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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, 2021

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Top prize

$50

Additional prizes

Publication on Reedsy Blog

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Spring 2021 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 Entries must be previously unpublished, no longer than 15,000 words, and must not have been previously chosen as a winner, finalist, or honorable mention in another contest. All contest entries are eligible for the $4,000 Narrative Prize.


Deadline July 31, 2021

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Top prize

$2,500

Additional prizes

$1000 for 2nd, $500 for 3rd, $100 for ten finalists

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $27

Writers of the Future

L. Ron Hubbard

L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest is an opportunity for new writers of science fiction and fantasy to have their work judged by some of the masters in the field and discovered by a wide audience. Prizes every three months: $1,000, $750, $500. Annual Grand Prize: $5,000 additional!


Deadline June 30, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$5,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Fantasy, Science Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: FREE

Exeter Story Prize and Trisha Ashley Award

Creative Writing Matters

The competition is for stories of up to five thousand words on any theme. We are delighted that Sunday Times Bestselling author, Trisha Ashley is once again offering an award. This year she has asked us for a selection of 'engaging and quirky' stories to choose from.


Deadline August 31, 2021

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Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

Trish Ashley Award £200

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

IndieReader Discovery Awards

IndieReader

Where talented authors meet publishing professionals with the power to make a difference in the success of their books. Every author who enters a title in the IR Discovery Awards will receive a verdict, written by an IndieReader reviewer and based on their assessment after reading the complete book.


Deadline February 15, 2022

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Top prize

First look consideration by a top, NYC-based literary agency

Additional prizes

$500, publicist consultation service, Reedsy credit, custom author website

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $149

George Dila Memorial Flash Fiction Contest

Third Wednesday

The editors of Third Wednesday wish to honor the memory of George Dila, friend of Third Wednesday and the editor who originally brought fiction to 3W. To this end, we proudly announce the opening of The George Dila Memorial Flash Fiction Contest. We accept entries of previously unpublished stories of under 1000 words in length (including title).


Deadline August 15, 2021

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Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Publication in Third Wednesday magazine

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $6

Bacopa Literary Review

Writers Alliance of Gainesville

We seek unusual perspectives, passionate voices, compelling work. This includes poetry, creative non-fiction, and short stories.


Deadline May 31, 2021

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Top prize

£300

Additional prizes

£100 second prize

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

WOW! Women On Writing Quarterly Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

WOW! Women On Writing

WOW! is proud to introduce our newest essay contest! The contest is open globally. Your story must be true, but the way you tell it is your chance to get creative. We are open to all styles of essay—from personal essay to lyric essay to hybrid essay, and beyond!


Deadline July 31, 2021

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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

2021 Screenplay & Short Script Competition

Showcase

The Scriptation Showcase is the screenwriting competition that circulates winners’ scripts to the widest range of Hollywood directors, showrunners, and producers. The earlier you apply, the lower the entry will be.


Deadline May 16, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

1 Year Scriptation Showcase, 1 year industry pro access

Genres

Script Writing,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $54

Grindstone Short Story Prize

Grindstone Literary

The Grindstone Short Story Prize returns this year, seeking out the best short fiction writers from around the world. Writers are asked to submit a piece of short fiction between 1000 and 3000 words, of any genre, aimed at adult readers.


Deadline August 01, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

£200 runner-up, £50 four shortlisters

Genres

Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $17

Impress Prize

Impress Books

The Impress Prize for New Writers is part of the Untold Publishing Group, and the winner of the prize will be published by one of Untold Publishing’s imprints. Entries should comprise of a book proposal and a sample chapter. We accept both fiction and non-fiction across most genres (excluding poetry and children 's fiction, however we will consider Young Adult submissions).


Deadline September 13, 2021

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Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

Possibility of a publishing contract with one of Untold Publishing's imprints

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Young Adult,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $35

TWFest One-Act Play Contest

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

Plays should run no more than one hour in length (one act or approx. 60 pages.) This contest is for emerging or previously unpublished playwrights.


Deadline October 02, 2021

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Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

VIP all-access pass to the next festival, where there will be a professional staged reading of your play.

Genres

Script Writing,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

TWFest Very Short Fiction Contest

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

A submission is one original short story, written in English, up to 1,000 words. This contest is open only to emerging writers who have not yet published a book of short fiction with an ISBN.


Deadline October 16, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

VIP all-access pass to the next festival, where you will give a public reading.

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

TWFest Poetry Contest

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

Submit a collection of 2-4 original, unpublished poems of any style or theme, written in English, with a combined length of up to 400 lines. This contest is open only to emerging writers who have not yet published a book of poetry with an ISBN. Those who have published books in other genres besides poetry remain eligible.


