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The Reedsy Prompts Contest

Reedsy

Respond to one of Reedsy's weekly writing prompt newsletters with a short story for the chance to win $50 and get featured on the Reedsy Blog!


Deadline December 31, 2021

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Top prize

$50

Additional prizes

Publication on Reedsy Blog

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Fiction Factory - Novel - First Chapter

Fiction Factory

Contestants send the First Chapter of their Novel in progress + 1 page synopsis. If the first chapter is longer than 5000 words, they should send the entire chapter, clearly marking the 5000 word point. We welcome all genres except Children's and Young Adult. International entries are welcome.


Deadline July 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

A reading by a top London Literary Agent + feedback

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Fanstory Writing Contests

Fanstory

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.


Deadline December 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

Cash prizes of up to $100

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Screenplay & Short Script Competition

Showcase

The Scriptation Showcase is the screenwriting competition that circulates winners’ scripts to the widest range of Hollywood directors, showrunners, and producers. The earlier you apply, the lower the entry will be.


Deadline June 27, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

1 Year Scriptation Showcase, 1 year industry pro access

Genres

Script Writing,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $64

Fool for Poetry International Chapbook Competition

Munster Literature Center

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".


Deadline August 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

€1,000

Additional prizes

Chapbook publication with 50 free copies, 2nd prize €500

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $30

Put Your Heart in a Book Contest

New Jersey Romance Writers

Submissions will consist of a FIRST chapter, not to exceed 30 pages, and a PROJECTED WORD COUNT of the completed manuscript. A prologue may be included as part of the first chapter, if within page total guidelines. An UNJUDGED SYNOPSIS must be included at the end of the submission, clearly defined with a page break and titled "SYNOPSIS". The synopsis will not count toward the page count.


Deadline August 01, 2021

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Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

Social media promotion, feedback from 2 published authors

Genres

Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

The Bath Children’s Novel Award

The Bath Novel Awards

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.


Deadline November 30, 2021

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Top prize

£3000

Additional prizes

Manuscript feedback from junior judges, literary agent introductions, novel editing course

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $36

Henshaw Short Story Competition

Henshaw Press

Entries to the Henshaw Short Story Competition must be an unpublished work of fiction any theme. The length limit is 2,000.


Deadline June 30, 2021

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Top prize

£200

Additional prizes

2nd prize £100, 3rd prize £50

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $8

WOW! Women On Writing Quarterly Flash Fiction Contest

WOW! Women On Writing

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 August 31, 2021

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Top prize

$400

Additional prizes

Interview on WOW! Blog, $25 Amazon gift card

Genres

Flash Fiction, Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

IFW Sci-Fi First Pages Contest

Institute for Writers

Can you establish your science fiction world and pull a reader into your story in the first 1,000 words? Submit the first 1,000 words of your unpublished sci-fi manuscript aimed at an adult (or young adult) audience for your chance to win the grand prize.


Deadline August 31, 2021

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Top prize

$650

Additional prizes

Critique from an IFW Instructor

Genres

Science Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $19

Kate Tufts Discovery Award

Claremont Graduate University

The Kate Tufts Discovery Award was created in 1994, a year after the inception of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. It is presented to a first book by a poet of genuine promise. The Kate Tufts Discovery Award offers a hefty prize of $10,000 and is given for poetry volumes published in the preceding year: between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.


Deadline July 01, 2021

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Top prize

$10,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award

Claremont Graduate University

Unlike many literary awards, which are coronations for a successful career or body of work, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award was created to both honor the poet and provide the resources that allow artists to continue working towards the pinnacle of their craft. The work submitted must be a first book of poetry published between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.


Deadline July 01, 2021

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Top prize

$100,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Insecure Writer's Support Group Anthology Contest

Insecure Writer's Support Group

The winning stories will be edited and published by Dancing Lemur Press' imprint Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title. This year's genre is sweet romance, and the theme is first love.


Deadline September 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

Publication by Freedom Fox Press

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Science Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Anthology Poetry Award

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 July 31, 2021

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in Anthology Magazine, one-year subscription

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Annual Short Story Contest

Rotary Club of Stratford

English language submissions of original, unpublished works of up to 2,500 words will be accepted until October 31. Submissions are processed by a two-tiered system of readers and judges. Winners will be announced on December 10, 2021.


