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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 $250 and be featured on the Reedsy Blog!


Deadline December 31, 2021

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Top prize

$250

Additional prizes

Publication on Reedsy Blog

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

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.


Deadline January 31, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Publication online, agency review, $300, $200

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

The Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition

Chicken House Books

We're looking for original ideas, a fresh voice, a diverse range of entries and stories that children will love! To enter, you must have written a full-length novel suitable for children/young adults aged between 7 and 18 years. We suggest a minimum of 30,000 words and ask that manuscripts do not exceed 80,000 words. The IET 150 Award will be awarded to a manuscript that celebrates Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.


Deadline June 01, 2022

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Top prize

A worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House & royalty advance of £10,000

Additional prizes

An offer of representation from a top literary agent

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Novella, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Bristol Short Story Prize

Tangent Books

Welcome to the Bristol Short Story Prize – an annual international writing competition open to all published and unpublished, UK and non-UK based writers. Stories can be on any theme or subject and are welcome in any style including graphic, verse or genre-based (Crime, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical, Horror, Romance, Children’s etc..) .


Deadline May 04, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

£1,000

Additional prizes

£500, £250, £100

Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

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.


Deadline April 30, 2022

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Marsh Hawk Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

The Caterpillar Prize

Caterpillar Magazine

The Caterpillar Poetry Prize is an annual prize for an unpublished poem written by an adult for children aged 7–11. This year’s judge is none other than Michael Morpurgo!


Deadline March 31, 2022

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in The Caterpillar

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $14

Nelligan Prize

Colorado Review

The Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction was established in 2004 in memory of Liza Nelligan, a writer, editor, and friend of many in Colorado State University 's English Department. The winner receives a $2,500 honorarium and the story is published in the fall/winter issue of Colorado Review. Stories must be 10-50 pages.


Deadline March 14, 2022

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Top prize

$2,500

Additional prizes

Publication in the Colorado Review

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Michael Waters Poetry Prize

University of Southern Indiana

A prize of $3,000 and publication by SIR Press is awarded annually for a collection of poetry written in English. Michael Waters will judge. Submit up at least 40 and no more than 100 pages of poetry to be considered.


Deadline February 01, 2022

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Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Publication by SIR Press

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

The Screw Turn Flash Fiction Competition

The Ghost Story

We’re interested in flash fiction pieces of between 250 and 1,000 words. We’re seeking the finest work we can find that incorporates an uncanny element. Ghost stories are welcome, of course—but your submission may involve any paranormal or supernatural theme, as well as magic realism. What we’re looking for is superb writing, fresh perspectives, and maybe a few surprises.


Deadline January 31, 2022

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

print and online publication

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Short Story, Thriller,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

WOW! Women On Writing Quarterly Flash Fiction Contest

WOW! Women On Writing

Seeking short fiction of any genre between 250 - 750 words. The mission of this contest is to inspire creativity, communication, and well-rewarded recognition to contestants.


Deadline February 28, 2022

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Top prize

$400

Additional prizes

Interview on WOW! Blog, $25 Amazon gift card

Genres

Flash Fiction, Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Cranked Anvil Flash Fiction Competition

Cranked Anvil Press

Our quarterly flash fiction competition is open for entries all year round. The competition is open to any theme or genre, and your story must be a maximum of 500 words (not including the title). You can enter up to two stories in each quarterly competition ($3 to enter one story, $5 for two).


Deadline February 28, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

£100

Additional prizes

£25, publication online

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $3

Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award

Killer Nashville

The Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award is committed to discovering new writers, as well as superlative books by established authors and, upon discovery, sharing those writers and their works with new readers. There are a large number of both fiction and non-fiction categories you can enter.


Deadline June 15, 2022

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Top prize

$250

Additional prizes

Genres

Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Novel, Poetry, Science Fiction, Script Writing, Short Story, Thriller,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $79

Minds Shine Bright Writing Competition

Minds Shine Bright

Calling writers of fiction. Minds Shine Bright is an Australian writing competition. After a couple of topsy turvy years it’s time to explore the theme of confidence. There are four categories including short stories, flash fiction, scripts and poetry.


Deadline February 28, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

$1000 (AUS)

Additional prizes

Winners published in an anthology

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Poetry, Script Writing, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $4

Ethos Literacy Annual Short Short Story Contest

Ethos Literacy

The challenge: write a story using 100 words on one of four topics. Open to all ages with a special prize for authors 14 years or younger. The contest supports nonprofit literacy programs.


