Don’t Turn Around Short-Story Contest

Don’t Turn Around, by Michelle Gagnon, is the story of two teen hackers, Noa and Peter, who make an unlikely team. Noa is an orphan and a loner, living off the grid. Peter is a rich kid and leader of a hacker alliance. They are thrown together when AMRF, a shady corporation, threatens their lives. Noa and Peter have to use their hacking skills to unveil the dark secrets that could take down AMRF—and protest their lives from danger.

We’re hosting a short-story contest based on the adventures of Noa and Peter. Get ready, channel your inner activist, and start writing.

Your challenge: In 1,200 words or less, write a story about teen rebels with a cause.

How to Enter:

1. Read the full rules.
2. Create an account on
3. Start a new writing of 1,200 words or less.
4. Tag your writing with HacktavistContest 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 Monday, September 17 at 11:59 p.m. ET to enter your story. Voting will run until Tuesday, September 25 at 5:00 p.m. ET. The top ten most-hearted finalists will be sent to Michelle Gagnon for judging!

The Grand Prize winner will receive an 13-inch 2.5 GHz MacBook Pro and a signed copy of Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon. 

Five runners-up will each receive a signed copy of Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon.

Contest Entries

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84 thoughts on “Don’t Turn Around Short-Story Contest

  1. joy, another hearted contest with a cool prompt that i will lose.=(
    not that i’m entering. i learned my lesson on the speechless contest.

    • i totally agree… the popular people with a lot of followers always win. 🙁 i wish they actually had a WRITING contest *not* a popularity contest.

    • I agree. We seriously need to get rid of heart-based contests on Figment. Most of it isn’t even about quality- it’s about which submissions get viewed the most while everything else gets buried underneath the massive pile of stories, and who does the most heart swaps. Figment seriously needs to end this issue and make all contests based entirely on quality, not on hearts.

    • Talk about a popularity contest. Reason I don’t enter? No one would heart it because I only have three or so followers.

      Where’s the fun in losing because you don’t have enough followers or likes? It should be based on the actual writing.

      Not entering, that’s for sure.

    • Completely agree. These contests aren’t fair or even a proper analysis of talent or quality. It makes sense that the best piece should win, right? Yet so often the best piece ends up with a below average number of hearts.

    • It’s not about how many followers you have. Heart contests have and always will be about how many times you swap.

      People with a lot of followers may get a few reads out of them, but definitely not enough reads to make the finals in a contest.

      I have what might count as a lot of followers, and I’ve always had to work my tail end off in heart contests. And that was /before/ they got so bad. I don’t even want to know what shenanigans go on now.

      • I really appreciated the Defy the Dark contest because it wasn’t heart based. I feel confident that the best entry will win, and that’s a good feeling, even if it isn’t mine.

        I’ve won third before in a heart-based contest, and it felt great, but I did so many swaps it was disgusting. I felt like a major cheater and it was exhausting, so I’m done with heart contests 🙂

    • I haven’t entered a contest since Figment made heart based contests. The quality of writing doesn’t even matter anymore- just who makes the most annoying wall swap comments.

    • I know! I’ve given up on heart based contests! It annoys me SO much when they base it on hearts! I will never win one of these, so I stopped trying. The people with alot of friends and followers ALWAYS get it. 🙁

        • Honestly, I usually couldn’t care less about heart-based contests, since I know I won’t enter. But they’re giving away a COMPUTER to someone, and the people eligible for it are chosen based on hearts?

          Nope. No. Done.

        • Maybe someone should create a group about being against it and try to get it noticed with getting members to join it and maybe then the Figment people will hear us and do something about it finally?

          • We understand that some users dislike the heart-based system, and while we are unable to provide many short story contests where every entry is read by a member of staff (the sheer word count of entries is prohibitive), we try and offer frequent flash fiction contests where every entry is read by someone on the Figment editorial team as an alternative.