Deadline October 31, 2021

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Top prize

$500 (CAD)

Additional prizes

2nd prize $250, 3rd prize $100.

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Edinburgh Award for Flash Fiction

Scottish Arts Trust

The Edinburgh Flash Fiction Award is open to writers worldwide, published and unpublished, and for stories on any topic up to 250 words. Chief judges are the celebrated authors Zoe Strachan and Louise Welsh. The top twenty authors will be given free tickets to our annual Flash Bash at the Scottish Arts Club in Edinburgh, where everyone will present their stories and the prize-winners will be announced.


Deadline August 31, 2021

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Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

Second £300, Third £150, Publication for top twenty in our next anthology

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Rigel 2021: $750 for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, or Art

Sunspot Literary Journal

Rigel is the brightest star in the Orion constellation. Sunspot Lit is looking for the single short story, novel, novella, artwork, graphic novel, or poem that outshines all the rest. No restrictions on theme or category. The length for prose is restricted to a maximum of 5,000 words for short stories, or ten pages for poetry and graphic novels. The first 5,000 words of a novel or novella should include a synopsis of the entire work (the synopsis counts toward the total word count). Any novels, novellas, or graphic novels selected as the winner or as finalists will be offered publication only for the submitted sample.


Deadline June 30, 2021

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Top prize

$750

Additional prizes

publication in online and print journal

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Novel, Novella, Poetry, Script Writing, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

The Jericho Prize for Children's Writing

Jericho Prize

The Jericho Prize for Children's Writing is a brand-new competition, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. It’s open to unpublished and self-published Black-British writers over the age of 18. This year, they’re looking for writers with great stories to inspire children aged 4 years plus and 7–9.


Deadline September 02, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

Exclusive access to publishing professionals.

Genres

Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

The Hal Prize

Peninsula Publishing & Distribution

The Hal Prize offers publication to a readership of more than 25,000 and cash awards for winners. The contest is open to writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and to photographers throughout the United States. Prose should be no more than 4,000 words and poetry no longer than a page. The annual literary and photography contest is presented by the Peninsula Pulse and Write On, Door County.


Deadline September 15, 2021

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Top prize

$250

Additional prizes

Cash prizes for 2nd and 3rd place, publication in 8142 Review, and a handmade mug

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Horizons

SaveAs Writers

2021 marks the centenary of T S Eliot’s visit to Margate, where he wrote part of The Waste Land. To celebrate his work and the views from our coastline, SaveAs Writers launch their annual international creative writing competition, this year asking for poems and short stories on the theme of Horizons. The theme can be literal, figurative, a celebration of views, a reflection on Eliot and his work, or a broader take on the theme.


Deadline August 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£200

Additional prizes

£100 second place, £50 third place

Genres

Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

Stringybark Sex and Gender Short Story Award

Stringybark Stories

We are looking for great short stories that address any issues relating to human relationships from a sex or gender perspective. Subjects that could be explored include: love, lust, harassment, bullying, LGBTIQ+, equality, respect, consent, empathy, empowerment, discrimination etc. We want stories that illuminate these issues but also that give us hope for a better future. The story must be 1500 words or fewer in length and written for an audience aged 16 and above.


Deadline July 18, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $14

Flash Fiction Competition

Creatures Magazine

To help one emerging writer pass from one stage of their writing journey to the next, we’re running a flash fiction competition for previously unpublished writers. Entries must be an original work of flash fiction (1,000 words or under) and can be written on any topic. People who have self-published their work on a personal blog or website are welcome to enter.


Deadline June 20, 2021 (Expired)

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Top prize

$80

Additional prizes

Publication in Creatures mag

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $2

Fabula Press Short Story Contest

Fabula Press

Fabula Press hosts two short story competitions every year, one during summer with submission period from May to July, and one during winter, with submissions accepted from November to February. While we are heavy on ‘literary fiction’, we would welcome a Poesque tale of horror, an enchanting work of historical fiction, or even light science fiction. Hard science fiction, fantasy, young adult or chick lit do not work for us, though.


