The Best Writing Contests of 2023

Writing competitions curated by Reedsy

Showing 630 contests


The Reedsy Prompts Contest

Reedsy

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.

Top prize

$250

Additional prizes

$25 credit toward Reedsy editorial services

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $5

Deadline: December 31, 2023


Genres

Fiction, Short Story

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Narratively 2023 Memoir Prize

Narratively

Narratively is currently accepting submissions for their 2023 Memoir Prize. They are looking for revealing and emotional first-person nonfiction narratives from unique and overlooked points of view. The guest judge is New York Times bestselling memoirist Stephanie Land.

Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

$1,000 and publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: November 30, 2023


Genres

Essay, Humor, Memoir, Non-fiction

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Weird Christmas Flash Fiction Contest

Weird Christmas

Genre or humor based stories around "weird" Christmas/solstice/winter-holiday themes. Winners read aloud on Weird Christmas podcast and published on site. (Honorable mentions read/published, as well.)

Top prize

$75

Additional prizes

3 runners up: $50 and publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: November 06, 2023


Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Poetry, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller

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100 Word Writing Contest

Tadpole Press

Can you write a story using 100 words or less? Pieces will be judged on creativity, uniqueness, and how the story captures a new angle, breaks through stereotypes, and expands our beliefs about what's possible or unexpectedly delights us. In addition, we are looking for writing that is clever or unique, inspires us, and crafts a compelling and complete story. The first-place prize has doubled to $2,000 USD.

Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

2nd: writing coach package

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: November 30, 2023


Genres

Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Thriller, Young Adult, Children's, Poetry, Romance, Short Story, Suspense, Travel

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SNHU 2022 Fall Fiction Contest

Southern New Hampshire University

SNHU is hosting its 9th annual Fall Fiction Contest, where you can showcase your talents and creativity by submitting an original short story. This contest is open to any writer, based in the continental U.S., and submissions will be accepted from Oct. 2-31. By entering, you'll have the opportunity to win up to $3,000 in SNHU scholarships, have your short story featured in The Penmen Review and more.

Top prize

$3000 scholarship

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: October 31, 2023


Genres

Fiction, Short Story

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WOW! Women on Writing Fall 2023 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, great writing, and provide well-rewarded recognition to contestants.

Top prize

$400

Additional prizes

2nd: $300 | 3rd: $200 | 7 runner-ups: $25 Amazon Gift Cards

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $10

Deadline: November 30, 2023


Genres

Flash Fiction

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WOW! Women On Writing Quarterly Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

WOW! Women On Writing

Seeking creative nonfiction essays on any topic (1000 words or less) and in any style--from personal essay and memoir to lyric essay and hybrid, and more! The mission of this contest is to reward bravery in real-life storytelling and create an understanding of our world through thoughtful, engaging narratives. Electronic submissions via e-mail only; reprints/previously published okay; simultaneous submissions okay; multiple submissions are okay as long as they are submitted in their own individual e-mail. Open internationally.

Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

2nd: $300 | 3rd: $200 | 7 runner-ups: $25 Amazon Gift Cards

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $12

Deadline: October 31, 2023


Genres

Non-fiction, Essay

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New Writers Flash Fiction Competition 2024

New Writers

The New Writers Flash Fiction Competition 2024 is open to writers from around the world, and offers a top prize of £1,000, a second prize of £300 and a third prize of £200. The deadline is midnight (UK time) on Wednesday 31st January 2024 and £1.00 from each entry will be donated to the First Story charity.

Top prize

£1,000

Additional prizes

2nd: £300 | 3rd: £200

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $12

Deadline: January 31, 2024


Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story

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The Letter Review Prize for Books

The Letter Review

The Letter Review Prize for Books is open to writers from anywhere in the world. Seeking most unpublished (we accept some self/indie published) novels, novellas, story collections, nonfiction, poetry etc. 20 entries are longlisted.

Top prize

$1000 USD shared by 3 winners

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $25

Deadline: October 31, 2023


Genres

Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Novella, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

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Letter Review Prize for Nonfiction

Letter Review

The Letter Review Prize for Nonfiction (0 - 5000 words) is open to writers from anywhere in the world. Accepting most forms of Nonfiction. Three winners are published and every entry is considered for publication. 20 entries are longlisted.

Top prize

$1000 (shared by 3 winners)

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: October 31, 2023


Genres

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction, Humor

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The Letter Review Prize for Poetry

Letter Review

The Letter Review Prize for Poetry (up to 70 lines) is open to writers from anywhere in the world and has no theme or style restrictions. Three winners are published and every entry is considered for publication. 20 entries are longlisted.

Top prize

$1000 (shared by 3 winners)

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: October 31, 2023


Genres

Poetry

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Letter Review Prize for Short Fiction

Letter Review

The Letter Review Prize for Short Fiction (0 - 5000 words) is open to writers from anywhere in the world and has no theme or genre restrictions. Three Winners are published and every entry is considered for publication. 20 entries are longlisted.

