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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

Vocal Challenges

Creatd

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. [To celebrate their one-year anniversary, Vocal Challenges have partnered with Moleskine to launch a special Challenge, titled "Little Black Book" , with its largest cash prize to date — $20,000. Submit by 2 March.]


Deadline March 02, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000 — $5,000

Additional prizes

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Poetry Awards Contest

TCK Publishing

The TCK Publishing Poetry Awards Contest is an international poetry contest established in 2021. Each year’s prizewinner receives a $1,000 honorarium and publication of his or her poem on the TCK Publishing website. TCK Publishing recognizes poetry writers from all countries, backgrounds, and levels of experience.


Deadline March 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication on TCK Website

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

Juniper Prizes

University of Massachusetts Press

The Juniper Prizes for Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction are awarded annually to original manuscripts: two books of poetry, one work of creative nonfiction, one short story collection, and one novel. The University of Massachusetts Press publishes the winning manuscripts and the authors receive a $1,000 award upon publication. Submissions are accepted between August 1 and September 30.


Deadline September 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by University of Massachusetts Press

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $30

To Hull and Back Humorous Short Story Contest

Christopher Fielden

August 2020 saw the launch of the 2021 To Hull And Back Short Story Competition, a biennial short story contest with a humorous twist that celebrates the most imaginative and amazing short stories from writers all over the world. There's a total prize pot of £3,250.


Deadline July 31, 2021

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Top prize

£1,200

Additional prizes

Published in an anthology

Genres

Fiction, Humor, Non-fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $18

Seán O'Faoláin International Short Story Competition

Munster Literature Centre

The competition is open to original, unpublished and unbroadcast short stories in the English language of 3,000 words or fewer. The story can be on any subject, in any style, by a writer of any nationality, living anywhere in the world.


Deadline July 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

€2,000

Additional prizes

Residency at Anam Cara Retreat, Featured reading at the Cork International Short Story Festival, Publication in Southword

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $22

HG Wells Short Story Competition

BBC Aeronautics Correspondent Reg Turnill and his wife, Margaret

The theme for this year’s competition is MASK in its broadest interpretation. There are two categories. Authors 21 years of age and under (on 12th July 2021) with a prize of £1,000. (Entry is free). Authors aged 22 years and above on 12th July 2021 with a prize of £500 (entry £10 or £5 with student id).


Deadline July 12, 2021

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Top prize

£1,000

Additional prizes

£500

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

The Moth Short Story Prize

The Moth Magazine

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.


Deadline June 30, 2021

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Top prize

€3,000

Additional prizes

€1,000, writing retreat at Circle of Misse

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $18

Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry

Lynx House Press

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 May 16, 2021

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Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Publication

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $28

First Novel Award

Blue Pencil Agency

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 May 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£1,000

Additional prizes

Agent introduction, manuscript review

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $27

The Black Orchid Novella Award

The Wolfe Pack

An important part of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe's opus are novellas. To celebrate this format, the Wolfe Pack and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine have partnered to sponsor the Black Orchid Novella Award. Each entry must be an original unpublished work of fiction that conforms to the tradition of the Nero Wolfe series.


Deadline May 31, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in AHMM

Genres

Fiction, Mystery, Novella,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

The Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition

Chicken House Books

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 May 14, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

A worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House & royalty advance of £10,000

Additional prizes

An offer of representation from a top literary agent

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Novella, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Nature and Place Poetry Competition

The Rialto

The Rialto working in association with the RSPB, BirdLife International and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. Poems are invited that deal with any aspect of nature and place – these terms will be given a wide interpretation by the judge Daljit Nagra.


Deadline March 01, 2021

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Top prize

£1,000

Additional prizes

A personal tour with Nick Davies of Wicken Fen, the location of his long term research studies of cuckoos

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize

Australian Book Review

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 May 03, 2021

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Top prize

$AU6,000

Additional prizes

$AU4,000, $AU2,500

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

The Adventure Writers Competition

Adventure Writers

We are the only contest we know of that focuses on Adventure Writing! Whether you write like the Grandmaster himself, Clive Cussler, or have your own action-packed style - get onboard and enter!


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Consideration by Braveship Books for publishing and/or marketing

Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Novel, Novella, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $35

Bristol Short Story Prize

Tangent Books

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 (Crime, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical, Horror, Romance, Children’s etc..) .


Deadline May 05, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£1,000

Additional prizes

£500, £250, £100

Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

The Bath Short Story Award

Jude Higgins, Jane Riekemann and Alison Woodhouse

The International Bath Short Story Award, is currently organised by Jude Higgins, Jane Riekemann and Alison Woodhouse. Launched in 2012 the BSSA has rapidly become established as one of the prominent short story competitions in the UK receiving over fifteen hundred world-wide entries each year and producing a yearly anthology of short-listed and winning authors.


Deadline April 19, 2021

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Top prize

£1200

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Story, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Parsec Short Story Contest

Triangulation

The theme for the 2021 contest is: Still Waters, Deep Thoughts. This can be conveyed in the setting, plot, characters, dialogue…the only limit is your imagination. The theme must be integral to the story in some way and not just mentioned in passing. All stories must be of the Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror genres and no more than 3,500 words.


