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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

Moment Magazine-Karma Foundation Short Fiction Contest

Moment Magazine

Moment Magazine is now accepting submissions for the 2020 contest. Moment will award up to three prizes to outstanding works of unpublished short fiction with Jewish content, including $1,000 for first place.


Deadline September 01, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

Publication in Moment Magazine

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

"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

Learn more
Top prize

Cash award based on donations.

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

2020 Insecure Writer's Support Group Anthology Contest

Insecure Writer's Support Group

The winning stories will be edited and published by Dancing Lemur Press' imprint Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.


Deadline September 02, 2020

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Top prize

Publication by Freedom Fox Press

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Science Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

F(r)iction Fall 2020 Literary Contests

Brink Literacy Project

We seek work that actively pushes boundaries, that forces us to question traditions and tastes. If your work takes risks, we want to read it. We like strong narratives that make us feel something and stories we haven’t seen before.


Deadline October 30, 2020

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Poetry, Short Story, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Jack Grapes Poetry Prize

Next Echo Foundation/Cultural Weekly

Cultural Weekly's Jack Grapes Poetry Prize seeks submissions from poets all over the globe, and is free to enter.


Deadline August 31, 2020

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Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

Publication

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

SaveAs Writers' International Competition: Post Apocalypse

SaveAs Writers

Write about an area, a society, a world before, during or after a nuclear disaster, a pandemic, a deluge or any other disaster. Poetry should have maximum 60 lines for an entry fee of $4, prose maximum 3,500 words for $5.


Deadline August 31, 2020

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Top prize

$245

Additional prizes

Genres

Fantasy, Flash Fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $4

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.


Deadline August 31, 2020

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Top prize

$240

Additional prizes

Publication on website or anthology

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

2020 International Short Story Prize

Grindstone Literary

We are proud to welcome entries into the 2020 International Poetry Prize. Entrants are invited to submit a single unpublished poem up to 40 lines in length.


Deadline August 28, 2020

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Top prize

$610

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2019

Coffee-House Poetry

The Troubadour International Poetry Prize awards £2,000 to winners judged by poets Mark Doty and Mona Arshi.


Deadline September 28, 2020

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Top prize

$2,400

Additional prizes

Publication on the Coffee-House Poetry website

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $7

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 01, 2020

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Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in anthology from Bold Strokes Books

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

Annual Novel Competition

Flash 500

We are looking for an opening chapter up to 3,000 words, plus a one page synopsis outlining the balance of your story of any genre, so long as it's unpublished.


Deadline October 31, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$610

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $13

Devon and Cornwall International Novel Prize

DCI Novel Award

Judged by international writers and literary agents, the DEVON & CORNWALL INTERNATIONAL NOVEL PRIZE is open to unpublished and independently published novelists worldwide. The prize is for adult novels of any genre.


Deadline December 31, 2020

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Top prize

$2,400

Additional prizes

An online publishing deal

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $18

Annual Short Story

Flash 500

We are looking for stories (of any genre) ranging between 1,000 and 3,000 words, with strong characters, a well-crafted plot and realistic dialogue (where used). Make us laugh, make us cry, but most of all, make us feel!


Deadline February 28, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$610

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $8

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 August 31, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

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

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

Learn more
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

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

#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

Learn more
Top prize

Gotham Writers Workshop

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

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

Learn more
Top prize

$240

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $4

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

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

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

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

Learn more
Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry, Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $2

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

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

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

Learn more
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

Learn more
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

Hammond House Screenplay Competition

Hammond House

The theme for the 2020 competition - SURVIVAL - is intended to be inspirational, not restrictive, so please feel free to interpret it in any way you choose. Be creative, be unpredictable, be different; the judges are looking for honesty and emotion. Top prize of £100.


Deadline September 30, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$125

Additional prizes

Trailers made for top three places

Genres

Script Writing,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Dzanc Novella Prize

Dzanc Books

The contest is open to new, upcoming, and established writers alike. All submitted works must be previously unpublished novel-length manuscripts and should include a brief synopsis, author bio, and contact information. A $5,000 advance and publication by Dzanc Books will be awarded to the winner.


Deadline September 30, 2020

Learn more
Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Dzanc Books

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

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.