Top prize

$1000 (shared by 3 winners)

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: October 31, 2023


Genres

Flash Fiction, Short Story, Fiction

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FFF Competition 18

Free Flash Fiction

The Bi-monthly Free Flash Fiction Competition promotes the work of flash fiction authors. The winner of the current competition will be invited to be the judge for the next competition. Submit a flash fiction piece between 100 and 300 words, on any theme.

Top prize

£150

Additional prizes

2x Highly Recommended £30.00 | 2x Shortlisted £20

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $4

Deadline: October 23, 2023


Genres

Flash Fiction

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Fiction Factory Poetry Competition

Fiction Factory

This is a UK based competition but we welcome international entries. Poets are invited to enter poems (maximum 40 lines excluding title) on any theme. Discounts are offered on multiple entries. Besides the cash prize, our judge, poet and author and mentor, Helen Cox, will offer feedback on five of the winner's poems plus an hour-long mentorship zoom call about their poetry.

Top prize

£100

Additional prizes

Feedback on poems, a Zoom mentorship call, and publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $6

Deadline: October 31, 2023


Genres

Poetry

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Story Unlikely's Short Story Contest

Story Unlikely

Story Unlikely's Annual Short Story contest is simply looking for great stories, judged both by the technical and literary quality as well as the author's ability to tell a story. We are not genre specific, and judging is blind, not based on the author's credentials, background, or pedigree. This is merit only. May the best story win.

Top prize

$750

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: January 31, 2024


Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

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Ironclad Creative Short Story Competition

Ironclad Creative CIC

The Ironclad Creative Short Story Competition is for both published and unpublished writers. We’re looking for original writing in English and you can be from anywhere in the world. We are looking for short stories that respond in any way to the word DUSK. We accept any genre and length of story up to 6k words. We’re looking for writers who have exciting voices and can move us - that can happen in any genre of prose. We’re not accepting plays or poetry for this competition.

Top prize

£150

Additional prizes

2nd: £50 | Two runners up: £25 | Publication in anthology

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $7

Deadline: November 16, 2023


Genres

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Frightening First Line Contest 2023

Gotham Writers Workshop

Autumn is the season of rustling leaves, a chill in the air, and, of course, Halloween. In that spirit, we invite you to create the first line of a frightening story. But we want that first line to be so intriguing or chilling or scary that it makes our skin tingle and our nerves twitch.

Top prize

Free Gotham Writers class

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: November 30, 2023


Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Short Story, Thriller

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Novel Fair 2024

Irish Writers Centre

Now in its 12th year, the Novel Fair is an annual competition initiated by the Irish Writers Centre. Described by The Irish Times as ‘A Dragons’ Den for writers’, each year the Fair introduces twelve up-and-coming writers to top publishers and literary agents, giving novelists the opportunity to bypass the slush pile, pitch their ideas and place their synopsis and sample chapters directly into the hands of industry professionals. Novel Fair has been attended by representatives from: Curtis Brown, Penguin Random House, Conville & Walsh, époque, Fletcher & Co, Poolbeg Press, Harper Collins, John Murray, Hachette, Lilliput Press, New Island Books, The Book Bureau, The Bent Agency, Greene & Heaton, Storyline Literary Agency and many others.

Top prize

Present your novel to leading publishers and agents at the Irish Writers Centre

Additional prizes

Runners up: Critique from the judging panel

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $60

Deadline: September 30, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Novel, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult

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Winter Flash Fiction Battle

Writing Battle

Three days to write a 1000 word short story. The peer-powered quarterly writing contest where every story receives oodles of feedback. Write one. Read ten. Win thousands.

Top prize

$10,000

Additional prizes

Feedback by industry professionals.

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $25

Deadline: February 01, 2024


Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story, Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller

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Autumn Short Story Battle

Writing Battle

Five days to write a 2000 word short story. The peer-powered quarterly writing contest where every story receives oodles of feedback. Write one. Read ten. Win thousands.

Top prize

$10,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $25

Deadline: October 31, 2023


Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller

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7 Day Story Writing Challenge

Globe Soup

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!

Top prize

£500

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: October 16, 2023


Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story, Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult

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Writing LOVE

Sadie Tells Stories

Writing LOVE is a 500 word short story contest. It can be fiction or non-fiction. It can be a love of anything. A love for life, for nature, for a life partner, for peace, for justice, for a passion... The story also doesn't need to be about love, it just has to have an element of love.

Top prize

$500

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $10

Deadline: November 15, 2023


Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Young Adult

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Inspiring Fiction's Fantasy Contest

Inspiring Fiction

Inspiring Fiction’s fantasy short story contest is on the theme ‘Belonging’. The winner and shortlisted entries will be published in the second issue of Mirk Fantasy Magazine.

Top prize

£100

Additional prizes

Publication in Mirk Fantasy Magazine

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $6

Deadline: October 31, 2023


Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Short Story

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Valorious Awards

Hopper Creative Group LLC

The Valorious Awards, sponsored by international best-selling author, Christopher Hopper, is an annual competition seeking to recognize and encourage emerging artists in two categories: best sci-fi novel, best sci-fi voice actor. The awards seek to recognize emerging independent authors and character actors and discover new and exciting talent within the world of science fiction.

Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

2nd: $250 | 3rd: $150

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $35

Deadline: December 31, 2023


Genres

Science Fiction

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Short Story Competition 2023

Write the World

What truth do you want to convey through your stories? This month, write a short story of up to 1000 words and invite readers into a contained universe. With only a small word limit to work with, you must choose carefully. Remember, as Neil Gaiman once said: “Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams.”

Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Runner up: $50 | Best peer review: $50

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: November 27, 2023


Genres

Fiction, Short Story

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Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing 2023

Write the World

Fantasy and sci-fi stir our imaginations, inviting us to think outside the limits of the life we know. This month, you have the extraordinary and exciting task of reimagining the world. In a fantasy or sci-fi short story, take your readers on a journey into a world of your imagination.

Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Runner up: $50 | Best peer review: $50

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: October 23, 2023


Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story

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Nature & Environmental Poetry 2023

Write the World

In his groundbreaking course on ecopoetry, writer and professor Craig Santos Perez focuses on how to use poetry as a voice for the planet. This month, write a poem about what you know and love from the natural world. Your poem may focus on an element of the environment under threat, explore changes in nature, or honor the planet we call home.

Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Runner up: $50 | Best peer review: $50

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: September 25, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Poetry

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The Failing Writers £500, 500 Word, Flash Fiction Competition

The Failing Writers Podcast

The Failing Writers Podcast presents its 3rd annual flash fiction competition. This year, with an apt subject to write about... 'Failing'. Check our blog for all the details from Monday the 4th of September, and write your way to £500 plus a skip-full of plaudits, bragging rights and jigs around the kitchen. (To hear past winners, just skiffle through our episodes to find the flash fiction winner eps and enjoy!)

Top prize

£500

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: September 28, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Flash Fiction

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Elegant Literature's Award For New Writers

Elegant Literature

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, putting over $100k into the hands of emerging talent around the globe. 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. September's guest judge is multi-award winning author Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki.

Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Paid publication, 25 x $20 USD | Free entry to Novelist Accelerator | Now Novel Package

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $10

Deadline: October 01, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult, Flash Fiction, Science Writing

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Matter Poetry Contest

Oprelle

MATTER is our most inclusive contest. All poems that become finalists will be presented in the Matter XXIII anthology. The intention behind this particular contest is to give great odds for publication. It's one of MATTER’s, and Oprelle’s, founding principles: to uplift potentially unheard voices, their stories and poems, to prevent them from being lost in the masses.

Top prize

$300

Additional prizes

Publication in Matter Anthology

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $10

Deadline: September 09, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Poetry

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I Am In Print Novel Award 2023

I Am In Print Ltd

I Am In Print are excited to be working with Canelo, one of the largest independent digitally focused publishers in Europe and one of the largest UK fiction publishers by volume, to find the best, as yet unpublished, manuscripts. Novels entered must be complete, written in English and be between 70,000 and 100,000 words. The award is open to writers globally and novels written for an adult audience in the following genres are welcome: Action thriller, Cosy mystery, Crime, Historical adventure, Horror, Psychological thriller, Romance, Saga. First prize is £1000 plus a 60 minute online consultation with a Canelo Editor!

Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

60 minute online consultation with a Canelo Editor

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: October 09, 2023


Genres

Crime, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Novel, Romance, Thriller

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Wenlock Olympian Society Short Story Competition

Wenlock Olympian Society

This is an international competition. There should be a maximum of up to 2,500 words on any theme and in any genre except YA and Children's stories. The contest will be judged by acclaimed author Philip Caine and winners announced in March 2024.

Top prize

£150

Additional prizes

2nd: £50 | 3rd: £25

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: October 30, 2023


Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller

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The Book of the Year Awards

The Independent Author Network

The Independent Author Network presents the 2024 IAN Book of the Year Awards, an international contest open to all authors with 55 fiction and non-fiction categories. Winners are eligible to receive a share of cash prizes of $6,000 USD. Open to all English language print and eBooks available for sale, including small presses, mid-size independent publishers, university presses, and self-published authors.

Top prize

$2,500

Additional prizes

$6,000.00 USD in total cash prizes

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: August 15, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Novel, Novella, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Thriller, Young Adult

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Dissolution

Bergen International Literary Festival

Write your story about the climate crisis in a poem or a personal essay.

Top prize

€2,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: October 15, 2023


Genres

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry, Science Writing, Young Adult

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The Goldilocks Zone

Sunspot Literary Journal

Sunspot Lit seeks a story, essay, excerpt from longer prose pieces, artwork, graphic novel, or poem that combines excellence in craft with reader or audience appeal. Feedback for fiction and nonfiction submissions available for additional fee.

Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $12

Deadline: September 30, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

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

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Discover the finest writing contests of 2023 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 2023 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 2023

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 2023

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:

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