand words and a month. I know you can do it. I know I’ll see you on the other side, so get ready, get set, and write.



15 thoughts on “Want to Win the Defy the Dark Contest? Read This!

  1. Wow! Thank you so much for the advice! I was kind of fretting over what I should write but now I think it will be a bit easier. I’ll just write what comes to me.

  2. “This anthology isn’t just about things that happen in the dark—it’s about the people we are when we defy it.”
    To me this was the most encouraging sentence in all of it. I was so worried about what I would have happen in the dark in my story, but when I read this I could breathe a little easier. Thank you Ms. Sandra!

  3. I have a question regarding the rules I’ve read – do I have to live in America in order to enter this contest? Or can I still enter if I live in the UK?
    Sorry to sound silly or foolish, but I wanted to make sure as I would love to enter, but I don’t want to spend time on something if I can’t actually enter it.

  4. Thanks for putting this up! It really helps, knowing my story has a fair shot since everyone’s story is being read. Good luck to all entries!

    Keep Writing!

  5. Amazing! Thanks so much for the advice Ms.Sandra. I was wondering what to write about given the whole concept of “Defy the Dark” but this definitely helped.

    Good luck to all participants!

  6. I am so excited to ener the contest! Your words really helps me and I hope you love my entry, and all others of course!

  7. This is really inspiring! I’m probably not entering the contest, but this is the kind of advice that can be used for any writing project. Thank you so much!

  8. The fact that the article’s link said “Rosebud” cracked me up sooo much. I will try to think of something to write for this contest.

  9. Can we use mythical characters when we’re wrigting the story that’s simular to something that’s hapened to us? Like vamps, werewolves, fairys, or something like that?


    ps. that really helped me!

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