The Best Writing Contests of 2023
Writing competitions curated by Reedsy
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- Science Fiction
- Science Writing
- Script Writing
- Young Adult
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Showing 558 contests
The reedsy prompts contest.
Every Friday, Reedsy sends out five writing prompts. Enter your response within a week for a chance at $250. Winners may also be included in a future issue of Reedsy’s literary magazine, Prompted.
$25 credit toward Reedsy editorial services
Deadline: December 31, 2023
Fiction, Short Story
Evening Standard Stories Competition
We’re searching for fresh new voices who can take the idea of ‘belonging’ in a surprising direction, or tackle it in a way that stops us in our tracks. This competition is not limited to a ‘short story’. Submissions can be a piece of spoken word or performance, perhaps it’s a monologue, a script or a self-contained episode of a narrative podcast. Entries can be submitted as written, audio, or film.
Mentorship with top industry contacts
Publication in Evening Standard media
💰 Fee: FREE
Deadline: April 12, 2023
Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Script Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult
Inspiring Fiction's Contest for Fantasy Writers
A new short story contest open to all fantasy writers. The winner will be published in the first issue of Mirk Fantasy Magazine, a new genre magazine produced by the team behind Tangled Web Magazine. Three runners up will also be published alongside a selection of stories from our general submissions pile.
Deadline: April 30, 2023
Fantasy, Fiction, Short Story
Brouhaha - The short story writing contest
We are looking for original, unpublished pieces of fiction, with a maximum word count of 3,000 words. The theme for this contest is “Brouhaha,” and we encourage all writers to interpret this theme in their own unique way. All genres are welcome.
Deadline: April 15, 2023
Gemini Magazine Short Story Contest
Entries may be any subject, style, or length. Entries must be previously unpublished but those from personal blogs will be considered.
2nd: $100 | 3 honorable mentions: $25 | Publication
Deadline: March 31, 2023
Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story
Narratively's 2023 Profile Prize
Narratively is looking for profile pieces that tell the story of ordinary people or communities doing extraordinary things. The grand prize winner will receive $3,000, and the two finalists will receive $1,000 each. Guest judges are renowned journalists Gay Talese, Lisa Lucas and Rebecca Traister.
$1000 for two other finalists
Deadline: April 14, 2023
Bacopa Literary Review
Bacopa Literary Review is an annual international print journal published by the Writers Alliance of Gainesville. Our Bacopa Literary Review Editors’ blog shows the quality of writing we seek by highlighting work we respect from previous Bacopa issues as well as other sources.
£200 in 6 categories
$100 Honorable mention in 6 categories
Deadline: April 16, 2023
Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story, Essay, Flash Fiction, Humor
Elegant Literature's Contest For New Writers
One of the largest awards open to unpublished writers, and the only one closed to professionals. We are the first magazine to pay pro rates and only accept submissions from new writers, paying new authors over $50,000 last year. One new writer receives the grand prize. We also choose the best stories, pay the authors above-professional rates, and publish them in our magazine. March head judge is Creag Munroe.
Paid publication, 25 x $20 USD | Free entry to Novelist Accelerator | Now Novel Package
Deadline: April 01, 2023
Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult, Flash Fiction, Science Writing
New Deal Writing Competition
Genesee Valley Council on the Arts
GVCA is excited to announce the eighth annual New Deal Writing Competition! This competition challenges writers to use a painting chosen by the staff at GVCA as inspiration for a short story. This year’s painting is “Small Town” by Edmund Yaghjian, an oil painting.
2nd: $100 | 3rd: $50
Young Sports Journalist Competition 2023
Pitch magazine is pleased to announce the launch of the Young Sports Journalist competition 2023! We are seeking well-argued articles from students aged 14-24 for this competition.
£150 in each category
Publication | Work experience at The Times and FIPP
Deadline: April 07, 2023
Geminga: $250 for Tiny Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, or Art
Geminga is a neutron star so small it was difficult to detect. It was named, in part, for a transcription of gh’è minga, meaning “it’s not there.” With Geminga: $500 for Tiny Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, or Art, Sunspot Lit honors the power of the small. No restrictions on theme or category. Word limit is 100 for fiction and nonfiction. Micropoetry is limited to 140 characters. Graphic novelsshould be 4 pages or less.
Publication in digital and print
Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Script Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult
New Writers Poetry Competition 2023
The New Writers Poetry Competition 2023 is open to published and unpublished poets from around the world. There is no specific theme but poems should be no longer than 40 lines. NewWriters.org.uk will donate £1.00 from each entry to First Story (a creative writing charity in the UK).
2nd: £300 | 3rd: £200
Deadline: July 12, 2023
King of Essay
To all TV shows nerds: we're incredibly excited to announce a competition for the best essay based on the TV series you are keen on. This is a new challenge for folks who may be under budget and interested in winning subscriptions on streaming services (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney).
Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or Disney+ subscription for 6 months
Deadline: May 15, 2023
Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult
7 Day Story Writing Challenge
Register now for our next 7-day story writing challenge. A secret theme, a randomly assigned genre and just 7 days to write a story of no more than 2,000 words. Our 7 day story writing challenges take place throughout the year. The challenges are free and you can even get feedback on your story. Take part in one challenge or take part in all of them!
Deadline: May 14, 2023
First Pages Prize
This international prize is open to unagented writers anywhere in the world for the first five pages (1,250 words) of a longer work of fiction or creative nonfiction. This year we will award three prizes in BOTH fiction and creative nonfiction! In addition to cash awards, winners receive developmental mentoring, consultation with a literary agent, and publicity.
Developmental Mentoring & Agent Consultation
Deadline: April 10, 2023
Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Novel, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult
Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize
Exceptionally international in scope, the prize supports writers who have not yet published a book-length work, with no limits on age, gender, nationality, or background. The winners of each category (fiction, poetry and life writing) will receive a £1,000 cash prize and publication, and will be published in Wasafiri’s print magazine. Shortlisted writers will have their work published on Wasafiri’s website.
Mentoring & Publication
Deadline: June 30, 2023
Fiction, Poetry, Memoir, Non-fiction
The Mysterious Case
The theme of this contest is "The Mysterious Case". The main character or characters of your entry must have a suspenseful investigation with a mystery in the plot. This change must occur in the story before the end of the fourth chapter and must be mentioned in your book description.
2nd: €250 | 3rd: €100
Deadline: April 02, 2023
Crime, Fiction, Novel
The 2023 Ink Across Borders Prize
The European Society of Literature
This competition is seeking out literary talent in Africa, Asia, and other typically underrepresented parts of the world. We want to build bridges between the West and the East, the North and the South. To ensure writers from these places have the opportunity to gain international attention, we’re launching The 2023 Ink Across Borders Prize.
The Synopsis Skirmish—a contest for querying authors
Darling Axe Editing
Summarize your novel in 500 words for a chance at a $1000 CAD prize pool! Our judge, Michelle Barker, will be asking herself one question: "Does this synopsis convince me that I'm in the hands of an adept novelist with a unique and engaging story to tell?"
2nd: $200 CAD | 3rd: $100 CAD
Deadline: May 31, 2023
Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Novel, Novella, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult
Nature and Place Poetry Competition
The Rialto working in association with the RSPB, BirdLife International, Cambridge Conservation Initiative and The University of Leeds Poetry Centre. Poems are invited that deal with any aspect of nature and place – these terms will be given a wide interpretation by the judge Ian McMillan.
2nd: £500 | 3rd: £250
Deadline: March 01, 2023 (Expired)
The Pinch Literary Awards & Page Prize
The Pinch Literary Journal
The 2023 Pinch Literary Awards accepts poetry and fiction. The 2023 Page Prize accepts non-fiction.
$2000 for poetry & fiction winners
$1000 for Page Prize winner
Fiction, Poetry, Short Story, Non-fiction
Adrienne Rich Award for Poetry
Beloit Poetry Journal
Submit 1-3 unpublished poems on any subject in any style up to a maximum of 10 pages per entry. (We enjoy long poems!)
The Bath Novel Award
The Bath Novel Awards
The Bath Novel Award is a £3,000 international prize for emerging writers of adult fiction. Submit the first 5,000 words plus a one page synopsis of your novel for adults or young adults. Shortlisted entries will receive manuscript feedback and literary agent introductions.
£1800 for one longlistee
Fiction, Novel, Young Adult
North Street Book Prize
Submit a self-published or hybrid-published book, up to 200,000 words in length. One grand prize winner will receive $10,000, a marketing analysis and one-hour phone consultation with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a $300 credit at BookBaby, three months of Plus service (a $207 value) and a $500 account credit from Book Award Pro, and 3 free ads in the Winning Writers newsletter (a $525 value)
$1,000 for top winner in each category | $300 for honorable mentions
Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry, Children's, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult
Write By The Sea Writing Competition
Write By The Sea
Flash Fiction (700 words), Short Story (2,500 words), Poetry (40 lines) Memoir/Personal Essay (1,000 words). The winner of each category will receive a cash prize of €500, a beautiful hand-crafted WBTS 2023 Writing Competition trophy and a free weekend pass to Write By The Sea festival 2023. All four winning pieces will be published on the Write By The Sea website.
2nd: €200 | 3rd: €300
Deadline: June 04, 2023
Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Poetry, Short Story
Dave Williamson National Short Story Competition
Manitoba Writers' Guild
Open to writers across Canada. Short prose in English, 2,500-5,000 words in any fiction genre. We actively encourage submissions from all writers who are 18 years of age or older.
2nd: $600 CAD | 3rd: $400 CAD
Chapter One Prize
Gutsy Great Novelist
The Gutsy Great Novelist Chapter One Prize is awarded for an outstanding first chapter of an unpublished novel. The prize is open internationally to anyone over 18 writing a novel in English in any genre for adult or YA readers. Winners will be announced March 31, 2023.
2nd: $500 |3rd: $250
Fiction, Novel, Young Adult, Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller
Romance on the Road
Write an original, factual, first-person travel story about a time you experienced romance while traveling. Feel free to explore romance in all of its manifestations, but ensure that your travel story builds itself around the context of a place or experience. Editors will be looking for originality, voice, and a satisfying story arc that captures attention and makes use of imagery to pull the reader along at every step.
Deadline: March 19, 2023
Non-fiction, Romance, Travel
Aurora Polaris Creative Nonfiction Award
Trio House Press
We seek un-agented full-length creative nonfiction manuscripts including memoir, essay collections, etc. 50,000 - 80,000 words.
Deadline: August 31, 2023
Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction
100 Word Writing Contest
100 words per entry. Submit as many entries as you’d like. All ages. All genders. All nationalities. All writers welcome. This year's theme is the power of words. The words we write, the words we say, the words we keep to ourselves. They make a difference in the lives of those around us. How can you use your words to instill a sense of calm, of hope, of community? To remind one another of the beauty of diversity. To encourage us to support, love, and inspire one another.
2nd: writing coach package 3rd: developmental or diversity editing package.
Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Thriller, Young Adult
Southword Literary Essay Competition
Munster Literature Centre
The competition is open to original, unpublished, personal essays between 2500 ‒ 5000 words. We’re looking for personal, confessional essays which border on memoir ‒ gripping essays full of memories and feelings. The best indicator of the kind of thing which interests us is what we have published in past issues; essays by Kim Addonizio, Sandra Beasley, Simon Van Booy, Carlo Geblér, Thomas Lynch, Anthony Walton, Helen Mort and Kim Moore.
8 Runners-Up: €500
Deadline: February 28, 2023 (Expired)
This is our third exclusively-for-women-writers story-writing international contest. ‘Cos life is all about celebrating womanhood and surviving through various challenges it brings along! Theme: Separation. Word count: 1000 – 2500 words. Author eligibility: Writers of age 16 and above, from all across the globe. All entries must be in English. Only original works that have not been published in print, digital or online publications will be considered.
Deadline: February 20, 2023 (Expired)
International Welsh Poetry Competition 2023
International Welsh Poetry Competition
The first Welsh Poetry Competition was set up by poet & writer Dave Lewis in 2007. The aim is to inspire people to capture life in the present day and to give a voice to a new generation of poets and writers. We are not interested in purely academic types of literature but would much rather see pure raw passion burst onto the creative writing scene in Wales.
2nd: £250 | 3rd: £125
International Poetry Book Awards 2023
Poetry Book Awards
The Poetry Book Awards is an annual, international book award given to the best poetry books produced by indie writers, self published authors or books published by small, truly independent presses. We are proud to be a Welsh based international awards programme, open to all indie authors and self published poets globally.
2nd: £200 | 3rd: £100 | Publication
Deadline: July 31, 2023
NextTribe Short Story Contest for Women (Over 45)
Next Tribe Inc
We believe women age 45+ have much fuel to write good stories, so our contest is exclusively for this demographic.
2 runners up: $100 | Publication in NextTribe
Deadline: May 08, 2023
Discover the finest writing contests of 2022 for fiction and non-fiction authors — including short story competitions, essay writing competitions, poetry contests, and many more. Updated weekly, these contests are vetted by Reedsy to weed out the scammers and time-wasters. If you’re looking to stick to free writing contests, simply use our filters as you browse.
Why you should submit to writing contests
Submitting to poetry competitions and free writing contests in 2022 is absolutely worth your while as an aspiring author: just as your qualifications matter when you apply for a new job, a writing portfolio that boasts published works and award-winning pieces is a great way to give your writing career a boost. And not to mention the bonus of cash prizes!
That being said, we understand that taking part in writing contests can be tough for emerging writers. First, there’s the same affliction all writers face: lack of time or inspiration. Entering writing contests is a time commitment, and many people decide to forego this endeavor in order to work on their larger projects instead — like a full-length book. Second, for many writers, the chance of rejection is enough to steer them clear of writing contests.
But we’re here to tell you that two of the great benefits of entering writing contests happen to be the same as those two reasons to avoid them.
When it comes to the time commitment: yes, you will need to expend time and effort in order to submit a quality piece of writing to competitions. That being said, having a hard deadline to meet is a great motivator for developing a solid writing routine.
Think of entering contests as a training session to become a writer who will need to meet deadlines in order to have a successful career. If there’s a contest you have your eye on, and the deadline is in one month, sit down and realistically plan how many words you’ll need to write per day in order to meet that due date — and don’t forget to also factor in the time you’ll need to edit your story!
For tips on setting up a realistic writing plan, check out this free, ten-day course: How to Build a Rock-Solid Writing Routine.
In regards to the fear of rejection, the truth is that any writer aspiring to become a published author needs to develop relatively thick skin. If one of your goals is to have a book traditionally published, you will absolutely need to learn how to deal with rejection, as traditional book deals are notoriously hard to score. If you’re an indie author, you will need to adopt the hardy determination required to slowly build up a readership.
The good news is that there’s a fairly simple trick for learning to deal with rejection: use it as a chance to explore how you might be able to improve your writing.