    • I see many people say they dislike heart-based contests (and this will be the first I’ve entered because I’m new) but the way I see it, is its practice if you are going to be a published author because I’ve talked with one before and you will have to be willing advertise your books instead of just leaving that on the publishing company.
      Sorry if I’m offending anyone.

      • Good luck to you then, I agree with everyone here, a Mac isn’t worth a heart contest. Too much asking for swaps, where users will most likely ask you to read their entry for the same contest. So the only ones who win are the ones who guilt trip people into reading theirs without a read back. I’m mean unless you actually have good writing, and is well known through the figment community, you won’t win.
        But good luck even so. Maybe someone who deserves to win will get it.

  2. As a computer tech, i though: Oh, a contest about computer hacking… well no, it isn’t exactly, but it is cool none-the-less.

  3. Darn it! :'(

    Why are all the best prompts for heart based contests? ;_;

    Oh well, I might put in an entry. There’s absolutely no way I’ll be doing all the swapping I did last time. With school starting up I just don’t have the time…

    • I agree. I’m just too busy with school and work to spend my time begging for swaps; I really do dislike heart-based contests, since I have seen many pieces being selected as finalists that did not deserve it. I understand that it is difficult to read hundreds of entries and rank them indiviudally, I get that, but these kinds of contests really aren’t fair to a lot of writers, and, quite frankly, swapping gets exhausting.

      • Yep…I saw a suggestion thread that at least asked for the contests to start heart voting AFTER the entering period is over, so people who entered earlier don’t have the head start advantage.

        (Basically, have another meter which counts hearts for the voting and contest period only, separate from the normal meter.)

        I think it’s great and would be a step closer to making a heart-based contest fairer…

  4. I love this prompt, and I’m going to enter. I hate these heart-based contests, and have never entered one, but I’m going to give it a try this time. I’ll do heart swaps if I have to, since I’m not a popular writer or anything on here. D:

      • Doesn’t matter. If you don’t spend every waking second on here, you wouldn’t get it. :/ Sad, but true. I’ve seen stories in the finals of heart contests that I thought were atrocious. I never feel bad if I’m beaten by a story that I enjoy reading, but if it’s obvious the winner sold their soul for a heart, it’s not even worth it.

  5. I have a few questions. In the story, does it have to be about a pair of group of teens rebelling, or can it be just one? And could their own personal freedom count as a cause?

    • As long as it answers the prompt, you’re fine! If you’re concerned that your idea does not answer the prompt, your best bet is to tweak it to fit.

  6. I think it’s really unfair that your contests are only open to those in the US and Canada. I live in the UK and would love to have taken part in so many of your contests. Will you ever do any international competitions??

  7. Oh look another contest I CAN’T enter.
    Everyone complains that it’s a heart contest, and from what I’ve heard they are pretty bad.
    But I’ve never had the chance to enter one.
    I’m English.
    Venting Over

  8. Wow, Figment, are you serious? Why on EARTH would you give a $1,200 laptop to some wannabe writer based on how many HEARTS they’ve earned on a writing piece? It… just doesn’t make sense to me. Give it to someone who deserves it. GOSH.

    • I hope one of the ten finalists have a worthy story, at least. That laptop is pretty tempting, haha. My older brother has a Macbook Pro and an Air (His room’s the Apple Store), and I just drool looking at them. (My parents never get me anything! All I have is an ipad.)

    • i know, huh? i nearly died when i saw the grand prize. um, i would think that this would be a quality based one too, but it’s not. **long sigh

  9. Wow. I love this prompt. Teen rebels with a cause! It sounds like Les Miz!:) (Well, they’re in their twenties, but whatever.) But a heart-based contest? Wahhh! School’s started, and I don’t have time for a bunch of swaps! And I don’t do heart swaps. So maybe I’ll enter. Bu tI won’t swap. I’ll just lose. 🙁 Or maybe I’ll write the story fo rthi sprompt bu tnot enter the contest.

