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Biopage Storytelling Writing Contest

Biopage

Biopage is hosting a writing contest to remind people the benefits of writing. Each story (or once chapter of your stories) is limited to 5,000 characters or roughly 1,000 words. You can write about good life experience, or bad, embarrassing, frightening ones. You can win $300, and five runners-up can win $100 each.


Deadline July 31, 2021

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Top prize

$300

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Spring 2021 Story Contest

Narrative Magazine

Narrative Magazine's Winter Contest is open to all fiction and nonfiction writers. They're looking for short shorts, short stories, essays, memoirs, photo essays, graphic stories, all forms of literary nonfiction, and excerpts from longer works of both fiction and nonfiction. Entries must be previously unpublished, no longer than 15,000 words, and must not have been previously chosen as a winner, finalist, or honorable mention in another contest. All contest entries are eligible for the $4,000 Narrative Prize.


Deadline July 31, 2021

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Top prize

$2,500

Additional prizes

$1000 for 2nd, $500 for 3rd, $100 for ten finalists

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $27

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 July 31, 2021

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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

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.


Deadline July 31, 2021

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in paperback, hardback, ebook, and audiobook

Genres

Short Story, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Anthology Poetry Award

Anthology Magazine

Entries are now invited for the Anthology Poetry Award. Established to recognise and encourage excellence in the craft of poetry writing and to provide a platform for publication, it is open to original and previously unpublished poems in the English language. Poems submitted must be on the theme of ‘Freedom’ and should not exceed 40 lines.


Deadline July 31, 2021

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in Anthology Magazine, one-year subscription

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Seán O'Faoláin International Short Story Competition

Munster Literature Centre

The competition is open to original, unpublished and unbroadcast short stories in the English language of 3,000 words or fewer. The story can be on any subject, in any style, by a writer of any nationality, living anywhere in the world.


Deadline July 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

€2,000

Additional prizes

Residency at Anam Cara Retreat, Featured reading at the Cork International Short Story Festival, Publication in Southword

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $22

To Hull and Back Humorous Short Story Contest

Christopher Fielden

August 2020 saw the launch of the 2021 To Hull And Back Short Story Competition, a biennial short story contest with a humorous twist that celebrates the most imaginative and amazing short stories from writers all over the world. There's a total prize pot of £3,250.


Deadline July 31, 2021

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Top prize

£1,200

Additional prizes

Published in an anthology

Genres

Fiction, Humor, Non-fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $18

Fiction Factory - Novel - First Chapter

Fiction Factory

Contestants send the First Chapter of their Novel in progress + 1 page synopsis. If the first chapter is longer than 5000 words, they should send the entire chapter, clearly marking the 5000 word point. We welcome all genres except Children's and Young Adult. International entries are welcome.


Deadline July 31, 2021

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Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

A reading by a top London Literary Agent + feedback

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Fabula Press Short Story Contest

Fabula Press

Fabula Press hosts two short story competitions every year, one during summer with submission period from May to July, and one during winter, with submissions accepted from November to February. While we are heavy on ‘literary fiction’, we would welcome a Poesque tale of horror, an enchanting work of historical fiction, or even light science fiction. Hard science fiction, fantasy, young adult or chick lit do not work for us, though.


Deadline July 31, 2021

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in an anthology, minimum payment to all published authors $75

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

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 July 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£150

Additional prizes

£75 for 2nd, £30 for 3rd

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Winchester Poetry Prize

Winchester Poetry Festival

We will hold a special prize-giving event on Saturday 9 October 2021. We are planning for this event to be a live event in Winchester. However, if there are restrictions still in place which prevent this, the event will move online. Winning and commended poems will also be published in a competition anthology.


Deadline July 31, 2021

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Top prize

£1,000

Additional prizes

2nd £500, 3rd £250

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

New Voices Award

Lee & Low Books

The New Voices Award is given annually by children's book publisher Lee & Low Books for a children’s picture book manuscript by a writer of color or Indigenous/Native writer. Established in 2000, the New Voices Award encourages writers of color and Indigenous/Native writers to submit their work to a publisher that takes pride in nurturing new talent.