In an ideal world, each rejection from a publisher or contest would come with a detailed letter, offering construction feedback and pointing out specific tips for improvement. And while this is sometimes the case, it’s the exception and not the rule.
Still, you can use the writing contests you don’t win as a chance to provide yourself with this feedback. Take a look at the winning and shortlisted stories and highlight their strong suits: do they have fully realized characters, a knack for showing instead of telling, a well-developed but subtly conveyed theme, a particularly satisfying denouement?
The idea isn’t to replicate what makes those stories tick in your own writing. But most examples of excellent writing share a number of basic craft principles. Try and see if there are ways for you to translate those stories’ strong points into your own unique writing.
Finally, there are the more obvious benefits of entering writing contests: prize and publication. Not to mention the potential to build up your readership, connect with editors, and gain exposure.
Resources to help you win writing competitions in 2022
Every writing contest has its own set of submission rules. Whether those rules are dense or sparing, ensure that you follow them to a T. Disregarding the guidelines will not sway the judges’ opinion in your favor — and might disqualify you from the contest altogether.
Aside from ensuring you follow the rules, here are a few resources that will help you perfect your submissions.
Free online courses
How to Craft a Killer Short Story
The Non-Sexy Business of Writing Non-Fiction
How to Write a Novel
Understanding Point of View
Developing Characters That Your Readers Will Love
Writing Dialogue That Develops Plot and Character
Stop Procrastinating! Build a Solid Writing Routine
Story Editing for Authors
How to Self-Edit Like a Pro
Novel Revision: Practical Tips for Rewrites
How to Write a Short Story in 7 Steps
How to Write a Novel in 15 Steps
Literary Devices and Terms — 35+ Definitions With Examples
10 Essential Fiction Writing Tips to Improve Your Craft
How to Write Dialogue: 8 Simple Rules and Exercises
8 Character Development Exercises to Help You Nail Your Character
200+ Short Story Ideas
600+ Writing Prompts to Inspire You
100+ Creative Writing Exercises for Fiction Authors
Story Title Generator
Pen Name Generator
Character Name Generator
After you submit to a writing competition in 2022
It’s exciting to send a piece of writing off to a contest. However, once the initial excitement wears off, you may be left waiting for a while. Some writing contests will contact all entrants after the judging period — whether or not they’ve won. Other writing competitions will only contact the winners.
Here are a few things to keep in mind after you submit:
Many writing competitions don’t have time to respond to each entrant with feedback on their story. However, it never hurts to ask! Feel free to politely reach out requesting feedback — but wait until after the selection period is over.
If you’ve submitted the same work to more than one writing competition or literary magazine, remember to withdraw your submission if it ends up winning elsewhere.
After you send a submission, don’t follow it up with a rewritten or revised version. Instead, ensure that your first version is thoroughly proofread and edited. If not, wait until the next edition of the contest or submit the revised version to other writing contests.
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40 Free Writing Contests: Competitions With Cash Prizes
by Kelly Gurnett | Oct 3, 2022
Have you ever Googled “writing contests”? Many require “reading fees” or prizes — like seeing your work in print — that you can only receive if you pay for it.
Some legitimate contests do charge small entry fees, but often a fee can be a red flag for a scam, so those might be the ones you want to stay away from.
Besides, there are plenty of free writing contests that encourage and inspire boundless creativity with real cash prizes and career-advancing opportunities! Since it can be hard for a writer to know where to find them, we did the legwork for you.
We found 40 reputable, well-reviewed, free writing contests for poets, fiction writers, essayists and more. With thousands of dollars in cash prizes and numerous opportunities to secure a publishing contract, you’re sure to find the right free writing contest for your work.
(If you don’t mind paying a little money to enter, our friends over at Smart Blogger have rounded up some great writing contests that have small entry fees. And if you’re still hungry for more opportunities, we also have posts on writers grants and writing fellowships .)
Fiction and nonfiction writing contests this year
Ready to share your novel or personal essay with the world? Whether you’re a newbie or more established writer, you’re likely eligible for a few of these contests.
Here are some fiction and nonfiction writing contests worth considering .
1. L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest
Whatever your feelings about L. Ron Hubbard’s work and philosophy, the prizes for this regular contest are nothing to sneeze at. Every three months, winners earn $1,000, $750 and $500, plus an additional annual grand prize of $5,000.
Submissions must be short stories or novelettes (up to 17,000 words) in the genre of science fiction or fantasy, and new and amateur writers are welcome to apply.
Deadlines: Quarterly on March 31, June 30 and September 30.
This boutique publishing firm offers cash prizes and promotional packages to winning authors. Submit a novel of 10,000 words or more in any fiction genre (no fanfic or poetry).
Inkitt’s writing contest runs monthly and gives authors the chance to win cash prizes up to $300, exclusive book badges and promotional packages while showcasing their books to Inkitt’s audience of more than 3 million users. Winners are determined by Inkitt’s unique algorithm based on overall reader engagement.
Deadline: See individual contest pages.
Disclosure: Inkitt is an advertising partner of The Write Life. We hold our advertisers to high standards and vetted this contest just like others on this list.
3. Drue Heinz Literature Prize
You can win $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press with this prize, awarded for a collection of short fiction.
You may submit an unpublished manuscript of short stories , two or more novellas or a combination of novellas and short stories. Your total word count should be between 150 and 300 typed pages. You must also have already published a novel or book-length work of fiction “with a reputable publisher,” or no fewer than three short stories or novellas in nationally-recognized journals.
Deadline: Annual submissions must be postmarked between May 1 through June 30.
4. St. Francis College Literary Prize
Since 2009, this biennial literary award has honored mid-career writers who have recently published their third, fourth or fifth work of fiction. The winner receives $50,000 and may be invited to the St. Francis College campus in Brooklyn, New York, to deliver a talk about their work or teach a mini fiction workshop to St. Francis students.
Deadline: Biennially; the contest was not offered the last two years due to the pandemic and limited campus access
5. Young Lions Fiction Award
This $10,000 award recognizes “young authors,” which the rules define as any author aged 35 or younger. Submit any novel or collection of short stories published or scheduled to be published in the calendar year. Works must be written for adults; children’s or YA pieces are ineligible.
Deadline: Submissions for this year are open as of May; deadline is TBA
6. Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prizes
One of the best-loved small presses in the creative writing world, Graywolf Press hosts a variety of contests for both established and up-and-coming writers. Graywolf also offers smaller fiction and nonfiction prizes, with genres rotating by year; 2020 was a nonfiction year, so fiction was up in 2021, then back to nonfiction in 2022, and so on. These awards include a sizable advance — $12,000 in previous years — as well as publication with Graywolf.
Deadline: Contest is held annually with rotating genres; this year’s deadline is TBA.
7. The Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans
Hosted by the prestigious Iowa Review, the Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award is offered to U.S. military veterans and active-duty members writing in any genre about any subject. Manuscripts of up to 20 pages will be accepted, and the first-prize winner will receive $1,000 and publication in the Review. A second place prize of $750 is also available, as well as three runner-up prizes of $500 each.
Deadline: Biennially. The next contest will be held in 2022.
8. New Voices Award
Presented by Lee & Low Books, an award-winning children’s book publisher, this award is given for a previously unpublished children’s picture book manuscript of no more than 1,500 words written by a writer of color or Indigenous/Native writers who’s a resident of the U.S.
The winner receives $2,000 cash and a standard publication contract, and an additional Honor Award winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000. You may submit up to two manuscripts.
Deadline: Submissions for this year will be accepted May 1 to July 31.
9. Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence
For 15 years, this contest has provided visibility for emerging African American fiction writers and enables them to focus on their writing by awarding a $15,000 cash prize. Eligible authors should submit a work of fiction, such as a novel or short story collection, published in the calendar year. (Galleys for publication within the year are also accepted.)
Deadline: Annually; the deadline is August 15, each year
10. PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
Honoring the best work of fiction published by an American author in a single calendar year, this award has been given to the likes of John Updike, Philip Roth and Ann Patchett. Novels, novellas and collections of short stories are all eligible.
The winner receives a hefty cash prize — up to $15,000 in the past — and an invitation to read at the award ceremony in Washington, D.C. Plus, there are no submission fees or application forms to deal with; just send a PDF of each book (as many as you’d like) to [email protected]
Deadline: Each year , submissions will be accepted from July 1 to October 31.
11. PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers
This contest requires you to have already published a short story in a literary magazine or journal or cultural website. But if you’ve made your debut (but gone no further), you may be eligible for the generous cash prize of $2,000, which is annually awarded to 12 emerging writers, whose works are then published together in an anthology.
Short stories of up to 12,000 words are eligible and must be published in the calendar year preceding the year in which the award is given. Additionally, keep this in mind: Submissions are only eligible if submitted by an editor. Authors may not submit their own work.
Deadline: Annual submission window between June and November.
12. Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards
Fiction and nonfiction writers who have recently published a book that “contribute[s] to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of cultural diversity” are eligible for this award, which offers $10,000 cash as well as media and publicity opportunities. Plus, winners receive their prize at a ceremony in Cleveland.
Submissions must be published in the prior year (so books published last year are eligible for the award this year).
Deadline: Annual submission window is September 1 through December 31.
13. Marfield Prize (aka National Award for Arts Writing)
Presented by the Arts Club of Washington, this award seeks to honor nonfiction books that deal with the “visual, literary, media, or performing arts.” The prize is $10,000 and may be awarded to works of criticism, art history, memoirs and biographies, and essays.
Deadline: Annually in the last quarter of the year; the submission window is usually between November 16 to December 31.
14. W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction
If you’re a war buff, this competition is for you. It awards $5,000 — and a 24-karat-gold-framed citation of achievement — to the best piece of fiction set during a period when the U.S. was at war (war may either be the main plot of the piece or simply provide the setting). Submissions may be adult or YA novels.
Deadline: Annually on December 1.
15. Friends of American Writers Chicago Awards
FAW presents two annual awards: an Adult Literature Award for literary fiction or nonfiction, and a Young People’s Literature Award for a children’s/YA book.
Authors must reside in the state of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin — or they must set their book in one of those locations. Prize amounts vary from year to year, but you don’t have to bother with an application and all winners are celebrated at the organization’s May luncheon.
Deadline: Annually in December
16. Hektoen Grand Prix Essay Contest
Hektoen International, an online journal dedicated to medical humanities, offers two prizes annually for essays of no more than 1,500 words: $5,000 is awarded to the winner and $2,500 to the first runner-up. Eligible topics are broad so long as they have a relation to medicine, and many include art, history, literature, education and more.
Deadline: Annually; September 15 is usually the deadline
17. Biopage Storytelling Writing Contest
There’s no denying it: social media is a huge part of our 21st-century lives. It’s easy to get used to limiting our communications to 280-character and emoji-strewn snippets, which is why this marketing firm is hosting an essay writing contest to “remind people of the benefits of writing.”
Essays of up to 5,000 characters (roughly 1,000 words) will be accepted, and right now they’re looking for stories of COVID-19 quarantine life. The grand prize winner will receive $300, and five runners-up will be awarded $100 each.
The contest is free to enter, but you’ll need to register for a Biopage account to be eligible.
Deadline: July 31, each year
18. St. Martin’s Minotaur / Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition
Writers 18 and older who have never had a novel published (in any genre) are eligible for this prize, awarded to an original book-length manuscript where “murder or another serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the story.” The winner receives a publication contract with Minotaur Books and an advance of $10,000 against future royalties.
Deadline: December 17, each yea r
19. ServiceScape Short Story Award
ServiceScape, a platform matching freelance writers, editors and graphic designers with clients (i.e. a great place to look for paid writing work !) offers a yearly Short Story Award of $1,000 to a winning fiction or nonfiction work of 5,000 words or fewer. The winner will also have their story featured on the ServiceScape blog, which sees thousands of readers each month.
Deadline: November 29, each year
20. Stowe Prize
This biennial prize of $10,000 honors an American author whose adult fiction or nonfiction work has had an impact on a critical social justice issue (as did Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin ). The book must be written by a U.S. author and have been published in the United States during the previous three calendar years.
Deadline: Contact the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center for this year’s deadline .
21. The Diana Woods Memorial Award in Creative Nonfiction
Creative nonfiction essays of no more than 5,000 words on any subject are eligible for consideration for this award, whose winner receives $250 and publication in Lunch Ticket , the literary and art journal produced by the MFA community of Antioch University Los Angeles.
Works must not have been published elsewhere. Award winners are required to submit a 100-word biography, recent photo and a short note thanking the Woods family for their generosity and support.
Deadlines: Biannual reading periods are in February for the Summer/Fall issue and in August for the Winter/Spring issue.
22. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms Essay Contest
Each year, this Canadian organization offers three prizes, ranging from $500 to $1,500, to the essay with the most thoughtful, well-reasoned arguments around a specific human-rights theme. (For example, 2022’s prompt was, “ Canadian governments are making Digital ID technologies a precondition of access to essential services and goods. What can Canadians do to protect their Charter rights and freedoms against the dangers of these technologies? ”
The contest is open to Canadian college and university students, and essays should be 2,500 words or less in length.
Deadline: October 31, each year
23. Write the World
For young writers ages 13-18, these cool contests also serve as mini workshops. Recognizing that “a first draft is never perfect,” submissions actually receive peer review by authors, writing teachers and other experts and writers are given the chance to revise their pieces based on this feedback before submitting them for final prize consideration.
Contests vary each month, but there’s a $100 prize for the winner and $50 for the runner-up (plus $50 for the best peer-reviewer). All three are featured on Write the World’s blog alongside comments from a guest judge. And since each month’s prompt is from a different genre, developing writers get a chance to test out different styles.
Stuck with writer’s block and looking for a way to jumpstart your escape? Prose offers weekly challenges meant to spark your creativity; many are just for fun, but look for the weekly numbered challenges posted by Prose (rather than community members or sponsors) for a chance to win money.
Prizes are typically between $100 to $200 and word counts are low — some as low as under 150, some as high as 500. So even if all you get from the prompt is a chance to flex your brain, it’s not a bad deal.
Deadline: Weekly and monthly.
25. The Restless Books Prize For New Immigrant Writing
First-generation immigrants have a chance to win $10,000 and publication by Restless Books for telling their stories (real or imagined). The contest alternates annually between fiction (novel or short story collection) and nonfiction (memoir, essay collection, narrative nonfiction). In 2021, it went to a work of nonfiction of at least 25,000 words; 2022 will be fiction.
Deadline: S ubmission window is usually between January and March.
26. AFSA National High School Essay Contest
The U.S. Institute of Peace and the American Foreign Service Association sponsor this annual high school essay contest, where the winner receives a $2,500 cash prize, an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., and a full-tuition paid voyage with Semester at Sea upon the student’s enrollment at an accredited university. Essays should be between 1,000 and 1,250 words and have to answer all aspects of the prompt as well as demonstrate an understanding of the Foreign Service.
