Exploring the art of prose


CRAFT Character Sketch Challenge 2023

CRAFT 2023 Character Sketch Challenge

May 15 – 25, 2023

$500 Awarded

Thank you to all who submitted work to the
2023 CRAFT Character Sketch Challenge.

We’re delighted to publish the winner in August 2023.
Congratulations to the winner, shortlisters, longlisters, and honorable mentions!


Naomi Melati Bishop: “Gordon Bishop”


Ana Arrendondo: “Fragments of Laura”
Asmarrah Bedford: “Five-Flavored Tea of Forgetfulness”
Michelle Bitting: “Beryl”
Eleanor Cantor: “The Market Manager”
F. E. Choe: “Emmanuella, 42”
Lu Chekowsky: “The Woman in the Peach Dress at the Cute Café in the Center of Town”
Zack Hardy: “Zipper Girl”
William Hawkins: “A Sensitive Meathead”
Nikki HoSang: “Marybeth Heh-Choi”
Margaret Speck Ogawa: “Millicent Kiyoko Monroe”
Beth Richards: “Granddaddy Whistles”
Gretch Sando: “Siren-Sea Eyes”
J. B. Stone: “Larry, the Morganucodon”
Sona Verdi: “The Sidewalk Farmer”
Lindsay Wheeler: “The Death Drive”


Lauren Carter: “Mack”
Kara Gould: “Tierney Ross”
Robert Isaacs: “Richard Bentham”
Shir Kehila: “Timna”
Sophia Khan: “Kiki”
Daniel Takeshi Krause: “Glen”
Chen Li: “Santa”
Jane Marcellus: “The Good Salesman”
Laurie Marshall: “A Cardboard Valise Doesn’t Take Up Much Space”
Robin Michel: “Hot Lips”
Emily Mills: “Rebecca Peterman”
Mary Cuffe Perez: “The Deconstruction of Eza”
Cynthia Adam Prochaska: “Darcy”
Samira Shakib-Bregeth: “Mariam the Warrior”
Doris Wright: “Bradley”

Honorable Mentions

Pamela Baker: “Chapatti”
Raluca Balasa: “The Empath”
Kate C. Gaston: “Edward Carter, Boy Spy”
Joe Hay: “Genny Kiesziewicz”
Natasha Heller: “The Medusa Murderer”
A. Grifa Ismaili: “François the Algerian”
Michel Jones: “Izzy Lizzard, That’s Me”
Saira Khan: “Mimi Butt of Manhattan”
Lynn Kintz: “Overheard in the Warehouse”
Diane Baker Mason: “Martha”
Patricia Middlebrook: “Limbani”
Wendy Murray: “Corporate”
Donna Obeid: “Girl with the Angel Trumpets”
N. R. Robinson: “Grandma Cavazos”
E. Madison Shimoda: “Coco”

Join us for our next challenge in August 2023!

For our inaugural writing challenge, CRAFT wants to meet your most captivating character! During this ten-day challenge, we’re not seeking full scenes or stories, but rather a sketch of a singular character in no more than 500 words. Many writers research, brainstorm, and fashion character sketches prior to drafting a longer work of prose, like a short story, essay, novel, or memoir. If you’re in the midst of a prose project, you probably already have a few character sketches stored in your archives. You are welcome to revisit such previous work and prepare it for this particular challenge. Your goal will be to revise toward reader engagement: what do we need and/or want to know most about your character? Give us reasons to want to know more!

If you’re new to the practice of sketching characters, don’t worry. You can introduce us to your character by focusing on the psychological, historical, and/or physical aspects of your character. You might start by making exhaustive lists in these categories, but for your submission, be sure to craft your description into a prose passage of 500 words or fewer. We’re looking for the most compelling character in this challenge, but will also consider the apt use of language and style. We want to encourage you to practice your writing skills, but also want to see your best results! The sole winner of the CRAFT Character Sketch Challenge will receive $500 and publication.


  • Submissions are open to all writers, emerging and experienced.
  • International submissions are allowed.
  • Please submit prose work primarily written in English, but conceptually or stylistically necessary code-switching is warmly welcomed.
  • We seek character sketches only for this challenge: no more than 500 words in length. Remember, we’re not looking for scenes or summaries.
  • Please submit work that focuses on one character only per submission.
  • Submit polished prose only, please! We are not seeking lineated poetry, lists or listicles, or any accompanying artwork at this time.
  • Submitted character sketches must be creative, first and foremost, but may be fictional or nonfictional—please do respect the privacy and identity of real-life persons in nonfiction, when necessary.
  • We review literary prose but are open to a variety of genres and styles—our only requirement is that you show excellence in your craft.
  • Submit previously unpublished work only—we do NOT review reprints (or even partial reprints) for challenges (including work posted on blogs, personal websites, social media, etc.). Reprints will be automatically disqualified.
  • If you’ve written about this character in different ways or contexts before, no worries. We’re only concerned with the exact text you plan to submit to the challenge. Your character may appear in other previously published work, but your sketch may not.
  • We allow simultaneous submissions—writers, please notify us and withdraw your submission if your character sketch is accepted for publication elsewhere. 
  • We allow multiple submissions—please submit each piece as a separate submission accompanied by an entry fee.
  • This challenge requires a $10 entry fee per submission.
  • Please double-space your submission and use Times New Roman 12.
  • Include a brief cover letter with your publication history, if applicable, and any appropriate content warnings.
  • We do not require anonymous submissions. The winner of the challenge will be chosen by the editorial staff. The winner will receive $500 and publication.
  • We hope to publish the winning character sketch in July 2023. Any sketch already scheduled to be published before October 2023 should not be submitted at this time.
  • The winner will be asked to contribute an author’s note, or mini craft essay, that discusses their artistic choices in their character sketch. The note will be published with the sketch.
  • We do not discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, disability, family status, gender identity or expression, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation, or for any other reason.
  • Additionally, we do not tolerate discrimination in the writing we consider for publication: work we find discriminatory on any of the bases stated here will be declined without complete review (you will be refunded, less fees).


You may choose to receive editorial feedback on your submission directly through the challenge’s submission form. We’ll provide marginal notes and a one-page summative letter, focusing on the strengths of the submission as well as our recommendations for development. While editorial feedback is inherently subjective, our suggestions are always actionable and encouraging. We aim to have feedback completed within twelve weeks. Should your sketch win, no feedback will be offered and your fee will be refunded. Work that we critique is not eligible for future CRAFT challenges or contests, but can be revised and resubmitted in our general categories. However, if your sketch inspires an entirely new story or essay, that work is still eligible for contest entry. Learn more, in general, about our Editorial Feedback Platform here.