Fast Fiction Contests


October 2022 Fast Fiction Contest

Times takes everything from us. 

In the grimdark future, every moment is a thief. 

Across the galaxy, the Imperium steals the best years of their people. On the battlefield, countless lives are robbed their futures in a single second. Ancient xenos stir, time being but a slowly passing tempo, while heretics and rebels attempt to turn back the clock. 

In the vastness of space, and in our most intimate moments, it is all a matter of time.

A Matter of Time encourages authors to unpack the concept of how time impacts the lives of characters in the unhappily ever after of Warhammer 40,000. Explore the ‘slice of life’ past or present with the central theme being ‘time’ and how characters use it, struggle against it, or weaponize it.

Submission deadline is October 31, 2022 @ 11:59pm PT


Timely prompts to get you started...

  • A space hulk has collided with a planet’s oceans, and the tidal waves will soon overtake the local populace. How does an individual spend their final moments?
  • An Imperial agent refuses defeat, and attempts to meddle with the fabrics of time and reality to undo their mistakes…
  • An ancient xenos awakens from a millennia of slumber… to find that they  have overslept and the galaxy is now a barren wasteland… What happens next?
  • A cult of traitors are trapped in a warpstorm and thrown back to the Horus Heresy. Do they help, or hinder the fall of mankind?
  • A record-keeper has been waiting for the stars to align so that they can transcend their harsh life. But they keep waiting… and waiting… and waiting…
  • A group of reinforcements arrive too late to save their allies – and their loved ones… Moving through the ashes, they remember better times…
  • A naive xenos finds a time capsule left behind by an ancient race. The recordings and wisdom left behind spell out certain doom for the future…
  • An underhive psyker can see through time, but their gifts come with a cost…

What are we looking for?

The Setting

Dive into the universe of Warhammer 40,000 and tell your story within its vast, grimdark worlds.


Weave your story according to the theme - as told through the subtext, environment, characters, or conflict.

1000 Word limit

This isn't world-building - stories must have a beginning, middle, and end, and come in at under 1,000 words.

Proof Your Work

Review your submission for grammar and spelling. Formatting details can be found below.

New Characters

Create someone new! We prefer original, distinct characters that grow and change through the story.

One Chance

Participants in the contest are limited to one submission each.

Ready to submit your story?


The Cold Open Stories Discord is a great place to talk with other aspiring authors. Get feedback on your entry before submitting (or scope out your competition!).


Format your entry submission according to the Standard Manuscript Format, and follow British English spelling conventions. The University of Oxford Style Guide is a great reference for this. Fast Fiction submissions should be 1000 words or less.


Save your entry submission as a .docx or .doc and attach it to an email.


In the body of the email, provide a brief paragraph that includes your name, the title of the short story, word count, your social media (or website if you have one) and a maximum 100-word short bio about yourself.


Edit the email’s subject line so it reads: FAST FICTION A MATTER OF TIME 2022 SUBMISSION followed by Title of Your Story


Email your formatted email and entry submission to 


In Fast Fiction stories are submitted according to a judge-selected theme. Stories must capture the reader’s attention quickly while fulfilling the promise of the theme, setting, and character development.

Winning entries are separated into 3 categories:

Featured stories are the singular grand winner of that theme’s contest.

Official Selection are the judging panel’s finalists and runners-up.

Editors’ Choice are picks from the Cold Open Stories editorial team.


Colyn from Cold Open Stories

Colyn DeGraaff is a communications director, intercultural advisor, and designer living in Canada. He launched Cold Open Stories with the goal of merging Warhammer’s setting with the presentation of old time radio, and to tackle the stigma behind fan fiction and give amateur authors a place to explore non-canon stories.

Artists Empire

An illustrator and miniature painter, Artists Empire has been transforming the way we look at our 40k hobby for years. An artist for the Inquisitor: Doctrina Malum project by Cold Open Stories, they were also featured in White Dwarf 465 for their transformative painterovers — taking 40k models and digitally drawing them into the wartorn spaces of the grim dark future with effects, lighting, and colour.

