Den of Eek 2: a call for short story writers

News Den Of Geek 12 Jul 2013 - 22:46

We’re holding another storytelling event in September, and we want you to be part of it…

Did you hear the one about the escaped murderer with a hook for a hand? Or the story about disappearing hitchhiker? We’re planning our second annual Den of Eek! storytelling event, and this year, the theme is urban legends. Specifically, creepy urban legends.

Like last year, we’re opening up some spots for new talent. If you’re an up-and-coming writer and you can tell us a story that’ll make us check under our beds before going to sleep at night, we’ve got an opportunity for you…

On Wednesday 18 September, we’ll be bringing together the best storytellers we can find to give us their version of an urban legend in a central London venue. If you’d like to be one of them, here’s what you need to do: write a 500 word story on the theme of “urban legends” and email it to us at by 23 August.

We’ll pick our favourites, and invite the writers to come to the event to read their story. So you’ll need to be free on the evening of 18 September, be able to get to central London, and be willing to get up and read. We’ll help with travel expenses, and even buy you a drink afterwards!

More details on the event, including speakers and ticket availability, will be coming very soon. In the meantime, why not check out our e-book of short stories from last year’s Den of Eek? All proceeds go to our Geeks vs Cancer charity fund, so you’ll be helping a good cause by buying it.

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Is this open to US residents who can pay most of their way?

Um, depends what you mean by "most of their way"!

Obviously it's a charity event, and we're trying to raise as much money as possible for that. Plane tickets are way outside our budget!

Just, like, transport from Cardiff?

Really depends how much it costs. Like I said, it's a charity event, so we haven't got much money to throw around; we can contribute a bit, but not much.

(I'm really not trying to be a dick about this, but ultimately, it's a bit of fun and a fundraiser!)

Oh, no, I feel like a dick for not phrasing my question better. It was more about whether US residents could enter. I was just kinda curious about the travel thing. I completely understand it being a fundraiser. Sorry for sucking at writing in the comments for a writing topic!

Really enjoyed the mini-book that came out of last year's one. Was just slightly disappointed that the winners were all already published writers - which didn't feel like it was in the spirit of the 'finding new talent' remit of the competition.

That said - I will look forward to it again this year (can't get to London easily but will happily buy the story book)...

And once again can I please make an appeal to read some of the entries which never made it to the night? You could make more money for the charity from publishing those too!

The entries we picked were the three strongest stories that were sent in as part of the competition. I expect lots of the people who sent in stories had been published elsewhere before, but there's no requirement for that not to be the case, and they're all up-and-coming writers, rather than established talent, so it's well within the spirit of finding new talent.

They were good stories which I enjoyed reading and I'm sure they were the best ones which were submitted. But it does seem odd that I happened to own a novel written by one of the 'new talent' before the competition was even announced (The Narrows by James Brogden).

Another of the winners has two whole pages of results on Amazon plus runs their own publishing house and the final winner has been writing Doctor Who short stories for Big Finish for years.

That's not what I would describe as NEW talent. I don't begrudge them the win as they all entertained me but don't get the hopes of first time writers up by inviting them to a competition looking for new talent only to dash their hopes by choosing people who do this for a job. New talent didn't stand a fighting chance and that is a shame.

Question: Do you want our own variation on a well known urban myths or do you want us to create a new one? Or could it be either?


I'm not going to argue over it. First time writers have just as much chance of being included as anyone else, if their stories are good; that's really all we're judging this on.

And that is fair enough - everyone has a fair chance based on the merits of their submission. Just don't say (as you do above) "we’re opening up some spots for new talent" when it's not true!

It can't be a surprise that the best stories in that competition happened to come from up-and-coming writers who had prior recognition/published elsewhere; the two go hand in hand, surely. If the writers are good enough to win the Eek reader competition, it makes sense that they're good enough to have been noticed for previous work, too.

If a completely unpublished writer had sent in one of the best entries, I'm absolutely sure it would have won, no question. Welcoming new, talented writers is something we take pride in on the site. There's no conspiracy to uncover here.

For a charity event that takes an awful lot of hard work to run at no profit to the organiser, I'd hope you could view the competition in the spirit in which it's intended. Thanks.

I'm not trying to be argumentative and I'm not saying there is a conspiracy.

I am saying "Be fair in your description of the competition. Don't advertise it as being for 'New Talent' if you're then going to then award the coveted prizes to a novelist, a publisher and a Big Finish writer."

It's either open to new talent - in which case you disallow entries from published writers - or it's open to all comers - in which case you don't advertise your competition as being for New Talent as in the article above.

I deliberately did not enter last year as I've had works published but I encouraged a friend to write for it who is not a professional writer.

He was nervous about putting pen to paper as he'd never transcribed any of his ideas before. He was also encouraged by the promise that it was an even playing field, thinking he had a chance against a slew of new and first time writers.

Needless to say we were both surprised to see two names we recognised in the list of winners.

Talented? Undoubtedly. New? No.


It's a shame you put shy people off by insisting they read their own work.

I'm sure some people would love to enter, but won't because they dislike public speaking.

