The Great Isolation: A Writing Contest

The GPCW is eager to provide our community with an outlet to explore and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic through creative writing. Our contest will be accepting pandemic-themed submissions in four categories – Genre Fiction, Poetry, Screenwriting and Nature Writing.

Overall Contest Theme: The Great Isolation


Timeline: Submissions accepted through Monday, May 25 at 6 p.m. MST; results will be announced during our July Residency.

Eligibility: We welcome submissions from all Colorado residents, new and currently-admitted GPCW students, applicants to the GPCW program, GPCW alumni, and any Colorado university student regardless of residency status.

Submission Guidelines by Category:

The Great Isolation, Fiction

Genre-focused flash fiction up to 1000 words.

Genre fiction may include thrillers, mysteries, procedurals, espionage, romance, science fiction, fantasy, horror, YA, Western or combinations and subgenres therein. Double spaced, 12-point font.

The Great Isolation, Poetry

Poetry in a Pandemic

Up to 40 lines of poetry, in any style or form, that engages with the topic of pandemics.

The Great Isolation, Screenwriting

Survival in a Pandemic

A short script/screenplay (5-10 pages) in standard industry format. 

As long as it adheres to the above prompt, it can be in any genre - drama, comedy, sci-fi, western, thriller, horror, musical, period piece etc.

The Great Isolation, Nature Writing

Nature's power in a pandemic

Any genre welcome, 1-10 pages, double spaced, 12-point font.

Additional Submission Guidelines

Winners and selected finalists will be published in a volume produced by the GPCW Publishing Program. Entrants grant non-exclusive publication rights to Western Colorado University Graduate Program in Creative Writing. All entries must be original and not previously published (in print or online).


Winners will be announced in mid-July. Prizes will be awarded in each category for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

  • 1st place - $250.00
  • 2nd place - $100.00
  • 3rd place – $50.00


Winning submissions and other finalists in all categories will be selected for publication in a forthcoming volume, which will be put together by our Publishing M.A. cohort in July 2020.

 Additional details

If you currently receive financial aid or intend to apply for financial aid for the coming academic year, please note that any cash prize won may affect your financial aid application. If a GPCW student wins a cash prize, our program is ready to connect you with the financial aid office and offer alternative tangible goods as prizes in order to avoid any potential negative impacts on the winner’s financial aid eligibility.