Runners-up get a pretty sweet deal, too — a $1,250 cash prize and a full scholarship to participate in the International Diplomacy Program of the National Student Leadership Conference.
Deadline : April, each year.
27. Science-me a Story
Born in 2018, the Society of Spanish Researchers invites talented and original writers to write a 100-word blurb for a hypothetical novel. This might sound really easy, but your blurb has to quickly hook readers and make them want to read more. Open to anyone over 18 anywhere in the world, your real or fictional short story for this competition must be either in English or Spanish and “conceived from the objective of scientific dissemination to primary school” to qualify for the cash prizes: £150, £100 and £50.
28. VCU Cabell First Novelist Award
Virginia Commonwealth University sponsors this award that honors an outstanding debut novel published in the preceding calendar year. While you may have published previous books in a different form, the submission must be your first published book marketed as a novel.
The award is a $5,000 cash prize, and the winning author must agree to attend the award event, usually scheduled for November.
Deadline : Annually; the submission window runs from July 1 through December 30
29. Daisy Utemorrah Award
The Daisy Utemorrah Award is for an unpublished manuscript of junior or YA fiction written by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples currently living in Australia. Generously supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund and the State Government of Western Australia, the winner of the award receives $15,000 and a publishing contract with Magabala Books.
Deadline : Submission window usually opens at the beginning of each year
30. Ultimate Meal Plans Nutrition Scholarship
College students studying nutrition, kinesiology or exercise-science fields: you’re going to be all over this one. Twice per year, the Ultimate Paleo Guide (aka the best paleo resource on the internet) awards $500 scholarships to two deserving students who meet all eligibility requirements — as well as write an 800-word essay about why you chose your field, an impact you’d like to make in your career, a challenge you’ve faced and more.
Deadlines: January 30 (awards in March) and July 31 (awards in September).
31. Insecure Writer’s Support Group Annual Anthology Contest
As long as you stick to the guidelines, The Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s annual contest welcomes your 5,000- to 6,000-word (previously unpublished) creative story. But before you send it off, make sure your story is polished and formatted! Plus, the prizes aren’t too shabby — winning stories will be edited and published, authors will receive royalties, and the top story will even get to give the anthology its title.
Deadlines: September 1, each year.
32. Short Fiction Prize
If you’re an undergrad at a college in the U.S. or Canada, this writing competition is for you. (Traditionally, this contest has encouraged applicants with an Asian background, but anyone is invited to apply.) Submissions should be no more than 7,500 words.
One winner will get a $1,000 prize as well as a scholarship to the next Southampton Writers Conference .
Deadline : Submission window is usually between March 1- July 14
33. Bacopa Literary Review Contest
The Bacopa Literary Review is an international journal published by the Writers Alliance of Gainesville. Each year, it opens submissions for pieces in four genres: fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and prose poetry. Find detailed guidelines for each genre on its website. First place gets $300, and the second prize in each of the four genres gets $100.
Deadline: May 30, each year
Poetry contests this year
Curious about opportunities for poets? Your stanzas — rhyming or not — could be worth a fair amount of money in these poetry competitions.
Check out these poetry writing contests.
34. Black Voices in Children’s Literature Writing Contest
This contest is open to Black writers who are over the age of 18 and residents of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin. It’s hosted by Strive Publishing and Free Spirit Publishing and seeks to fill the need for Black representation in children’s and young adult books. Original board and picture books for children aged 0-4 and picture books for ages 4-8 are eligible, provided they feature contemporary, realistic Black characters and culture and focus on character development, self esteem, community and other aspects of positive childhood development.
Three prizes, ranging from $250 to $1,000, will be awarded, and the first-place winner will be “seriously considered” for publication, though it’s not guaranteed.
Deadline: Usually late July , each year.
35. James Laughlin Award
If you’re already a published poet, this is the award for you; it’s given for a second book of poetry due to come out in the forthcoming year. The winner receives $5,000 and an all-expenses-paid week-long residency at The Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. In addition, copies of the winning book are distributed to 1,000 members of the Academy of American Poets.
Deadline: Annual submission window is January 1 through May 15.
36. African Poetry Book Fund Prizes
The APBF awards three prizes annually for African Poetry. The Luschei Prize for African Poetry gives $1,000 for a book of original African poetry published in the prior year.
The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets gives $1,000 and a publication contract for a book-length collection of poetry by an as-yet-unpublished African author.
The Brunel International African Poetry Prize is a new prize that grants £3,000 to a poet who was born in Africa, or has African parents, who has not yet had a full-length book of poetry published. (U.S. citizens qualify.) To submit, you’ll need 10 poems.
Deadlines: See individual prize pages.
37. Tufts Poetry Awards
Claremont Graduate University presents two awards each year to poets they deem to be “outstanding.” The Kate Tufts Poetry Award grants $10,000 for a published first book of poetry that shows promise.
The Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award grants a mammoth $100,000 for a published book of poetry by an established or mid-career poet.
Deadline: Submission window is July 1 to June 30, each year
38. Graywolf Press Walt Whitman Award
The Walt Whitman Award is a $5,000 prize awarded, along with publication, to an American poet with a winning first book manuscript. He or she also receives an all-expenses-paid six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy.
Graywolf Press is also one of the publishers of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize , “a first book award dedicated to the discovery of exceptional manuscripts by Black poets.” Winners receive $1,000 and Graywolf publishes every third winner of the prize.
Deadline : July 1 to Sept 1, each year
39. Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest
Now in its 21st year, this humor contest wants your best published or unpublished work for a grand prize of $2,000; runners-up are awarded $500 and 10 honorable mentions will receive $100 each. Writers of all ages from eligible countries can submit an original, humorous poem with 250 lines or less, and it must be in English.
Deadline : April 1, each year (and no, this isn’t an April Fools joke)
40. The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize
This writing competition is looking for the best piece of unpublished, themed writing. For example, one year, the theme was “Untamed: On Wilderness and Civilization.” Submissions may be prose, poetry or non-academic essays. Maximum word count is 2,500, and this is open to all nationalities and to anyone 18 or older. The winner gets a £10,000 cash prize, second place gets £3,000 and third place gets £2,000.
Deadline : Applications open at the beginning of each year. Follow the Alpine Fellowship on Instagram for updates.
Where to find more legitimate, free writing contests
Looking for more opportunities to submit your work? Here are a few great sites to keep an eye on for writing contests.
A number of the contests found on our list came highly recommended by this site, which compiles some of the best free literary contests out there. Along with a wide range of recommended contests for writers of all stripes, Winning Writers also lists some contests and services to avoid — which is just as useful!
They also offer a handful of contests themselves , including the North Street Book Prize .
Poets & Writers
Another fantastic source for legitimate writing contests we consulted when compiling this list, Poets & Writers vets competitions, contests, awards and grants to make sure they’re following legitimate practices and policies. It’s worth checking out regularly as it features both annual and one-time contests.
(This listing contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!)
The original version of this story was written by Kelly Gurnett . We updated the post so it’s more useful for our readers.
Photo via Viktoriia Hnatiuk / Shutterstock
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Past Contest Winners
Read the winning entries from previous writing contests sponsored by The Writer .
2022 Essay Contest Winner: “A Viking Funeral”
Her story, A Viking Funeral, by Mary Charles, is the essay contest winner of The Writer magazine’s competition.
Third-Place Fall Short Story Contest Winner: Wall of Tears
Read the third-place winner of our 2021 Fall Short Story Contest.
Second-Place Fall Short Story Contest Winner: Polecat Springs
Read the second-place winner of our 2021 Fall Short Story Contest.
2021 Fall Short Story Contest Winner: “The Refrigerator Test”
Walter took his Batman cup to the kitchen because maybe there was still apple juice. Ignorant of spirits, he had inaccurately deduced what Bruce Wayne … Read More “2021 Fall Short Story Contest Winner: “The Refrigerator Test””
2021 100-Word Contest Winner: “Benediction”
Read the grand-prize winner of our 100-Word Contest.
Second-Place 100-Word Contest Winner: “Preserved”
Aleece told me that Brownie had run away from home. My heart stopped cold when I recognized her shaggy body stuffed, still as a rod … Read More “Second-Place 100-Word Contest Winner: “Preserved””
Third-Place 100-Word Contest Winner: “Surrounded”
Melody could sometimes hear the faint rhythmic clicks when standing in the kitchen. Otherwise the hundreds of dull-faced dolls that she had placed in … Read More “Third-Place 100-Word Contest Winner: “Surrounded””
2021 Summer Flash Contest Winner: “Shelter”
Read the first-place winner of our 2021 Summer Flash Contest.
Second-Place Summer Flash Contest Winner: “Ama”
There is a grove behind my house in which things do not grow so much as crawl towards the nearest light. Even the plants cannot … Read More “Second-Place Summer Flash Contest Winner: “Ama””
Third-Place Summer Flash Contest Winner: “Swashbucklers”
Mama taught Baby May to make god’s eyes out of sticks and yarn to distract her from climbing. But it only gave her more reasons. … Read More “Third-Place Summer Flash Contest Winner: “Swashbucklers””
Opportunities for writers: february 2023 calls for submissions.
February 2023 Calls for Submissions These are the writing opportunities and contests that caught our eye and are published in the February issue of The … Read More “Opportunities for Writers: February 2023 Calls for Submissions”
Consistency across your YA series
The key to writing a great YA series (or MG series) is knowing your characters and plotlines inside and out – while giving yourself the flexibility to modify things when needed. Here are four things to live by when writing a series, based on tips from middle grade and young adult authors who have been there.
25 Sensory Writing Prompts to Improve Detail & Description
By most accounts, there are more than five senses. Some experts say there are seven, some as many as 20. But narrowing in on at least the five classical senses can lend a much-needed “sense” of detail to your writing. Here are five prompts for each of those five classic senses.
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The Writing Contests, Grants & Awards database includes details about the creative writing contests—including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, and more—that we’ve published in Poets & Writers Magazine during the past year. We carefully review the practices and policies of each contest before including it. Ours is the most trusted resource for legitimate writing contests available anywhere.
Stella kupferberg memorial short story contest.
A prize of $1,000 and tuition for a 10-week writing class through New York City’s Gotham Writers Workshop is given annually for a short story. The winning work will be...
James Jones Literary Society
First novel fellowship.
A prize of $10,000 is given annually for a novel-in-progress by a U.S. writer who has not published a novel. The first runner-up will receive $3,000 and the second runner-up...
Tomaž Šalamun Prize
A prize of $1,000 and publication by Factory Hollow Press is given annually for a poetry chapbook. The winner will also receive a monthlong residency in summer 2024 in a...
Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation
A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a single poem. Juan Felipe Herrera will judge. Submit up to three poems of no more than three pages each with a $10 entry fee by March...
Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Bellingham Review are given annually for works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. The 49th Parallel Award for...
The Word Works
A prize of $1,500 and publication by the Word Works is given annually to a U.S. or Canadian poet for a poetry collection. Submit a manuscript of 48 to 80 pages with a $25 entry...
Raz-shumaker book prizes.
Two prizes of $3,000 each and publication by University of Nebraska Press are given annually for a poetry collection and a story collection. Kwame Dawes will judge. Submit a...
National Poetry Series
Five prizes of $10,000 each and publication by participating trade, university, or small press publishers are given annually for poetry collections by U.S. poets. The 2023...
Hidden River Arts
A prize of $1,000 and publication by Sowilo Press is given annually for a first book of fiction by a woman writer over the age of 40. Works translated into English are eligible...
Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition
A prize of $1,500 and publication on the competition website is given annually for a short story by a writer whose fiction has not appeared in a nationally distributed...
Steinberg memorial essay prize.
A prize of $1,000 and publication in Fourth Genre is given annually for an essay. Debra Gwartney will judge. Using only the online submission system, submit an essay of...
The Center for Fiction
First novel prize.
A prize of $15,000 is given annually for a debut novel published in the United States by an American citizen during the current year. Six finalists will receive $1,000 each....
Prize for new immigrant writing.
A prize of $10,000 and publication by Restless Books is given in alternating years for a debut book of fiction or nonfiction by a first-generation immigrant. The 2023 prize...
A prize of €1,000 (approximately $1,055) and publication in the Fish Publishing anthology is given annually for a single poem. The winner is also invited to read at the...
Antivenom poetry award.
A prize of $1,000 and publication by Elixir Press is given annually for a first or second poetry collection. John Estes will judge. Submit a manuscript of at least 48 pages...
A Public Space
Three six-month fellowships of $1,000 each are given annually to emerging poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers who “embrace risk in their work” and have not published...
Short story contest.
A prize of $1,000 and publication in Gemini Magazine is given annually for a short story. The editors will judge. Submit a story of any length with an $8 entry fee by...
Arts & Letters
Arts & letters prizes.
Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Arts & Letters are given annually for a group of poems, a short story, and an essay. Rodney Jones will judge in poetry...
Prime Number Magazine Awards
Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Prime Number Magazine are given annually for a poem and a short story. Felicia Mitchell will judge in poetry and Dennis...
Lascaux prize in poetry.
A prize of $1,000 and publication both online and in the print edition of Lascaux Review is given annually for a single poem. Previously published and unpublished...
Poetry and creative nonfiction prizes.
Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Indiana Review are given annually for a single poem and an essay. Submit up to three poems of any length or a work of prose...
Banipal Trust for Arab Literature
Saif ghobash banipal prize for arabic literary translation.
A prize of £3,000 (approximately $3,665) is given annually for a book of poetry or fiction translated from Arabic into English and published for the first time in English...
Laura Boss Poetry Foundation
Laura boss narrative poetry award.
A prize of $5,000, publication by New York Quarterly Books, and 25 author copies will be given annually for a manuscript of narrative poetry. The winner and finalists are...
Winter Story Contest
A prize of $2,500 and publication in Narrative is given annually for a short story, a short short story, an essay, or an excerpt from a longer work of fiction or...
Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature
Paul engle prize.
A prize of $20,000 is given annually to a writer “who, like Paul Engle, represents a pioneering spirit in the world of literature through writing, editing, publishing, or...
10 Critical Mistakes Writers Make in Writing Contests
by Alice Sudlow | 11 comments
You work hard to write your best story—and if you're honest, you're pretty sure it's amazing. You share it with other writers to get their feedback, and they agree. You work up your courage and hit the “Submit” button, sending it off to a mysterious panel of writing contest judges.
And then . . . you wait. What will the judges think? Will they agree your story deserves to win it all? Did you write the kind of story that will catch the judges' eye? What kind of story is that, anyway?
I'm going to take you behind the scenes and reveal exactly what judges are looking for when they choose the winners of writing contests.
Want to enter a writing contest, get feedback, get published (guaranteed!), and maybe even win a prize? Enter our next writing contest!
