horror writing


The horror writing contest leans on the use of creative storytelling to support the expansion of the genre. Horror writing as it is represented is diverse, and can lean on several forms of creative writing as it works to express its message. The purpose of this category is to provide a platform where all horror writers can gain exposure for the message they work to share with the international horror community. Literary works are awarded to expand that effort. Below are the submission requirements for the horror writing contest:

  • You must be the original writer on the project. Any unauthorized use of another's work is considered both plagiarism and copyright infringement. Judges will explore whether the written project is original, being sold in mass production, or if the represented characters and elements are a reproduction of another artists original or copyrighted literal works, so be sure you are the original creator.

  • All writing submissions for this category must not exceed 25 pages, and must be a completed project. In other words, we are not accepting unfinished/published written works of much larger projects.

  • Submissions must be accompanied with a horror short story cover/poster to be presented in lieu of showcasing the writing manuscript if chosen as an official selection or CTDA and or CTEA recipient. Due to the sensitivity of the writing pursuit, the story will not be presented on our website. This protects your writing and allows you to preserve your right to publish it later without spoilers.

  • All short stories must lean on the horror genre and the various subgenres that support it. That said all submissions must also be original stories, and not a retelling or portion of an already published literary project.

  • Lastly, all horror stories must be submitted in PDF format, and formatted respectively. 

  • Each project submission must be complete, please review the submission checklist provided on the submission page.


All writing project submissions  are judged by the CTFF Judging Panel that determines the CTDA and CTEA recipients for each award category based on evaluation of the following elements:

  • Concept: The idea behind the story. What the film or series is about.

  • Presentation: Standard writing format (12 pt. Courier font, correct margins, etc.), as well as spelling, punctuation and grammar.

  • Structure: Refers to the order of ideas; the progression of your writing should feel smooth with similar points linked together.

  • Plot: The actions, events, conflicts, and turning points that propel the story forward. How the story unfolds (points for originality/unpredictability).

  • Pacing: The timing of the action, unfolding of plot elements and character development.

  • Characters: Personalities that are distinctive, compelling, multi-layered, and unpredictable. A protagonist and antagonist with clear and active goals.

  • Dialogue: Voices that are natural, succinct, and unique to each character. Use of language that effectively reveals character and moves the story forward.

  • Theme: The underlying message of the story as revealed through plot, dialogue, and visual elements.

  • Style: The overall quality of the writing. Narrative that is distinct, literary, and effectively conveys the mood or “creepy feel” of the horror story.

  • Commercial Appeal: The audience appeal and marketability for the writer's particular use of the genre or niche.

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