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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

Nowhere Magazine Spring 2020 Travel Writing Prize

Nowhere Magazine

Award-winning literary travel magazine Nowhere is accepting submissions for our annual Spring Travel Writing Prize. We are looking for novice and veteran writers of any stripe to send us stories that possess a powerful sense of people, place and time. Every submission will be read blind, so anyone can win!


Deadline July 01, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Nowhere Magazine

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

The Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest

The Saturday Evening Post

In its nearly two centuries of existence, The Saturday Evening Post has published short fiction by a who's who of great American authors, including Ray Bradbury, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Louis L'Amour, Sinclair Lewis, Jack London, Joyce Carol Oates, Edgar Allan Poe, Anne Tyler, and Kurt Vonnegut, among so many others. Now you have the opportunity to join our illustrious lineup by entering The Saturday Evening Post 's Annual Great American Fiction Contest.


Deadline July 01, 2020

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in The Saturday Evening Post

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Eyesland International Short Story Contest

Strange Days Books

The theme of the contest this year is "Numbers." First prize: A week 's holiday in the island of Serifos. First three winners ' stories published in two different anthologies (Greek and English). All the stories of the Shortlist will be published in a special English edition, released through amazon.com & strangedays books.


Deadline April 10, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

A week holiday in Serifos

Additional prizes

Publication

Genres

Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $1

The Paz Prize for Poetry

The National Poetry Series

Miami Book Fair will award one $2,000 prize every other year for the publication of a previously unpublished book of poetry originally written in Spanish by an American resident. The prize will recognize book-length manuscripts of poetry written in Spanish. Translations, works of literary criticism and scholarly texts do not qualify. The next Paz Prize competition will open in May, 2020.


Deadline June 15, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $35

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 2020, Best in Category, and President's Favorite.


Deadline May 31, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Flying South 2020

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Emerging Writer's Contest

Ploughshares

In the spirit of the journal 's founding mission, the Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest recognizes work by an emerging writer in each of three genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One winner in each genre per year will receive $2,000 and publication in the literary journal. Authors are considered "emerging" if they haven 't published or self-published a book.


Deadline May 15, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Ploughshares

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $24

Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition

Lorian Hemingway

Writers of short fiction may now enter the 2020 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. The competition has a thirty-nine year history of literary excellence, and Lorian Hemingway and her small judging panel are dedicated to enthusiastically supporting the efforts and talent of writers of short fiction whose voices have yet to be heard.


Deadline May 01, 2020

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Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Publication in Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Peseroff Prize

Breakwater Review

Submit up to three poems and a $10 entry fee. There are no restrictions on content or form: it 's all poetry. Poems should be previously unpublished. The winner and finalists will be published in our FALL issue.


Deadline May 15, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in spring issue

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Prophecy Creek Book Award in Speculative Fiction

Hidden River Arts

Hidden River Arts offers an award of $1,000, and publication on Hidden River Press, an imprint of Hidden River Publishing, for an original, unpublished book-length work of speculative fiction.


Deadline May 15, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Hidden River Press

Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Novel, Science Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Raymond Carver Short Story Contest

Carve Magazine

Now in its 20th year, the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest is one of the most renowned fiction contests in the world. Featuring prominent guest judges and offering $3000 across five prizes, the contest delivers exciting new fiction from writers all over the world. The contest opens each year April 1 - May 15 and prizewinners are published in our annual fall issue in October.


Deadline May 15, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Carve Magazine

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $17

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. The 2019 winner was On This Side of the Desert by Alfredo Aguilar, selected by Natalie Diaz; the 2020 winner will be selected by Richard Blanco.


Deadline May 01, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$2,500

Additional prizes

Publication by Kent State University Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $30

Momaya Poetry Competition

Momaya Press

Accepting poems on the theme of "Touch" up to 1500 words.


Deadline October 30, 2020

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Published in the Momaya Short Story Review

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

Trio Award for First or Second Book

Trio House Press

Trio House Press gives two awards annually: the Trio Award for First or Second Book for emerging poets, and the Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence for a book of poems contributing in an innovative and distinct way to American poetry. The Trio Award for First or Second Book includes $1,000, publication, and twenty books. The Trio Award for First or Second Book is only open to poets with less than two books published.


Deadline April 30, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Trio House Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Booksie 2020 Flash Fiction Writing Contest

Booksie

In 500 words or less, write a story about the image. The challenge of flash fiction is to create a thought-provoking story within the tight word constraints of the writing form.


Deadline May 08, 2020

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Genres

Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Ex Ophidia Press Poetry Prize

Ex Ophidia Press

Open to all English-language authors worldwide (of any age, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation) for a book of poetry.


Deadline August 31, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication and 15 author copies

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award

Hidden River Arts

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


Deadline July 30, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Hidden River Press

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Muriel Craft Bailey 2019 Poetry Contest

The Comstock Review

Here 's how it works: our editorial staff chooses approximately fifty to sixty finalists. The highest scoring finalists (25 or so) are considered Special Merit poems. Special Merit poems go to the judge. The judge determines the top three prize winners. The entire editorial staff then selects the Honorable Mentions from the remaining Special Merits.


