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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, 2020

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Top prize

$50

Additional prizes

Publication on Reedsy Blog

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Narrative Prize

Narrative Magazine

The Narrative Prize is awarded annually for the best short story, novel excerpt, poem, one-act play, graphic story, or work of literary nonfiction published by a new or emerging writer in Narrative. The submission system is open all year.


Deadline June 15, 2021

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Top prize

$4,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

New Deal Writing Competition

Genesee Valley Council on the Arts

The New Deal Writing Competition is a short story competition where the writer is asked to use a painting chosen by the staff of GVCA as inspiration for their short story. The application portal for submissions will be open from March 1, 2021 to April 1, 2021.


Deadline April 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

Publication in Artsphere Magazine

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

2021 Screenplay & Short Script Competition

Showcase

The Scriptation Showcase is the screenwriting competition that circulates winners’ scripts to the widest range of Hollywood directors, showrunners, and producers. The early you apply, the lower the entry will be.


Deadline April 11, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

1 Year Scriptation Showcase

Genres

Script Writing,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $44

Willow Run Poetry Book Award

Hidden River Arts

Hidden River Arts offers a yearly prize of $1000 and publication in Hidden River Press for an unpublished book-length collection of poetry of 75 to 100 pages. The editors will judge.


Deadline February 20, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Hidden River Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Globe Soup Winter 2020 Poetry Competition

Globe Soup

Globe Soup are looking for the best flash fiction of no more than 800 words. The competition features a secret location in which all participants must set their story. Participants can get extensive feedback on their entry by joining Globe Soup's writing group and free entry to their monthly micro fiction contests and other opportunities to win cash prizes!


Deadline February 11, 2021

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Top prize

$1,300

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Humor, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

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 January 31, 2021

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Top prize

$180

Additional prizes

Publication in an anthology.

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Michael McLaverty Short Story Award

Linen Hall Library

The Linen Hall Library in Belfast has announced the 2020 Michael McLaverty Short Story Award. Entrants must have been born in, or are citizens of, or resident in Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland. Maximum word count 3000. Adjudicators are multi-award-winning writer Donal Ryan and Patsy Horton, Managing Editor of Blackstaff Press.


Deadline January 31, 2021

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Top prize

$2,600

Additional prizes

$300 each for the two runner-ups

Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Humor, Mystery, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

2021 Nervous Ghost Press Book Prizes

Nervous Ghost Press

The 2021 Nervous Ghost Press Book Prizes are open to outstanding works of poetry and prose by anyone living in the United States of America. ​All work and all writers, from any point in their careers, are welcome to submit their work and get a chance of publication. Please submit a completed a manuscript (50,000-100,000 words for prose, 48-128 pages for poetry).


Deadline January 31, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication and a Californian reading tour

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novel, Poetry, Humor, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $24

Dialogue-Only Short Story Competition

Writers Online

Tell us a story, literally. No attribution; no description – just tell us what was said! The range for the word count is 1,500 to 1,700.


Deadline February 15, 2021

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Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

Publication in Writing Magazine

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Open Short Story Competition 2020

Writers Online

The choice is yours for this competition – any story, any style, any genre. It’s all up to you! Entries should be 1,500-1,700 words.


Deadline January 15, 2021

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Top prize

$250

Additional prizes

Publication on the Writing Magazine

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Open Poetry Competition

Writers Online

Indulge yourself with a free rein for this completely open poetry competition. There are no restictions on form, theme or style, just a 40-line limit.


Deadline January 15, 2021

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Publication in Writing Magazine

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

The Writer Fall Short Story Contest

The Writer Magazine

Submit your very best fictional short story in 2,000 words or less. Any theme, subject, or genre is fair game, as long as it falls under 2,000 words.


Deadline December 08, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in the magazine

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Stringybark Open Short Story Award 2021

Stringybark Publishing

We are looking for great short fiction stories on any theme but which must have a link (no matter how small or inconsequential) to Australia. The story must be 1500 words or fewer in length.


Deadline January 31, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $14

2020 Visions

Tapread

The 2020 Visions contest is intended to celebrate new authors and excellent writing. Our current site features translated novels. Now we are taking the next step and working to build a community of English speaking authors!


Deadline December 16, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

$500 & $300

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize

Marsh Hawk Press

A prize of $1,000 and publication by Marsh Hawk Press is given annually for a poetry collection. Manuscripts should be between 48 to 84 pages. [Submissions open December 1, 2020]


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Marsh Hawk Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Wild Atlantic Writing Awards (WAWA)

Ireland Writing Retreat

Open to all genres of flash fiction and non-fiction on the theme of nature. Flash fiction word limit in 1,000, and non-fiction word limit in 500.


Deadline December 10, 2020

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Genres

Flash Fiction, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Zizzle Literary Flash Fiction Contest

Zizzle Literary

Every week during our submission period, we’ll post one-sentence dialogue writing prompts on our social media platforms. Choose a dialogue prompt that inspires you and write a story that includes the prompt.


