Show expired contests

Manage a competition? Submit it here

Browse 160 contests that match your search 🔦

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

Learn more
Top prize

$50

Additional prizes

Publication on Reedsy Blog

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Youth Writing Contest

The Vancouver Writers Fest

The Vancouver Writers Fest's annual youth writing contest is open to all students enrolled in grades 8-12 in British Columbia. Entries will be accepted for previously unpublished short stories (fiction or non-fiction) and personal essays: 1,500 word limit. The first-prize winner will receive a $200 cash prize and the second-prize winner, a $100 cash prize.


Deadline May 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

$100

Genres

Short Story, Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Diode Editions Chapbook Contest

Diode Editions

Open to all poets over the age of 18 who write in English. Length: 25—50 pages (front matter is not included in page count). We will consider translations, and we welcome collaborations.


Deadline August 15, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication and 25 author copies

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $18

Diode Editions Full Length Book Contest

Diode Editions

Open to all poets over the age of 18 who write in English. Length: 55—85 pages (front matter is not included in page count). We will consider translations, and we welcome collaborations.


Deadline August 15, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication and 25 author copies

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Cave Canem Poetry Prize

Cave Canem

Launched in 1999 with Rita Dove 's selection of Natasha Trethewey 's Domestic Work, this first-book award is dedicated to the discovery of exceptional manuscripts by black poets of African descent. Manuscripts should be 48-75 pages in length.


Deadline April 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by University of Pittsburgh Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Wild Atlantic Writing Awards (WAWA)

Ireland Writing Retreat

Open to all genres of flash fiction and creative non-fiction on the theme of love. Entries must be no more than 500 words and must have a title. Entry fee per story is 10 euro.


Deadline May 02, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

€500

Additional prizes

Genres

Flash Fiction, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

5-7-5 Poetry Contest

FanStory

Share a 5-7-5 poem to enter this poetry contest. A 5-7-5 is a simple poem to write. The first line of your poem will have 5 syllables. Second line has 7. Third line has 5 again. Cash prize!


Deadline August 16, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

Future Flash Fiction Contest

FanStory

Write a flash fiction story that takes place in the future. Maximum length 500 words. The winner takes away a $100 cash prize. All writers will receive feedback for their submission.


Deadline August 20, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Science Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Snowbound Chap Book Award

Tupelo Press

The Snowbound Chapbook Award includes a cash award of $1,000 in addition to publication by Tupelo Press, 25 copies of the winning title, a book launch, and national distribution with energetic publicity and promotion. Manuscripts are judged anonymously and all finalists will be considered for publication. Please read the complete guidelines before submitting your manuscript.


Deadline March 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Tupelo Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Typehouse Literary Magazine Open Fiction Contest

Typehouse Literary Magazine

We are pleased to announce Typehouse Literary Magazine 's third biennial Open Fiction Contest! All pieces must be between 1000-6000 words, entries must be previously unpublished and all genres are accepted.


Deadline June 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$175

Additional prizes

$100 for second place and $50 for third place

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Flying South

Winston-Salem Writers

Each entry must be original work and previously unpublished. Simultaneous submissions will be accepted, but authors must notify Flying South immediately and withdraw from the contest if their work is accepted elsewhere. Prizes include publication in Flying South 2021, Best in Category, and President's Favorite.


Deadline May 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Flying South 2020

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Nowhere Magazine Spring 2021 Travel Writing Contest

Nowhere Magazine

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Nowhere Magazine is given twice yearly for a travel-specific short story, long-form creative nonfiction piece, poem or essay that possesses a powerful sense of place, character or time. Unpublished and published pieces that have not previously been chosen as a contest winner are eligible. Submit your 800- to 5,000-word piece with a $20 entry fee by June 30, 2021.


Deadline June 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Nowhere magazine

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

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 May 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

Jane Martin Poetry Prize (UK)

Girton College

A UK-only competition for young poets (aged 18-30 years). The winners receive a cash prize of £700 and have an opportunity to give a reading at a celebratory event at Girton College.


Deadline March 05, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£700

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Hammond House International Poetry Prize

Hammond House

The theme for the 2021 competition - STARDUST - is intended to be inspirational, not restrictive, so please feel free to interpret it in any way you choose. Be creative, be unpredictable, be different; the judges are looking for intriguing ideas and fresh voices. Top prize of £100.


Deadline September 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£100

Additional prizes

Publication by Hammond House

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Hammond House Screenplay Competition

Hammond House

The theme for the 2021 competition - STARDUST - is intended to be inspirational, not restrictive, so please feel free to interpret it in any way you choose. Be creative, be unpredictable, be different; the judges are looking for honesty and emotion. Top prize of £100.