Discover upcoming writing contests »
The Bewildering Challenge of Judging a Writing Contest
In the final round of our writing contests , the judges are tasked with an almost impossible challenge: how will they decide which of a small group of excellent stories will win a prize?
For a story to have made it this far, it’s already undergone careful scrutiny by the entire panel. Every single judge has read and considered it, and enough have advocated for it so strongly that it’s moved forward to join an elite selection of stories.
We all know it has fans among the judges. We all know it has great merit. The problem is . . . so do the other ten, or fifteen, or twenty stories that were selected for the ultimate consideration.
How do the judges choose? What sets the winning story apart? And if a story that made it this far doesn’t win (and mathematically, that’s always the case), what’s the fatal flaw that knocks it out?
10 Storytelling Essentials That Wow Judges and Win Writing Contests
I’ve judged nine writing contests with The Write Practice, and I’m gearing up for my tenth. (Want in on the fun? Join our next writing contest here! ) My favorite part of every contest is the discussion amongst the judges. I love hearing what they see in their top picks, what stands out about the strongest contenders.
Throughout these contests, I’ve picked up on some patterns. A handful of critical mistakes appear again and again—and in the final round, it’s these mistakes the judges consider as they make the toughest decisions.
I’ve distilled long hours of judges’ discussion into ten elements the winning stories must include. I’ve seen every single one of these essentials become the deciding factor about whether a story will take home a prize or not.
Want your story to not just make the final round, but win the whole contest? Take a careful look at these ten elements and make sure your story includes each one.
1. Get inspired by the theme.
If the contest has a theme, make sure you adhere to it. You might write a brilliant story—but if you ignore the theme, skip part of it, or in any way disobey the contest guidelines , that’s a quick way to get your story disqualified.
2. Focus on a bite-sized story.
Here’s the thing: a short story is not a novel. You can’t tell an epic fantasy tale in under 1,500 words.
Choose a story idea whose scope fits within the word count requirements. The life story of a 103-year-old might be too long, but an unexpected detour on the way home from the grocery store might be just the right length.
3. Structure your story with clarity in mind.
This goes along with step #2. Yes, you can write a short story set across two time periods with five scene changes and three point-of-view characters, and fit it all in just 1,500 words. But should you? Maybe, maybe not.
When you’re working within a tiny word count, overcomplicating your story can quickly confuse your readers. Make sure that transitions are clear, and that each new element you introduce—a new scene, a new character, a new plot twist—moves the story forward rather than cluttering it up.
It can be hard to judge what’s confusing in your own writing, so have someone read your story before you submit.
4. Hook your readers (and the judges!) with a brilliant first line.
The first sentence of your story is your chance to make an amazing first impression. A powerful, surprising, and intriguing first line will capture the judges’ interest at the start and make them look forward to reading the rest.
Writing contest judges read hundreds of stories in a short amount of time. Make sure your first line gets them excited to stumble across yours.
5. Get straight to the action.
In a 1,500 word story, you don’t have space to write long passages of world building or pages of backstory. And the truth is, that’s not the interesting part anyway.
Don’t open the story with three paragraphs setting the scene. Instead, start your story at the moment when “normal” ends .
What’s the first sign of trouble? The first indication that something will be different about today? The inciting incident that kicks off the action? Skip the descriptive introduction and start your story there.
6. Give your character a goal.
“Make your characters want something right away even if it's only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.” —Kurt Vonnegut
Everyone wants something. It might be as small as another hour of sleep or as profound as one more day with their terminally ill grandfather.
Whatever it is, their want—and the things they do to get it—drive the story.
Make sure your character has a goal they're pursuing. Stories about characters without goals ramble on, leaving readers confused about why they're reading at all. Stories about characters who have clear goals and make decisions to pursue them keep us hooked, turning the pages to see what happens next.
Pro tip: everyone needs something, too. Sometimes what they want and what they need aren't the same thing. If your character achieves their goal, will that actually make them happy? Or will they have to deal with some unwanted consequences?
7. Cut excess words so you can focus on the story.
Are you 500 words over the limit and stumped about what to cut? Look for:
Backstory. Yes, you need to know everything about your character—but your readers don’t. It’s tempting to include every detail of their history that led them to this moment, but that will actually slow down your story and burden readers with unnecessary information. Get it all out on the page in the first draft. Then, as you edit, challenge yourself to cut as much backstory as possible. Pro tip: if there’s an important piece of information readers (and characters) need to know, use it as a surprising revelation to fuel the plot.
Florid description. Does a detail move the story forward? Does it show us something about the character or the plot that we need to know? If so, great! If not, cut it. Unless your story is about rogue painters vandalizing the neighborhood waste collection route, we don’t need to know what color your character’s trash cans are.
Adverbs. Cut them ruthlessly. “The road to hell is paved with adverbs,” writes Stephen King, and that’s especially true when you’re limited to just 1,500 words. While you’re at it, cut these seven words, too . Save your space for words that will move the plot forward, not weigh the reader down with clunky prose.
(Did you catch all the adverbs I used in that paragraph? Ouch. We all fall short of editorial perfection.)
8. Make your characters choose.
This is the crux of the story, the crucial moment to focus on. At some point in the story, your character must make a decision .
Throughout the story, the tension is building. The plot is thickening, the stakes are rising, and the risks are becoming greater and greater.
As the story approaches the climax , bring your character to a critical dilemma where they must choose how they’re going to respond.
If your character limps along without making a choice, or if they let the people around them choose for them, the story will feel dissatisfying and incomplete.
But as they choose something and then face the consequences of their decision, we’ll be riveted, wondering, how will they handle what happens next?
9. Make sure something changes.
That moment of crisis, the decision your character makes, has consequences. Maybe they took a risk and it paid off—or maybe they crash and burn. Whatever the case, something must be different as a result of their choice.
Remember, stories are about change. If your character finishes the story in the same place they began, you’ll leave readers wondering why they bothered to read it in the first place.
Make sure the trials your character experiences and the decisions they make leave someone or something irreversibly changed by the end of the story.
On that note, beware of writing a story where the main plot is a dream sequence. Unless the waking world is somehow different as a result of the dream, it feels disingenuous. Any change in the dream world is erased when the character wakes up. Why read a story where nothing changes?
And yes, this applies to daydreams, too. Make sure the story isn’t all in the character’s head.
10. Nail the ending.
The first 1,450 words of your 1,500-word story are riveting. You don’t have a ton of space to wrap it up, but surely if you just tack on some kind of closing, it’ll be fine, right?
It’s very, very hard to write the perfect ending to a short story, the conclusion that will tie up the loose ends neatly but not too neatly, leaving the story feeling resolved and also a bit mysterious. The judges know this.
They’re still looking for the perfect ending .
What does this story need in order to reach closure? What will resolve the conflict? What will allow us to walk away satisfied that we’ve truly reached “The End”?
Remember, a short story is complete in and of itself. It’s not the first chapter of a novel, or a teaser into something larger. Make sure your story stands alone, and that when it ends, this tiny glimpse into your character’s life is truly done.
An otherwise excellent story that fails to nail the ending won’t take the top spot. But a surprising but inevitable climax that leads to a satisfying resolution will amaze the judges and make your story a strong contender to win it all.
Take the time to get your ending right.
Two More Notes About These “Essentials”
I’ve looked at all these elements from the perspective of a writing contest judge—what does our panel look for when we’re challenged to select a handful of winners from an abundance of engaging stories?
But there are two more ways you can read this list.
1. Feedback from the judges. One of the things that makes our writing contests special is the opportunity to get feedback directly from the judges on why your story did or didn’t win. I’ll let you in on a secret: 85 percent of the feedback judges write relates back to these ten elements. If you can master this list, they’ll find it a real challenge to give you any critical feedback.
(Want specific feedback on how your story did or didn’t fulfill these ten essentials? Join one of our writing contests and sign up for feedback from the judges!)
2. The secrets of great storytelling. A list like this can feel contrived: “Oh, you mean if I just sprinkle these ten arbitrary things into my story, it’ll be twisted so the judges like it?” But here’s the thing: the judges want to see these elements because they are fundamental skills of great storytelling . You don’t need a writing contest to apply them—master these skills, and you’ll become a better storyteller for any story.
The best way to master these storytelling fundamentals is by entering a writing contest. Plus, you might win a prize! Ready to enter?
Join our next contest »
Which of these essentials do you find the most challenging? Let us know in the comments !
For the next fifteen minutes , draft a story based on our last contest theme: haunted. Focus on essentials four and five: hook your readers with a great opening line, and get straight to the action.
When you’re done, share your story the practice box below, and be sure to leave feedback for your fellow writers.
Enter your practice here:
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Alice Sudlow is the Editor-in-Chief of The Write Practice and a Story Grid certified developmental editor. Her specialty is in crafting transformative character arcs in young adult novels. She also has a keen eye for comma splices, misplaced hyphens, and well-turned sentences, and is known for her eagle-eyed copywriter skills. Get her free guide to how to edit your novel at alicesudlow.com .
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THE BIG LIST OF INTERNATIONAL WRITING COMPETITIONS
An extensive list of the best international writing competitions. free to enter contests in yellow. new contests added regularly. if you run a writing competition and would like it added to the list, submit it here..
Competitions are a great way to get your work out there and to challenge yourself as a writer. If you're looking for some international writing competitions to enter, look no further. Whether you’re looking for short story contests, essay or memoir competitions, novel awards, flash fiction, or poetry; we’ve got it covered. This list includes competitions open to writers from all over the world. So get your entry ready and start crossing your fingers that you'll be one of the winners!
Why You Should Enter Writing Competitions
Here are some great reasons to start entering your writing into contests:
The prize. Most contests have a pretty good cash prize on offer. Since a lot of organisations will publish the winning entry, it’s important to choose a writing contest with a prize worthy of handing over publishing rights to your story. Some contests will also offer other great prizes like mentoring sessions or introductions to agents.
The prestige and status of winning. This isn’t just for bragging rights, winning writing competitions can look really good when you come to query editors, agents, or publishers.
The exposure. It’s important to get your name out there. A competition win will help spread the word about a new name in the industry.
The opportunity to challenge yourself to write in new styles and genres, or to explore themes and topics you wouldn’t otherwise write about. Many writing competitions have interesting themes or prompts., this can push your writing in new and exciting directions.
Motivation to write. The thrill and excitement of a writing contest can sometimes spur you on with your writing. Submitting your new story for a contest can really help keep you going when otherwise you might start to flag. And the looming deadline can also be a great motivator!
They’re a great way to get unblocked. Writing competitions with prompts can be really effective at getting rid of writers’ block.
A chance to get feedback on your writing. Some competitions offer judges’ critique or the opportunity to get feedback from your peers. This can be invaluable because getting feedback on your writing is one of the surest ways to see your work improve.
How to Choose the Right Competition
Here are some factors to consider when deciding which contest to enter:
Is there an entry fee? There’s nothing wrong with companies charging entry fees. These are not lotteries where the winning entry is pulled out of a hat! Putting on writing contests takes an awful lot of work and we should know! Money from entry fees will go towards the administrative costs of running the contest, compensating the judges for their time and, of course, to fund the prize. That being said, you should still factor in the entry fee when making your decision. Is it a fair amount? Is it something you can afford to lose? Is the prize worth the fee?
The prize. Is the prize worthy of your time, effort, or money spent on fees? For example, if a contest is only offering publication as a prize and they expect you to pay to enter, you’re being taken for a ride. You’re essentially giving them money to take your story from you.
Are they offering a way to get feedback on your story? Let’s face it, there are going to be a lot more losers than winners at the end of a contest. What are you getting out of it, besides the chance of winning? Some contests will provide judges’ feedback for an additional fee. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this, the judges should be compensated for their time. However, judges’ feedback can be pretty expensive and the value of that feedback can vary dramatically from judge to judge, contest to contest. You’ll usually end up paying quite a lot of money for one judge’s opinion on your story. We believe that peer feedback can be much more valuable. All our contests offer the chance to get free feedback from as many other participants in the contest as you want. Very often some of the other participants taking part in writing contests are just as qualified to give feedback as any judge.
How prestigious is the contest? This will determine how valuable winning the contest will be for furthering your writing career. However, very prestigious writing competitions will often have more participants and a much higher standard of entry. This makes these competitions the hardest ones to win.
Can you submit an existing story or will you have to write something new? In our opinion, the best contests to enter are the ones you’ll have to write a new story for. It can be tempting to take one story and enter it in as many contests as you can, but we think you should only do this if you’re really busy with other writing projects and you’re being as prolific a writer as you could wish to be. If this isn’t the case and you know you should (and want to be) writing more often, try to only enter contests that will see you write something new each time. The more you write, the better you become. Don’t miss out on any opportunities to write more and add to your canon of work!
How to Win a Writing Competition
Here are our top tips for winning a writing competition:
Choose the right contest. If winning is your goal, choose a contest you think suits your strengths. If pushing yourself as a writer is more important, choose the contest you think will challenge you the most. If you’re a new writer, choose a less well-known contest, but make sure they’re still offering a good competition! Don’t underestimate yourself and start entering any contest that will take your money!
Read the rules! All reputable contest will have official rules. Read them carefully! If you don’t follow the rules, you’re likely to be disqualified. Most organisations won’t inform participants if this happens. The worst outcome would be that you pay an entry fee, get disqualified without your knowledge and instead just assume you didn’t win because your story wasn’t good enough.
Read the submission instructions very carefully before you choose to take part and then make sure you read them again very carefully when you’re ready to submit. Don’t think you’ll just remember them from reading them once. Also, don’t think of the instructions as ‘suggestions’ on how to submit. They are instructions! Follow them to the letter or risk getting kicked out of the contest and not even knowing that your entry wasn’t considered.
Follow the theme. If the contest has a particular prompt, theme, or calls for a specific style of writing or genre, make sure your entry meets the requirements. Don’t assume the judges will love your story so much it won’t matter that it doesn’t fit within the parameters of the competition. Don’t forget, they’ll probably be publishing the winning entry alongside details of the theme or prompt. They won’t risk their credibility by choosing an entry that doesn’t fit. So don’t waste your time and money by submitting an old and unsuitable story, instead take this as an opportunity to write something new!
Don’t be afraid to interpret the theme or prompt in your own way. Although judges will probably disregard any entry that clearly doesn’t fit the theme, they will be on the lookout for a unique take.
Make sure your story is as good as it can be. This means that it has been properly edited. You don’t need to hire a professional editor or proof-reader, but you should edit it yourself many, many times over. You should also try uploading your entry to different devices because new formats can help you spot errors you would otherwise miss. You should also put your writing through editing software and ask friends or family to read it for errors. Most competitions will only permit you to enter your story once and won’t allow you to resubmit if you spot errors later. Make sure you only submit when it’s completely ready and check and double check you submit the correct file!
