Writers of the Future

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Writers of the Future (WOTF) is a science fiction and fantasy story contest that was originated by L. Ron Hubbard in the early 1980s. Hubbard characterized the contest as a way of "giving back" to the field that had defined his professional writing life. The contest has no entry fee and is the highest-paying contest for amateur science-fiction and fantasy writers. Notable past winners of WOTF include Stephen Baxter, Karen Joy Fowler, James Alan Gardner, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Jay Lake, Michael H. Payne, Patrick Rothfuss, Robert Reed, Dean Wesley Smith, Sean Williams, Dave Wolverton, Nancy Farmer, and David Zindell.[1] The winning stories are published in the yearly anthology L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of Future.[2] The contest enjoys a favorable reputation in the science fiction community, although its connection with the Church of Scientology has caused some controversy.


Contest rules and procedures

The Writers of the Future (WOTF) contest may be entered quarterly, and is open to authors who have no, or few, professional publications. The Contest rules state that entrants cannot have had published "a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. Professional publication is deemed to be payment, and at least 5,000 copies, or 5,000 hits." Eligible works are stories up to 17,000 words in length. Poems, screenplays, non-fiction, etc., are not eligible.[3]

Manuscripts are blind-judged (with names deleted), and are separated out in quarterfinal and semifinal award rounds by the Coordinating Judge (currently K. D. Wentworth, previously Dave Wolverton during much of the 1990s, and originally Algis Budrys). Eight finalists are sent to a panel of professional sf writers, who determine the top three awards. Prizes are $1000 (first place), $750 (second) and $500 (third). The process is then repeated the next quarter. At the end of the contest year, the four quarterly first place stories compete for a separate annual grand prize, the "Gold Award," which includes an additional $5000. The first, second and third place winners and often a selection of the other finalist stories are published annually, for which the writers receive additional compensation for publication rights.[3] Thus, a grand prize-winning author can make over $6000 for a single story - more than many writers receive for a first novel.

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