The Take Back: Anthology Contest

Have you ever wondered…

  • If The Odyssey had been written by a woman, would the twelve maids have suffered such a brutal fate?
  • If The Merchant of Venice had been written by a Jew (or, at least, by someone who had met one), would Shylock have been portrayed differently?
  • If Pride and Prejudice had been written by a mother, would Mrs. Bennett have been a more sympathetic character?
  • If Uncle Tom’s Cabin had been written by a Black person, would Tom’s goal have been to escape, rather than to merely endure?
  • If Me Before You had been written by someone with a disability, would Will still have chosen death over more time with the woman he loved?

We hope to explore these questions and more in a short story competition and anthology called:


In The Take Back we want you to take back famous literary characters—the ones that have misrepresented people like you in the past—and re-imagine them in a way that really does represent you. 

Selected re-imagined stories will be published in The Take Back anthology collection. Additionally, this year’s submissions will act as a competition, with cash prizes of $1,000 for 1st place, $500 for 2nd place, and $250 for 3rd place. All winners and finalists will be published in the anthology.

Each of YOU has something unique about YOU that has been somehow misrepresented in popular culture, so there will be a topic for everyone. The following is a list of possible take backs that we find intriguing:

Characters Elements
  • Jacob Black from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga
  • Will Traynor from Jojo Moyes’s Me Before You
  • The name of the island and original title(s) of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None
  • Fu Manchu from the works of Sax Rohmer
  • The Mormons from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet
  • Any of the African Americans from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin
  • “Friday” from Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe
  • Any of the women from Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron
  • Any of the women from Virgil’s The Aeneid
  • Medea from Euripides’s Medea
  • The out-of-touch old person
  • The flamboyant gay man
  • The dumb blonde
  • The autistic savant
  • The Manic Pixie Dream Girl
  • The immoral atheist
  • The mindless Christian
  • The Magical Negro
  • The Yellow Peril
  • The Southeast Asian drug smuggler 
  • The nerdy Asian
  • That all Muslims are Arabs
  • That all Arabs are terrorists
  • The value of motherhood in Aeschylus’s Eumenides

If you would like to make a suggestion to add to this list, please let us know on social media. Or, just write the story yourself!

Competition Basics

  1. No entry fee is required. All fiction genres are welcome.
  2. All entries must be original works by the entrant, in English. Short stories generated or created by computer software and/or artificial intelligence will be disqualified. Entries may not have been previously published elsewhere.
  3. Each entrant may submit only one story for consideration.
  4. Maximum 200 words for introduction. Maximum 7,500 words for story. See below for more details.
  5. All entries are final. No revisions or updated stories are accepted once they’ve been sent.
  6. Submissions are open from July 1st – September 29th. 
  7. Excessive violence, sex, or profanity that is not integral to the story, as determined by the judges, will result in the story being rejected. 
  8. The decisions of the judges are entirely their own, and are final and binding.
  9. There will be three cash prizes: a 1st Prize of $1,000, a 2nd Prize of $500, and a 3rd Prize of $250, in US dollars. All winners and finalists will be published in the anthology and receive two complimentary paperback copies.
  10. Entrants will be individually notified of the results by e-mail, on or before October 6th.
  11. Once a finalist or winner has been accepted, a contract will be provided with further details on editing, timelines, and payment. Publication rights will include electronic and print rights, exclusive for the first twelve months, and non-exclusive thereafter.
  12. This Contest is void where prohibited by law.
  13. Must be 18 years or older.

Our Judges:

Hannah Stiles Smith has been our anthology editor since the beginning! She has read every single story submission every single year. We currently have six published short story collections, and she is the editor behind all of them. She loves working with authors in the writing process and will be back again this year as eager as ever to find those hidden gems.

Gregory Pei-ru Sunparker was born in the midwestern United States, spent his teens in southern China, his twenties in northern England, and now lives in the western United States. He teaches writing at a university where his students have hailed from every continent, except Antarctica.

Greg has served as managing editor for an academic journal and has been a story consultant on various media, including books published by Disney and shows produced by Netflix.

As a Chinese American who is passionate about cultural portrayals in popular culture and a degree in law, Greg is the perfect fit for this anthology, and we’re thrilled to have him on board.


What is a take back?

The more common word for a take back is “reappropriation.” It is “the cultural process by which a group reclaims words or artifacts that were previously used in a way disparaging of that group.”

For our purposes, that means we want you to find someone or something in literature that has misrepresented people like you in the past, and write a new story that explores that character or element in a way that does represent you.

What is The Take Back?

The Take Back is the title of a short story anthology that will contain selected stories that include a take back/reappropriation.

What do I submit?

Your submission must include:

  • One short story that includes a take back
  • One introduction to your story

How long should the story be?

The maximum word count for the short story is 7,500.

The maximum word count for the introduction is  200 words. The introduction does not count as part of your story’s word count.

What should be in the introduction?

The introduction will appear on the page preceding your story. It should include whatever information a reader would want to know before reading your story. This may include:

  1. Context on the character being taken back, and why the character needs to be taken back. (Don’t assume the reader knows any of this).
  2. Context on the original author and their times. (Only include when relevant)
  3. Context on you and your relationship with the character. (Only include when relevant)
  4. Anything else someone should know before reading your story

The introduction is not merely for the submission process. If your piece is selected for publication, your introduction will be published as well.

Do I have to be a part of the group that is being “taken back”?

Not necessarily. But you do need to have a deep understanding of what it means to be a member of that group.

Do characters have to come from literature? What about film, art, or comics?

Any character from any media is acceptable.

Does the take back have to be of a specific character?

Not necessarily. You could also take back tropes, stereotypes, or anything else you feel needs to be reappropriated.

Are you looking for any specific take backs?

No. As long as you’re taking back a character or element that has been misrepresented in the past, we’re interested. This could range from the more obvious topics, such as race or gender, to the less obvious, such as “dumb” blondes or “sinister” left-handers.

When will the anthology be published?

The collection will be published in digital and paperback format on November 21, 2023.

How do I submit my short story?

Can I take back characters that are not in the public domain?

Works not in the public domain may be used as long as your work is a fair use parody of the work. If your work is selected, we’ll send you a questionnaire that addresses the following:

  1. Is your work a fair use parody? A fair use parody uses or imitates someone else’s work in order to comment on or criticize the work being parodied. It does not necessarily need to be humorous.
  2. Is the amount of copyrighted use limited to only what is being parodied? To qualify for fair use, the parody needs to only use the copyrighted work as far as is necessary, and no farther. For example, if the parody’s criticism is aimed at Sherlock Holmes’s relationship with Mrs. Hudson, Dr. John Watson is probably not needed to make that point, and therefore likely should not appear in the story.
  3. Is your parody likely to stand as a market replacement for the original work? How likely is it that someone would purchase your work instead of the original work, or its sequels? How likely is it that the copyright owner would no longer be able to create a sequel, spin off, or other derivative of the original work because your parody has already filled that place?

If you desire a fuller understanding of these rules, read Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. and Suntrust Bank v. Houghton Mifflin Co.