Exploring the art of prose


CRAFT Setting Sketch Challenge 2023

CRAFT 2023 Setting Sketch Challenge

August 10 – 20, 2023

$500 Awarded

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

We’re delighted to publish the winner in October 2023.
Congratulations to all who made the lists below! 


Gabrielle Hovendon: “North Country, New York”


Klariza Alvaran: “Following the Onset of Solar Expiration”
Ann Baker: “Cleveland”
Robin Eileen Bernstein: “Far Rockaway”
Kay Chomic: “Grandpa’s Wake”
Keri Lee: “Trailer Park”
Arthur Pike: “The Conquistadors Arrive at the Holiday Inn & Suites Austin West”
Patrick Ritter: “The Billy Bar”
Jamie Thorp: “The Melon”
Sorrel Westbrook: “The Golden Palm”


Catherine Baker: “Lagrange Point”
Dianne Bellis: “Blasted Tree”
Michael Patrick Brady: “A Matter of Time”
Claire Cox: “Vista Lake Estates”
Victoria Fortune: “Excerpt from Trouble the Water”
Kris Lindsey: “Western Avenue, Chicago, 1994”
Jane Marcellus: “Cafeteria Capital of the World”
Barry Maxwell: “Scrap”
Storme Maynard: “Specters Past”
Denise Miller: “The Work of Hands”
Gloria Murray: “The Catch”
Marian Palaia: “SF in General”
Emily Pease: “Dry”
Pedro Ponce: “The Surviving Castle”
Yen Radecki: “Your Place”
Serena Simpson: “The Mad Room”
Aaron Sullivan: “The Alfred’s Head”
Wynne Summers: “Rain Dreams”
Christine Wade: “Paradise”
Lindsay Wheeler: “The Not-City”

Honorable Mentions

Jessica Becht: “An Iberville Boy”
Mimi Drop: “The Room No One Leaves”
Susan Farwell: “Sabah Al-Khayer”
Jenny Halper: “White Heart”
Glenn Long: “Blood of Laurentia”
Sahil Mehta: “Goa”
L.K. Schmidt: “the Hallway”
Bre Simpson: “The Waiting Door”
Jeremy Stelzner: “O’Sullivan’s Steakhouse”
Martin Tucker: “Setting for Family Reunion”

We’ll return in 2024 with more exciting challenges!

Setting is key to any narrative, but setting is more than just simply time and place. Setting can indicate mood, tone, tension, conflict. Setting is homescape, landscape, and spacescape. Setting can be an epoch or a century, but also a month or a minute. For ten short days in August, we want your well-crafted setting sketches. This challenge has been designed as a companion to our popular Character Sketch Challenge. CRAFT wants to continue to encourage you to hone your essential creative skills, and we want to reward you for that dedicated effort. All writers are welcome to join the Setting Sketch Challenge from August 10 to 20, 2023.

You’ve introduced us to your most compelling characters; now, show us where and when they move in the world, whether based on lived experience or pure imagination. Focus on the unique details of the setting—perhaps the lushest flora and fauna, or the harshest weather of the region. Think about choreography and architecture too, whether naturemade or humanmade. Send no more than 500 words for the chance to win $500. One winner will be published in October 2023.


  • 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 setting sketches only for this challenge: no more than 500 words in length. We’re not looking for full story scenes or flashes—rather, we want glimpses into worlds.
  • Please submit work that focuses on one setting only per submission. Really delve into the singular setting with sensory detail.
  • Submit polished prose only, please! We are not seeking lineated poetry, lists or listicles, or any accompanying artwork at this time.
  • Submitted setting 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 setting in different ways or contexts before, no worries. We’re only concerned with the exact text/sketch you plan to submit to the challenge. Your setting 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 setting sketch is accepted for publication elsewhere.
  • We allow multiple submissions—please submit each sketch 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 setting sketch in October 2023. Any sketch already scheduled to be published before January 2024 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 setting 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.
  • Any AI-generated work submitted to this challenge will be immediately disqualified.


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.