Deadline January 31, 2022

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Top prize

$250

Additional prizes

6 cash prizes of $100 each; publication in digital magazine, inclusion in webcast

Genres

Fiction, Flash 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, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

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, 2022

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Top prize

£5000

Additional prizes

£1000 for 2nd, £500 for 3rd

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $16

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, 2022

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Top prize

£5000

Additional prizes

£1000 for 2nd, £500 for 3rd

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $14

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 31, 2022

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Top prize

£1500

Additional prizes

£750 for the runner up and three prizes of £150

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $27

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, 2022

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Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

£500 for 2nd, £250 for 3rd

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition

Writer's Digest

Enter our 91st Annual Writing Competition for the chance to 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 Annual Writer’s Digest Competition Collection. [$20 for a poetry entry, $30 for a manuscript entry]


Deadline May 06, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $30

Anthology Short Story Award

Anthology Magazine

Writers of short fiction are invited to enter the Anthology Short Story Award. Established to recognise and encourage creative writing and provide a platform for publication, it is open to original and previously unpublished short stories in the English language. Stories submitted must be on the theme of ‘Memories’ and not exceed the maximum of 1,500 words.


Deadline August 30, 2022

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in Anthology Magazine, one-year subscription

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Flash Fiction Award

Bath Flash Fiction Award

In addition to winning cash prizes, entrants have the opportunity to appear in our print and digital anthology collections. Our books are published by the award-winning small press Ad Hoc Fiction, and are available to buy from their own independent bookshop as well as worldwide from Amazon. 300 word limit.


Deadline February 06, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

£300 for 2nd, £200 for 3rd

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

The Big Moose Prize

Black Lawrence Press

Each year Black Lawrence Press will award The Big Moose Prize for an unpublished novel. The prize is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The winner of this contest will receive book publication, a $1,000 cash award, and ten copies of the book. Prizes will be awarded on publication. The Big Moose Prize is open to traditional novels as well as novels-in-stories, novels-in-poems, and other hybrid forms that contain within them the spirit of a novel.


Deadline January 31, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

publication, 10 copies of your book

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Annual Poetry Contest

Third Wednesday

Each year Third Wednesday awards 3 $100 prizes in its annual poetry contest. For this year's contest, entries will be accepted from November 1, 2020 through February 15, 2021. We will accept contest entries of up to 3 previously unpublished poems of any style and subject matter. There is no limit on length.


Deadline February 15, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

print copy of the 3rd Wednesday contest issue

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $3

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Winning Writers

Welcome to the 30th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest. Submit published or unpublished work. $8,000 in prizes.


Deadline April 30, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Two-year gift certificate from Duotrope; 10 Honorable Mentions will receive $200 each

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

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.


Deadline April 30, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Louise Bogan Award

Trio House Press

The Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence includes $1,000, publication, and twenty books. The Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence is open to ALL poets, regardless of publication history.


Deadline April 30, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

WOW! Women On Writing Quarterly Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

WOW! Women On Writing

WOW! is proud to introduce our newest essay contest! The contest is open globally. Your story must be true, but the way you tell it is your chance to get creative. We are open to all styles of essay—from personal essay to lyric essay to hybrid essay, and beyond!


Deadline January 31, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication, interview, and gift card good for one item from CreateWriteNow's Store

Genres

Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Cranked Anvil Short Story Competition

Cranked Anvil Press

Our quarterly short story competition is open for entries all year round. The competition is open to any theme or genre, but your story must be a maximum of 1,500 words (not including the title). You can enter up to three stories in each quarterly competition.


Deadline January 31, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

£150

Additional prizes

£75 for 2nd, £30 for 3rd

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Dream Quest One Poetry

Dream Quest One

This poetry contest is open to everyone and international. We hope that you are inspired to display the beauty and art of poetry for the entire world to see your "gift of a dream."


Deadline March 31, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

$250

Additional prizes

$125 for 2nd place, $50 for 3rd place

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

Dream Quest One Writing Contest

Dream Quest One

The mission of this contest is to inspire, motivate and encourage anyone having the desire or love of poetry and writing, to continue doing so without fear of failure or success! Remember, in whatever you do, "it's okay to dream," for dreams do come true...


Deadline March 31, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

$250 for 2nd place, $100 for 3rd place

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award

Baen Books

The National Space Society and Baen Books applaud the role that science fiction plays in advancing real science and have teamed up to sponsor this short fiction contest in memory of Jim Baen. We are seeking short stories of no more than 8,000 words, that show the near future (no more than about 50-60 years out) of manned space exploration.


Deadline February 01, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

Publication on the Baen Books website for normal paying rates

Additional prizes

Free entry into the 2021 International Space Development Conference, a year's membership to the National Space Society, a prize package

Genres

Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Writers of the Future

L. Ron Hubbard

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.