Submissions (the fine print)

COLD OPEN STORIES is a place for authors to share their talents, get seen, and celebrate fandom. We are committed to helping new and emerging voices get recognized, and no money exchanges hands through our site. We believe that diversity in fiction in an excellent way to find new voices and stories. We want this to be reflected in our content and welcome submissions from every race, nationality, gender, and sexual orientation.

Want to learn more about how your Short Fiction submission will be presented, promoted, and potentially adapted into an audio drama? Expand one of the categories below for more details.

Reply Process

1. Upon submission, writers will receive an email confirming that their entry has been received. 

2. If the piece does not meet submission criteria, the writer will receive an email explaining why the piece has been rejected. If the writer does not receive a letter of rejection at this point, then the piece has met all submission criteria and will be passed on to the editing team for review. (This review process may take some time, potentially several weeks depending on the size of the amount of submissions received during any given period.)

3. Once the piece has been reviewed, the writer will either receive a letter of rejection if the piece needs more work, or an offer to continue with the revision process in preparation for publication.

4. Upon acceptance, the writer will work closely with the editing team in order to further revise the piece and come up with an end product that all parties are satisfied with.

5. Once the piece is ready, both parties will sign a contract allowing Cold Open Stories permission to publish the piece. More about this process can be found below.

Our average initial response time is one to three days, however the tides of the Warp are ever-changing and some astropathic emails may be missed! If you haven’t heard back from us after a week, feel free to contact us as

1. The Author grants Cold Open Stories permission to reproduce and publicly distribute the short story in digital form on the Cold Open Stories website (
2. Authors maintain the ability to publish their work with other partners or websites, blogs, subreddits, but a “First published on" is greatly appreciated.
3. The Author agrees that the short story was written by them as an unofficial fan work and was made for non-commercial entertainment.
4. The Author agrees that any edits to the short story’s content will be offered for review and consideration, and that creative control over these edits remain with the Author. Control over these edits are waived for formatting requirements necessary for posting on the Cold Open Stories website (font size, colour, page breaks).
5. The Author will maintain ownership of the short story. Publishing, submission, and selling rights remain with the Author if the story goes to print or it is shown there is a demand for it.
6. The Author will receive written credit on the Cold Open Stories website with a “Written By” acknowledgement preceding the short story. The Author will receive links to their social(s) and website (if available) and will provide Cold Open Stories with a brief biography to include on the site.

1. The Author assigns to Cold Open Stories the permission to promote the short story across social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for the purposes of directing traffic, generating readership, and reader entertainment.
2. The Author grants Cold Open Stories the permission to include extracts or passages of the short story in promotional materials.

1. The Author gives Cold Open Stories the option to adapt the story into an audio drama or dramatized narration (digital format) which would include dialogue by actors, composition of original music, and sound design. Creative control to make edits or changes to the short story to fit this adaptation is understood. Authors have the option to opt-out if they are not comfortable with this. 
2. The Author grant Cold Open Stories permission to publish, reproduce, and publicly distribute the produced audio drama or dramatized narration across streaming services (Apple Podcast, Soundcloud, Podbean, Spotify, YouTube) in serialized and completed formats.
3. The Author will receive verbal and written credit in the Cold Open Stories adaptation with a “Story By” acknowledgement.
4. The Author agrees that Cold Open Stories receives an exclusive first right of refusal for other proposed fan audio adaptations.

1. The Author agrees that the work performed in writing the short story was done on a volunteer, non-commercial basis and acknowledges that there is no employment relationship, remuneration, or salary offered by Cold Open Stories for the actions of publishing, promoting, or adapting the short story online.
2. Individuals or organizations who are interested in financially supporting Cold Open Stories or the Author will be directed to support the Author directly on their website or social accounts, or to donate to a charitable organization, identified by Cold Open Stories, which is committed to improving accessibility for multi-barriered populations.