Canada Writes

Past winner David Huebert shares 5 reasons to enter the CBC Short Story Prize

The 2016 winner and author of the short story collection Peninsula Sinking says there's no shortage of reasons to hit submit.
David Huebert won the 2016 CBC Short Story Prize for Enigma. (Mike Kalimin)

When David Huebert won the 2016 CBC Short Story Prize for his story, Enigma, it kickstarted an unforgettable journey — one that includes saw his debut short story collection, Peninsula Sinking, get published.

The 2022 CBC Short Story Prize is now open for submissions. If you're thinking about entering, here are five reasons Huebert says you should enter the CBC Short Story Prize.

1. You'll reach new readers

"Winning the CBC Short Story Prize was the most exciting moment in my literary career this far. With this prize, I reached a different kind of popular readership than ever before. I had people coming up to me in the hockey dressing room and leaning into my backyard from porches saying, 'Hey I read your story online and it was great!' It was thrilling." 

Peninsula Sinking is David Huebert's debut short story collection.

2. It's a chance to experiment

"It may feel like a short story comes with a restrictive word count, but in a way there are infinite possibilities in a short story. In fact, one of the things that's wonderful about the short story genre is that it's much more conducive to experimentation than the novel, because you can sustain an experiment for 1800 words in a way that you can't for an entire novel."

3. You can start in the middle of things

"The short story is a beautiful opportunity to start right in the middle of things. Always start with crisis. Always withhold information.

Keep the reader wondering, and then reward that curiosity.

"Take whatever you think is most powerful about your character's life and don't tell it — at least not right away. Keep the reader wondering, and then reward that curiosity." 

4. You'll be in good company 

"I've fallen in love with the short story as I've become a practitioner of it. I used to be a novel reader — and I still love novels — but I think too often the short story is thought of as the novel's little brother and I think it's a very valid art form in its own right. There are so many incredible short story writers out there that I love to read. Sherman Alexie is one of my favourites. Alice Munro has 'short' stories that are 40 or 50 pages. There are a lot of different models for how to approach this."

5. It paves the way for more

"Winning the CBC Short Story Prize led quite directly to me getting an agent and then a book deal. And two years after submitting to the Prize, I celebrat[ed] the publication of my debut short story collection, Peninsula Sinking.

Winning the CBC Short Story Prize led quite directly to me getting an agent and then a book deal.

"It's been an incredible journey and it's so exciting to see things that began with Enigma culminating in this way." 

David Huebert's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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