Check out the previous winners. This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how few participants actually do this! We know this because we know how many people enter our contests and we can see how many people visit our winners’ page! Read the winning entries and look out for commonalities between the way they are written. This is not to say that you should copy the style, but instead figure out what these writers are doing that is impressive and make sure you’re doing the same sort of thing, but in your own way.
Make sure you really understand whichever style of writing you are hoping to submit. If you’re entering a short story competition, make sure you know the fundamentals of short story writing. There are plenty of resources online with tips for writing great short stories. In any contest you’ll be up against a certain amount of seasoned writers, writers who have studied creative writing, or even people who write as their profession. However, the majority of participants will be beginner writers who haven’t studied how to write short stories and some who may have actually never written a short story before. If you’re a beginner too, give yourself an advantage over these other new writers by teaching yourself the basics of short story writing before you begin. Of course, with writing, there are no hard and fast rules, but there are writing conventions and it can be a really good idea to brush up on them. There’s also a lot of resources online about what typically constitutes ‘good’ and ‘bad’ writing and the kinds of things judges and editors love to see (as well as plenty of things that can turn them off a story). For example, did you know that most writing competition judges will be put off by stories that begin with descriptions of weather? And yet, about 80% of stories submitted will begin in this way. These are the kinds of things it’s invaluable to know before you begin writing for contests. We even wrote a whole blog post called ‘Common Writing Mistakes in Entries to Our 7 Day Story Writing Challenges’ that addresses those common ‘errors’ new writers often make. Feel free to check it out, there’s plenty in there that will be applicable to any fiction contest.
The Big List of No-Fee Literary Magazines
100 awesome flash fiction prompts, prize: £500 each challenge.
Register now for our next 7-day story writing challenge. A secret theme, a randomly assigned genre and just 7 days to write a story of no more than 2,000 words. Our 7 day story writing challenges take place throughout the year. The challenges are free and you can even get feedback on your story. Take part in one challenge or take part in all of them!
For this short story challenge, all participants will be randomly assigned a science fiction trope. As soon as you receive your assignment you'll have until the closing time to write and submit a short story of no more than 5,000 words. The science fiction tropes chosen for this year’s challenge are:
2. Space Piracy
5. Time Travel
Deadline: 6th Mar, 2023
For our 13th annual Poetry Open, we consider previously unpublished poems of any subject, style or length. Submit up to three poems. Six cash prizes plus online publication.
Deadline: 3rd Jan, 2023
Write yourself into history and become one of the greats with the Oxford Flash Fiction Prize. 1000 words, no minimum word limit.
Deadline: 31st Jan, 2023
One of the largest awards open to unpublished writers, and the only one closed to professionals. We are the first magazine to pay pro rates and only accept submissions from new writers, paying new authors over $50,000 this year. One new writer receives the grand prize. We also choose the best stories, pay the authors above-professional rates, and publish them in our magazine. December's head judge is Creag Munroe.
Deadline: 1st Jan, 2023
From January 1st to January 31st, submit short stories and essays of up to 25 pages or a set of 1-3 poems. Winners in each genre will receive $2,000 and publication.
this year we invite you to reflect on the following questions: How do you or your community celebrate these connections? How do you value those experiences with those people who leave a mark on your life? 1 work will be awarded in each category: 1) photography & visual arts, 2) poetry, and 3) narrative/essay/academic investigation.
Deadline: 1st Feb, 2023
Established in 2001, The Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize highlights one book a year that excels in the chapbook format. Since 2019 the Prize comes with $500, a standard royalty contract, and 20 copies of the published book.
Deadline: 31st Mar, 2023
The U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) partners with the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) on the annual National High School Essay Contest. The contest engages high school students in learning and writing about issues of peace and conflict, encouraging appreciation for diplomacy’s role in building partnerships that can advance peacebuilding and protect national security.
Deadline: 3rd Apr, 2023
Each year Black Lawrence Press will award The Big Moose Prize for an unpublished novel. The prize is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The winner of this contest will receive book publication, a $1,000 cash award, and ten copies of the book. Prizes will be awarded on publication. The Big Moose Prize is open to traditional novels as well as novels-in-stories, novels-in-poems, and other hybrid forms that contain within them the spirit of a novel.
Oscar’s Book Prize is an annual prize for the best under-fives book of the year. It is awarded in memory of Oscar Ashton and in partnership with Amazon, the Evening Standard and the National Literacy Trust.
Deadline: 16th Jan, 2023
This $1,000 award recognizes a poetry collection translated from any language into English and published in the previous calendar year. Established in 1976, it is given annually. A noted translator chooses the winning book.
Deadline: 15th Feb, 2023
The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award is a celebration of innovative new writing from across the globe. Each year, the competition invites submissions of poetry that redefine the parameters of form, concept and technique.
Deadline: 8th Sept, 2023
Write a poem, 30 lines or fewer on any subject, style, or form, typed or neatly hand printed.
Deadline: 19th Mar, 2023
Extraordinary stories about travel and the human spirit have been the cornerstones of our books since 1993. With the Solas Awards we honor writers whose work inspires others to explore. We’re looking for the best stories about travel and the world funny, illuminating, adventurous, uplifting, scary, inspiring, poignant stories that reflect the unique alchemy that occurs when you enter unfamiliar territory and begin to see the world differently as a result.
Deadline: 21st Sept, 2023
Prize: $150 CAD
A Canadian contest with an international flair. As part of our 25th anniversary celebration, we have increased the prize total to $1800 over six major categories: poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction, crime fiction, literary critical writing, and The Bill MacDonald prize for prose (A Northwestern Ontario setting must be central to the work).
Deadline: 28th Feb, 2023
The Trailblazer Review is an international high school literary magazine dedicated to celebrating and honoring indigenous culture through creative writing. Its Annual Cultural Heritage Contest accepts submissions of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction under 4000 words from middle and high school students (13-18 years old) on the subject of native culture and heritage.
Deadline: 20th Feb, 2023
Established to recognise and encourage creative writing and provide a platform for publication, this short story competition is open to original and previously unpublished short stories in the English language by a writer of any nationality, living anywhere in the world. There is no restriction on theme or style. Stories submitted must not exceed the maximum of 1,500 words.
Deadline: 31 Aug, 2023
Every year, the EngineerGirl website sponsors a contest dealing with engineering and its impact on our world. The topic and detailed instructions for the contest are posted in September with a deadline for submissions on February 1st of the following year. Winners are announced in the spring.
The $1000 for 1000 Words fiction writing contest is open to all students enrolled in grades 6-12. Each entrant may submit a fiction piece consisting of exactly 1,000 words (not including title or author’s name). The fiction piece can be on any topic, as long as it is not vulgar or offensive, does not use inappropriate profanity, and is the original work of the entrant not previously published.
Indignor House Publishing is proud to announce that our annual writing competition (INDIGNOR PLAYHOUSE Short Story Annual Competition) is officially open with expected publication in the fall of 2023.
We are not concerned with genre distinctions. Send us the best you have; we want only for it to be thoughtful, intelligent, and beautiful. We want art that grows in complexity upon each visitation; we enjoy ornate, cerebral, and voluptuous phrases executed with thematic intent.
Deadline: 22nd Feb, 2023
The Atlanta Shakespeare Company is launching a new playwriting initiative for historically marginalized artists. The "Muse Of Fire Playwriting Festival'' invites playwrights of the global majority to create a full-length play that reimagines Shakespeare’s themes and plots through the lens of BIPOC America.
Deadline: 15th Apr, 2023
A prize of $10,000 is given annually for a novel-in-progress by a U.S. writer who has not published a novel. Runners-up will receive $1000. A selection from the winning work is published in Provincetown Arts.
Deadline: 15th Mar, 2023
Write a short story, 5 pages maximum length, on any subject or theme, fiction, non-fiction, creative nonfiction (including essay compositions, diary, journal entries, short stage plays, screenplays, and screenwriting). All entries must be either typed or legibly hand printed. Multiple and simultaneous poetry and short story entries are accepted.
Stories Through The Ages - Baby Boomers Plus 2023 is open to people born 1966 or earlier. The deadline for entries is June 15, 2023. There is no prompt for the contest. Authors may write about any topic. The entry fee is $20 ($15 if submitting more than one story). The word count for this contest is 900 - 5000 words. Cash prizes of $500, $200 and $100 will be awarded. There will be a minimum of 15 finalists whose story will appear in the book.
Deadline: 15th Jun, 2023
It may be the sprint of creative writing but that doesn’t mean you can rush the creative process. Take us somewhere fast then let your story marinade in the reader's mind. Make every one of your 250 words count. There is no minimum number of words, just like there is no limit to your imagination. They say lightning doesn't strike twice but we want to feel the electricity in your story right from the beginning through to the very end.
Deadline: 31st May, 2023
You don't have to be Tennyson. Just talented. All we ask is that you please keep poems to 42 lines, max. You can, of course, write less. In addition to the prize money, the top three poems are automatically entered into the Forward Prize For Poetry’s best single poem competition, with the chance to win a further £1000. This exclusive award is not open to the public. You can write about absolutely anything but whatever your rhyme or reason, we want to read your poetry.
The World Historian Student Essay Competition is an international competition open to students enrolled in grades K–12 in public, private, and parochial schools, and those in home-study programs. Membership in the World History Association is not a requirement for submission. Past winners may not compete in the same category again.
Our Flash contest is now open and will run until 1st January 2023. The Short Story contest begins on the same date and will run until 31st May 2023.
The Ambroggio Prize is a $1,000 publication prize given for a book-length poetry manuscript originally written in Spanish and with an English translation. The winning manuscript is published by Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, publisher of literary works, scholarship, and art books by or about U.S. Hispanics.
The Debut Dagger is a competition for the opening of a crime novel by a writer who isn’t represented by an agent by the time the competition closes, and who has never had a traditional contract for any novel of any length, or who has never self-published any novel of any length in the last 5 years. Writers submit their opening 3,000 words and a 1,500 word synopsis. Entries from shortlisted writers are sent to UK literary agents and publishers. Every year, authors find representation this way.
Prize: $700 CAD
Our judge, Michelle Barker, will be asking herself one question: does this query letter convince me that I'm in the hands of an adept novelist with a unique and engaging story to tell?
Deadline: 31st Jan
Prize: Royalty advance of £10,000
We're looking for original ideas, a fresh voice, a diverse range of entries and stories that children will love! To enter, you must have written a full-length novel suitable for children/young adults aged between 7 and 18 years. We suggest a minimum of 30,000 words and ask that manuscripts do not exceed 80,000 words. The IET 150 Award will be awarded to a manuscript that celebrates Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
Deadline: 1st Jun, 2023
The Ellen Meloy Fund for Desert Writers grants one $5,000 award in the spring of each year. Only proposals for literary or creative nonfiction book projects will be considered. No fiction or poetry proposals will be reviewed.
Deadline: 15th Jan, 2023
Welcome to the 30th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest. Submit published or unpublished work. $8,000 in prizes.
Deadline: 30th Apr, 2023
Every year since 2014, the CWA and the Margery Allingham Society have jointly held an international competition for a short story of up to 3,500 words. Our mission is to find the best unpublished short mystery, and not only that, but one which fits into Golden Age crime writer Margery Allingham’s definition of what makes a great story. Entries are invited from all writers, published or unpublished, writing in English.
Our mission is to find the best unpublished short mystery — one that fits into legendary crime writer Margery’s definition of what makes a great story: “The Mystery remains box-shaped, at once a prison and a refuge. Its four walls are, roughly, a Crime, a Mystery, an Enquiry and a Conclusion with an Element of Satisfaction in it.”
Enter our 91st Annual Writing Competition for the chance to have your work be seen by editors and agents! Almost 500 winners will be chosen. The top winning entries of this writing contest will also be on display in the Annual Writer’s Digest Competition Collection.
Deadline: 5th May, 2023
Our annual flagship competition, the Stringybark Stories Open Short Story Award 2023, is now bigger than ever! Thanks to Graeme Simpson and Anne Buist, a record prize pool of over $1300 is on offer. The theme is open, the only constraint is that there must be a reference to Australia somewhere in the story. It doesn't matter how small a link there is (it could be a jar of vegemite on the counter), there just needs to be one!
Deadline: 12th Feb, 2023
The Shepton Snowdrop Festival is inviting poets, young and old, to pen a poem that reflects the power of nature, its reawakening, and the hope it brings. ‘Hope in nature’ is the theme for the 2022 Poetry Competition. During the short days and long evenings of winter, the green tips and delicate flowers of the snowdrop emerge to give hope and a sense of renewal.
Deadline: 8th Jan, 2023
We’re interested in flash fiction pieces of between 250 and 1,000 words. We’re seeking the finest work we can find that incorporates an uncanny element. Ghost stories are welcome, of course—but your submission may involve any paranormal or supernatural theme, as well as magic realism. What we’re looking for is superb writing, fresh perspectives, and maybe a few surprises.
Gail Honeyman was shortlisted in our competition and went on to write Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, winning the Costa debut novel award. All the winning and highly commended pieces are entered into the Sunday Times Audible competition, top prize £30,000. UK based writers are entered into the BBC short story competition. That's not all, literary agent A.M. Heath reads all the shortlist and considers representation. Long story short? You are 5,000 words away from success.
The 2021 Nervous Ghost Press Book Prizes are open to outstanding works of poetry and prose by anyone living in the United States of America. All work and all writers, from any point in their careers, are welcome to submit their work and get a chance of publication. Please submit a completed a manuscript (50,000-100,000 words for prose, 48-128 pages for poetry).
Your novel doesn't have to be finished. We initially need only 5,000 to 8,000 words plus a 300 word synopsis. If you're long listed we'll ask for a total of 15,000 words, including your original word count. Shortlisted? Then we need a total 30,000 words, again including your original entry and long listed word count. It all adds up to an incredible opportunity.
The contest is a loving tribute to Anne Marie Gracie, who died of cancer. All profits from the competition will go to Ayrshire Cancer Support.
Share a 2-4-2. What's that? That's a poem with only three lines that has 8 syllables total! So the first line of your poem will have two syllables. The second line will have four. And the final line will have two again. Cash prize to the winner.
Deadline: 11th July, 2023
Hidden River Arts offers a yearly prize of $1000 and publication in Hidden River Press, an imprint of Hidden River Publishing, for an unpublished book-length collection of poetry between 75 and 100 pages long.
Deadline: 21st Feb, 2023
Prize: publishing contract
Every year, the Killer Nashville Claymore Award assists new and rebranding English-language fiction authors get published, including possible agent representation, book advances, editor deals, and movie and television sales. While we cannot guarantee that winners and finalists of this award will receive publication, dozens of winners & runners-up of the Claymore award have gone on to find great success in their careers and many of them attribute that success to this award.
Deadline: 1st Apr, 2023
The Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence includes $1,000, publication, and twenty books. The Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence is open to ALL poets, regardless of publication history.
