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Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award

Killer Nashville

The Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awardé 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 01, 2021

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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: FREE

James Laughlin Award

Academy of American Poets

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


Deadline May 16, 2021

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Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Distribution of book to Academy of American Poets members

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poetry

African Poetry Book Fund

The Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poetry is awarded annually to an African poet who has not yet published a collection of poetry. Along with $1,000, the winner recives book publication through the University of Nebraska Press and Amalion Press in Senegal. Poetry manuscripts should be at least 50 pages long. [Submissions open September 15, 2021]


Deadline December 01, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Book publication through the University of Nebraska Press and Amalion Press in Senegal

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Inkitt's Writing Contest

Inkitt

Inkitt’s Writing Contests regularly give authors the opportunity to share their books with readers around the world and showcase their talents. Their monthly cash prizes give you the chance to win money and exclusive book badges for your writing! Each month one grand prize winner, and two runners up will be selected.


Deadline December 31, 2021

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Top prize

$300

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

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

The Bath Spa University Writing Award

Bath Spa University

With the support of Jack and Audrey Ladevèze, the University has established an award for students studying for a Master’s in Creative Writing, Travel and Nature Writing or Writing for Young People. Each year the Award will be made to a student who has demonstrated outstanding talent in writing and for whom this award will make a significant difference in enabling them to further their studies at a Master’s level.


Deadline September 16, 2021

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Top prize

$1,360

Additional prizes

Genres

Essay,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Irene Adler Prize

Lucas Aykroyd

The Irene Adler Prize offers a $1,000 US scholarship to a woman pursuing a degree in journalism, creative writing, or literature at a recognized post-secondary institution in the U.S. or Canada, based on an essay competition.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Essay,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

The Reedsy Prompts Contest

Reedsy

Respond to one of Reedsy's weekly writing prompt newsletters with a short story for the chance to win $50 and get featured on the Reedsy Blog!


Deadline December 31, 2021

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Top prize

$50

Additional prizes

Publication on Reedsy Blog

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Drue Heinz Literature Prize

University of Pittsburgh Press

The Drue Heinz Literature Prize recognizes and supports writers of short fiction and makes their work available to readers around the world. The award is open to authors who have published a book-length collection of fiction or at least three short stories or novellas in commercial magazines or literary journals.


Deadline June 30, 2021

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Top prize

$15,000

Additional prizes

Publication in University of Pittsburgh Press

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Season Themes

HAVOK Publishing

HAVOK is a constant flash fiction contest, with rolling deadlines. Each season is split into monthly competitions with thematically connected prompts in a range of genres.


Deadline December 31, 2021

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Top prize

$10

Additional prizes

Publication in an anthology. Potential for larger gift card wins.

Genres

Fantasy, Flash Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

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.


Deadline May 31, 2021

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Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

$100

Genres

Short Story, Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

#GWstorieseverywhere

Gotham Writers

Each month we invite you to post a story on Twitter using #GWstorieseverywhere for a chance to win a free class. Your story must be no longer than 25 words, with a max of 280 characters, including spaces and the hashtag #GWstorieseverywhere.


Deadline December 31, 2021

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Top prize

Gotham Writers Workshop

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Flash Fiction Writing Contest

Voice.club

Voice.club has a strong commitment to writers and writing. Our monthly Flash Fiction writing contests are a wonderful opportunity for writers to practice their craft, share their stories and win prizes! Each entry must be 350 words or less, be family-friendly, and include some reference to the month's theme.


Deadline December 31, 2021

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Top prize

$50 Amazon gift-card

Additional prizes

$25 Amazon gift-card

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

She Writes Press and SparkPress Towards Equality in Publishing (STEP)

SparkPoint Studio

The publishing industry has been widely criticized for its lack of diversity. At She Writes Press and SparkPress, we are well aware of the need for more and broader representation of writers of color on our lists. In an effort to address this issue head-on we launched the She Writes Press and SparkPress Toward Equality in Publishing (STEP) contest.


Deadline July 05, 2021

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Top prize

Publishing package including a 500-book print run

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

The Black Orchid Novella Award

The Wolfe Pack

An important part of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe's opus are novellas. To celebrate this format, the Wolfe Pack and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine have partnered to sponsor the Black Orchid Novella Award. Each entry must be an original unpublished work of fiction that conforms to the tradition of the Nero Wolfe series.


Deadline May 31, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in AHMM

Genres

Fiction, Mystery, Novella,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

HG Wells Short Story Competition

BBC Aeronautics Correspondent Reg Turnill and his wife, Margaret

The theme for this year’s competition is MASK in its broadest interpretation. There are two categories. Authors 21 years of age and under (on 12th July 2021) with a prize of £1,000. (Entry is free). Authors aged 22 years and above on 12th July 2021 with a prize of £500 (entry £10 or £5 with student id).