  10. Ok, so I’m new to figment and the only contest I’ve entered is the defy the dark, which is juged by one person. I entered this contest with an entry called “Collector of souls” but am a bit confused about the heart based system. From what I can gather, you need hearts to get recognized, but need to be recognized to get hearts!?! how can i get hearts (if this is a silly question, pardon my noobieness)? Some advice please?

  11. I know I’m not going to win b/c no one ever hearts my stories…what is it with these hearts anyways? It seems like something from Kindergarten, where little kids get stars from other students b/c everybody likes them. I’m not going to beg for hearts. My story is either good or it isn’t. I don’t want to win based on popularity…I’m sorry, but I just graduated school…the popularity thing is a little old.

  12. It would be really fantastic if Figment would listen to the people that use this site and reduce (or even get rid of!) the heart-based contests. They aren’t fun, heart swapping is lame and you don’t know if a seriously great writer is being overlooked just because they don’t have followers or don’t do swaps.

    I refuse to do swaps – I like reading entries, and if I genuinely think it’s a good story, I’ll heart it. I would like people to do the same to me – read my stuff, and heart it if you like it. Hearting out of some obligation because someone hearted your stuff is ridiculous.

    Reduce or end popularity contests, Figment, and start actually supporting and looking for great writers.

  13. I am new to figment and was initially going to take a crack at Defy the Dark, just did not make the cut off in time. My friend however did and worked very hard to get her piece done on time only to find at least 200 more entered AFTER the cut off. Now I just noticed the “rebel” prompt and would consider entering however the initial first crack at being selected is based on who gets “hearted” the most???? This is very discouraging. I completely agree with the others who have been here much longer, that is no way to run a contest.. I have just been transported back to high school. How about quality gets you to top 10?

  14. Hey,
    I was wondering why my story hasn’t shown up on this page yet…i published it around 3 days ago, and its definitely tagged. Any thoughts? Its called Sacrifice

  15. Dear Figment,
    I know everyone hates the heart contests. I tried to win one once and I felt dirty about bothering so many people to heart my story. But I know it’s the best you can do with so many people entering in the contests now. We, the figgies, aren’t helping much by complaining, y’all. If you’re going to complain to some very busy people, the least we can do is think of a solution: is there a better way to do these contests? We need to think of ways! I’m starting a forum discussion on it. If we want change, we need to have an idea about the change!
    A Slightly Irked Figgy Who Wants all the Complaining to Stop

  16. Oh how I would love to join, but you, here I am all the way across the world, not in the eligible writing zones. Good luck to all contestants!

  17. Does it have to be a huge cause, such as civil war or can it be something not as major or fought for- such as Environmental causes or animal abuse?
    Just wondering about that,

  18. I’m not sure I’m going to enter since it is a heart-based contest. But I have a part one of a book/short story that fits this exact prompt. Should I go for it? I’m not even sure if its under 1200 words, so I don’t wanna type it up if it’s not worth it. ?

  19. WHHYY??? Not a fan of heart contests. Im not well known and not many ppl headt my stuff because its SOO delressing and dark. But I NEED a new laptop. Mine is 10 yrs old, holds no charge, no internet, doesnt show up on the company’s archive, company no longer exists, word 2000, save me!!! We cant afford a new one, thus the frantic. Have to enter. Must win. I have like no time for swaps considering I won’t be in town because of a trip during the thing. But PLEASE HEART IT!!!! I enter nearly every contest and no one reads my stuff. 🙁

  20. It’s called The End of it All. It’s chapter from the book I’m writing. You will have to look under my name to find anything.

    • Hey Beth!

      As long as your story:
      -was created after the announcement of the contest
      -is tagged correctly
      -is published (not saved as a draft)

      You’re entered!

  21. This is ridiculous. People aren’t hearting stories they like. They heart stories that authors say they’ll heart back. Plus I thought the contest was concerning the characters Noa and Peter not our individual characters

  22. Just to clarify- Although the entry period is over, can i make an edit on my story or not? In other words, can i edit while the contest is in the voting phase?

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