The New Writers Flash Fiction Competition 2022 open for entries of up to 300 words on any theme and from anywhere in the world (though entries must be written in English). There's a £1,000 prize pool with £700 for the winner (2nd: £200 and 3rd: £100), and £1.00 from each entry will be donated to First Story (https://firststory.org.uk/), England's leading creative writing charity for young people.
Deadline: 30th Nov, 2022
Students currently enrolled in a medical school or program are encouraged to submit to our Medical Student Essay Contest. Essays can be on any topic as it relates to medicine. Art, history, and literature topics are preferred.
Prize: $500 scholarship
AWP will offer three scholarships of $500 each to be awarded to three first-place winners in the genres of creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. These scholarships must be used to attend a writers’ conference, center, retreat, festival, or residency at one of the AWP member programs in the Directory of Conferences & Centers. All winners and six finalists will also receive a one-year individual membership.
The Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowships are $50,000 awards given to honor poets of literary merit appointed to serve in civic positions and to enable them to undertake meaningful, impactful, and innovative projects that engage their fellow residents, including youth, with poetry, helping to address issues important to their communities.
Deadline: 17th Feb, 2023
The challenge of this writing contest is to share a story that uses exactly 100 words. Write about anything but can you share a complete story with only 100 words?
Deadline: 8th July, 2023
Established in 2001, The Clay Reynolds Novella Prize highlights one book a year that excels in the novella format. Since 2019 the Prize comes with $500, a standard royalty contract, and 20 copies of the published book.
Through collaboration and community, shared stories and shared experiences, NCTE supports teachers and their students in classrooms, on college campuses, and in online learning environments. The Promising Young Writers Program stimulates and recognizes the writing talents of eighth-grade students and to emphasize the importance of writing skills among eighth-grade students.
The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing was created in 2016 to honor outstanding debut literary works by first-generation immigrants, awarded for fiction and nonfiction in alternating years. The winner receives $10,000 and publication by Restless Books.
As we adjust to new realities, inflationary pressures, geo-political tensions, environmental challenges and more it’s time to imagine and explore. The Minds Shine Bright writing competition Confidence 2023 is open and calling for entries of short stories, short scripts, flash fiction and poetry which explore the theme of confidence in some way.
The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award is a celebration of innovative new writing from across the globe. Each year, the competition invites submissions of short fiction that redefine the parameters of form, concept and technique.
We’re looking for short stories of up to 3,000 words. Stories can be any theme, genre, or subject — the world is your oyster! Top prize is £1,000 plus a plus a free creative writing course of your choice and publication on our site. Two runners up will receive £200 each.
Deadline: 30th Sep, 2022
The Trio Award for First or Second Book includes $1,000, publication, and twenty books. The Trio Award for First or Second Book is only open to poets with less than two books published.
Write a true story about a pet in 300 words or less! To make it extra enjoyable, please show us a picture of your pet if you can! It can be silly, sad, scary, or any adjective so long as it involves your furry or scaly friend.
Prize: £20 Amazon Voucher (or alternative)
The theme for this quarter’s short story competition is ‘Connections’. What this means to you is entirely subjective. Your piece may discuss familial connections, friendships, re-establishing old relationships, or anything that sees a connection being formed or, alternatively, falling apart.
Deadline: 30th Jun, 2022
We accept stories of any length, written in English, that fit the theme ‘Fiction about a Stranger’.
Poetry.com offers monthly contests for poets worldwide to gain motivation, inspiration and exposure, while building passion and enjoyment for the written creative process! How are winners chosen? Our contest boasts a clever twist: poems remain anonymous whilst applicants vote on what they believe should be the winning entry.
Deadline: 31st Dec, 2022
Each year Third Wednesday awards 3 $100 prizes in its annual poetry contest. For this year's contest, entries will be accepted from November 1, 2020 through February 15, 2021. We will accept contest entries of up to 3 previously unpublished poems of any style and subject matter. There is no limit on length.
Prize: publication on website
Free flash fiction competition for stories up to 200 words with a twist. Competition always open, with a winner announced and published online after 100 entries received (story count on website). Feedback and the PDF ‘An introduction the writing good flash fiction’ offered for (£5 or equivalent).
Deadline: 1st Dec, 2022
The Miami University Novella Prize is awarded annually to a novella-length manuscript of original fiction (18,000–40,000 words). The winner receives $750, a standard contract, publication and 10 copies of the book.
Deadline: 30th Aug, 2022
This quarterly open-themed competition has closing dates of 31st March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December. The results will be announced about six weeks after each closing date and the three winning entries each quarter will be published on the website.
The 2022 Grindstone International Novel Prize is open to authors from all around the world, and is aimed at discovering and elevating new and unsung authors. Authors may submit finished or part-finished manuscripts providing they are not currently represented by an agent. We forward all longlisted works to some of the best agencies in the UK such as Curtis Brown Books, Conville and Walsh, Janklow & Nesbitt, the Paper Literary Agency, the Good Literary Agency, and so many more. A full list can be found on our Affiliated Agents Page.
Deadline: 1st Oct, 2022
The annual Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry awards $2000 plus publication for a full-length poetry collection. The Prize is awarded for an unpublished, full-length volume of poems by a U.S. author, which includes foreign nationals living and writing in the U.S. and U.S. citizens living abroad.
Deadline: 16th Jul, 2022
Write fantasy, futuristic, or paranormal? Then the On the Far Side Contest is for you!! Welcome dragons, witches, ghosties, psychics, vampires, shapeshifters, unicorns, and any creature your imagination can conjure up in a galaxy far, far away, in a time long past, or in your very own backyard.
Deadline: 31st Jul, 2022
Prize: €500 and a one year subscription to Anthology magazine
Entries are now invited for the Anthology Poetry Award. Established to recognise and encourage excellence in the craft of poetry writing and to provide a platform for publication, it is open to original and previously unpublished poems in the English language. Poems submitted must be on the theme of ‘Freedom’ and should not exceed 40 lines.
Deadline: 31st Oct, 2022
Page Turner is looking for your short story that teens will read in one sitting because they can't stop!
Deadline: 30th Jul, 2022
For over thirteen years, the Poetry of the Sacred contest has received thousands of submissions touching every aspect of spiritual life. Poetry has been called ‘the language of the soul’ and this annual contest encourages poets to awaken the reader to the deep meaning and beauty of a contemplative life. Poems are evaluated based on literary excellence, authenticity and spiritual tenor.
Deadline: 1st Aug, 2022
Prize: Possible contract with Mystery Writers of America
Created in 2009, the Killer Nashville Claymore Award assists new and rebranding English-language fiction authors to get published, including possible agent representation, book advances, editor deals, and movie and television sales. The contest is limited to only the first 50 double-spaced pages of unpublished English-language manuscripts containing elements of thriller, mystery, crime, or suspense NOT currently under contract.
The Dante Rossetti Awards Categories are: Contemporary Young Adult; SFF & Paranormal; Dystopian/Edgy/Urban; Mystery/Thriller/Suspense; Historical Young Adult; YA Adventure/Romance. The Chanticleer Prize Package includes: A Prize Ribbon to use in promotion at book signings and book festivals Digital Badges for display on your website or incorporation into book covers Book stickers to identify your print books to bookstore shoppers as they browse.
Writers of short fiction are invited to enter the Anthology Short Story Award. Established to recognise and encourage creative writing and provide a platform for publication, it is open to original and previously unpublished short stories in the English language. Stories submitted must be on the theme of ‘Memories’ and not exceed the maximum of 1,500 words.
Deadline: 31st Aug, 2022
The Fall Edition Contest is an open, mixed-category contest. In other words, we have no limitations or expectations on which types of works will win awards. Selections are based on originality, voice, and style. Last years contest had 4 prose winners and 2 poetry winners.
Deadline: 28th Aug, 2022
Prize: Luxury expedition cruise to Greenland for two people
Do you have a way with words? Love to regale your friends and family with tales from your travels? If that’s a yes, then our Travel Writing Competition is just the thing for you. For your chance to win, simply write no more than 500 words on an inspiring travel experience, which could be anything from mountaineering in Patagonia to a hike in Pembrokeshire.
Deadline: 23rd Jul, 2022
International contest looking for the best poetry books from Indies, small press and independent publishers. Prizes: 1st - £300; 2nd - £150; 3rd - £75; plus gold, silver, bronze logo for use on book, publicity, reviews on Amazon & Goodreads. Publication, bio, book cover all linked on our website. Overall winner gets 1 year subscription to PN Review. Judge: John Evans.
Deadline: 31st, Jul, 2022
Write an essence poem. This is a poem of two lines with six syllables per line, each containing an internal rhyme and an ending rhyme.
Deadline: 5th Dec, 2022
Established in 1998, in honor of the poet Benjamin Saltman (1927–1999), this award is for a previously unpublished original collection of poetry. The awarded collection is selected through an annual competition that is open to all poets.
Prize: Publication in Rattle Magazine
Rattle is a publication of the Rattle Foundation, an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the practice of poetry, and is not affiliated with any other organization. The author of the poem must have been age 15 or younger when the poem was written, and 18 or younger when submitted.
Deadline: 15th Nov, 2022
Deadline: 21st Sep, 2022
The competition is for stories of up to five thousand words on any theme. We are delighted that Sunday Times Bestselling author, Trisha Ashley is once again offering an award. This year she has asked us for a selection of 'engaging and quirky' stories to choose from.
Send in your short story in mystery, suspense, or thriller style. Entries may be up to 2500 words (about 10 double-spaced pages). It’s loads of fun and a good exercise of your writing skills.
Share a story that starts with this sentence: I'm glad you made it. Now continue the story. What will you write about? What is going on here? You decide. Cash prize!
Deadline: 14th Oct, 2022
Lune Spark's yearly contest aims to encourage children to engage in creating writing. Submit a story up to 1,500 words long for a chance to get published.
The Megaphone Prize by Radix Media is dedicated to publishing timely and interrogative work by debut writers of color. This year, the prize is open to short story collections. Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, will judge and choose the winning manuscript.
Deadline: 15th Oct, 2022
Now in our ninth year of competition, we are an Edinburgh-based, international award for unpublished and self-published novelists in all genres for adults and YA. This year's judge is Charlotte Seymour, literary agent at Johnson & Alcock. On top of the £1,500 top prize, the best entry from the UK and Ireland will receive a place on a writing course at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre.
Deadline: 1st Nov, 2022
The Super Challenge is a prompted, 48-hour flash competition alternating between fiction and creative nonfiction. Prompts are released on a Friday night; writers have 48 hours to craft a response in 1,000 words or fewer. Professional editors read all entries and provide detailed feedback on each. The top writers move on to round 2 with new prompts.
Deadline: 23rd Dec, 2022
Seeking Black Midwestern writers 18 years and older to submit an original fiction or nonfiction children’s story for a picture book. Manuscripts 300–800 words (ages 4–8) or 50–125 words (ages 0–4) in length. Must feature contemporary Black characters and culture.
Deadline: 24th Jul, 2022
Writers are invited to submit novels, short story collections and creative nonfiction manuscripts. The Editors' Prize winner receives a publication contract with Unleash Press and $1000 prize, along with 10 printed copies of the final book. We may also offer publication contracts to additional outstanding manuscripts.
Deadline: 31st Dec, 2023
Write a four line poem that has a specific syllable count. The first line has 1 syllable, the second line has 5 syllables, the third line has 5 syllables, and the last line has 9 syllables. The subject can be anything.
Deadline: 22nd Dec, 2022
A competition for humorous short stories. 2,500 words max, no minimum. Total prize pot: £3,860. 40 prizes: 1st 1,200, 2nd £600, 3rd £300, 3x highly commended £150, 14 x shortlisted £75, 20 x longlisted (free early bird entry into next comp = £13 in value).
In addition to cash prize, the winner’s head appears on the front cover of the To Hull And Back Anthology. They are depicted riding a flaming motorcycle and holding a quill of wrath. The winner’s copy of the book is strapped to a Harley Davidson and filmed being ridden to Hull. And back. The winner can make the journey on Hilda the Hog if they wish, and appear in the video. All shortlisted stories published in anthology.
Deadline: 30th Jun, 2023
Biopage is hosting a writing contest to remind people the benefits of writing. Each story (or once chapter of your stories) is limited to 5,000 characters or roughly 1,000 words. You can write about good life experience, or bad, embarrassing, frightening ones. You can win $300, and five runners-up can win $100 each.
Deadline: 18th Oct, 2022
To win, write a six word story, poem, memoir, or joke. Free to enter, with the chance to get your tiny creation published, and you crowned as the Six Word Wonder - winning $100. Last year's contest had over 3,300 entries, with over 100 short-listed. Every writer gets six free entries to play with.
Deadline: 23rd Sep, 2022
Ottawa Tourism offers an annual $500 CAD prize for outstanding travel writing featuring Canada’s Capital Region. Eligible entries include items in English or in French that have appeared in magazines, newspapers, or online media in 2022 that highlight Ottawa as a travel destination.
Deadline: 3rd Feb, 2023
The theme is ‘connected’ and this can be interpreted however the writer chooses. The finalists will be judged by Call the Midwife stars Jenny Agutter and Stephen McGann. Entries cost £5 and all proceeds from the competition will help Ovacome to support anyone affected by ovarian cancer and raise awareness of the signs and symptoms.
The New Voices Award is given annually by children's book publisher Lee & Low Books for a children’s picture book manuscript by a writer of color or Indigenous/Native writer. Established in 2000, the New Voices Award encourages writers of color and Indigenous/Native writers to submit their work to a publisher that takes pride in nurturing new talent.
We are looking for an opening chapter up to 3,000 words, plus a one page synopsis outlining the balance of your story of any genre, so long as it's unpublished.
The competition is open to new, emerging and established poets from any country. One of these winners will be the highest scoring manuscript entered by a poet with no solo collection (full-length or chapbook) previously published. Up to 25 other entrants will be publicly listed as "highly commended".
This is a bi-annual competition. We welcome stories on any theme. The maximum wordcount is 3,000.
The Moment Magazine-Karma Foundation Short Fiction Contest encourages writers to unpublished short fiction related to Judaism or Jewish culture or history. Established in 2000, judges and special guests for this international annual contest have included Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Pinsky, Walter Mosley, Nicole Krauss, Erica Jong, Jonathan Safran Foer, Geraldine Brooks, Andre Aciman and Dara Horn.
Deadline: 15th Aug, 2022
Prize: $10,000 advance
Established in 1998, The X. J. Kennedy Prize highlights one full-length collection of poetry per year. Since 2019 the Prize comes with a $10,000 advance, a standard royalty contract, and 20 copies of the published book.
We are seeking fiction and creative nonfiction of every genre. The contest is open to authors who have not been published by a major press. We publish in English, but the contest is open to writers from anywhere in the world. The early-bird entry fee (December 15th-February 15th) will be $25.