Deadline April 15, 2021

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Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

Publication in the 2020 Confluence program book

Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize

Alpine Fellowship

Awarded for the best piece of writing on the theme of the Alpine Fellowship 2021 - Untamed: On Wilderness and Civilization. A maximum of 2,500 words per entry.


Deadline April 01, 2021

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Top prize

£10,000

Additional prizes

£3,000, £2,000, invitation to attend the Fjällnäs symposium.

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

The Rubery Prize

Rubery Book Awards

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.


Deadline March 31, 2021

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Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

£200, a write-up

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $60

The Caterpillar Prize

Caterpillar Magazine

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!


Deadline March 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in The Caterpillar

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $14

Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize

Desperate Literature

The aim of the Short Fiction Prize is both to celebrate the best of new short fiction and to give winners the most visibility possible for their writing. That’s why we’ve teamed up with fourteen different literary and artistic institutions to offer not only a cash prize and writing retreats but to ensure that all our shortlisters have the opportunity to be published in multiple print and online journals, have their work put in front of literary agents and perform in multiple countries.


Deadline April 15, 2021

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Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Week's residency in Italy, a consultation with a literary agent

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

BBC National Short Story Award

BBC with Cambridge University

The BBC National Short Story Award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000, and four further shortlisted authors £600 each. The stories are broadcast on Radio 4 and published in an anthology by Comma Press. Previous alumni of the award include Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel, and Jon McGregor.


Deadline March 15, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£15,000

Additional prizes

Broadcast on Radio 4, and published in an anthology

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

The Fountain Essay Contest

Fountain Magazine

We want to hear your COVID-19 story. What has the virus taught you about life? If you were not infected, what has your experience been like as an “outsider?” We encourage our contestants to explore this issue in a way that is most meaningful to them, and to do so while making sure to avoid speculative narratives and political polarization.


Deadline March 01, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

$500, $300, $150

Genres

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Oscar's Book Prize

Evening Standard

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 January 25, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£5,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

William Van Dyke Short Story Prize

Ruminate Magazine

A prize of $1,500 and publication in Ruminate is given annually for a short story. Using only the online submission system, submit a story of up to 5,500 words with a $20 entry fee, which includes a digital copy of the prize issue, by February 1.


Deadline February 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Publication in Ruminate

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Main Street Rag Poetry Book Contest

Main Street Rag Publishing Company

The Main Street Rag Poetry Book Contest is for full length poetry manuscripts (48-84 pages) and has a February 1, 2020 deadline.


Deadline January 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,200

Additional prizes

Publication, 50 copies of their book

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Jacob Zilber Prize for Short Fiction

Prism

Winter means one thing around these parts: our annual Jacob Zilber Prize for Short Fiction is now open for submissions! The prize is named for Jacob Zilber, who played a central role founding the University of British Columbia’s department of creative writing, (the very first of its kind in Canada) and PRISM international (us!).


Deadline January 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

$600, $400

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $40

Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award

Baen Books

The National Space Society and Baen Books applaud the role that science fiction plays in advancing real science and have teamed up to sponsor this short fiction contest in memory of Jim Baen. We are seeking short stories of no more than 8,000 words, that show the near future (no more than about 50-60 years out) of manned space exploration.


Deadline February 01, 2021

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Top prize

Publication on the Baen Books website for normal paying rates

Additional prizes

Free entry into the 2021 International Space Development Conference, a year's membership to the National Space Society, a prize package

Genres

Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Short Story Award for New Writers

The Masters Review

Welcome to our 2020-2021 Winter Short Story Award for New Writers, an annual contest that recognizes the best fiction from today’s emerging writers. This year’s judge is the phenomenal Helen Oyeyemi! Entires must be under 6,000 words.


Deadline January 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Publication online, $300, $200

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

The Plough Prize

The Plough Arts Centre

Now in its eighteenth year, the Plough Poetry Prize is an international open competition for a poem up to 40 lines on any subject.


Deadline March 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£1,000

Additional prizes

£500, £250

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Crazyhorse Prize Series

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.


Deadline February 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Publication

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

The Iowa Review Awards

The Iowa Review

Each January since 2003, The Iowa Review has invited submissions to The Iowa Review Awards, a writing contest in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Winners receive $1,500; first runners-up receive $750. Winners and runners-up are published in each December issue.


Deadline February 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

The Kurt Brown Prizes

Association of Writers & Writing Programs

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.


Deadline May 15, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$500 scholarship

Additional prizes

one-year membership

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

The Don Belton Fiction Reading Period

Indiana Review

Indiana Review and Indiana University Press are proud to present the Don Belton Fiction Reading Period. Between May 1 and June 30, we will read fiction manuscripts of up to 80,000 words. The winning manuscript will be published by IU Press and the author will receive $1,000 against future royalties and a standard publication contract with IU Press.


Deadline June 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

Publication by IU Press

Additional prizes

$1,000 against future royalties, a standard publication contract with IU Press

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

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.