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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

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 June 21, 2021

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Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest

Lazuli Literary Group / AZURE

Both previously published and unpublished works are eligible, provided that publication on the Lazuli Literary Group website does not infringe on previously held rights. We are not concerned with genre distinctions. Send us the best you have; we want only for it to be thoughtful, intelligent, and beautiful. We will give as many first place prizes as the top submissions warrant.


Deadline July 22, 2021

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Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

Publication in AZURE

Genres

Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Humor, Mystery, Poetry, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

8th Ó Bhéal Five Words International Poetry Competition

Ó Bhéal

At around noon each Tuesday (GMT), from 13 April 2021 to 225January 2022, five words are posted on the Ó Bhéal Five Words competition page. Entrants have one week to compose and submit poems that include all five words given for the week. The competition runs for 41 weeks, and a prize of 750 euro is awarded to one winner.


Deadline January 25, 2022

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Top prize

€750

Additional prizes

€500, €250

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

Flash Fiction Award

Bath Flash Fiction Award

Entrants have the opportunity to appear in our print and digital books. We own a small press, Ad Hoc Fiction, which publishes quality books and also runs a weekly micro-fiction contest. In addition, we organize the UK's annual Flash Fiction Festival.


Deadline June 06, 2021

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Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

£300, £200

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Surrey International Writers ' Conference Writing Contest

Surrey International Writers ' Conference

The contest will be judged by Diana Gabaldon and Jack Whyte. Story length: 2,500 — 4000 words.


Deadline September 17, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

She Writes Press and SparkPress Towards Equality in Publishing (STEP)

SparkPoint Studio

The publishing industry has been widely criticized for its lack of diversity. At She Writes Press and SparkPress, we are well aware of the need for more and broader representation of writers of color on our lists. In an effort to address this issue head-on we launched the She Writes Press and SparkPress Toward Equality in Publishing (STEP) contest.


Deadline July 05, 2021

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Top prize

Publishing package including a 500-book print run

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

UNO Press Publishing Lab

UNO Press

We are looking to publish the best novel/short story collection written this year. The selected author will receive a ten thousand dollar ($10,000) advance on royalties and a contract to publish with UNO Press.


Deadline September 01, 2021

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Top prize

$10,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $28

Daisy Pettles' Writing Residency

The Daisy Pettles House

Women writers who are age 40 or older are invited to submit up to 20 pages of a work in progress to win a chance for a month-long residency in a house where you can focus on your writing. First prize comes with a $1000 cash prize. Fee reductions and hardship wavers can be granted.


Deadline December 12, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Month-long writer's getaway

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $45

Devon and Cornwall International Novel Prize

DCI Novel Award

Judged by international writers and literary agents, the DEVON & CORNWALL INTERNATIONAL NOVEL PRIZE is open to unpublished and independently published novelists worldwide. The prize is for adult novels of any genre.


Deadline December 31, 2021

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Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

An online publishing contract

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $18

100 Word Flash Fiction Contest

FanStory

Write a flash fiction story on any topic that uses exactly 100 words. The winner takes away a $100 cash prize. All writers will receive feedback for their submission.


Deadline August 31, 2021

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

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.


Deadline December 31, 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

Rhyming Poem Poetry Contest

FanStory

Share a poem with a rhyme scheme to enter this poetry contest. You can write about anything — just make sure your poem rhymes.


Deadline September 22, 2021

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards

Writer's Digest

Whether you’re a professional writer, a part-time freelancer or a self-starting student, here’s your chance to enter the premier self-published competition exclusively for self-published books. This self-published competition spotlights today’s self-published works and honors self-published authors.


Deadline May 03, 2021

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Top prize

$8,000

Additional prizes

A feature in Writer's Digest

Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $125

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 June 30, 2021

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Top prize

£300

Additional prizes

£200, £100

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Science Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

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

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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

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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

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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

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Top prize

$400

Additional prizes

Interview on WOW! Blog, $25 Amazon gift card

Genres

Flash Fiction, Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

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

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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

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Top prize

$150

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $35

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

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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

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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

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

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.