The Best Writing Contests of 2022

Writing competitions curated by Reedsy

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Nelson Algren Short Story Award

Chicago Tribune

The 2018 Nelson Algren Literary Awards is sponsored by Chicago Tribune. Stories must be written in English, double-spaced, and no longer than 8,000 words. A total of 10 prizes will be made available during Contest: One Grand Prize: $3,500, Four Finalist Prizes: $1,000, Five Runner-up Prizes: $500.

Top prize

$3,500

Additional prizes

Publication in Printers Row

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: February 07, 2018 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Short Story

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Atlantis Short Story Contest

Atlantis Short Story Contest

In its seventh year, the Atlantis Short Story Contest accepts entries from unpublished authors around the world who write their short stories in English and do not exceed the length of 2,500 words. They are looking for short stories that create exciting new worlds with dynamic characters.

Top prize

$300

Additional prizes

In-depth feedback

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $9

Deadline: February 25, 2018 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Short Story

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Dartmouth Poet-In-Residence Award

Frost Place

The aim of this program is to select a poet who is at an artistic and personal crossroads, comparable to that faced by Robert Frost when he moved to Franconia in 1915, when he was not yet known to a broad public.

Top prize

$2,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $28

Deadline: January 05, 2019 (Expired)


Genres

Poetry

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Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition 2020

InterAct Stroke Support

InterAct Stroke Support is a UK charity dedicated to supporting stroke recovery by using professional actors to deliver hospital readings and community projects. InterAct's competition asks writers to write a piece in any genre in no more than 1000 words. Stories must be suitable to be read in the sensitive environment of a hospital setting.

Top prize

$1,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: December 02, 2019 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Short Story

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The Milt Kessler Poetry Award

Binghamton University

$1,000 Award for a book of poems written in English, 48 pages or more in length, selected by our judges as the strongest collection of poems published in 2019.

Top prize

$1,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: February 01, 2020 (Expired)


Genres

Poetry

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Desperate Literature Prize for Short Fiction

Desperate Literature

The aim of the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize is both to celebrate the best of new short fiction and to give winners the most visibility possible for their writing. We value fiction that pushes some boundary or another, that wakes us up and shows us something vital and surprising about the world. We are a bookshop and organization based in Madrid, Spain, but our contest welcomes English-language fiction from around the world. There are no geographical limits to enter, but stories must be previously unpublished, and under 2,000 words. Judges for the 2022 prize are Ottessa Moshfegh and Joanna Walsh. Sponsorships and discounted entry fees available; see our website. 1st place: a week's residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, consultation with a UK literary agent, manuscript consultation. One shortlister is offered an additional residency or opportunity at the Writers’ House of Georgia, Tbilisi. Top 11 stories are published in our magazine and in our partner journals.

Top prize

€1,500

Additional prizes

2nd and 3rd place: €750

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $23

Deadline: April 15, 2020 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story

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Chalk Circle Short Story Competition

Chalk Circle

Whether you are creating a dystopian nightmare, revelling in absurdist humour, or writing stories to celebrate what you love, or have discovered, and fear to lose, we invite you to submit your story to our inaugural short story competition. The word limit is 2,000.

Top prize

$240

Additional prizes

Publication on website or anthology

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $7

Deadline: August 31, 2020 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Short Story

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First Page Challenge

Darling Axe

The First Page Challenge is a writing contest for novelists. Hook us in a single double-spaced page for a chance to win a growing prize pool, plus publication on the Chopping Blog.

Top prize

$200

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $5

Deadline: September 30, 2020 (Expired)


Genres

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Women's National Book Association Writing Contest

Women's National Book Association

Do you want to show the world your writing? Then enter the 2020 WNBA Writing Contest! You can enter your work in four categories: fiction, creative nonfiction, flash prose, and poetry.

Top prize

$250

Additional prizes

Publishication in an anthology

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: December 01, 2020 (Expired)


Genres

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

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2021 Microfiction Contest

River Styx

500 words maximum per story, up to three stories per entry fee. (Additional stories are accepted with additional fees.)

Top prize

$1,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: December 31, 2020 (Expired)


Genres

Flash Fiction

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Royal Ascot Competition

Beau Monde Chapter of RWA

The annual Royal Ascot contest provides unpublished writers with exposure to published Regency fiction authors and industry professionals who specialize in publishing Regency Fiction works. The Royal Ascot is devoted exclusively to the Regency. The contest goal is to promote Regency-set fiction (1780-1840) by encouraging the development of authors who set their stories in the extended Regency period.

Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

$50 for each category winner

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $30

Deadline: January 01, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Romance

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Main Street Rag Poetry Book Contest

Main Street Rag Publishing Company

The Main Street Rag Poetry Book Contest is for full length poetry manuscripts (48-84 pages) and has a February 1, 2020 deadline.

Top prize

$1,200

Additional prizes

Publication, 50 copies of their book

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $25

Deadline: January 30, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Poetry

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2021 Nervous Ghost Press Book Prizes

Nervous Ghost Press

The 2021 Nervous Ghost Press Book Prizes are open to outstanding works of poetry and prose by anyone living in the United States of America. ​All work and all writers, from any point in their careers, are welcome to submit their work and get a chance of publication. Please submit a completed a manuscript (50,000-100,000 words for prose, 48-128 pages for poetry).

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication and a Californian reading tour

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $24

Deadline: January 31, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novel, Poetry, Humor, Young Adult

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Michael McLaverty Short Story Award

Linen Hall Library

The Linen Hall Library in Belfast has announced the 2020 Michael McLaverty Short Story Award. Entrants must have been born in, or are citizens of, or resident in Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland. Maximum word count 3000. Adjudicators are multi-award-winning writer Donal Ryan and Patsy Horton, Managing Editor of Blackstaff Press.

Top prize

$2,600

Additional prizes

$300 each for the two runner-ups

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: January 31, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Humor, Mystery, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

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The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction

Association of Writers & Writing Programs

AWP sponsors the Award Series, an annual competition for the publication of excellent new book-length works. The competition is open to all authors writing in English regardless of nationality or residence, and is available to published and unpublished authors alike.

Top prize

$5,500

Additional prizes

Publication by Red Hen Press

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $30

Deadline: February 28, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Short Story

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C. P. Cavafy Poetry Prize

Poetry International

We are looking for chapbooks with consistently strong poems—poems that speak to one another lyrically and thematically. A review of the finalists and winners from recent competitions has revealed that the strongest chapbooks are typically the shortest; as a result, we have changed the page limit and invite you to send a gathering of your strongest work to be considered for Poetry International's Tiny Chapbook Competition.

Top prize

$0

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: February 28, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Poetry

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Short Story Competition 2021

Exeter Writers

Exeter Writers runs an annual short story competition. The competition began in 2009 and is very popular, receiving entries from all over the world. The maximum word count is 3,000.

Top prize

$900

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $9

Deadline: February 28, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Short Story

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Jane Martin Poetry Prize (UK)

Girton College

A UK-only competition for young poets (aged 18-30 years). The winners receive a cash prize of £700 and have an opportunity to give a reading at a celebratory event at Girton College.

Top prize

£700

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: March 05, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Poetry

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Zizzle Literary Flash Fiction Contest

Zizzle Literary

Every week during our submission period, we’ll post one-sentence dialogue writing prompts on our social media platforms. Choose a dialogue prompt that inspires you and write a story that includes the prompt.

Top prize

Additional prizes

1000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $5

Deadline: March 15, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction

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An Axe to Grind - Flash Fiction Contest

The Darling Axe

Tell us a story in fewer than 1000 words for a chance to win from a growing prize pool, plus publication on the Chopping Blog.

Top prize

$700

Additional prizes

Publication on the Chopping Blog

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $5

Deadline: March 31, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Flash Fiction

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Nowhere Emerging Travel Writers' Prize

Nowhere Magazine

We are looking for never-been-published travel writers from anywhere in the world to send us stories—fiction, nonfiction, essay or poetry—that possess a powerful sense of place, people and time.

Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in Nowhere Magazine

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: March 31, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

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

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Red Hen Press Nonfiction Award

Red Hen Press

Established in 2015, the Red Hen Nonfiction Award seeks to recognize the art of true story-telling through literary craft. The awarded fiction manuscript is selected through an annual submission process which is open to all authors.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Red Hen Press

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $25

Deadline: March 31, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Non-fiction

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Lighthouse Poetry Series

Cleveland State University Poetry Center

The Cleveland State University Poetry Center welcomes submissions for the Lighthouse Poetry Series. The Lighthouse Poetry Series publishes contemporary poetry from poets with any history of publication. The winner will receive $1,000, publication, and a standard royalty contract. This year’s contest will be judged by Randall Mann.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Royalty contract

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $28

Deadline: March 31, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Poetry

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Travel Writing Competition

Globe Soup

The Globe Soup Travel Writing Contest is open to non-fiction writers. Enter original, unpublished non-fiction travel writing in any form, including personal essay, destination piece and opinion piece. Entries must be no longer than 1,000 words.

