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The 2023 Adrift Short Story Contest


​We are excited to announce Charlie Watts' "Of Course, Obviously, Overwhelmingly" as the winner of our sixth Adrift Short Story Contest! Here's what our guest judge, Daniel Wallace, had to say...


“'Of Course, Obviously, Overwhelmingly' is one the finest stories I’ve read in some time. It succeeds on so many levels. Each sentence is set exactly where it should be, every word gently placed to achieve the ultimate resounding effect. Reading it a second time you can see the art in it: the first time you’re just along for the beautiful ride. It’s a sad story, obviously, as most stories are. But it helps when sad stories are also funny, as this one often is. Somehow, in just a few golden pages, Charlie Watts is able to create (by my count) at least five characters that are good to go for another five stories or more. And that’s my only wish: for more."

We would also like to congratulate runner-ups below, all of whose stories will be published in our 2025 Anthology alongside the winner.

  • "Staggered Breathing" by Phoebe Phelps

  • "Shrapnel" by John Kaufmann

  • "My Grandmother's Affair with the San Andreas Fault" by Sakae Manning

  • "QUIZ: How Forgiving of a Person Are You?" by Aziza Kasumov

Lastly, we want to extend our warmest gratitude to everyone who submitted to the contest, including the thirteen additional semi-finalists and twenty-five quarter-finalists. There were hundreds of wonderful short stories sent in, and many of them deserve—and will find—publication; this year's contest was one of our most competitive. We are ecstatic to continue to publish works of literary fiction that forefront language and take narrative, structural, and thematic risks, and the support of our community of readers and submitters is continually cherished and appreciated. 


  • Submissions will be open from March 1st 2023 to July 31st 2023.

  • Stories are considered by Driftwood editing staff (no outside readers); guest judge reads finalists.

  • Throughout the process, readers will be notified if their story is passed on or reaches the finalist pool. This often results in a quicker response than other contests, where writers often have to wait until everything has been decided.

  • The winner will be announced in November 2023.

  • The winning short story will be published in the 2025 anthology.



  • Fiction only.

  • 1,000-6,000 word limit.

  • A standard, 12-point font is preferred. 

  • The work must not have been previously published.

  • Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but
    please withdraw the work if the story has been
    accepted elsewhere.

  • Submit works written in English only, no translations.

  • Please submit your manuscript in a .doc, .docx, or PDF format.

  • We read submissions blind, so please do not include your name, email, or any identifying characteristics on the manuscript itself.

  • Base submission cost is $11. Additionally, we are offering a $36 dollar submission option that will include a print copy of the anthology in which the winning story is published.



  • The winner will receive $500 dollars and 10 copies of the anthology in which the story appears. The winner will also have the opportunity to be interviewed about their work; the interview will be published alongside the story.

  • If a runner-up is chosen, their work will be offered publication, an accompanying interview, $200, and five copies of the issue in which their work appears.

Past Contest Winners

[2022 Contest]

[2021 Contest]

[2020 Contest]

[2019 Contest]

[2018 Contest]

Guest Judge

Daniel Wallace is author of six novels, including Big Fish (1998) and most recently Extraordinary Adventures (2017). In 2003, Big Fish was adapted and released as a movie, and then in 2013 the book and the movie were mish-mashed together and became a Broadway musical. His novels have been translated into over three-dozen languages. His short stories have appeared in over fifty magazines and periodicals, including Tin House, One Story, Glimmer Train, and The Georgia Review. His stories have been recognized in Best American Short Stories, Best Stories from the South, and read by Levar Burton on his podcast, Levar Burton Reads.

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