Deadline September 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£100

Additional prizes

Trailers made for top three places

Genres

Script Writing,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Colorado Gold Writing Contest for Unpublished Writers

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers

Offers emerging writers a chance to get their work seen by acquiring agents and editors. For unpublished writers of novel-length commercial fiction.


Deadline June 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$150

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $35

Annie Balocating Undergraduate Prize for Poetry

Michigan State University

The Annie Balocating Undergraduate Prize for Poetry was established in 2011. It awards $500 for a single poem, and is open to Michigan State University undergraduate students in any major. The call for entries goes out at the end of January, and the final judge is one of the poets appearing at our Spring Poetry Festival.


Deadline March 10, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize

Kent State University

This prize is offered annually to a poet who has not previously published a full-length collection of poems. The prize awards the winner with $2,500 and publication of their first full-length book of poetry by the Kent State University Press. The winner and the competition's judge will give a reading together on the Kent State campus.


Deadline May 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$2,500

Additional prizes

Publication by Kent State University Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $30

Jim Martin Memorial Story Contest

Arizona Mystery Writers

Send in your short story in mystery, suspense, or thriller style. Entries may be up to 2500 words (about 10 double-spaced pages). It’s loads of fun and a good exercise of your writing skills.


Deadline July 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

Genres

Crime, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Biopage Storytelling Writing Contest

Biopage

Biopage is hosting a writing contest to remind people the benefits of writing. Each story (or once chapter of your stories) is limited to 5,000 characters or roughly 1,000 words. You can write about good life experience, or bad, embarrassing, frightening ones. You can win $300, and five runners-up can win $100 each.


Deadline July 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$300

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

The Adventure Writers Competition

Adventure Writers

Any novels between 50,000 and 200,000 words that are in the realm of action/adventure/thriller/mystery - and chocked-full of adventure - are welcome. New and previously published books welcome, though you must have sold or given away less than 10,000 books of the title(s) you enter. We do not accept sci-fi, fantasy, horror or young children's books. See our website for info on rules and entering.


Deadline April 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Consideration by Braveship Books for publishing/promotion, free book trailer, free editing sample

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Thriller, Mystery,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $35

Travel Writing Competition

Globe Soup

We’re looking for the best piece of NON-FICTION travel writing of 2,000 words or fewer. Your entry can be in the form of an article, opinion piece, destination guide, literary non-fiction, memoir, or any other form of non-fiction travel writing.


Deadline April 13, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

Genres

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $11

Short Story Competition

Globe Soup

We’re looking for the best SHORT STORY of no more than 5,000 words. This Short Story Competition has the theme: ‘Stories with a Sense of Place’.


Deadline June 15, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£1500

Additional prizes

Genres

Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $17

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 17, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $11

Nowhere Emerging Travel Writers' Prize

Nowhere Magazine

We are looking for never-been-published travel writers from anywhere in the world to send us stories—fiction, nonfiction, essay or poetry—that possess a powerful sense of place, people and time.


Deadline March 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in Nowhere Magazine

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

The Bath Novel Award

The Bath Novel Awards

The Bath Novel Award is a £3,000 international prize for emerging writers of adult fiction. Submit the first 5,000 words plus a one page synopsis of your novel for adults or young adults. Shortlisted entries will receive manuscript feedback and literary agent introductions.


Deadline May 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£3,000

Additional prizes

literary agent introductions

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $38

Frost Farm Prize for Metrical Poetry

Frost Farm Poetry

The Trustees of the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, NH, and the Hyla Brook Poets invite submissions for the 2021, 11th Annual The Frost Farm Prize for metrical poetry. The winner receives $1,000 and an invitation, with honorarium, to read in June 2021 as part of The Hyla Brook Reading Series at the Robert Frost Farm.


Deadline March 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $6

Horror Writing Contest

FanStory

Write a horror or thriller story for this writing contest. Put your readers on edge or terrorize them. The winner takes away a $100 cash prize. All writers will receive feedback for their submission.


Deadline June 27, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Short Story, Thriller,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Nimrod Literary Awards

Nimrold International Journal of Prose and Poetry

The Awards are among the most distinguished literary prizes in the country. Past judges include Karen Russell, Stanley Kunitz, Marvin Bell and Mark Doty. Poetry submissions should be 3-10 pages of poetry (one long poem or several short poems), and fiction submissions should be 7,500 words maximum (one short story or a self-contained excerpt from a novel).


Deadline April 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Publication

Genres

Fiction, Poetry, Short Story, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

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 April 30, 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

Irene Adler Prize

Lucas Aykroyd

The Irene Adler Prize offers a $1,000 US scholarship to a woman pursuing a degree in journalism, creative writing, or literature at a recognized post-secondary institution in the U.S. or Canada, based on an essay competition.


Deadline April 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Essay,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

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

Learn more
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

Learn more
Top prize

£1,200

Additional prizes

Published in an anthology

Genres

Fiction, Humor, Non-fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $18

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.