Top prize

$1,300

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $10

Deadline: April 01, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Travel

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Interactive Romance Writing Contest

Sana Stories

The theme of our current Writing Contest is ‘Slow Burn’ - the romantic pull between two characters that just keeps on going! Stories need to be written with our Writing Tool, have min. 5000 words, have at least one choice situation where the story branches. Adaptations of linear stories are also welcome.

Top prize

€500

Additional prizes

€200, €100

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: April 11, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Young Adult

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We the Students Essay Contest

Bill of Rights Institute

The Bill of Rights Institute engages, educates, and empowers individuals with a passion for the freedom and opportunity that exist in a free society. Students in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Armed Forces schools abroad, and students in United States territories are eligible to participate in its contest.

Top prize

$7,500

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: April 15, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Children's, Essay

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IEW Writing Contest

Institute for Excellent Writing

We are delighted to present our annual writing contest for all aspiring and accomplished writers, ages eight to eighteen. Whether or not they have experience with IEW's Structure and Style® Writing Method, your students are invited to participate.

Top prize

$100

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: April 30, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Children's, Short Story

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The Kurt Brown Prizes

Association of Writers & Writing Programs

AWP will offer three scholarships of $500 each to be awarded to three first-place winners in the genres of creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. These scholarships must be used to attend a writers’ conference, center, retreat, festival, or residency at one of the AWP member programs in the Directory of Conferences & Centers. All winners and six finalists will also receive a one-year individual membership.

Top prize

$500 scholarship

Additional prizes

one-year membership

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $10

Deadline: May 15, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

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

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MBF/de Groot Prize

Miami Book Fair

The Miami Book Fair has partnered with The de Groot Foundation to launch the Miami Book Fair/de Groot Prize to be awarded to an author for an unpublished novella. We created the MBF/de Groot Prize to fan the flame in emerging writers who yearn to be published. We want the prize to bring out the best in new authors who have a story that needs to be heard.

Top prize

$6,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Melville House & an expense-paid trip to the Miami Book Fair

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: May 30, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Novella

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Youth Writing Contest

The Vancouver Writers Fest

The Vancouver Writers Fest's annual youth writing contest is open to all students enrolled in grades 8-12 in British Columbia. Entries will be accepted for previously unpublished short stories (fiction or non-fiction) and personal essays: 1,500 word limit. The first-prize winner will receive a $200 cash prize and the second-prize winner, a $100 cash prize.

Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

$100

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: May 31, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Short Story, Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction

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Rudy Contest

Chesapeake Writers' Association

The Rudy Contest is open to submissions of unpublished manuscripts. There must be a romantic element and a Happily Ever After. Entries are comprised of a blurb (back-cover copy) and no more than the first 20 pages of a manuscript.

Top prize

$50

Additional prizes

Certificate and digital badge to finalists.

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $25

Deadline: May 31, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Romance

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Dialogue Only

The Write Contest and Community

The Write Contest and Community is now accepting entries to our Dialogue Only Contest. The Dialogue Only Contest is an opportunity to create a clear and compelling story using nothing but dialogue. Your entry can be up to 250 words.

Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

Cash prizes for top three entries.

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: June 18, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Script Writing, Short Story

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Typehouse Literary Magazine Open Fiction Contest

Typehouse Literary Magazine

We are pleased to announce Typehouse Literary Magazine 's third biennial Open Fiction Contest! All pieces must be between 1000-6000 words, entries must be previously unpublished and all genres are accepted.

Top prize

$175

Additional prizes

$100 for second place and $50 for third place

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $12

Deadline: June 30, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

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

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The Don Belton Fiction Reading Period

Indiana Review

Indiana Review and Indiana University Press are proud to present the Don Belton Fiction Reading Period. Between May 1 and June 30, we will read fiction manuscripts of up to 80,000 words. The winning manuscript will be published by IU Press and the author will receive $1,000 against future royalties and a standard publication contract with IU Press.

Top prize

Publication by IU Press

Additional prizes

$1,000 against future royalties, a standard publication contract with IU Press

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $25

Deadline: June 30, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Novel

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First Chapters Contest

CRAFT

We are looking for excerpts of book-length fiction, up to 5,000 words total. Please submit the first chapter (or chapters) of your unpublished novels/novellas, completed or in progress. Masie Cochran of Tin House is our guest judge.

Top prize

$2,800

Additional prizes

publication in CRAFT magazine + manuscript critique

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: June 30, 2021 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Novel, Novella

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Discover the finest writing contests of 2022 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 2022 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 2022

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 2022

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

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

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