Deadline: 15th Jul, 2022
Prize: First look consideration by a top, NYC-based literary agency
Where talented authors meet publishing professionals with the power to make a difference in the success of their books. Every author who enters a title in the IR Discovery Awards will receive a verdict, written by an IndieReader reviewer and based on their assessment after reading the complete book.
Summer is for Short Stories! The Masters Review’s Short Story Award for New Writers is a bi-annual contest that recognizes the best fiction from today’s emerging writers. The winner receives a $3,000 prize and agency review, and their story will be published online in late winter/early spring. Second and third place finalists will be awarded publication, agency review and $300/$200 prizes. Entries must be under 6,000 words.
The Gabriele Rico Challenge for Nonfiction recognizes outstanding works of nonfiction. We are looking for creative nonfiction, such as personal essays or narratives, not scholarly papers or book reviews. All works should be stand-alone essays, not chapters of a longer work. Please limit prose submissions to 5,000 words.
Inaugural Saudi Historical Novel Award. Entries must have historical Saudi themes or characters. Please read full guidelines.
Deadline: 1st Jul, 2022
The Omega Sci-Fi Awards are proud to accept entries for The Roswell Award international short science fiction story competition from writers age 16 and older. The Feminist Futures Award will be awarded to a distinct winner for an outstanding feminist sci-fi story.
Deadline: 21st Dec, 2022
We are looking for young, old, novice and veteran writers to send us stories that possess a powerful sense of place. Stories can be fiction, nonfiction, poetry or essay.
Deadline: 15th Dec, 2022
The Tales By Moonlight Contest is a novella writing competition. The genre for the competition is fiction and the theme is magic. Contest entries can range from 7,500 - 40,000 words in length. Winners will be decided by a public voting system.
Deadline: 15th Sep, 2022
Prize: $200 (CAD)
Contest entries should be flash fiction or short stories, with an absolute word limit of 1000 words. There is no required prompt or topic. Write whatever you'd like! We want to see you get creative!
The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recognizes outstanding works that contribute to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of cultural diversity. Awards are given for fiction, poetry and nonfiction.
The goal of the Novella-in-Flash Award is to promote flash fiction for both writers and readers and to bring the genre to a wider audience. There is a 6000 to 18000 word limit and each flash (or chapter) should not be more than about 1000 words.
HAVOK is a constant flash fiction contest, with rolling deadlines. Each season is split into monthly competitions with thematically connected prompts in a range of genres.
Subscribe to Fanstory for $9.95 a month and enter as many contests as you like from their list of writing and poetry contests, updated daily. All participants receive feedback from a community of writers, and the winner of each contest receives a cash prize of up to $100.
Entry: $10 monthly subscription
The Bath Children’s Novel Award is an annual international prize for emerging novelists writing for children or teens. Submissions are the first 5,000 words plus one page synopsis. A children’s literary agent will judge the winning manuscript from a shortlist chosen by Junior Judges aged seven to seventeen.
Prize: $1,000- $5,000
Enter themed storytelling contests to put your creativity to the test and be in with a chance of winning cash prizes and more. To submit, you'll need to sign up for a monthly fee of $9.99, or $4.99/month for 3 months.
Entry: $9.99 monthly subscription
Prize: $50 Amazon gift card
Voice.club has a strong commitment to writers and writing. Our monthly Flash Fiction writing contests are a wonderful opportunity for writers to practice their craft, share their stories and win prizes! Each entry must be 350 words or less, be family-friendly, and include some reference to the month's theme.
Oprelle's monthly poetry contest is for all of you out there who carry a scrappy notebook full of poems. Your soul is on that paper, and your words matter. Your poem, based on that month's theme, can be simple and uplifting, or complicated and metaphorical; any style works, if you follow the rules and write 14 or less lines. Oh, and make sure your poetry is 100% original. We will consider both published and unpublished poems.
Stories may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. Winner receives $1,000 and a bronze medallion. Finalists receive $100. Winner and finalists are published in both the online and annual print editions of The Lascaux Review.
Inkitt’s Writing Contests regularly give authors the opportunity to share their books with readers around the world and showcase their talents. Their monthly cash prizes give you the chance to win money and exclusive book badges for your writing! Each month one grand prize winner, and two runners up will be selected.
Prize: Gotham writers workshop
Each month we invite you to post a story on Twitter using #GWstorieseverywhere for a chance to win a free class. Your story must be no longer than 25 words, with a max of 280 characters, including spaces and the hashtag #GWstorieseverywhere.
The 16th international English language competition is now open and accepting entries! This year we shall be offering the following prizes: 1st Prize - £500, 2nd Prize - £250, 3rd Prize - £100, plus 17 runners up prizes of being published on our website and in a future anthology. Our judge for 2022 will be John Evans.
Deadline: 31st, Mar, 2022
Are you an author who loves magic? Do you have an idea for a super short story that needs to be shared with the world? If you answered yes to both of those questions this contest is for you! The story can be about anything magical. Maybe it’s something that you’ve experienced in real life or it’s something you’ve created. Maybe it’s the start of a great idea. Maybe it’ll be the thing that inspires you to finally publish your book. Sadie Tells Stories loves all things magic and wonder. And she loves not just the magic she can create but sharing the magic that others do as well. She can’t wait to read your stories!
Deadline: 31st Mar, 2022
Invisible City's Blurred Genres Flash Contest, judged by Lynn Steger Strong, is open for free submissions March 1 through 31. $500 to first place, $200 to second, $100 to third, and publication for the top five. Entries must be 750 words or less unpublished flash fiction, prose poetry, or something in between.
Submit up to three poems and a $10 entry fee. There are no restrictions on content or form: it 's all poetry. Poems should be previously unpublished. The winner and finalists will be published in Breakwater Review.
Deadline: 1st Apr, 2022
Winners of the Indiana Review short story contest receive a prize of $1,000 and publication in Indiana Review. Stories can be up to 6,000 words. All entries are considered for publication. Each $20 fee gets you a year-long subscription of the journal.
L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest is an opportunity for new writers of science fiction and fantasy to have their work judged by some of the masters in the field and discovered by a wide audience. Prizes of $1000, $750 and $500 are awarded every three months. From the four 1st Place winners each year, one story is selected as the grand prize winner and the author receives an additional $5000 cash prize.
Pinch is a literary journal run by the MFA students at the University of Memphis. In their annual contest, two winners are selected from each category of fiction and poetry. Only unpublished entries are considered.
The purpose of the Published Maggie Award for Excellence is to recognize the achievements of Published authors of romantic fiction. The Maggie Award is a symbol of achievement given by the Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) to bring special attention to these authors. Opens February 14th, 2022.
Winners of the Indiana Review poetry contest receive a prize of $1,000 and publication in Indiana Review. You may submit up to three poems. All entries are considered for publication. Each $20 fee gets you a year-long subscription of the journal.
We are a small group of writers, editors, lecturers and of course readers who wish to actively support creative writing. We run quarterly competitions throughout the year with closing dates at the end of March, June, September and December. Our aim is to encourage as wide a range of writing as possible and competitions are open for any subject and any style.
The Caterpillar Poetry Prize is an annual prize for an unpublished poem written by an adult for children aged 7–11. This year’s judge is none other than Michael Morpurgo!
The Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction was established in 2004 in memory of Liza Nelligan, a writer, editor, and friend of many in Colorado State University 's English Department. The winner receives a $2,500 honorarium and the story is published in the fall/winter issue of Colorado Review. Stories must be 10-50 pages.
Deadline: 14th Mar, 2022
This poetry competition is open to everyone and international. We hope that you are inspired to display the beauty and art of poetry for the entire world to see your ‘gift of a dream’.
The Mission of Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest is to inspire, motivate, and encourage anyone having the desire or love of poetry and writing, to continue doing so without fear of failure or success! Remember, in whatever you do, “it’s okay to dream,” for dreams do come true…
Deadline : 15th Mar, 2022
The Rubery Prize is a prestigious international book award seeking the best books by indie writers, self published authors and books published by independent presses, judged by reputable judges. Through our reputation of finding quality and outstanding books we aim to bring recognition to the works that win and heighten an author's profile.
Poems may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. Winner receives $1,000, a bronze medallion, and publication online in The Lascaux Review. The winner and all finalists will be published in the annual print journal.
Now in its 21st year, this contest seeks today's best humor poems. No fee to enter. Submit published or unpublished work. $3,500 in prizes.
Open to entries on any subject and in any format, we look forward to an array of poems from across the world! Poems must be no longer than 60 lines and entrants must be over 18. The first prize for the Poet of the Year is £200, second place receives £100 and third receives £50. All entries must be accompanied by a completed entry form. Poems are judged totally anonymously. .A longlist of around 35 poems is chosen from the entries and these are included in the annual Poet of the Year anthology – available to purchase from the Festival Office and online from October. From the longlist, a shortlist of around 15 poems are selected and the poets are invited to read them at the Awards Evening on October 6 where the winners will be announced. We are delighted that this year’s event will be held by Zoom, allowing poets from around the world to attend.
Deadline: 6th Mar, 2022
We’re looking for the best short memoir story of no more than 3,000 words. A short memoir is a piece of creative nonfiction in which the writer explores a single episode of their life or a small selection of vignettes, connected by a common theme.
Deadline: 17th May, 2022
Prize: Publication in anthology
A brand new challenge is here! After the success of Mrs. Rosewood’s antics last year, here’s Mr. Rosewood waiting for you to write about any of his days into a story. He could be bright, gloomy, witty, loveable, or always ready to fight. It’s your character, create him! Then, tell us a story about a day in the life of your Mr. Rosewood and get published in our next publication.
Deadline: 15th Apr, 2022
Short on Words- the short story, poetry writing contest is calling on authors of all ages! The annual contest is celebrating its tenth anniversary- ninth edition and is currently receiving submissions from around the country with a new online submission tool - NEW this year. The competition is calling on aspiring authors of all ages to create unique prose about one of ten photographs taken by Dr. William Demray, founder of Preservation Dental in Northville. Preservation Dental is again sponsoring the competition, in conjunction with Northville’s annual Arts & Acts Festival.
Deadline: 22 Apr, 2022
We seek work that actively pushes boundaries, that forces us to question traditions and tastes. If your work takes risks, we want to read it. You may submit up to three entries for $12. A single entry is $10. Each poem can be up to three pages.
Deadline: 28th Apr, 2022
The theme of this contest is "Time travel" - within the scope of physical travel. Readers have to vote for their favorite stories. The big winner will be elected by our jury among the authors of the 5 most-voted books of the contest. The first runner-up wins €750 and the second runner-up wins €250.
Deadline: 25th May, 2022
The Award is open to unrepresented and unpublished authors for a novel in any adult fiction genre. The winner and runners-up will receive an agent introduction and possibly a manuscript review.
Deadline: 29th May, 2022
This competition was created with the aim of promoting scientific outreach in a fun and engaging way, appropriate for primary school children. The ultimate goal of the contest is to promote scientific spirit and inspire the generations that will build our future. We hope to achieve this through the communication of scientific achievements, findings, methods, and anecdotes in the form of short stories.
Deadline: 24th Apr, 2022
Submit 1-3 unpublished poems on any subject in any style up to a maximum of 10 pages per entry. (We enjoy long poems!)
Deadline: 30th Apr, 2022
Have you completed the first draft of your novel? Are you ready to pass it on to a fresh pair of eyes, to see if you are on the right track? Is your all-important first chapter ready for submission to an agent? Whatever your plans, your first chapter must shine – it must grab your readers or quickly lose their interest.
Deadline: 31st May, 2022
Short Story competition with a maximum word count of 2000 words.
Theme: Saints and/or Sinners
Stories must be in English or Welsh
Deadline: 30th May, 2022
Each entry must be original work and previously unpublished. Simultaneous submissions will be accepted, but authors must notify Flying South immediately and withdraw from the contest if their work is accepted elsewhere. Prizes include publication in Flying South 2022, Best in Category, and President's Favourite.
Fiction Factory welcomes submissions to its first ever poetry competition, judged by novelist and poet: Helen Cox. Five shortlisted poets will receive a supportive critique on their poem. One winner from that shortlist will receive £100 cash prize, receive feedback on five poems they have written and benefit from an hour-long mentorship Zoom call about their poetry with the judge.
Summarize your novel in 500 words for a chance at a $1000 CAD prize pool! Our judge, Michelle Barker, will be asking herself one question: "Does this synopsis convince me that I'm in the hands of an adept novelist with a unique and engaging story to tell?"
In the spirit of the journal 's founding mission, the Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest recognizes work by an emerging writer in each of three genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One winner in each genre per year will receive $2,000 and publication in the literary journal. Authors are considered "emerging" if they haven 't published or self-published a book.
Deadline: 15th May, 2022
Write an original, factual, first-person travel story about a time you made a decision or took a risk while traveling that got you lost, landed you somewhere you didn’t intend, or led to a new discovery, realization, or connection. Editors will be looking for originality, voice, and a satisfying story that captures attention and makes use of imagery to pull the reader along at every step.
We seek work that actively pushes boundaries, that forces us to question traditions and tastes. If your work takes risks, we want to read it. We like strong narratives that make us feel something and stories we haven’t seen before. Each entry should be between 1,001 and 7,500 words.
The Loraine Williams Poetry Prize is an award for a single poem, to be published in The Georgia Review. The winner will receive $1,500 and an expenses-paid trip to Athens, Georgia, to give a public reading with the judge. Submissions must be sent either online or by mail from March 1 through May 1. All submitted poems will be considered for publication in The Georgia Review; any selected will be paid $4 per line.
Deadline: 1st May, 2022
Any traditionally or self-published author with an original copyright date of 2021! Entry must have a minimum length of 40,000 words. Categories: Category Romance (includes all novels intended for series lines); Contemporary Single Title Romance; Historical Romance; Romantic Suspense; Paranormal Romance; Erotic Romance; Young Adult Romance/New Adult Romance; Inspirational Romance. Eligibility: Open to any traditional/self- published author with an original copyright date of 2021. All books must be perfect bound. Multiple entries allowed in same or different category (separate fees apply); however, the same entry may not be entered in more than one category. Contest will have no more than five finalists from all categories. First round will be judged by readers. Final judging will be judged by a bookseller.
Deadline: 23rd May, 2022
We are looking for high quality, 50-page double submissions + 1 page synopsis of memoir and fiction. Finalists will be asked for complete manuscripts 1 month later and will be judged by author Jacqueline Gay Walley.
Deadline: 15th Jun, 2022
In addition to winning cash prizes, entrants have the opportunity to appear in our print and digital anthology collections. Our books are published by the award-winning small press Ad Hoc Fiction, and are available to buy from their own independent bookshop as well as worldwide from Amazon. 300 word limit.