Deadline December 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

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

Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Fantasy, Science Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

SFWP Literary Awards

SFWP

We are seeking fiction and creative nonfiction of every genre. The contest is open to authors who have not been published by a major press. We publish in English, but the contest is open to writers from anywhere in the world. The early-bird entry fee (December 15th-February 15th) will be $25.


Deadline July 15, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Two runner ups will be selected, each receiving $700.

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Novel, Novella,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $30

Saudi Historical Novel Award

Historical Novel Society

Inaugural Saudi Historical Novel Award. Entries must have historical Saudi themes or characters. Please read full guidelines.


Deadline July 01, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

£10,000

Additional prizes

runner up prize of £3,000 and a 3rd prize of £2,000

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Discover the finest writing contests of 2021 for fiction and non-fiction authors — including short story competitions, essay writing competitions, poetry contests, and many more. Updated weekly, these contests are vetted by Reedsy to weed out the scammers and time-wasters. If you’re looking to stick to free writing contests, simply use our filters as you browse.

Why you should submit to writing contests

Submitting to poetry competitions and free writing contests in 2021 is absolutely worth your while as an aspiring author: just as your qualifications matter when you apply for a new job, a writing portfolio that boasts published works and award-winning pieces is a great way to give your writing career a boost. And not to mention the bonus of cash prizes!

That being said, we understand that taking part in writing contests can be tough for emerging writers. First, there’s the same affliction all writers face: lack of time or inspiration. Entering writing contests is a time commitment, and many people decide to forego this endeavor in order to work on their larger projects instead — like a full-length book. Second, for many writers, the chance of rejection is enough to steer them clear of writing contests. 

But we’re here to tell you that two of the great benefits of entering writing contests happen to be the same as those two reasons to avoid them.

When it comes to the time commitment: yes, you will need to expend time and effort in order to submit a quality piece of writing to competitions. That being said, having a hard deadline to meet is a great motivator for developing a solid writing routine.

Think of entering contests as a training session to become a writer who will need to meet deadlines in order to have a successful career. If there’s a contest you have your eye on, and the deadline is in one month, sit down and realistically plan how many words you’ll need to write per day in order to meet that due date — and don’t forget to also factor in the time you’ll need to edit your story!

For tips on setting up a realistic writing plan, check out this free, ten-day course: How to Build a Rock-Solid Writing Routine.

In regards to the fear of rejection, the truth is that any writer aspiring to become a published author needs to develop relatively thick skin. If one of your goals is to have a book traditionally published, you will absolutely need to learn how to deal with rejection, as traditional book deals are notoriously hard to score. If you’re an indie author, you will need to adopt the hardy determination required to slowly build up a readership.

The good news is that there’s a fairly simple trick for learning to deal with rejection: use it as a chance to explore how you might be able to improve your writing.

In an ideal world, each rejection from a publisher or contest would come with a detailed letter, offering construction feedback and pointing out specific tips for improvement. And while this is sometimes the case, it’s the exception and not the rule.

Still, you can use the writing contests you don’t win as a chance to provide yourself with this feedback. Take a look at the winning and shortlisted stories and highlight their strong suits: do they have fully realized characters, a knack for showing instead of telling, a well-developed but subtly conveyed theme, a particularly satisfying denouement?

The idea isn’t to replicate what makes those stories tick in your own writing. But most examples of excellent writing share a number of basic craft principles. Try and see if there are ways for you to translate those stories’ strong points into your own unique writing.

Finally, there are the more obvious benefits of entering writing contests: prize and publication. Not to mention the potential to build up your readership, connect with editors, and gain exposure.

Resources to help you win writing competitions in 2021

Every writing contest has its own set of submission rules. Whether those rules are dense or sparing, ensure that you follow them to a T. Disregarding the guidelines will not sway the judges’ opinion in your favor — and might disqualify you from the contest altogether. 

Aside from ensuring you follow the rules, here are a few resources that will help you perfect your submissions.

Free online courses

On Writing:

On Editing:

Blog posts

Bonus resources

After you submit to a writing competition in 2021

It’s exciting to send a piece of writing off to a contest. However, once the initial excitement wears off, you may be left waiting for a while. Some writing contests will contact all entrants after the judging period — whether or not they’ve won. Other writing competitions will only contact the winners. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind after you submit:

  • Many writing competitions don’t have time to respond to each entrant with feedback on their story. However, it never hurts to ask! Feel free to politely reach out requesting feedback — but wait until after the selection period is over.

  • If you’ve submitted the same work to more than one writing competition or literary magazine, remember to withdraw your submission if it ends up winning elsewhere.

  • After you send a submission, don’t follow it up with a rewritten or revised version. Instead, ensure that your first version is thoroughly proofread and edited. If not, wait until the next edition of the contest or submit the revised version to other writing contests.