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The Reedsy Prompts Contest

Reedsy

Respond to one of Reedsy's weekly writing prompt newsletters with a short story for the chance to win $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

The Jacques Maritain Prize for Nonfiction

Dappled Things

Dappled Things honors the best essays published in the journal in a year through the Jacques Maritain Prize for Nonfiction.


Deadline November 30, 2020

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Genres

Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Exeter Story Prize

Creative Writing Matters

The competition is for stories of up to 5,000 (no minimum) on any theme. Bestselling author Trisha Ashley returns as judge and asks for a selection of 'engaging and quirky' stories to choose from.


Deadline August 31, 2020

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Top prize

$620

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction

University of North Texas Press

The University of North Texas Press announces the 2021 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction. The winner of this annual award will receive $1000 and publication by UNT Press. Entries must be a collection of any combination of flash fiction, short stories, or novellas, from 27,500 to 50,000 words.


Deadline June 30, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by UNT Press

Genres

Flash Fiction, Novella, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Red Hen Press Fiction Award

Red Hen Press

The Red Hen Fiction Award is for a fresh and original story of fiction with a minimum of 150 pages. The awarded manuscript is selected through an annual submission process which is open to all authors. Award is $1000 and publication of the awarded manuscript by Red Hen Press.


Deadline September 30, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Red Hen Press

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

UNO Press Publishing Lab

UNO Press

We are looking to publish the best novel/short story collection written this year. The selected author will receive a ten thousand dollar ($10,000) advance on royalties and a contract to publish with UNO Press.


Deadline September 01, 2020

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Top prize

$10,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $28

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

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

Spring 2020 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.


Deadline July 31, 2020

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Top prize

$2,500

Additional prizes

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $27

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

Writing Magazine Grand Prize

Writers Online

Win up to £1,000 in the first ever Writing Magazine Grand Prize, a new open competition for your short stories in any form, on any topic. The only stipulation is that your story should be a maximum 2,000 words.


Deadline June 30, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in the Writing Magazine

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

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

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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

"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

Stories Through The Ages - Baby Boomer Plus 2020

Stories Through The Ages

This contest is for anyone who was born 1964 or earlier. Tell us about an experience growing up as a baby boomer, or use your experience gained becoming a baby boomer and tell us a story. The entry may be fiction or nonfiction. The word count for this contest is 900 - 4000 words. Cash prizes of $500, $200 and $100 will be awarded.


Deadline June 15, 2020

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Genres

Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

#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

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

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

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

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

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $6

The Scriptation Showcase

Showcase

The Scriptation Showcase is the screenwriting competition that circulates winners’ scripts to the widest range of Hollywood directors, showrunners, and producers. 15 scripts will be featured for a full year in Scriptation, the script app used on thousands of film and TV productions. The early you apply, the lower the entry will be.


Deadline July 26, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

1 Year Scriptation Showcase

Genres

Script Writing,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $49

WOW! Women On Writing Q4 2019 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

WOW! Women On Writing

Seeking all styles of creative nonfiction essay—from personal essay to lyric essay to hybrid essay, and beyond! The mission of this contest is to reward bravery in real-life storytelling and create an understanding of our world through thoughtful, engaging narratives.


Deadline July 31, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

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

Genres

Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

2020 Put Your Heart in a Book

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, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$25

Additional prizes

Social media promotion

Genres

Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

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

Learn more
Top prize

Publication in an anthology

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

$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

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, 2020

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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

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

Saints & Sinners Fiction Contest 2020-2021

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

The winner will be selected from this year’s submissions of original, unpublished short stories between 3,000 and 7,000 words with LGBT content on the broad theme of “Saints and Sinners.” This contest would not be possible without a generous grant from The John Burton Harter Foundation.


Deadline October 02, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in anthology from Bold Strokes Books

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

TWF Fiction Contest 2020-2021

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

This contest is open only to writers who have not yet published a book of fiction. Published books include self-published books with ISBN numbers. Those who have published books in other genres besides fiction remain eligible.


Deadline October 02, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Publication in Louisiana Literature

Genres

Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

TWF One-Act Play Contest 2020-2021

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

Finalists will receive a panel pass ($100 value) to the Festival.


Deadline October 02, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Publication in Bayou Magazine

Genres

Script Writing,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

TWF Poetry Contest 2020-2021

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

The contest is open to writers who have not yet published a book of poetry with an ISBN number.


Deadline October 16, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Public reading at the next Festival

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

TWF Very Short Fiction Contest 2020-2021

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

A submission is one original short story, written in English, up to 1,000 words.


Deadline October 16, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in New Orleans Review Web Features

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Nowhere Magazine Spring 2020 Travel Writing Contest

Nowhere Magazine

A prize of $1,000 and publication in Nowhere Magazine is given twice yearly for a travel-specific short story, long-form creative nonfiction piece, poem or essay that possesses a powerful sense of place, character or time. Unpublished and published pieces that have not previously been chosen as a contest winner are eligible. Submit your 800- to 5,000-word piece with a $20 entry fee by July 15, 2019.


Deadline July 15, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication in Nowhere magazine

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

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.