The Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition

There are many kinds of mashup fiction, some more derivative than others, and one of my favourite sets of transformative mashups has just made another appearance. The Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition has been running every year since 2018, and the deadline for this year’s competition is 4 June 2020.

The task? Write a story of any format under 2500 words, using one of the competition template documents. The winner takes home $500 USD and secures publication in the Literary Taxidermy Anthology, published by Regulus Press.

The catch? Every story starts and ends the same way, with the opening and closing lines from another well-known book.

Where the stories go in between is entirely up to the author, and previous entries have run the gamut from horror to “mystery, science fiction, meta-fiction, erotica, poetry, and satire”. Ray Bradbury, Dashiell Hammett, Lewis Carroll, and Dorothy Parker have all been the targets of literary taxidermy. This year there are two options: the opening and closing lines of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

A squat grey building of
only thirty-four stories.

South-south-west, south,
south-east, east….

or the opening and closing lines of Toni Morrison’s Beloved

124 was spiteful.


The judges include established writers and poets Nisi Shawl (who Frankenfiction readers may know from her afropunk alternate history novel Everfair), Catherine Barnett, Kelley Eskridge, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Jerry Large, Brian Parks, Michael Pronko, and Melora Wolff. Some have been judging the competition since it launched back.

You can find more information about the competition here. There is a $10 submission fee, though the organisers have said that they will waive this for entrants in financial hardship.

May the best story win—I look forward to reading it!

2 thoughts on “The Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition”

  1. Thanks, Megen! I thought I’d let you know that the competition has begun announcing this year’s honorable mentions, finalists, and winners. It’s been an exciting year and we received some fantastic stories.

  2. Just thought we’d let you know the Literary Taxidermy Writing Competition is back, and this year (our fourth!) we’re heading south—far south!—and running it in association with a New Zealand arts exhibition inspired by the life and works of writer Katherine Mansfield.

    As before, you must produce an original short story or poem in any genre, in any style. The catch: We provide your opening and closing lines chosen from a classic work of literature. You provide the rest.

    You can learn more about this year’s competition here:


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