The Best Writing Contests of 2023

Writing competitions curated by Reedsy

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Showing 33 contests


Hastings Book Festival - Short Story

Hastings Book Festival

Short Story Competition judged by VG Lee. Enter a short story in with any theme within a 2500 word limit.

Top prize

£250

Additional prizes

2nd: £100 | 3rd: £50

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $9

Deadline: July 14, 2023


Genres

Short Story

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Elegant Literature's Contest For New Writers

Elegant Literature

One of the largest awards open to unpublished writers, and the only one closed to professionals. We are the first magazine to pay pro rates and only accept submissions from new writers, paying new authors over $50,000 last year. One new writer receives the grand prize. We also choose the best stories, pay the authors above-professional rates, and publish them in our magazine. May's head judge is Richie Billing of The Fantasy Writer's Toolshed.

Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Paid publication, 25 x $20 USD | Free entry to Novelist Accelerator | Now Novel Package

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $10

Deadline: June 01, 2023


Genres

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

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Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2023

CANTERBURY FESTIVAL

All poems entered are registered, numbered and then judged totally anonymously. From the entries received around 35 poems will be chosen for the long list and these are published in an anthology; copies will be available from the Festival Office. From these a shortlist of around 15 poems is then selected, any of which may be the winning poem. The winners will be announced on National Poetry Day, Thursday 5 October 2023, during our on-line Awards Evening.

Top prize

£200

Additional prizes

2nd: £100 | 3rd: £50

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $6

Deadline: June 02, 2023


Genres

Poetry

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3nd Annual WCWF Writing Contest

Wine Country Writers' Festival

Fire up those pens and get those unpublished stories and poems submitted to WCWF 3nd Annual Writing Contest. Three winners in each category (fiction/nonfiction/poetry), publication in Anthology, and your own copy. Entries: $15 or two for $25.

Top prize

$150

Additional prizes

2nd Place: $75 | 3rd Place: $50

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: June 30, 2023


Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Non-fiction, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

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Inspiring Fiction's Contest for Fantasy Writers

Inspiring Fiction

A new short story contest open to all fantasy writers. The winner will be published in the first issue of Mirk Fantasy Magazine, a new genre magazine produced by the team behind Tangled Web Magazine. Three runners up will also be published alongside a selection of stories from our general submissions pile.

Top prize

£100

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $6

Deadline: April 30, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Short Story

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New Writers Poetry Competition 2023

New Writers

The New Writers Poetry Competition 2023 is open to published and unpublished poets from around the world. There is no specific theme but poems should be no longer than 40 lines. NewWriters.org.uk will donate £1.00 from each entry to First Story (a creative writing charity in the UK).

Top prize

£1,000

Additional prizes

2nd: £300 | 3rd: £200

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $13

Deadline: July 12, 2023


Genres

Poetry

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J. Michael Samuel Prize for Emerging Writers Over 50

Lambda Literary

The J. Michael Samuel Prize honors emerging LGBTQ writers over the age of 50. This award is made possible by writer and philanthropist Chuck Forester, who created it out of the firmly held belief that “Writers who start late are just as good as other writers, it just took the buggers more time.” The prize will go to an unpublished LGBTQ writer over 50 working in any genre.

Top prize

$5,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: February 17, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

LGBTQ

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Judith A. Markowitz Award for Exceptional New LGBTQ Writers

Lambda Literary

Lambda Literary has played a pivotal role in nurturing the development of exceptional new LGBTQ writers through the Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices, internships, and writing and performance opportunities. The Judith A. Markowitz Award for Exceptional New LGBTQ Writers recognizes LGBTQ-identified writers whose work demonstrates their strong potential for promising careers.

Top prize

$1000 (x2)

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: February 17, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

LGBTQ

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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.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Two AWC Finalist Awards: $500

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $50

Deadline: April 30, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Novel, Thriller, Mystery

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Quill & Ink Literary Festival

Grassroots Literary Magazine

Three awards will be given out to authors in categories of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, with a special fourth award being given to a standout self-published work. Each winning author will be awarded $1,500, given the author attends the festival to host a workshop decided by the festival staff. A two-night hotel stay will be provided.