Deadline: 5th Jun, 2022
Prize: $3000 USD + $0.10/word for publication
We help new talent go pro, award life-changing prize money, and promote fiction writers worldwide. Each month we hold a contest based on a short fiction prompt. You write a wonderful story and enter the contest. We choose the winner who receives the grand prize. We also choose the best stories, pay the authors above-professional rates, and publish them in our magazine. Anyone can submit work to the magazine for free, but you must be an Elegant+ Member to enter the contests and win prizes. Membership is $10/month.
Entry: $10 a month
Seeking short fiction of any genre between 250 - 750 words. The mission of this contest is to inspire creativity, communication, and well-rewarded recognition to contestants.
Deadline: 22nd May, 2022
The University of Pittsburgh Press announces the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize for a first full-length book of poems. Named after the first director of the Press, the prize carries a cash award of $5,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press in the Pitt Poetry Series under its standard royalty contract. The winner will be announced in the fall; no information about the winner will be released before the fall announcement. The Starrett Prize is our only venue for first-book poetry manuscripts.
Organised by Wasafiri, a quarterly British literary magazine. The prize is judged in three categories: Fiction, Poetry, and Life Writing. Fee is per entry: £10 for a single entry, £16 for a double entry. No entry may exceed 3,000 words. This year, the Prize will be chaired by Marina Salandy-Brown, who will be joined by a panel of multi-award-winning judges: Mary Jean Chan (judging Poetry), Preti Taneja (judging Fiction), and Francesca Wade (judging Life Writing). The winners of each category will receive a £1,000 cash prize and will be published in Wasafiri’s print magazine. Shortlisted writers will have their work published on Wasafiri’s website.
One grand prize winner will receive $5,000, a marketing analysis and one-hour phone consultation with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a $300 credit at BookBaby, and 3 free ads in the Winning Writers newsletter (a $525 value). Please submit between February 15 and June 30, 2022.
The Olive Woolley Burt Awards are open to the general public for previously unpublished work. Discounts for entry given to members of the League of Utah Writers.
Deadline: 13th May, 2022
Submit a story of no more than 200 words. Your submission must be in line with the theme of the month. A writer is only permitted to submit one application per month. No more than one application. No plagiarism, even if it’s your work already published. Your work must be yours. Your data entered must be accurate. You must pay the entry fee. Note: Failure to comply with these rules will result to your application cancelled. And your entry fee will not be refunded. Thanks as you obey these rules.
The 42 Miles Press Poetry Award was created in an effort to bring fresh and original voices to the poetry reading public. Manuscripts submitted should exhibit an awareness of the contemporary voice in American poetry.
The Moth Short Story Prize is an international prize, open to anyone from anywhere in the world, as long as their story is original and previously unpublished. The Prize will be judged this year by Ali Smith, the author of many works of fiction, including five collections of short stories and, most recently, the seasonal quartet, Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer. Her work has won many awards.
WOW! is proud to introduce our newest essay contest! The contest is open globally. Your story must be true, but the way you tell it is your chance to get creative. We are open to all styles of essay—from personal essay to lyric essay to hybrid essay, and beyond!
Prize: $6,000 AUD
The Jolley Prize is open to all short story writers writing in English. We seek original short stories of between 2,000 and 5,000 words.
Deadline: 2nd May, 2022
This prize is offered annually to a poet who has not previously published a full-length collection of poems. The prize awards the winner with $2,500 and publication of their first full-length book of poetry by the Kent State University Press. The winner and the competition's judge will give a reading together on the Kent State campus.
The Irene Adler Prize offers a $1,000 US scholarship to a woman pursuing a degree in journalism, creative writing, or literature at a recognized post-secondary institution in the U.S. or Canada, based on an essay competition.
100 words per entry. Submit as many entries as you’d like. All ages. All genders. All nationalities. All writers welcome. This year's theme is the power of words. The words we write, the words we say, the words we keep to ourselves. They make a difference in the lives of those around us. How can you use your words to instil a sense of calm, of hope, of community? To remind one another of the beauty of diversity. To encourage us to support, love, and inspire one another.
Prize: Silver Medallion
The purpose of the Prepublished Maggie Award for Excellence is to encourage, recognize, and reward the mastery of romance writing by Prepublished authors of romantic fiction. The Maggie Award is a symbol of achievement given by the Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) to bring special attention to these writers. Opens February 14th.
Calling all poets! We’re on the look out for poems of all styles–rhyming, free verse, haiku, and more for the Annual Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards! This is the only Writer’s Digest competition exclusively for poets. Enter any poem 32 lines or less for your chance to win $1,000 in cash.
Deadline: 6th Jun, 2022
Whether you’re a professional writer, a part-time freelancer or a self-starting student, here’s your chance to enter the premier self-published competition exclusively for self-published books. This self-published competition spotlights today’s self-published works and honors self-published authors.
Prize: £10,000 royalty advance and publishing contract
Deadline: 1st Jun, 2022
The Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award is committed to discovering new writers, as well as superlative books by established authors and, upon discovery, sharing those writers and their works with new readers. There are a large number of both fiction and non-fiction categories you can enter.
A prize of $1,000 and publication by Marsh Hawk Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Manuscripts should be between 48 to 84 pages.
Welcome to the Bristol Short Story Prize – an annual international writing competition open to all published and unpublished, UK and non-UK based writers. Stories can be on any theme or subject and are welcome in any style including graphic, verse or genre-based
Deadline: 4th May, 2022
Deadline: 6th May, 2022
The Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awardé is committed to discovering new writers, as well as superlative books by established authors and, upon discovery, sharing those writers and their works with new readers. There are a large number of both fiction and non-fiction categories you can enter.
The Trio Award for First or Second Book includes $1,000, publication, and twenty books. The Trio Award for First or Second Book is only open to poets with fewer than two books published.
Stories Through The Ages - Baby Boomers Plus is open to people born 1966 or earlier. There is no prompt for the contest Authors may write about any topic. The entry fee is $25 ($20 if submitting more than one story). The word count for this contest is 900 - 4000 words. Cash prizes of $500, $200 and $100 will be awarded. There will be a minimum of 15 finalists whose story will appear in the book.
The Narrative Prize is awarded annually for the best short story, novel excerpt, poem, one-act play, graphic story, or work of literary nonfiction published by a new or emerging writer in Narrative. The submission system is open all year.
A prize of $1,000, publication of the chapbook in The Tusculum Review’s 2022 issue, and creation of a limited edition stand-alone chapbook is awarded for the winning collection of poems.
This award honors the achievements of the great Dominican-American poet, translator, and public school teacher Rhina Polonia Espaillat. The Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award will be awarded for an original poem of not more than fifty lines that reflects her lyricism, empathy, and ability to find grace in everyday events of life.
Deadline: 30th Mar, 2022
There’s something inherently exciting about setting sail on worldwide adventures. Throw in lost treasure, a trusty sidekick and an old fashioned and undependable form of transportation, and you have yourself a solid quest. We’re looking for your very best action and adventure stories centring on treasure hunts, survival, mystery and exploration. Call us nostalgic but we miss Indiana Jones and can only re-watch Goonies so many times before it gets weird. We can’t wait to read your swashbuckling short stories of up to 3,000 words. Bonus points for Nicholas Cage as your protagonist (we’re kidding…kind of).
The New Deal Writing Competition is a short story competition where the writer is asked to use a painting chosen by the staff of GVCA as inspiration for their short story. The application portal for submissions will be open from March 1, 2021 to April 1, 2021.
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FORMATTING + DESIGN
Writing Contests: Why They’re Worth it, and 10 Places to Start
Posted on Mar 10, 2023
by Gloria Russell
Writing contests are events where writers submit their work for review, usually in the hopes of winning a prize. There are lots of different kinds of contests depending on what sort of work you do–some are specific to short stories, for example, or some might only want flash fiction written by or about a certain demographic or theme.
There are writing contests for essays, film scripts, TV pilots, novels, novellas, short stories, poems, and more–there’s almost definitely a writing contest for whatever you want to submit.
Are Writing Contests Worth It?
For some writers, the thought of entering a writing contest is terrifying. Where do I enter? What are the stakes? Isn’t it terrifying to have people judge my work?
But there’s no need to be afraid! Writing contests are actually pretty laid-back when it comes down to it, and they’re an awesome way to get your work out there. To break down why you should start trying your hand at writing contests, I’ve got 3 P’s for you to keep in mind: publication, prizes, and practice.
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The specifics of the prize will vary depending on the contest, but most of these contests offer publication if you win. If you’re a novelist, you might think there’s no point worrying about short story or flash fiction contests, but that’s not necessarily true!
Think of it like this: if you win the contest, you’ll have some of your work published in a magazine. This means people will see your work! This is your time to make a name for yourself. Get readers interested to follow your journey! Then, when it’s time to publish your novel, you’re already established in the community.
Let’s be honest–a little extra cash never hurts. Again, check the details of the contest you’re entering, but a lot of the time, you get some prize money for winning. These prizes can be small, but some of them are upwards of a thousand dollars. Self-publishing can be expensive, and a writing contest is a great way to grab some money and save up.
Keeping up with writing contests means you have to keep up with your writing. It means you’ll need to produce something you feel is good enough to win you a prize, and that guarantees you’ll be practicing your craft.
Besides practicing your writing, though, you’ll also be getting some practice in other adjacent skills. Maybe you’ll need to write a bio or write an application letter–these are skills that we need to have in this field, but that we often don’t practice when we’re just drafting at home.
Plus, it makes us a little tougher. Having people read your work can be really scary, and entering writing contests will make you less and less worried about it. You’ll get used to the process of submitting, the process of waiting and waiting for results, and you’ll learn how to deal with rejection. These are all vital skills for writers!
What to Watch For
Now, that isn’t to say that writing contests are, without exception, worth entering. So how can you tell which writing contests are for you, and which you should stay away from? Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re submitting to any writing contest. Note that these don’t necessarily mean that a writing contest is bad or not worth your time–these are just some things to watch for.
When you’re submitting for publication in a literary magazine, you generally want to avoid paying a reading fee. Sometimes smaller publications need them because they’re still getting off the ground, but for the most part, you shouldn’t be paying thirty-five dollar reading fees to get your story published.
In a writing contest, it’s a little more common to see a reading fee. The money is pooled toward the prize money and pays staff to judge the contest. In contests with a bigger money prize, the reading fee will often be a little higher.
However, you shouldn’t be breaking your bank with these reading fees. There are a ton of writing contests you can enter for free . There’s no real benefit to paying to enter a writing contest unless, for some reason, you really love that specific contest or publication.
First Publishing Rights
Some writers worry about the rights to their work. If they win a prize, does that publication own their story now? If they’ve submitted it, does that mean the magazine owns it forever?
Some magazines ask for work that’s never been published, and others won’t care. It’s the same as when you’re submitting for publication outside of a contest. If you want to be super sure about the rights to your work, check out my final and most important tip:
Read The Rules!
Rules for writing contests are going to vary widely by contest. Read the submission guidelines and get all up in that fine print to make extra sure you understand before you submit!
If you have a story that’s been published somewhere else, but this contest demands unpublished work? You can be disqualified or even blacklisted from that magazine. Also, don’t submit a prose poem to a flash fiction contest. Sending off a horror story when the contest specifically asks for coming-of-age pieces would also be a no-no.
Everything you need to know will be available in the contest rules for wherever you’re entering. Know what sort of formatting they look for, whether there’s a word count , what the genre is, and so on. Check this information out ahead of time and save yourself a ton of headache. Don’t get rejected because you forgot to double-space your work on your submission, when ‘double-spaced’ was the format required.
Writing Contests For You to Enter!
I’ve got a master list of writing contests for you to enter here, and I’ve divided it up by category: first, we’ll cover writing contests that are totally free, and then we’ll take a look at some with a submission fee.
Young lions fiction award .
“Established in 2001, The New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award is a $10,000 prize awarded each year to a writer age 35 or younger for a novel or a collection of short stories. Each year, five young fiction writers are selected as finalists by a reading committee of Young Lions members, writers, editors, and librarians. A panel of judges selects the winner.”
Category: Young writers who have written a short story collection or novel.
53 Word Story Contest
“It’s free, it’s fun, and the winner gets published in Prime Number Magazine and receives a free book from Press 53.”
Category: Anyone! This will be judged based on answers to a prompt.
W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction
“This award honors the best fiction set in a period when the United States was at war. It recognizes the service of American veterans and military personnel and encourages the writing and publishing of outstanding war-related fiction. Donated by William Young Boyd II.”
Category: Young adult or adult novels (check website for more specific guidelines)
The Gabo Prize
“Lunch Ticket is honored to host The Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation & Multilingual Texts. The Gabo Prize is funded by writers, translators, and Antioch University Los Angeles MFA Alumni Allie Marini and Jennifer McCharen, who launched the prize to support the work of peer translators.”
Willie Morris Awards for Southern Poetry & Fiction
“The Willie Morris Awards for Southern Writing are named for the late author, Willie Morris, in the spirit of his words, “hope for belonging, for belief in a people’s better nature, for steadfastness against all that is hollow or crass or rootless or destructive.” The selected book and poem may contain violence and despair, and feature terrible events, but in the final analysis must be uplifting, and suggest hope and optimism.”
Category: According to the site, authors should read previous issues to determine whether their work is a fit for this publication. No guidelines are listed regarding demographic, age, or previous experience.
Pen/Heim Translation Fund Grants
“Over the 16 years of its existence, the Fund has given grants of $2,000–$4,000 to nearly 200 translations from over 35 languages, including Armenian, Basque, Estonian, Farsi, Finland-Swedish, Lithuanian and Mongolian, as well as French, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic.”
Category: emerging translators and works by marginalized writers
Writing Contest w/Admission Fee
Newfound prose prize .
“The Newfound Prose Prize is awarded annually to a chapbook-length work of exceptional fiction or creative nonfiction. The work may be in the form of a long story or essay or a collection of short pieces (60 pages max). Other than the page limit, the only formal requirement is that some aspect of the work must inform or explore how place shapes identity, imagination, and understanding.”
Category: fiction and creative nonfiction
Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest
“Is your shortest fiction soft and appealing with a hidden sting? Send us your short, sweet, and sassy fiction for a chance to win $300 and publication in Pulp Literature. Get an editorial critique for only $20 more. Judged by flash fiction master Bob Thurber, winner of numerous awards and author of the novel Paperboy.”
Category: flash fiction
Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction
“$2,500 will be awarded for the best short story, which will be published in the fall/winter issue [insert year] of Colorado Review.”
Category: previously unpublished short stories
“We seek work that actively pushes boundaries, that forces us to question traditions and tastes. If your work takes risks, we want to read it. We like strong narratives that make us feel something and stories we haven’t seen before.”
Category: short stories, flash fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction
Need some help getting started?
Grab our Fiction Writing Prompts to get your story on track for the next contest! Not writing fiction ? Not to worry. These prompts can still inspire you. 🙂 Take a peek!
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