Deadline July 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$2,000

Additional prizes

A standard Lee & Low publishing contract

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Put Your Heart in a Book Contest

New Jersey Romance Writers

Submissions will consist of a FIRST chapter, not to exceed 30 pages, and a PROJECTED WORD COUNT of the completed manuscript. A prologue may be included as part of the first chapter, if within page total guidelines. An UNJUDGED SYNOPSIS must be included at the end of the submission, clearly defined with a page break and titled "SYNOPSIS". The synopsis will not count toward the page count.


Deadline August 01, 2021

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Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

Social media promotion, feedback from 2 published authors

Genres

Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Grindstone Short Story Prize

Grindstone Literary

The Grindstone Short Story Prize returns this year, seeking out the best short fiction writers from around the world. Writers are asked to submit a piece of short fiction between 1000 and 3000 words, of any genre, aimed at adult readers.


Deadline August 01, 2021

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Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

£200 runner-up, £50 four shortlisters

Genres

Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $17

Future Folklore

Stories to Change the World

Future Folklore is a call to practice an emergent genre called Climate Fiction, which uses a speculative format to respond to the climate crisis. Whether your tale is set ten years from now, or two hundred, show us how you envision innovating the values, practices and technologies of the past and today.


Deadline August 09, 2021

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Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

$120 for 2nd, $85 for 3rd, $50 for 9 special selections, e-book publication for all winners

Genres

Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Diode Editions Chapbook Contest

Diode Editions

Open to all poets over the age of 18 who write in English. Length: 25—50 pages (front matter is not included in page count). We will consider translations, and we welcome collaborations.


Deadline August 15, 2021

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication and 25 author copies

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $18

Diode Editions Full Length Book Contest

Diode Editions

Open to all poets over the age of 18 who write in English. Length: 55—85 pages (front matter is not included in page count). We will consider translations, and we welcome collaborations.


Deadline August 15, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication and 25 author copies

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

George Dila Memorial Flash Fiction Contest

Third Wednesday

The editors of Third Wednesday wish to honor the memory of George Dila, friend of Third Wednesday and the editor who originally brought fiction to 3W. To this end, we proudly announce the opening of The George Dila Memorial Flash Fiction Contest. We accept entries of previously unpublished stories of under 1000 words in length (including title).


Deadline August 15, 2021

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Publication in Third Wednesday magazine

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $6

1/2K Prize

Indiana Review

Send us up to 3 pieces of no more than 500 words each in any genre for a chance to win $1000 + publication. This year’s final judge is Taylor Johnson. Submit your work from July 1 through August 15!


Deadline August 15, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

Baton Rouge Area Foundation

The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence honors Louisiana’s revered storyteller, Ernest J. Gaines, and serves to inspire and recognize rising African-American fiction writers of excellence at a national level. Authors may submit a work of fiction (novel or collection of short stories) that will be published in 2021. Galleys for a 2021 publication are also accepted. The cash prize is to support and enable the writer to focus on writing.


Deadline August 15, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$15,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

The Writer's Games

The Writer's Workout

The Writer's Games is a two-month competition where writers receive an Event (prompt) each Friday and have 72 hours to write a short story that fits the prompt. A group of judges read and give feedback to each entry. The top 5 winners of each Event are published in our Games anthology. There are also prizes for the top 3. One of the prizes is an interview that's posted on the Writer's Workout blog. Registration for the Games starts in June and the Games begin in July.


Deadline August 16, 2021

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Top prize

Publication in the Games anthology

Additional prizes

An interview on the Writer's Workout blog

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Poetry Competition

Globe Soup

We’re looking for the best POEM of up to 50 lines. The theme for Globe Soup Poetry Competitions is always: ‘Poetry with a Sense of Place’. We accept all forms and styles of poetry. We can’t wait to see where this competition takes you!


Deadline August 24, 2021

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Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $11

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 author of 'With Teeth and Mostly Dead Things' Kristen Arnett! Entires must be under 6,000 words.