Top prize

$1,500 x4

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: February 19, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

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

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Promising Young Writers Contest

National Council of Teachers of English

Through collaboration and community, shared stories and shared experiences, NCTE supports teachers and their students in classrooms, on college campuses, and in online learning environments. The Promising Young Writers Program stimulates and recognizes the writing talents of eighth-grade students and to emphasize the importance of writing skills among eighth-grade students.

Top prize

The NCTE Certificate of Recognition

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $25

Deadline: February 15, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Children's

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Desert Writers Award

Ellen Meloy Fund

The Ellen Meloy Fund for Desert Writers grants one $5,000 award in the spring of each year. Only proposals for literary or creative nonfiction book projects will be considered. No fiction or poetry proposals will be reviewed.

Top prize

$5,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: January 15, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Non-fiction

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Muse of Fire BIPOC Playwriting Festival

Atlanta Shakespeare Company

The Atlanta Shakespeare Company is launching a new playwriting initiative for historically marginalized artists. The "Muse Of Fire Playwriting Festival'' invites playwrights of the global majority to create a full-length play that reimagines Shakespeare’s themes and plots through the lens of BIPOC America.

Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Stage reading in summer 2023

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: April 15, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Script Writing

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Bennington Young Writers Awards

Bennington College

Bennington College has a unique literary legacy, including twelve Pulitzer Prize winners, three U.S. poet laureates, four MacArthur Geniuses, countless New York Times bestsellers, and two of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people. In celebration of this legacy, Bennington launched the Young Writers Awards to promote excellence in writing at the high school level. Our goal with this competition is to recognize outstanding writing achievement by high school students.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

2nd: $500 | 3rd: $250

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: November 01, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Children's

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Myth: SaveAs Writers' International Writing Competition 2022

SaveAs Writers

National and International entries are welcome.  SaveAs Writers invite entries of poetry and prose for their annual competition. 2022 celebrates the centenary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses. In the tradition of Joyce's novel, the work should display a link to myth, Greek, Roman, Norse, Indian, Icelandic or any other, and may be set in any period.

Top prize

245

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $5

Deadline: October 31, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Poetry, Short Story

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New Writers Flash Fiction Competition 2022

New Writers UK

The New Writers Flash Fiction Competition is open for submissions. The competition seeks to reward authors of the most imaginative, moving or just downright brilliant flash fiction entries of up to 300 words. With a prize pool of £1,000 and £1 from each entry going to a creative writing charity, it's time to get involved.

Top prize

$717

Additional prizes

2nd: $240 | 3rd: $120

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $7

Deadline: November 30, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Flash Fiction

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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 Ye Chun, author of Hao, a collection of stories recently longlisted for the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence. Entries must be under 6,000 words.

Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Publication online, agency review, $300, $200

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: August 28, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story

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Writers of the Future

Writer's of the Future

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest is an opportunity for new writers of science fiction and fantasy to have their work judged by some of the masters in the field and discovered by a wide audience. Prizes of $1000, $750 and $500 are awarded every three months. From the four 1st Place winners each year, one story is selected as the grand prize winner and the author receives an additional $5000 cash prize.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

$750 for 2nd place, $500 for 3rd, £5000 annual grand prize

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: September 30, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Fantasy, Science Fiction

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TLOP Anthology of Contemporary Writers 2022

The League of POETS

The League of POETS is proud to announce our 2022 anthology contest. This year we are looking for poetry and short story entries that edify the theme of industrialism. We want entries that defines the new age of our global village.

Top prize

Publication and Certificate of Distinction

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $2

Deadline: September 25, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Poetry, Short Story

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Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers

Nimrod

The Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers honor the work of writers at the beginning of their careers. Open only to writers whose work has not appeared or is not scheduled to appear in more than 2 publications in the genre in which they are submitting.

Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in the Spring issue of Nimrod

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $12

Deadline: July 15, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Poetry, Short Story

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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.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: September 15, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Short Story

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Lune Spark Young Writers' Short Story Contest

Lune Spark Books

Lune Spark's yearly contest aims to encourage children to engage in creating writing. Submit a story up to 1,500 words long for a chance to get published.

Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in paperback, hardback, ebook, and audiobook

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: July 31, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Short Story, Young Adult

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Invictus Prep Young Writers Creative Writing Contest

Invictus Prep

The Invictus Prep Young Writers Creative Writing Contest is an amazing chance for emerging writers to showcase their talents and win prize money! We hold contests for both high school and college students in the poetry and short story categories. Winners will be featured on our website and awarded cash prizes. No entry fee required. Entrants retain all publication rights. Contests run from January 15th, 2022 to May 15th, 2022. We look forward to reading your work!

Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Publication on website

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: May 15, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Poetry, Short Story

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Dandy Writers Short Story Contest

Dandy Writers

Submit a story of no more than 200 words. Your submission must be in line with the theme of the month. A writer is only permitted to submit one application per month. No more than one application. No plagiarism, even if it’s your work already published. Your work must be yours. Your data entered must be accurate. You must pay the entry fee. Note: Failure to comply with these rules will result to your application cancelled. And your entry fee will not be refunded. Thanks as you obey these rules.

Top prize

$300

Additional prizes

Writing Job

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $5

Deadline: May 30, 2023


Genres

Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novel, Novella, Short Story

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Maggie Award for Prepublished Writers

Georgia Romance Writers

The purpose of the Prepublished Maggie Award for Excellence is to encourage, recognize, and reward the mastery of romance writing by Prepublished authors of romantic fiction. The Maggie Award is a symbol of achievement given by the Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) to bring special attention to these writers. Opens February 14th.

Top prize

Silver Medallion

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $40

Deadline: April 30, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Romance

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Maggie Award for Published Writers

Georgia Romance Writers

The purpose of the Published Maggie Award for Excellence is to recognize the achievements of Published authors of romantic fiction. The Maggie Award is a symbol of achievement given by the Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) to bring special attention to these authors. Opens February 14th, 2022.

Top prize

Medallion

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $40

Deadline: March 31, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Romance, Novel

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Christian Writers' Awards

Xulon Press

The Christian Author Awards recognizes preeminent new Christian authors who are independently published. Xulon Press, host and sponsor of the Christian Author Awards, is excited to once again extend the opportunity to Christian authors to have their work recognized and given due credit. The Christian Author Awards exists to honor exceptional books written by Christian authors like you that are published independently by nontraditional publishers.

Top prize

Xulon Press Elite Publishing Package valued at $8,780

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: September 21, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Christian

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Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition

Mystery Writers of America & Minotaur Books

MWA is the premier organization for mystery and crime writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and folks who just love to read crime fiction. To enter, you must complete an online entry form and upload an electronic file of your Manuscript. The entry form will allow you to upload one electronic file.

Top prize

Advance against future royalties of $10,000 & publishing contract

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: December 17, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Crime, Mystery, Novel

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Funny Festival Fables

C.A.A.B Publishin

Write us a short story about the festive period. We want tales about silly snowmen, naughty elves, and hilarious stories that would make Santa go HO! HO! HO! Entries should be around 1,000 words or less and must be sent as a Word Document with no pictures.

Top prize

$40

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: August 31, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Children's, Flash Fiction

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Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award

Poets & Writers, Inc.

Poetry manuscripts should not exceed 10 pages, single or double-spaced (minimum of seven pages). Fiction manuscripts should not exceed 25 pages and must be double-spaced. Fiction manuscripts may include stories and/or excerpts from novels.

Top prize

$500

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: March 01, 2022 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Poetry

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PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers

PEN America

The PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize recognizes 12 emerging writers for their debut short story published in a literary magazine, journal, or cultural website. The 12 winning stories are selected by a committee of three judges who are well-respected experts in the art of the short story. The winning writers each receive a $2,000 cash prize and will be published by Catapult in their annual anthology.

Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Catapult

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: November 15, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

View contest

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.

Top prize

$150

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $35

Deadline: June 30, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Novel

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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.

Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in Nowhere Magazine

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: March 31, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

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

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Discover the finest writing contests of 2023 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 2023 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 2023

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 2023

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:

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