NIC’s annual 3-hour Fiction contest returns as summer series

Writers are invited to put their creative skills to the test in the NIC 3-hour fiction contest, being held in a new, virtual format this year.

The 12th annual contest challenges writers to deliver a short story in just three-hours, based on a prompt that will be hidden in a video, posted online.

“As in past contests, it might be a psychological problem deep in the heart of the protagonist, or a conflict for control of the universe... or the last roll of toilet paper,” said Steve Schoenhoff, NIC English instructor and contest organizer.

This year the contest is spread out, with three different opportunities throughout the summer.

“I wanted to give writers an opportunity to show what they can do under pressure,” said Schoenhoff.  “June is fiction, July poetry, and August fiction.”

Writers will be given access to the prompt for a designated three hour window, starting at 6 pm on June 28 at

They’ll work from home and submit the completed work to the English Department website.

A panel of NIC faculty and staff will judge the stories based on readability, creativity and the degree to which they weave the required elements into the story.

First prize is $100 and the winning story may be published on the English department’s website.

Schoenhoff brought the competition to the Comox Valley 12 years ago after hearing about Vancouver’s famous three-day novel-writing contest. There were more than 40 entries in NIC’s very first contest.

“It’s amazing what can happen when you lock people in a time bubble and ask them to write their way out,” said Schoenhoff. “The quality of work has been great every year.”

Writers can choose to sign up for one, two or all three contests. The registration deadline for the first contest is June 27. The contest is June 28.

Interested writers can register by emailing Schoenhoff at Registration may include a donation to the NIC Foundation. Proceeds support creative writing students through the Stephen Schoenhoff Creative Writing Scholarship.

NIC is offering two creative writing courses this fall, English 107: Fiction and Non-fiction, English 108: Poetry and Drama. English 209: Fiction will be offered in the winter term.

Registration for the fall term is open now. Learn more about all NIC’s English courses at

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