Deadline March 15, 2021

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Top prize

Additional prizes

1000

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

Culmination Contest: $500 for a Prose or Poem Ending

Sunspot Literary Journal

Endings must bring all the disparate elements of a poem, work of prose, or art series together while also providing an exit point that will smoulder in the reader’s or viewer’s mind. No restrictions on theme, category, or the length of the piece from which the beginning is excerpted. Word limit is 250 for prose, 25 words for poetry.


Deadline December 31, 2020

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Top prize

$250

Additional prizes

Publication in Sunspot Lit

Genres

Fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

Page Turner's Short Story Contest

Clumsy Spider Publishing

Page Turner is looking for your short story that teens will read in one sitting because they can't stop!


Deadline December 15, 2020

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Top prize

$50

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Do Wha(TS) Write

Do Wha(TS) Write

We're looking for short stories (maximum 1000 words), with no required theme. All proceeds from this competition will be donated directly to Tourette Canada.


Deadline December 31, 2020

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $2

Collective Folk Fiction Writing Competition

Greater and Grander Art Collective

In Greater & Grander’s ongoing pursuit of expanding artistic boundaries, we have decided to sponsor a writing contest, open to all, free to enter, and focused on stories of collective action. The word limit in 1,500 to 3,000.


Deadline December 06, 2020

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in ebook collection

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

The 2020 Exeter Novel Prize

Creative Writing Matters

We accept the first ten thousand words including synopsis of a novel that has not been accepted for publication by a traditional publishing house. We are delighted to welcome Kate Nash of the Kate Nash Literary Agency as our final judge.


Deadline January 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$647

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $23

Short Story Competition 2021

Exeter Writers

Exeter Writers runs an annual short story competition. The competition began in 2009 and is very popular, receiving entries from all over the world. The maximum word count is 3,000.


Deadline February 28, 2021

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Top prize

$900

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize—2021

Gotham Writers

The Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize is a writing competition sponsored by the stage and radio series Selected Shorts. This long-running series at Symphony Space in New York City celebrates the art of the short story by having stars of stage and screen read aloud the works of established and emerging writers. Selected Shorts is recorded for Public Radio and heard nationally.


Deadline March 05, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Gotham Writers Workshop

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Science Fiction, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Epistolary Short Story Competition

Writers Online

People writing to each other is a great way for writers to drip-feed their story, so tell yours via letters, emails, tweets, texts... even smoke signals! The word count is 1,500-1,700.


Deadline December 15, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$250

Additional prizes

Publication in Writing Magazine

Genres

Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

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.


Deadline December 12, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Month-long writer getaway

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $45

Accenti Writing Contest

Accenti Magazine

The Accenti Writing Contest is inviting submissions for original and unpublished prose, with an offer of $1000 and publication for the top prize.


Deadline February 01, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication on Accenti Magazine

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $30

2021 Microfiction Contest

River Styx

500 words maximum per story, up to three stories per entry fee. (Additional stories are accepted with additional fees.)


Deadline December 31, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Ainsfield-Wolf Book Awards

Ainsfield-Wolf

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recognizes outstanding works that contribute to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of cultural diversity. Awards are given for fiction, poetry and nonfiction.


Deadline December 31, 2020

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Top prize

$10,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

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, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$2,400

Additional prizes

An online publishing deal

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $18

Annual Short Story

Flash 500

We are looking for stories (of any genre) ranging between 1,000 and 3,000 words, with strong characters, a well-crafted plot and realistic dialogue (where used). Make us laugh, make us cry, but most of all, make us feel!


Deadline February 28, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$610

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $8

8th Ó Bhéal Five Words International Poetry Competition

Ó Bhéal

At around noon each Tuesday (GMT), from April 2020 to the end of January 2021, 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, until the last week of January and a prize of 750 euro is awarded to one winner.


Deadline January 26, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$750

Additional prizes

Published in Five Words Vol XIV (poetry anthology)

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

IndieReader Discovery Awards 2021

IndieReader

Where talented authors meet publishing professionals with the power to make a difference in the success of their books. Every author who enters a title in the 2021 IR Discovery Awards will receive a verdict, written by an IndieReader reviewer and based on their assessment after reading the complete book.


Deadline February 15, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

First look consideration by a top, NYC-based literary agency

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $149

Inkitt's Writing Contest

Inkitt

Inkitt’s writing contest runs quarterly and gives authors the chance to win an exclusive GALATEA publishing deal and the chance to showcase their book to the world. Monthly, alongside the quarterly publishing deal prize draw, cash prize contest winners are announced, determined on how many likes the author has received on their book. Monthly these winners will receive $150. Authors can also use Inkitt’s Writing app — found in the app store under ‘Inkitt Writing” — to draft up their novels!


Deadline December 31, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

Publishing contract with GALATEA

Additional prizes

$150

Genres

Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Discover the finest writing contests of 2020 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 2020 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 for your career as 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 2020

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 2020

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.