Deadline July 12, 2021

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Top prize

£1,000

Additional prizes

£500

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

7 Day Story Writing Challenge

Globe Soup

Register now for our next 7 day story writing challenge. A secret theme, a randomly assigned genre and just 7 days to write a story of no more than 2,000 words. Our 7 day story writing challenges take place throughout the year. The challenges are free and you can even get feedback on your story. Take part in one challenge or take part in all of them!


Deadline June 21, 2021

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Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

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

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Top prize

$150

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry, Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $3

Muriel Craft Bailey Poetry Contest

The Comstock Review

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


Deadline July 15, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by The Comstock Review

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

8th Ó Bhéal Five Words International Poetry Competition

Ó Bhéal

At around noon each Tuesday (GMT), from 13 April 2021 to 225January 2022, five words are posted on the Ó Bhéal Five Words competition page. Entrants have one week to compose and submit poems that include all five words given for the week. The competition runs for 41 weeks, and a prize of 750 euro is awarded to one winner.


Deadline January 25, 2022

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Top prize

€750

Additional prizes

€500, €250

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

Annual Flash Fiction Competition

Flash 500

This quarterly open-themed competition has closing dates of 31st March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December. The results will be announced about six weeks after each closing date and the three winning entries each quarter will be published on the website.


Deadline June 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£300

Additional prizes

£200, £100

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Swanwick Short Story Competition

Writers Online

Swanwick Writers' Summer School is a week-long programme for writers of all ages abilities and genres. You could win a place for 2021 for a single short story, up to 1,000 words, on this year's theme 'Second chances'.


Deadline April 30, 2021

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Top prize

Fully inclusive stay at Swanwick Summer School

Additional prizes

Writing Magazine manuscript appraisal, Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2021

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $8

Rhyming Poem Poetry Contest

FanStory

Share a poem with a rhyme scheme to enter this poetry contest. You can write about anything — just make sure your poem rhymes.


Deadline September 22, 2021

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

100 Word Flash Fiction Contest

FanStory

Write a flash fiction story on any topic that uses exactly 100 words. The winner takes away a $100 cash prize. All writers will receive feedback for their submission.


Deadline August 31, 2021

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

2-4-2 Poetry Contest

FanStory

Share a 2-4-2 poem to enter this poetry contest. A 2-4-2 is a three line poem that has a 2-4-2 syllable count.


Deadline June 18, 2021

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

Nonet Poetry Contest

FanStory

Share a Nonet. This is a poem with nine lines and a specific syllable count. It's a fun poem to write. Cash prize to the winner. See the details and a sample poem in the contest announcement.


Deadline June 12, 2021

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

Acrostic Poetry Contest

FanStory

Share an Acrostic poem to enter this poetry contest. See an example in the contest announcement. Cash prize.


Deadline June 29, 2021

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

5-7-5 Poetry Contest

FanStory

Share a 5-7-5 poem to enter this poetry contest. A 5-7-5 is a simple poem to write. The first line of your poem will have 5 syllables. Second line has 7. Third line has 5 again. Cash prize!


Deadline August 16, 2021

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

Future Flash Fiction Contest

FanStory

Write a flash fiction story that takes place in the future. Maximum length 500 words. The winner takes away a $100 cash prize. All writers will receive feedback for their submission.


Deadline August 20, 2021

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Science Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

The Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest

The Saturday Evening Post

In its nearly two centuries of existence, The Saturday Evening Post has published short fiction by a who's who of great American authors, including Ray Bradbury, William Faulkner, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Now you have the opportunity to join our illustrious lineup by entering The Saturday Evening Post 's Annual Great American Fiction Contest. The winning story will be published in the January/February 2022 edition of The Saturday Evening Post, and the author will receive $1,000. Five runners-up will each receive $200 and will also have their stories featured online.


Deadline July 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in The Saturday Evening Post

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

The Peseroff Prize

Breakwater Review

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


Deadline May 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in spring issue

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

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 May 31, 2021

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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

The Larry Brown Short Story Award

Pithead Chapel

We’re pleased to announce the sixth annual Larry Brown Short Story Award. The winners will receive the following prizes: 1st $500 USD, 2nd $50 USD, 3rd $50 USD, and 4th and 5th will receive a copy of the book Tiny Love: The Complete Stories by Larry Brown. Each prize winner will be published in the January 2022 issue of Pithead Chapel.


Deadline October 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

The Breakwater Fiction Contest

Break Water Review

We are seeking submissions for pieces that breathe freshness to the form. We are interested in previously unpublished prose ranging from 1,000 - 4,000 words.


Deadline December 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

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.