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The Reedsy Writing 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 January 01, 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 Fall 2019 Travel Writing Contest

Nowhere Magazine

We are looking for young, old, novice and veteran writers to send us stories that possess a powerful sense of place. Stories can be fiction, nonfiction, poetry or essay. Early bird entry (by 11:59 p.m. EST Nov. 30, 2019): $20 Standard entry (Dec. 1, 2019, through 11:59 p.m. Jan. 1, 2020): $25


Deadline January 01, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Essay, Non-fiction, Poetry, Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

F(r)iction Winter 2019 Literary Contest

Brink Literacy Project

F(r)iction is accepting previously unpublished works of short fiction, flash fiction, and poetry. We accept submissions from writers located anywhere in the world, as long as the work is in English. $1,000 is awarded for the best short story, $300 for the best flash fiction, and $300 for the best poetry entry.


Deadline December 15, 2019

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Flash Fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Sherwood Anderson Fiction Prize and James Wright Poetry Prize

Mid-American Review

The contests are for previously unpublished work only–if the work has appeared in print or online, or has been contracted for such, it is ineligible and will be disqualified.


Deadline December 15, 2019

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

2020 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, 2019

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Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Genres

Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

Cleveland Foundation

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: $0

Gemini Magazine Poetry Open

Gemini Magazine

No restrictions on form, length, subject or style. Poems must be unpublished, but work on personal blogs is eligible. All entries are read blind so everyone gets an equal chance.


Deadline January 02, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $8

Steinbeck Fellowships in Creative Writing

San José State University

The Steinbeck Fellows Program of San José State University was endowed through the generosity of Martha Heasley Cox. It offers writers of any age and background a $15,000 fellowship to finish a significant writing project.


Deadline January 02, 2020

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Top prize

$15,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

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.


Deadline January 06, 2020

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

K. Maragaret Grossman Fiction Awards

Literal Latté

Send unpublished stories, 10,000 words max. All subjects and styles welcome.


Deadline January 15, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novella, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

The Peseroff Prize Poetry Contest

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 July 15, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

The Breakwater Fiction Contest

Breakwater Review

We are seeking submissions for pieces that breathe freshness to the form. We are interested in previously unpublished prose ranging from 1,000 - 5,000 words, each with a $10 entry fee. All finalists will be considered for publication.


Deadline February 01, 2020

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Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

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.


Deadline January 15, 2020

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Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Hektoen International Essay Competition

Hektoen International

Hektoen International invites you to send an essay of under 1,600 words on the subject of Blood. The contest honors the achievements of the Red Cross, locally, nationally, and globally. Two prizes will be awarded: $3000 for the winner and $800 for the runner up.


Deadline January 15, 2020

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Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Hektoen International Journal

Genres

Essay, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

The Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction

The Lascaux Review

The Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction will reopen 1 April 2020. Creative nonfiction may include memoirs, chronicles, personal essays, humorous perspectives, literary journalism—anything the author has witnessed, experienced, learned, or discovered. Pieces may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. Winner receives $1,000, a bronze medallion, and publication online in The Lascaux Review. The winner and all finalists will be published in the annual print journal Lascaux 8.


Deadline September 22, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

The Lascaux Prize in Flash Fiction

The Lascaux Review

The Lascaux Prize in Flash Fiction will reopen 1 January 2020. Stories may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. True stories and prose poetry are welcome as long as they’re written in a narrative style. Winner receives $1,000, a bronze medallion, and publication online in The Lascaux Review. The winner and all finalists will be published in the annual print journal Lascaux 8.


Deadline June 30, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

The Lascaux Prize in Poetry

The Lascaux Review

Poems may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. Winner receives $1,000, a bronze medallion, and publication online in The Lascaux Review. The winner and all finalists will be published in the annual print journal Lascaux 8.


Deadline March 19, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

The Lascaux Prize in Short Fiction

The Lascaux Review

Stories may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. Winner receives $1,000, a bronze medallion, and publication online in The Lascaux Review. The winner and all finalists will be published in the annual print journal Lascaux 7.


