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Narrative Prize

Narrative Magazine

The Narrative Prize is awarded annually for the best short story, novel excerpt, poem, one-act play, graphic story, or work of literary nonfiction published by a new or emerging writer in Narrative. The submission system is open all year.


Deadline June 15, 2020

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Top prize

$4,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Inkitt's Writing Contest

Inkitt

Inkitt’s writing contest runs quarterly and gives authors the chance to win an exclusive GALATEA publishing deal and the chance to showcase their book to the world. Monthly, alongside the quarterly publishing deal prize draw, cash prize contest winners are announced, determined on how many likes the author has received on their book. Monthly these winners will receive $150. Authors can also use Inkitt’s Writing app — found in the app store under ‘Inkitt Writing” — to draft up their novels!


Deadline December 31, 2020

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Top prize

Publishing contract with GALATEA

Additional prizes

$150

Genres

Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award

Claremont Graduate University

Unlike many literary awards, which are coronations for a successful career or body of work, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award was created to both honor the poet and provide the resources that allow artists to continue working towards the pinnacle of their craft. The work submitted must be a first book of poetry published between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020.


Deadline July 01, 2020

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Top prize

$100,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

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 02, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Essay,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

"Virus Poems" Poetry Contest

Public Poetry

For “Virus Poems” we’re asking for your response to the pandemic and the times we’re in now. While we’re hunkered down, we can also be productive, allowing ourselves to reflect and clean out some of the cobwebs that cling to us – all good stuff for writing poetry. Maximum 40 lines.


Deadline August 31, 2020

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Top prize

Cash award based on donations.

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

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, 2020

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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 2019

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, 2020

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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

Beyond The Storm Poetry Competition

Write Out Loud

The Beyond the Storm Poetry Competition is looking for poems about the lockdown and beyond, to be judged by award-winning poet Andrew McMillan, supported by BBC Casualty actors Gabriella Leon, Kirsty Mitchell and Olivia D’Lima who will recite shortlisted entries online for a special ‘People’s Vote'.


Deadline June 19, 2020

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Top prize

Publication in an anthology

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Go Green Prize Short Story Contest

Pressful

Submit an original Horror and Fantasy Short Story, 2,000 - 10,000 words to us to be published and win cash prize.


Deadline October 31, 2020

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Publication

Genres

Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Season Four: Sensational

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. In Season Four, we’ll take a journey of the senses, and immerse our readers in everything that’s possible for a human to experience—and beyond.


Deadline October 05, 2020

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Top prize

$10

Additional prizes

Publication in an anthology. Potential for gift card wins.

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

#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 August 31, 2020

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Top prize

Gotham Writers Workshop

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

The Future Of

Publishizer

For this contest, The Future Of, Publishizer are seeking book ideas about the transforming future of society, business, and everyday life. Submit for a chance to get a publishing deal.


Deadline August 01, 2020

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Top prize

International publishing deal

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

2020 African American Voices in Children’s Literature: Writing Contest

Free Spirit Publishing

Eligible entries will include original fiction or nonfiction board books for ages 0–4 (50–125 words) and picture books for ages 4–8 (300–800 words) featuring contemporary African American characters and culture and focusing on one or more of the following topics: character development, self-esteem, diversity, getting along with others, engaging with family and community, or other topics related to positive childhood development.


Deadline July 22, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

2021 Embracing Our Differences International Art Exhibit Celebrating Diversity

Embracing Our Differences

Embracing Our Differences is seeking quotes to accompany a juried exhibit that features 50 billboard size pieces of art. These quotations provide the writers a chance to voice their thoughts, feelings, and ideas reflecting our theme of “enriching lives through diversity and inclusion.” The combination of visual art and the written word adds a deeper dimension to the overall experience.


Deadline October 07, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Pressfuls 2020 Horror Short Story Contest

Pressfuls

Write a short story between 500 - 5,000 words in the Horror for a chance to win cash prize.


Deadline July 31, 2020

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Top prize

$50

Additional prizes

Genres

Horror, Short Story, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

The Mother of All Contests

Gotham Writers Workshop

In honor of Mother’s Day, write a story that captures the drama and experience of motherhood, whether rosy or terrifying or gratifying. The twist it that your story can be no longer than 29 words.


Deadline June 04, 2020

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Top prize

Free Gotham Writers Class

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

Cleveland Foundation

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recognizes outstanding works that contribute to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of cultural diversity. Awards are given for fiction, poetry and nonfiction.


Deadline December 31, 2020

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Top prize

$10,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

2019 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, 2020

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry, Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $2

Teens of Tomorrow 2020

Odd Voice Out Publishing

We are calling for short stories that reflect the socio-political issues that young people are dealing with now and will continue to tackle in the coming years. Entries submitted to our Teens of Tomorrow contest can be any genre, provided that they centre on forward-looking teenage characters grappling with the world around them, the times ahead of them and the roles they personally aspire to play.


Deadline August 31, 2020

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Top prize

$240

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $4

Muriel Craft Bailey 2019 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, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by The Comstock Review

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

$100 for 100 Words

Sunspot Literary Journal

Microfiction, micro essay, micro memoir, short poem, micro script, micro screenplay... if it is 100 words or less, it might be worth $100.


Deadline June 30, 2020

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Script Writing, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

8th Ó Bhéal Five Words International Poetry Competition

Ó Bhéal

At around noon each Tuesday (GMT), from April 2020 to the end of January 2021, 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, until the last week of January and a prize of 750 euro is awarded to one winner.


