Stories of the Nature of Cities 2020
City in a Wild Garden.

We aspire to green cities around the globe—cities that are resilient, sustainable, livable, and just. What does this mean? We created the prize to imagine and explore visions of how people, nature, and cities might join (or not). The partners and sponsors of the Nature of Cities Prize for Urban Flash Fiction are happy to announce seven prize winners and a book, a collection of 57 stories from 23 countries, published by Publication Studio in May 2019, with an introduction by Dr. Ursula Heise, Professor of Literature at UCLA.

The 2020 edition of the Stories of the Nature Cities Prize for Flash Fiction is now closed to submissions. THANK YOU—we received over 1,000 submissions from 100+ countries and 600+ cities. We hope have have some results of judging to report by May 2020.

The theme of this year’s stories is City in a Wild Garden. See the contest rules below. The contest was open for submissions until 1 January 2020.

Rules for the 2020 Contest: City in a wild garden 

Write a short story (“flash fiction”, up to 750 words), set in the present or future (near or far) and inspired by the phrase “City in a wild garden”. You do not have to literally use this phrase in your story. You may interpret liberally any of the words in the phrase: city, wild, and garden.

Plot elements must include cities, nature, and people. It has to be fiction (that is, a story, not an essay)—any genre, from science fiction to magical realism—and can be about anything: climate change; food security; utopias; wild nature; a love story; … anything. At TNOC, we are very interested in imagining cities in which nature and people co-exist, cities in which the relationships between the human-made and the natural are imagined differently.

There will be, at the Judging Committee’s discretion, up to 6 money-winning stories: One 1st place story receives $2,000; two 2nd place stories receive $1,000 each; three third prize stories receive $500 each. A larger number of stories will be included in a book to be published (in late 2020 or early 2021) by Publication Studios.

The rules are simple. The work must:

(1) be 750 words or less, not including the title (i.e., “sudden fiction” or “flash fiction”);
(2) be fiction, a story (that is, not an essay, poetry, or other form);
(3) be successfully submitted to the organizers no later than 1 January 2020 (midnight EST)
(4) be submitted via the contest’s web-based form;
(5) be set in a city (the notion of “city” may be liberally interpreted);
(6) include as significant plot elements both nature and people;
(7) be submitted in English;
(8) be an original work by the submitter, to which he or she holds the rights;
(9) be previously unpublished, not under consideration in other contests, and remain so during the duration of the contest;
(10) not be racist, sexist, homophobic, gratuitously violent, or otherwise offensive.
(11) Individual authors (under actual name or pseudonym) may submit no more than one work.
(12) Authors must be at least 16 years old as of 1 January 2020.
Don’t forget: the theme of the contest is “city in a wild garden”, but this is not a formal “rule”.

Beyond these requirements, the work may:

(1) be written by a person of any nationality or country of residence;
(2) be of any style or genre of fiction (realism, surrealism, sci-fi, magical realism, dystopic to utopic);
(3) be set in any location;
(4) be set in the future (near or far) or present.
(4) There are no limitations on the plot or action of the story, other than those mentioned here; visit to see some of the issues that motivate us. At TNOC, we are very interested in imagining cities in which nature and people co-exist, cities in which the relationships between the human-made and the natural are imagined differently.

The Fine Print

  1. Submissions must be previously unpublished, and the full rights held by the author and submitter of the work. Authors agree that they will not enter the submitted works to other contests or publishers for the duration of the contest. Doing so will disqualify the author from the Stories of the Nature of Cities 2020 prize (SNC2020).
  2. Authors of winning entries must agree to license the winning works to SNC2020 in perpetuity, to be published by SNC2020 at their discretion, with no further royalty owed to the author.
  3. This license is not exclusive, however; winning authors may republish works with no royalties or payments to SNC2020, but must acknowledge SNC2020 as the original publishers.
  4. Copyright of the intellectual property of any work remains with the author.
  5. Submissions must be submitted in English, and will be reviewed in English. (Sorry, we simply don’t have the capacity to review stories in multiple languages.)
  6. All judging will be “blind”; that is, judges will not know the names of the authors.
  7. Submissions will not be considered is they (a) arrive after the deadline; (b) are not submitted via the official online form; (c) are more than 750 words.
  8. All fees and taxes that result from prize money and its transfer to a prizewinner is responsibility of the prizewinner; this includes bank transfer fees.
  9. The organizers reserve the right to award fewer or more prizes than originally announced.
  10. All decisions by the organizers concerning the administration and rules of the award, including the selection of winners, are final.