Deadline July 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in an anthology, minimum payment to all published authors $75

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

First Chapters Contest

CRAFT

We are looking for excerpts of book-length fiction, up to 5,000 words total. Please submit the first chapter (or chapters) of your unpublished novels/novellas, completed or in progress. Masie Cochran of Tin House is our guest judge.


Deadline June 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$2,800

Additional prizes

publication in CRAFT magazine + manuscript critique

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Novella,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Writers of the Future

L. Ron Hubbard

Hosted by the estate handling the printed works of the Scientology founder, 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 every three months: $1,000, $750, $500. Annual Grand Prize: $5,000 additional.


Deadline June 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Fantasy, Science Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Spring 2021 Story Contest

Narrative Magazine

Narrative Magazine's Winter Contest is open to all fiction and nonfiction writers. They're looking for short shorts, short stories, essays, memoirs, photo essays, graphic stories, all forms of literary nonfiction, and excerpts from longer works of both fiction and nonfiction. Entries must be previously unpublished, no longer than 15,000 words, and must not have been previously chosen as a winner, finalist, or honorable mention in another contest. All contest entries are eligible for the $4,000 Narrative Prize.


Deadline July 31, 2021

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Top prize

$2,500

Additional prizes

$1000 for 2nd, $500 for 3rd, $100 for ten finalists

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $27

Exeter Story Prize and Trisha Ashley Award

Creative Writing Matters

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.


Deadline August 31, 2021

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Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

Trish Ashley Award £200

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

IndieReader Discovery Awards

IndieReader

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.


Deadline February 15, 2022

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Top prize

First look consideration by a top, NYC-based literary agency

Additional prizes

$500, publicist consultation service, Reedsy credit, custom author website

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $149

George Dila Memorial Flash Fiction Contest

Third Wednesday

The editors of Third Wednesday wish to honor the memory of George Dila, friend of Third Wednesday and the editor who originally brought fiction to 3W. To this end, we proudly announce the opening of The George Dila Memorial Flash Fiction Contest. We accept entries of previously unpublished stories of under 1000 words in length (including title).


Deadline August 15, 2021

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Publication in Third Wednesday magazine

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $6

WOW! Women On Writing Quarterly Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

WOW! Women On Writing

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!


Deadline July 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication, interview, and gift card good for one item from CreateWriteNow's Store

Genres

Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Grindstone Short Story Prize

Grindstone Literary

The Grindstone Short Story Prize returns this year, seeking out the best short fiction writers from around the world. Writers are asked to submit a piece of short fiction between 1000 and 3000 words, of any genre, aimed at adult readers.


Deadline August 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

£200 runner-up, £50 four shortlisters

Genres

Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $17

Impress Prize

Impress Books

The Impress Prize for New Writers is part of the Untold Publishing Group, and the winner of the prize will be published by one of Untold Publishing’s imprints. Entries should comprise of a book proposal and a sample chapter. We accept both fiction and non-fiction across most genres (excluding poetry and children 's fiction, however we will consider Young Adult submissions).


Deadline September 13, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

Possibility of a publishing contract with one of Untold Publishing's imprints

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $35

TWFest One-Act Play Contest

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

Plays should run no more than one hour in length (one act or approx. 60 pages.) This contest is for emerging or previously unpublished playwrights.


Deadline October 02, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

VIP all-access pass to the next festival, where there will be a professional staged reading of your play.

Genres

Script Writing,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

TWFest Very Short Fiction Contest

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

A submission is one original short story, written in English, up to 1,000 words. This contest is open only to emerging writers who have not yet published a book of short fiction with an ISBN.


Deadline October 16, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

VIP all-access pass to the next festival, where you will give a public reading.

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

TWFest Poetry Contest

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

Submit a collection of 2-4 original, unpublished poems of any style or theme, written in English, with a combined length of up to 400 lines. This contest is open only to emerging writers who have not yet published a book of poetry with an ISBN. Those who have published books in other genres besides poetry remain eligible.


Deadline October 16, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

VIP all-access pass to the next festival, where you will give a public reading

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Discover the finest writing contests of 2021 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 2021 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 2021

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

On Writing:

On Editing:

Blog posts

Bonus resources

After you submit to a writing competition in 2021

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.