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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 Flash Fiction

Fiction Factory

We welcome previously unpublished stories (max 1,000 words) on any theme. Our judge is looking for freshness, originality and strongly drawn characters.


Deadline November 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£200

Additional prizes

£50, £25

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Crime, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Fiction Factory Short Story Competition

Fiction Factory

This is a bi-annual competition. We welcome stories on any theme. The maximum wordcount is 3,000.


Deadline October 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£300

Additional prizes

£100, £50

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $8

Inception: $500 for Prose, Poetry, or Art opening

Sunspot Literary Journal

The best openings offer a feeling, atmosphere, action, or image that is gripping, and that hints at more to come. For Sunspot Inception contest, send your best opening. There are no restrictions on theme, category, or the length of the piece or collection from which the beginning comes. Word limit is 250 for prose, 25 words for poetry.


Deadline September 30, 2021

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in Sunspot Lit for winner, runners-up & finalists

Genres

Fiction, Poetry, Flash Fiction, Novel, Novella, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

All-Story Short Fiction Competition

Zoetrope

The three prizewinners and seven honorable mentions will be considered for representation by a number of literary agencies. Guest Judge: Daniel Mason, finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.


Deadline October 01, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

2nd $500; 3rd $250

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $30

New Voices Award

Lee & Low Books

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.


Deadline July 31, 2021

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Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

A standard Lee & Low publishing contract

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

Baton Rouge Area Foundation

The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence honors Louisiana’s revered storyteller, Ernest J. Gaines, and serves to inspire and recognize rising African-American fiction writers of excellence at a national level. Authors may submit a work of fiction (novel or collection of short stories) that will be published in 2021. Galleys for a 2021 publication are also accepted. The cash prize is to support and enable the writer to focus on writing.


Deadline August 15, 2021

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Top prize

$15,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Winchester Poetry Prize

Winchester Poetry Festival

We will hold a special prize-giving event on Saturday 9 October 2021. We are planning for this event to be a live event in Winchester. However, if there are restrictions still in place which prevent this, the event will move online. Winning and commended poems will also be published in a competition anthology.


Deadline July 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£1,000

Additional prizes

2nd £500, 3rd £250

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Troubadour International Poetry Prize

Coffee House Poetry

Poems may be submitted from any country & must be in English, must each be no longer than 45 lines, must show title & poem only, must not show poet’s name, must be the original work of the entrant (no translations) & must not have been previously published; no text alterations accepted after submission; no limit on number of poems or number of subsequent submissions.


Deadline September 27, 2021

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Top prize

£2,000

Additional prizes

2nd £1000, 3rd £500

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

1/2K Prize

Indiana Review

Send us up to 3 pieces of no more than 500 words each in any genre for a chance to win $1000 + publication. This year’s final judge is Taylor Johnson. Submit your work from July 1 through August 15!


Deadline August 15, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

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!


Deadline September 13, 2021

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Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Cranked Anvil Flash Fiction Competition

Cranked Anvil Press

Our quarterly flash fiction competition is open for entries all year round. The competition is open to any theme or genre, and your story must be a maximum of 500 words (not including the title). You can enter up to two stories in each quarterly competition.


Deadline August 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£100

Additional prizes

£25, publication online

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $4

Cranked Anvil Short Story Competition

Cranked Anvil Press

Our quarterly short story competition is open for entries all year round. The competition is open to any theme or genre, but your story must be a maximum of 1,500 words (not including the title). You can enter up to three stories in each quarterly competition.


Deadline July 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£150

Additional prizes

£75 for 2nd, £30 for 3rd

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

The First Page Challenge

The Darling Axe

Our judge, Michelle Barker, will be asking herself one question: "How likely am I to turn this page and keep reading?" THE FINER POINTS • One page: double-spaced, 12-point font • Original, unpublished, unrepresented work only • One entry per person


Deadline September 30, 2021

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Top prize

$700 CAD

Additional prizes

Publication on our blog, 2nd $200, 3rd $100

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Novella, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $4

Black Voices in Children's Literature

Free Spirit Publishing

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 September 20, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Meeting with Strive and Free Spirit; 2nd $500; 3rd $250, t-shirt and totebag for all winners

Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

The Ovacome Creative Writing Contest

Ovacome

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.