Deadline December 31, 2019

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in The Lascaux Review

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

James Jones First Novel Fellowship

Wilkes University

A prize of $10,000 is given annually for a novel-in-progress by a U.S. writer who has not published a novel. Runners-up will receive $1000. A selection from the winning work is published in Provincetown Arts.


Deadline March 15, 2020

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Top prize

$10,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $3

The Restless Books Prize For New Immigrant Writing

Restless Books

Restless Books is looking for extraordinary unpublished submissions from emerging writers of sharp, culture-straddling writing that addresses identity in a global age.


Deadline March 31, 2020

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Top prize

$10,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Restless Books

Genres

Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Autumn Writing competition

BeAnimal Journey Foundation

Each of the three finalists will win a place on a unique Nature experience and tour through the wilderness of India.


Deadline December 16, 2019

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Top prize

Nature tour through the wilderness of India

Additional prizes

Genres

Humor, Non-fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Me&MyLife New Talents

Me&MyLife

We believe that there is an innate Talent in every person and we would like to discover your writing skills.


Deadline January 10, 2020

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Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

The prize will be delivered in euros.

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Novella-in-Flash Award

Bath Flash Fiction Award

The goal of the Novella-in-a-Flash Award is to promote flash fiction for both writers and readers and to bring the genre to a wider audience. There is a 6000 to 18000 word limit and each flash should not be more than about 1000 words.


Deadline January 12, 2020

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Top prize

$300

Additional prizes

Genres

Novel, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

The Cosmos Prize

First Fandom Experience

Re-write the final chapter of the 1930s sci-fi serial novel, Cosmos.


Deadline January 15, 2020

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Top prize

$300

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Science Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

IndieReader Discovery Awards 2020

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 2020 IR Discovery Awards will receive a verdict, written by an IndieReader reviewer and based on their assessment after reading the complete book.


Deadline February 28, 2020

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Top prize

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

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $149

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. [Submissions open August 15, 2019]


Deadline February 15, 2020

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Top prize

Additional prizes

Publication by Hidden River Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $22

Flash 500 Short Story Competition

Flash 500

This is an open-themed competition that accepts all genres, including those written by or for children. Stories should range between 1,000 and 3,000 words, with strong characters, a well-crafted plot and realistic dialogue (where used). As the website says, "Make us laugh, make us cry, but most of all, make us feel!"


Deadline February 28, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Moment Magazine-Karma Foundation Short Fiction Contest

Moment Magazine

Moment Magazine is now accepting submissions for the 2020 contest. Moment will award up to three prizes to outstanding works of unpublished short fiction with Jewish content, including $1,000 for first place.


Deadline March 31, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

Publication in Moment Magazine

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Flash 500 Flash Fiction Competition

Flash 500

Now in its tenth year, this quarterly open-themed competition has closing dates of 31st March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December 2019.


Deadline December 31, 2019

Learn more
Top prize

$300

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $6

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, 2019]


Deadline April 30, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Marsh Hawk Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Trio Award for First or Second Book

Trio House Press

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. [Submissions open November 1, 2019]


Deadline April 30, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

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, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$4,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

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.


Deadline December 20, 2019

Learn more
Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Publication in AZURE

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $1

Washington Prize

The Word Works

Each year, The Word Works awards a living American or Canadian poet $1,500, a generous supply of author copies, and book publication for a volume of original poetry in English. To enter, submit a manuscript of 48 to 80 pages. [Submissions open January 15, 2020]


Deadline March 15, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Morton and McCarthy Prizes

Sarabande Books

This contest is open to any short fiction writer of English. Submissions may include a collection of short stories, one or more novellas, or a short novel. Works that have previously appeared in magazines or in anthologies may be included. [Submissions open January 1, 2020]


Deadline February 15, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Sarabande Books

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $28

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.

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