After all being a new writer is hard enough as it is, the fear of critique etc, without having to stand there as people listen to it.

So really it should be a call for outgoing short story writers, unless you can offer a reader for people who don't want to read themselves.

Can you enter the competion even if you can't make the event in September?

I'm happy to read but it is a really busy time at work and I'm not sure I'll get the day off to travel. Thanks!

It's quite clear that this is a competition to enter so that you can take part in a unique storytelling event that's for charity. If you want to write a short story and not read it there are plenty of other competitions out there.

This is a rare opportunity to read at a super-cool thing alongside established authors that a lot of people would appreciate. If you don't fancy reading then that's fine but I'm sorry this just isn't for you. There are loads of other things that, no doubt, are. Why make it sound like Den Of Geek are at fault here?

By the same token, would you dare to respond to a competition calling for romance writers with "But I write horror - why can't I enter?" or - taking the logic further - would you walk into a vegetarian restaurant and demand that they cook you a steak because you have a fear of greens?

I can't believe so many people find so many reasons to complain about something that's a really nice, cool thing that a website has done for charity and for its readers.

Since the prize is to read your story at the event I doubt that very much.

Yeah, as Paul said - there's no prize here, other than being part of the event, so if you're not available, there's not much point entering, I'm afraid!

There's been quite a lot of feedback with regards Den Of Eek!, and to be honest, it can't help but leave us just a little deflated. When we announced the ebook version, the comments ended up trading blows over an appropriate format, and how we'd chosen the wrong one.

Here, the comments are far more constructive, but I would ask you to bear in mind that:

* This is us trying to raise money for charity
* We don't take a penny, and for Sarah in particular, this takes an awful lot of time to put together
* It's very hard to put on an event that's all things to all people, and we're a little bit damned if we do, damned if we don't.

We're committed to new and up and coming talent (and we don't asked for a CV or proof when people apply - we just go by the stories we're sent). Furthermore we're trying something here to raise money. And if anyone has suggestions for further events that could build on this, they'd be very, very much appreciated. My email address is

Many thanks for your support. And thanks in particular to the Den Of Eek! team, who have done such a wonderful job raising a good chunk of money for charity.

Simon Brew
Den Of Geek

Lovely initiative, guys! Count me in!

Thank you for your editorial Simon.

My intention, by questioning the terms and conditions of the competition, was never to upset anyone so if it has done that then I apologise. I just wanted clarification of the rules which has now been so graciously provided - so thank you for that.

The eBook argument was ridiculous - I don't have a Kindle but I still bought it and it was well worth the price tag once I had converted it.

Please keep up the good work and continue to support the fight against this vile illness which has affected the lives of so many of us. If I can get to the event I will - if I can't then I will still buy the inevitable eBook!

And I'm going to make a request I have made before (one last time and then I will shut up about it)...

Please, please, please can you release an eBook of the stories that never made the final? I read a few of the submissions which never made it and they were great. You'd make money for charity, the other writers would get recognition, your readers would get another collection of great ghost stories - everyone's a winner!

Thanks for the reply. As I noted above, your response was constructive: no apology necessary.

I would say that we didn't know, when we selected the writers for the last Den Of Eek!, that some had been published in any form. But still, I'd maintain that we offered, at the event, a real springboard, and we're keen to do so again.

We're certainly looking at ebook options!


Completed my story this afternoon and, as with last year's entry, when I'd finished writing it was more than twice the allowed length - I had to make some heartbreaking decisions in the editing but... even if I do say so myself, I think it's a corker!

Having a few friends proofread it for me and then all I need is the DoG judges to agree with me!!!

Has anyone else had 'fun' getting their story to fit the 500 word limit?

Have shoved my entry in for this, time will tell...Did NOT realise how quickly 500 words fly by! Quite fun working to a limit though and the brevity on show will certainly make for a more entertaining night.

It's really tough if you get caught up in your story isn't it?

Before I knew it I found myself at 1200 words and the unenviable task of choosing which 700 to cut out!

Yeah, I was over a thousand on the first draft too. The first time I looked at my word count it was already at 700!

Up for helping with eBook assembly and conversion to assorted formats if you're after some assistance.

We're thinking about the event more than the ebook at this point, but thanks anyway!

Can more than one story be submitted per entrant?


Quick question.

If I were to enter a 500 word version of a story for the Den of Eek night, could I submit the longer version for the e-book?

Hmm, better not to think that way. The 500 word version should be your story.

I've submitted mine already but I still have another couple of questions - hope you don't mind me asking...

Do the writers retain the copyright of the story? If so would you prefer it if we didn't publish the stories elsewhere/enter them into other competitions?

The reason I ask, like the secret to easy origami, is twofold.

1. I would like to submit it for inclusion in a horror comic which will not be published until October 2014.
2. I would like to start a blog where I can publish all my finished stories.

But I don't want to tread on any toes...

Reframed, cut down and coming soon to an inbox near you.

Yes, writers retain the copyright, and you can do what you like with them, but it'd be nice if they didn't appear anywhere until after the event!

Thanks Sarah.

Is there any preferences on swear words and the like?

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