Deadline July 15, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by The Comstock Review

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

Rattle Poetry Prize

Rattle

The annual Rattle Poetry Prize offers $15,000 for a single poem to be published in the winter issue of the magazine. Ten finalists will also receive $500 each and publication, and be eligible for the $5,000 Readers’ Choice Award, to be selected by subscriber and entrant vote.


Deadline July 15, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$15,000

Additional prizes

Published in the Winter 2020 issue of Rattle

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Creative Writing Award

Aesthetica Creative Writing Award

The Aesthetica Creative Writing Award is an international literary prize that is a hotbed for new talent in Poetry and Short Fiction. Now in its 14th year, the Prize supports both emerging and established writers. Winners are selected for both categories and awarded with £1,000. Publication within the Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology, is also awarded to a further 60 writers whose works are highly commended.


Deadline August 31, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual

Genres

Fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $13

Margaret Reid Poetry Contest

Winning Writers

$3,000 for a poem that rhymes or has a traditional style.


Deadline August 30, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Tom Howard Poetry Contest

Winning Writers

$3,000 for a poem in any style or genre.


Deadline September 30, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Bridport Novel Award

Bridport Arts Centre

Your novel doesn't have to be finished. We initially need only 5,000 to 8,000 words plus a 300 word synopsis. If you're long listed we'll ask for a total of 15,000 words, including your original word count. Shortlisted? Then we need a total 30,000 words, again including your original entry and long listed word count. It all adds up to an incredible opportunity.


Deadline May 15, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Bridport Flash Fiction Prize

Bridport Arts Centre

It may be the sprint of creative writing but that doesn’t mean you can rush the creative process. Take us somewhere fast then let your story marinade in the reader's mind. Make every one of your 250 words count. There is no minimum number of words, just like there is no limit to your imagination. They say lightning doesn't strike twice but we want to feel the electricity in your story right from the beginning through to the very end.


Deadline May 31, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

Bridport Short Story Prize

Bridport Arts Centre

Gail Honeyman was shortlisted in our competition and went on to write Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, winning the Costa debut novel award. All the winning and highly commended pieces are entered into the Sunday Times Audible competition, top prize £30,000. UK based writers are entered into the BBC short story competition. That's not all, literary agent A.M. Heath reads all the shortlist and considers representation. Long story short? You are 5,000 words away from success.


Deadline May 31, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Bridport Poetry Prize

Bridport Arts Centre

You don't have to be Tennyson. Just talented. All we ask is that you please keep poems to 42 lines, max. You can, of course, write less. In addition to the prize money, the top three poems are automatically entered into the Forward Prize For Poetry’s best single poem competition, with the chance to win a further £1000. This exclusive award is not open to the public. You can write about absolutely anything but whatever your rhyme or reason, we want to read your poetry


Deadline May 31, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

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. Writer’s Digest hosts the 28th annual self-published competition—the Annual Self-Published Book Awards. This self-published competition spotlights today’s self-published works and honors self-published authors.


Deadline May 01, 2020

Learn more
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

Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition

Writer's Digest

Enter our 89th Annual Writing Competition for your chance to win and have your work be seen by editors and agents! Almost 500 winners will be chosen. The top winning entries of this writing contest will also be on display in the 89th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition Collection.


Deadline June 05, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $35

Fischer Prize

Telluride Institute

This annual award is open to poets of all ages living in the US. Deadline for submissions is August 30th, 2020 and the prize is awarded at a Fischer Prize award ceremony Oct. 10, 2020, in Telluride, Colorado.


Deadline August 30, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Attendance at Telluride Literary Arts Festival

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Walt Whitman Award

Academy of American Poets

The Walt Whitman Award is granted to an unpublished poetry collection. The prizes include $5,000, publication by Graywolf Press, and a six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy. Submissions are accepted from September 1 through November 1 each year. The judge for the 2019 Walt Whitman Award is Li-Young Lee.


Deadline November 01, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Graywolf Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $35

James Laughlin Award

Academy of American Poets

Offered since 1954, the James Laughlin Award is given to recognize and support a second book of poetry forthcoming in the next calendar year. Along with $5,000, the winner receives an all-expenses-paid weeklong residency in Miami Beach, Florida, and distribution of the winning book to approximately one thousand Academy of American Poets members. Submissions are accepted January 1 through May 15 each year.


Deadline May 15, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Distribution of book to Academy of American Poets members

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize

Academy of American Poets

Established in 1975, this $25,000 award recognizes the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous calendar year. The prize includes distribution of the winning book to hundreds of Academy of American Poets members.


Deadline May 15, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$25,000

Additional prizes

Publication and distribution of book

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $75

SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction

SmokeLong Quarterly

Have you been drafting some killer flash? First place in SmokeLong Quarterly‘s flash fiction competition will earn you $2000! But even if you don’t win first place, you might just earn some money as one of our finalists. In our biennial contest issue, everyone gets paid!


Deadline May 24, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Publication in SmokeLong Quarterly

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $13

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 June 01, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

Genres

Crime, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

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.


Deadline April 10, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

Publication in Artsphere Magazine

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

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.