Deadline August 30, 2021

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Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Publication online, agency review, $300, $200

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Exeter Story Prize and Trisha Ashley Award

Creative Writing Matters

The competition is for stories of up to five thousand words on any theme. We are delighted that Sunday Times Bestselling author, Trisha Ashley is once again offering an award. This year she has asked us for a selection of 'engaging and quirky' stories to choose from.


Deadline August 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

Trish Ashley Award £200

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Fool for Poetry International Chapbook Competition

Munster Literature Center

The competition is open to new, emerging and established poets from any country. One of these winners will be the highest scoring manuscript entered by a poet with no solo collection (full-length or chapbook) previously published. Up to 25 other entrants will be publicly listed as "highly commended".


Deadline August 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

€1,000

Additional prizes

Chapbook publication with 50 free copies, 2nd prize €500

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $30

IFW Sci-Fi First Pages Contest

Institute for Writers

Can you establish your science fiction world and pull a reader into your story in the first 1,000 words? Submit the first 1,000 words of your unpublished sci-fi manuscript aimed at an adult (or young adult) audience for your chance to win the grand prize.


Deadline August 31, 2021

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Top prize

$650

Additional prizes

Critique from an IFW Instructor

Genres

Science Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $19

Fischer Prize

Telluride Institute

This annual award is open to poets of all ages living in the US. Deadline for submissions is August 31st, 2021.


Deadline August 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Attendance at Telluride Literary Arts Festival

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

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 August 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$400

Additional prizes

Interview on WOW! Blog, $25 Amazon gift card

Genres

Flash Fiction, Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

SFPA Poetry Contest

Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA)

The annual SFPA Speculative (Dwarf/Short/Long) Poetry Contest is open to all poets, including non-members of the SFPA. Awards will be given across 3 categories.


Deadline August 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$150

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry, Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $3

Creative Writing Award for Poetry

Aesthetica

Since its establishment 15 years ago, this international literary prize has provided a platform for poets and authors across the globe to showcase their work through publication, prize money and exposure. The Creative Award is open to poetry and short fiction submissions on any theme, celebrating innovation in content, form and technique. Poetry entries should be no more than 40 lines.


Deadline August 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$3,400

Additional prizes

Publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual, Full membership to The Poetry Society, Selection of books from Vintage, One year print subscription to Granta

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $16

Creative Writing Award for Short Fiction

Aesthetica

Since its establishment 15 years ago, this international literary prize has provided a platform for poets and authors across the globe to showcase their work through publication, prize money and exposure. The Creative Award is open to poetry and short fiction submissions on any theme, celebrating innovation in content, form and technique. Fiction entries should be no more than 2,000 words.


Deadline August 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$3,400

Additional prizes

Publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual, Consultation with Redhammer Management, Selection of books from Vintage, One year print subscription to Granta

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Horizons

SaveAs Writers

2021 marks the centenary of T S Eliot’s visit to Margate, where he wrote part of The Waste Land. To celebrate his work and the views from our coastline, SaveAs Writers launch their annual international creative writing competition, this year asking for poems and short stories on the theme of Horizons. The theme can be literal, figurative, a celebration of views, a reflection on Eliot and his work, or a broader take on the theme.


Deadline August 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£200

Additional prizes

£100 second place, £50 third place

Genres

Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

Edinburgh Award for Flash Fiction

Scottish Arts Trust

The Edinburgh Flash Fiction Award is open to writers worldwide, published and unpublished, and for stories on any topic up to 250 words. Chief judges are the celebrated authors Zoe Strachan and Louise Welsh. The top twenty authors will be given free tickets to our annual Flash Bash at the Scottish Arts Club in Edinburgh, where everyone will present their stories and the prize-winners will be announced.


Deadline August 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

Second £300, Third £150, Publication for top twenty in our next anthology

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

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.


Deadline August 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£100

Additional prizes

£25, publication online

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $4

Moment Magazine-Karma Foundation Short Fiction Contest

Moment Magazine

The Moment Magazine-Karma Foundation Short Fiction Contest encourages writers to unpublished short fiction related to Judaism or Jewish culture or history.


Deadline September 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Moment Magazine

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

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.