Deadline October 16, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

VIP all-access pass to the next festival, where you will give a public reading

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

TWFest Fiction Contest

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

A submission is one original short story, written in English, up to 7,000 words. 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, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

Airfare, accommodation, and all-access pass to the next Festival, where you will give a public reading.

Genres

Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Quill Prose Award 2020

Red Hen Press

Queer literature is often found in the side stacks, in the back of the bookstore, under “Gay and Lesbian.” These authors are put into a genre that barely fits them, excluded from mainstream funding, and more. Red Hen Press seeks to work against the politics of labeling while honoring and empowering authors who identify as queer through this contest.


Deadline October 30, 2021

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Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication by Red Hen Press

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $10

Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award

Red Hen Press

Established in 1998, in honor of the poet Benjamin Saltman (1927–1999), this award is for a previously unpublished original collection of poetry. The awarded collection is selected through an annual competition that is open to all poets.


Deadline October 31, 2021

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Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Book publication by Red Hen Press, a four-week PLAYA residency

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $25

Annual Short Story Contest

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, 2022

Learn more
Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

£200 for 2nd place, £100 for 3rd place

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $8

The Writer's Games

The Writer's Workout

The Writer's Games is a two-month competition where writers receive an Event (prompt) each Friday and have 72 hours to write a short story that fits the prompt. A group of judges read and give feedback to each entry. The top 5 winners of each Event are published in our Games anthology. There are also prizes for the top 3. One of the prizes is an interview that's posted on the Writer's Workout blog. Registration for the Games starts in June and the Games begin in July.


Deadline August 16, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

Publication in the Games anthology

Additional prizes

An interview on the Writer's Workout blog

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

Learn more
Top prize

£500

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest

Lazuli Literary Group / AZURE

Both previously published and unpublished works are eligible, provided that publication on the Lazuli Literary Group website does not infringe on previously held rights. We are not concerned with genre distinctions. Send us the best you have; we want only for it to be thoughtful, intelligent, and beautiful. We will give as many first place prizes as the top submissions warrant.


Deadline July 22, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

Publication in AZURE

Genres

Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Humor, Mystery, Poetry, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

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

Learn more
Top prize

€750

Additional prizes

€500, €250

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $5

Flash Fiction Award

Bath Flash Fiction Award

Entrants have the opportunity to appear in our print and digital books. We own a small press, Ad Hoc Fiction, which publishes quality books and also runs a weekly micro-fiction contest. In addition, we organize the UK's annual Flash Fiction Festival.


Deadline June 06, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

£300, £200

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $12

Surrey International Writers ' Conference Writing Contest

Surrey International Writers ' Conference

The contest will be judged by Diana Gabaldon and Jack Whyte. Story length: 2,500 — 4000 words.


Deadline September 17, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication

Genres

Fiction, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

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

Learn more
Top prize

Publishing package including a 500-book print run

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

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, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$10,000

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Novel, Short Story,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $28

Daisy Pettles' Writing Residency

The Daisy Pettles House

Women writers who are age 40 or older are invited to submit up to 20 pages of a work in progress to win a chance for a month-long residency in a house where you can focus on your writing. First prize comes with a $1000 cash prize. Fee reductions and hardship wavers can be granted.


Deadline December 12, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Month-long writer's getaway

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $45

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, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

An online publishing contract

Genres

Fiction, Novel,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $18

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

Learn more
Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

Vocal Challenges

Creatd

Enter themed storytelling contests to put your creativity to the test and be in with a chance of winning cash prizes and more. To submit, you'll need to sign up for a monthly fee of $9.99, or $4.99/month for 3 months.


Deadline December 31, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000 — $5,000

Additional prizes

Genres

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

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $15

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

Learn more
Top prize

$100

Additional prizes

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $9

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

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

Learn more
Top prize

$200

Additional prizes

$100

Genres

Short Story, Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $0

Diode Editions Chapbook Contest

Diode Editions

Open to all poets over the age of 18 who write in English. Length: 25—50 pages (front matter is not included in page count). We will consider translations, and we welcome collaborations.


Deadline August 15, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication and 25 author copies

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $18

Diode Editions Full Length Book Contest

Diode Editions

Open to all poets over the age of 18 who write in English. Length: 55—85 pages (front matter is not included in page count). We will consider translations, and we welcome collaborations.


Deadline August 15, 2021

Learn more
Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication and 25 author copies

Genres

Poetry,

Entry fee

💰 Entry Fee: $20

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.