Deadline January 26, 2021

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Top prize

$750

Additional prizes

Published in Five Words Vol XIV (poetry anthology)

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

The Morton Marr Poetry Prize

Southwest Review

The Morton Marr Poetry Prize is an endowment by Marilyn Klepak of Dallas in honor of her father, whose love of poetry has encouraged her to pass this love on to others. The contest is open to any writer who has not published a book of poetry. You may enter up to six poems, but they must be entered one at a time. Only unpublished, formal poems are eligible: sonnets, sestinas, villanelles, rhymed stanzas, blank verse, et al.


Deadline September 30, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Southwest Review

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

Twist Short Story Competition

Writers Online

You’ll need to use all your cunning to come up with your plot for this month’s competition. As seasoned judges, we have a sixth sense for a twist and your story still has to surprise us. The winner will receive £200 and publication in Writing Magazine. The word count should be 1,500-1,700 words.


Deadline July 15, 2020

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Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

Publication in Writing Magazine

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $6

Henshaw Short Story Competition

Henshaw Press

Entries to the Henshaw Short Story Competition must be an unpublished work of fiction any theme. The length limit is 2,000.


Deadline June 30, 2020

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Top prize

$240

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $6

Creative Nonfiction Competition

Writers Online

Explore the real world in our creative nonfiction competition, whether that means a personal memoir, a pen portrait, an atmospheric research piece, or anything else... but whatever your topic and style, you’ll need to use your storytelling skills to bring the facts to life.


Deadline June 15, 2020

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Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

£50 and publication on the Writing Magazine for the runner-up

Genres

Memoir, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $6

Gemini Magazine 12th Annual Flash Fiction Contest

Gemini Magazine

We are open to any subject, genre or length. All five finalists will be published online in the October 2020 issue. Both new and experienced writers have won our contests. All entries are read blind.


Deadline August 31, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $6

Fiction Factory FLASH Fiction

Fiction Factory

Maximum 1,000 words in any genre other than Children's and Young Adult Fiction. This is an international competition but entries must be written in English.


Deadline July 31, 2020

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Top prize

$180

Additional prizes

Publication in an anthology.

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

Momaya Poetry Competition

Momaya Press

Accepting poems on the theme of "Touch" up to 1500 words.


Deadline October 30, 2020

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Published in the Momaya Short Story Review

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 September 16, 2020

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

5-7-5 Poem 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 July 10, 2020

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

Horror Writing Contest

FanStory

Share a horror story to enter this writing contest at FanStory.com. Cash prize to the winner.


Deadline July 27, 2020

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

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, 2020 (Expired)

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

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, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Louis L'Amour, Sinclair Lewis, Jack London, Joyce Carol Oates, Edgar Allan Poe, Anne Tyler, and Kurt Vonnegut, among so many others. Now you have the opportunity to join our illustrious lineup by entering The Saturday Evening Post 's Annual Great American Fiction Contest.


Deadline July 01, 2020

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in The Saturday Evening Post

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Fish Lockdown Contest

Fish Publishing

For many, this is the most extraordinary event of our lifetime. Let’s hear from you, the writers and poets, and your response to this crisis, through poems (max 19 lines), pocket prose (100 words), and haiku.


Deadline June 15, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

Publication in Fish Anthology

Additional prizes

Enrollment on Fish Writing Course Online

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Discover the finest writing contests of 2020 for fiction and non-fiction authors — including short story competitions, essay writing competitions, poetry contests, and many more. Updated weekly, these contests are vetted by Reedsy to weed out the scammers and time-wasters. If you’re looking to stick to free writing contests, simply use our filters as you browse.

Why you should submit to writing contests

Submitting to poetry competitions and free writing contests in 2020 is absolutely worth your while as an aspiring author: just as your qualifications matter when you apply for a new job, a writing portfolio that boasts published works and award-winning pieces is a great way to give your writing career a boost. And not to mention the bonus of cash prizes!

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

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

When it comes to the time commitment: yes, you will need to expend time and effort in order to submit a quality piece of writing to competitions. That being said, having a hard deadline to meet is a great motivator for developing a solid writing routine. Think of entering contests as a training session for your career as a writer who will need to meet deadlines in order to have a successful career. If there’s a contest you have your eye on, and the deadline is in one month, sit down and realistically plan how many words you’ll need to write per day in order to meet that due date — and don’t forget to also factor in the time you’ll need to edit your story! For tips on setting up a realistic writing plan, check out this free, ten-day course: How to Build a Rock-Solid Writing Routine.

In regards to the fear of rejection, the truth is that any writer aspiring to become a published author needs to develop relatively thick skin. If one of your goals is to have a book traditionally published, you will absolutely need to learn how to deal with rejection, as traditional book deals are notoriously hard to score. If you’re an indie author, you will need to adopt the hardy determination required to slowly build up a readership. The good news is that there’s a fairly simple trick for learning to deal with rejection: use it as a chance to explore how you might be able to improve your writing.

In an ideal world, each rejection from a publisher or contest would come with a detailed letter, offering construction feedback and pointing out specific tips for improvement. And while this is sometimes the case, it’s the exception and not the rule. Still, you can use the writing contests you don’t win as a chance to provide yourself with this feedback. Take a look at the winning and shortlisted stories and highlight their strong suits: do they have fully realized characters, a knack for showing instead of telling, a well-developed but subtly conveyed theme, a particularly satisfying denouement? The idea isn’t to replicate what makes those stories tick in your own writing. But most examples of excellent writing share a number of basic craft principles. Try and see if there are ways for you to translate those stories’ strong points into your own unique writing.

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

Resources to help you win writing competitions in 2020

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

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

Free online courses

On Writing:

On Editing:

 

Blog posts

 

Bonus resources

 

After you submit to a writing competition in 2020

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

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

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

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

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