What Makes for Successful Speculative Writing? Words from Judge Emily Pohl-Weary

January 28, 2019 at 12:17 pm  •  Posted in Articles, Blogs, Home Page, Welcome by

Our Speculative Writing Contest deadline has been extended until January 31st, 2019. 

Here’s some words from our current guest judge, Emily Pohl-Weary, on what she looks for in a successful speculative piece:

“The best speculative writing makes me look beyond the often-oppressive reality of life. It transports me to another dimension or teaches me a new way of relating to myself and other beings. It makes my world tilt slightly to accommodate magic and wonder. I love being scared and surprised. I love to laugh. Powerful fantasy and science fiction help me understand the seemingly insurmountable plights of Earthlings by reminding me to look up at the stars and wonder what if…”

Award-winning author Emily Pohl-Weary’s latest books are Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl, a young adult fantasy novel, and Ghost Sick: A Poetry of Witness, a collection of poetry about tragedy and resilience in downtown Toronto. Emily grew up reading science fiction and fantasy. Her biography of her grandmother Judith Merril (who wrote and edited speculative literature in 1950s New York) won a Hugo Award and was a finalist for the Toronto Book Award. Merril’s idea of babysitting was to hand Emily a giant stack of fantasy novels before heading off to chain smoke and work in her office. Emily has also published a middle-grade mystery, two poetry collections, a female superhero anthology, and a serialized girl pirate comic. She is an assistant professor in the Creative Writing Program at University of British Columbia, where she teaches writing for young adults and speculative literature, and she’s working on a new novel. www.emilypohlweary.com

2019 LET DOWN YOUR HAIR Speculative Contest Details

Are you tired of magazines telling you they just don’t print science fiction? Are you worried your poem has too many goblins to be eligible for such-and-such contest? Fret no more, because here is a contest where the only limit (other than the word limit) is your wicked imagination.

Genre: Any! Fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and anything in between is welcome. We just ask that you keep your piece under 1,800 words.

Prize: $1000 grand prize! Second prize will receive $150. Both winning entries will be published in an upcoming issue of EVENT. All entries will be considered for publication.

Cost: $32.95 per entry; includes a one-year subscription to EVENT and all applicable taxes and shipping—a great deal!

Deadline EXTENDED: January 31, 2019 (submitted online)

To enter: Submissions are being accepted via Submittable.


Full Contest Rules:

  • 1,800 word limit on entries.
  • Entries must not have been previously published, either in print or online, been accepted for publication elsewhere.
  • No simultaneous submissions.
  • Do not identify yourself on the entry
  • Multiple entries are allowed; however, each entry must be accompanied by its own $32.95 entry fee.
  • If already subscribed to EVENT, you will receive a one-year extension.
  • If entrants wish feedback and commentary on manuscripts, please check out our Reading Service for Writers.
  • Preliminary judging is done by the Editor and editorial assistants at EVENT.
  • Douglas College students, employees and their immediate family members are not eligible to enter. Douglas College students may enter two years after completing courses.
  • Entries must be submitted online by January 31, 2019.
  • Contest results will be posted on our website and through social media in April. The winning entries will appear in the September 2019 issue of EVENT.
  • For more information, contact us at event@douglascollege.ca or 604-527-5293.


  • Don’t forget to put the title of your piece at the top of the first page.
  • Manuscripts should be double-spaced.
  • Pages should be numbered.