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Spooky Short Story Contest

Submit your story for a chance to have it presented at Headless Horseman!

“…My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me…” – Mary Shelley

Just over 200 years ago, on a cold and rainy summer afternoon in a Swiss villa, Mary Shelley took up a challenge: write an original ghost story. Two years later, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus was published. All across Indiana this year, organizations are revisiting and celebrating Shelley’s classic novel.

In celebration of this literary anniversary, Conner Prairie is throwing down its own writerly gauntlet. We want you to scare us! Write your best spooky short story – ghosts, monsters, creepy old houses, etc. – and it might go down in Halloween history! The winner in each category will have their story shared in a special presentation during our annual Headless Horseman event in October, as well as receive two (2) free passes to the venue for that evening!

Story Contest Submission Guidelines


All ages are at time of submission. Entrants may be asked for proof of age.

  • 6 years old or younger
  • 7-12 years old
  • 13-18 years old
  • 19+


1. Minimum story length is six words, maximum length is 1500 words, excluding title. Stories that exceed or do not meet limits will be rejected.
2. STORY CONTENT MUST BE ORIGINAL. Avoid retellings of classic or well-known tales.
3. By submitting, you are stating that you are the sole author of the work and that your submission has not been published before. Work posted on blogs, message boards, personal websites, etc. is all considered previously published material.
4. Your tale MUST contain elements of classic horror/ghosts stories.
5. Stories must meet all submission criteria (see below).
6. Conner Prairie employees, Board members, Affiliates and members of their immediate families are not eligible to enter.
7. At our discretion, Conner Prairie reserves the right not to name a winner in each category.

Submission Guidelines

1. All submissions must be received by five o’clock p.m. (5:00pm) EST on Saturday, September 30, 2018. Those received after will be rejected, no exceptions.
2. Entries should be submitted in Word (doc./docx.) or PDF format.
3. All entries must be accompanied by a completed entry form. Stories accompanied by incomplete forms or submitted without a form will be rejected.
4. One submission per entrant and age category only.
5. By submitting, you are agreeing to all contest rules.

Announcement of Winners

Winners will be announced via Conner Prairie social media on Monday, October 5, 2018.


All winners will be chosen by a blind reading team composed of Conner Prairie staff. All decisions regarding contest winners are final.


All rights to story and its use belong to Conner Prairie after submission. Rights revert back to the author 10/31/2019.