Deadline September 30, 2021

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Top prize

£250

Additional prizes

Runner up receives a £50 Waterstones voucher and the winner gets published on the Ovacome website

Genres

Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Dillydoun International Fiction Prize

The Dillydoun Review

International fiction contest open to all genres, themes, and subjects. 8,000 word max / no minimum. Short story, flash fiction, self-contained excerpts from longer works welcome. Entries must be written in English.


Deadline October 31, 2021

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Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

2nd $1,000, 3rd $500, Honorable Mention $50, Publication in Print Anthology

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Future Folklore

Stories to Change the World

Future Folklore is a call to practice an emergent genre called Climate Fiction, which uses a speculative format to respond to the climate crisis. Whether your tale is set ten years from now, or two hundred, show us how you envision innovating the values, practices and technologies of the past and today.


Deadline August 09, 2021

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Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

$120 for 2nd, $85 for 3rd, $50 for 9 special selections, e-book publication for all winners

Genres

Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Moment Magazine-Karma Foundation Short Fiction Contest

Moment Magazine

The Moment Magazine-Karma Foundation Short Fiction Contest encourages writers to unpublished short fiction related to Judaism or Jewish culture or history.


Deadline September 01, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Moment Magazine

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Annual Flash Fiction Competition

Flash 500

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.


Deadline September 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£300

Additional prizes

£200, £100

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Short Story Award for New Writers

The Masters Review

Welcome to our Short Story Award for New Writers, an bi-annual contest that recognizes the best fiction from today’s emerging writers. Judging this year’s contest is author of 'With Teeth and Mostly Dead Things' Kristen Arnett! Entires must be under 6,000 words.


Deadline August 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Publication online, agency review, $300, $200

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Flash Fiction Award

Bath Flash Fiction Award

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 October 10, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

£300 for 2nd, £200 for 3rd

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Dream Quest One Writing Contest

Dream Quest One

The mission of this 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 September 22, 2021

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

$250 for 2nd place, $100 for 3rd place

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Dream Quest One Poetry

Dream Quest One

This poetry contest 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."


Deadline September 22, 2021

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Top prize

$250

Additional prizes

$125 for 2nd place, $50 for 3rd place

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

Justice Centre Essay Contest

Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms asks Canadian students to answer (in 1000-2500 words) the following question: Should citizens who refuse to get vaccinated have the same rights and freedoms as those who do get vaccinated? This contest is open to all Canadian youth who will be between the age of 15–24 on the date they submit their essay.


Deadline October 31, 2021

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Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

$1000 for 2nd, $500 for 3rd

Genres

Essay, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

The Tamaqua Award for a Collection of Essays

Hidden River Arts

Hidden River Arts offers an award of $1,000 and publication by Hidden River Press, an imprint of Hidden River Publishing, for an original collection of essays. Previous publication of individual essays is acceptable, as long as you include the list of the published essays, the journals and magazines where they appeared, and authorize that the publication rights have reverted to you, as author.


Deadline October 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Hidden River Arts

Genres

Essay, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Novella-in-Flash Award

Bath Flash Fiction Award

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.


Deadline January 16, 2022

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Top prize

£300

Additional prizes

£100 for two runners-up, publication

Genres

Novel, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $22

Poetry Competition

Globe Soup

We’re looking for the best POEM of up to 50 lines. The theme for Globe Soup Poetry Competitions is always: ‘Poetry with a Sense of Place’. We accept all forms and styles of poetry. We can’t wait to see where this competition takes you!


Deadline August 24, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $11

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

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

Learn more
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

Learn more
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

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

Learn more
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

Learn more
Top prize

$650

Additional prizes

Critique from an IFW Instructor

Genres

Science Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $19

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.