The Best Essay Writing Contests of 2023

Writing competitions curated by Reedsy

Showing 77 contests


Dissolution

Bergen International Literary Festival

Write your story about the climate crisis in a poem or a personal essay.

Top prize

€2,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: October 15, 2023


Genres

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry, Science Writing, Young Adult

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The Goldilocks Zone

Sunspot Literary Journal

Sunspot Lit seeks a story, essay, excerpt from longer prose pieces, artwork, graphic novel, or poem that combines excellence in craft with reader or audience appeal. Feedback for fiction and nonfiction submissions available for additional fee.

Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $12

Deadline: September 30, 2023


Genres

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

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Indignor Play House Annual Short Story Competition

Indignor House Publishing

Indignor House Publishing is proud to announce that our annual writing competition (INDIGNOR PLAYHOUSE Short Story Annual Competition) is officially open with expected publication in the fall of 2024. Up to 25 submissions will be accepted for inclusion in the annual anthology.

Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

2nd: $250 | 3rd: $150

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: March 31, 2024


Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Short Story, Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Novella, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult

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Pivotal Essay Contest

Pivotal

Pivotal is an essay contest for high school students around the world run in partnership with Oxford University's Global Priorities Institute on the world’s most pressing problems. Students will write a 2000-word essay on one of three prompts relating to future generations, AI policy, and ethics.

Top prize

$15,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: October 10, 2023


Genres

Essay, Non-fiction

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Native Voices Award

Kinsman Avenue Publishing, Inc

Indigenous storytellers (Native American, First Nation Australian, Indian, Polynesian, etc.) may submit original, unpublished work in English; short stories, essays, onstage scripts, poetry, or visual art.

Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

2nd: $250 | 3rd: $100 | 6 Finalists: $25 gift card

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: October 31, 2023


Genres

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

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Letter Review Prize for Nonfiction

Letter Review

The Letter Review Prize for Nonfiction (0 - 5000 words) is open to writers from anywhere in the world. Winners are published and every entry is considered for publication. 20 entries are Longlisted.

Top prize

$1000 (shared by 3 winners)

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: August 31, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction

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Letter Review Prize for Manuscripts

Letter Review

The Letter Review Prize for Manuscripts (Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction) is open to writers from anywhere in the world. Three Winners are awarded and have extracts published. 20 entries are Longlisted. Winners receive letter of recommendation for publishers.

Top prize

$1000 (shared by 3 winners)

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $25

Deadline: August 31, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Novel, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

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Inception 2023

Sunspot Lit

Beginnings have the power to spark passion or curiosity. They might immediately connect a specific place and time with an emotional tone. The best openings offer a feeling, atmosphere, action, or image that is gripping, and hints at more to come. For Sunspot Lit’s Inception contest, send your best opening. There are no restrictions on theme, category, or the length of the piece or collection from which the excerpt comes. Word limit is 250 for prose, 25 words for poetry.

Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in digital and print editions

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $10

Deadline: July 31, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novel, Novella, Romance, Science Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

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AIIRA Writing Contest

AI Institute for Resilient Agriculture

AIIRA is seeking essays speculating on how AI will change careers within the next decade, as well as fiction stories depicting a day in the life of a job transformed by AI technology. Submissions should address how AI will help future professionals perform their jobs more efficiently as well as what job duties will become redundant due to AI.

Top prize

$550

Additional prizes

2nd: $400 (x2) | 3rd: $250

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: September 30, 2023


Genres

Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Science Writing, Short Story

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Public Roads Student Writing Competition

Federal Highway Administration/Public Roads Magazine

Public Roads is proud to announce its first Student Writing Competition, designed to encourage high school and college students interested in or actively pursuing STEM majors to demonstrate their knowledge by writing an article that relates to the transportation industry.

Top prize

Published in Winter 2023 Issue of Public Roads Magazine

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: July 21, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Non-fiction, Science Writing

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Universe of Threats Essay Contest

CAPTRS

CAPTRS has launched a pathogen threat scenario writing contest, which will be part of their work to build a catalog of pathogen threat scenarios that will be used to hone pandemic preparedness strategies and train future decision-makers. Submissions may not exceed 2,500 words, and will be judged on creativity, plausibility of the pathogen threat, complexity of cascading societal factors, difficulty posed for current pandemic response capabilities and quality of writing.

Top prize

$10,000

Additional prizes

2nd: $5,000 (up to 2 winners) | 3rd: $1,000 (up to 5 winners)

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: July 31, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story

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Creative Nonfiction Competition

Write the World

The teenage years are an in-between time, the stage linking our childhood to adulthood. It’s a time of internal transitions, as we find out more about who we are and who we want to be in the world. This month, use the tools of creative nonfiction to write about your own experience of this passage into adulthood.

Top prize

Best Entry: $100

Additional prizes

Runner up: $50 | Best Peer Review: $50

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: July 18, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction

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African Diaspora Award

Kinsman Avenue Publishing, Inc.

Submissions are open for Kinsman Quarterly’s African Diaspora Award. Top winners receive prizes up to $500 USD and publication within the Black Diaspora anthology. No entry fee required. Those eligible should submit an original, unpublished work in English that features themes of the African diaspora by July 15, 2023.

Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

2nd: $250 | 3rd: $100 + Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: July 15, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Poetry, Romance, Script Writing, Short Story, Young Adult

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The Heartland Review Open Calls

The Heartland Review Press

Submit one piece of fiction or creative nonfiction of topic or category to include flash in a Word document through Submittable (link on website). No pdfs. Include a short cover letter and bio. Simultaneous submissions accepted, but writers must withdraw if published elsewhere. We read the first 50 pieces of fiction and 50 of creative nonfiction submitted each month during the open call.

Top prize

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: November 15, 2023


Genres

Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

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Rigel 2023

Sunspot Literary Journal

Sunspot Lit seeks one short story, CNF, artwork, poem, graphic novel, script, or excerpt that outshines the rest. Literary and genre works accepted. Feedback available for additional fee. See guidelines for details. Enter through Sunspot’s Submittable or through Duotrope.

Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $10

Deadline: May 31, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

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

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Quill and Keyboard Teen International Writing Competition

Quills and Keyboard

We are made of students hosting a contest for teen & YA authors. There are 15 categories, from journalism to a section for novelists’ favorite chapters. Qualified judges will send feedback on each piece. We partnered with many writing organizations such as Teen Author Boot Camp and Newpages and recognized by non-profits such as Polyphony Lit.

Top prize

Publication in Under the Madness and Skipping Stones

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: May 20, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novella, Poetry, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Script Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

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2024 Book Prize

Unleash Press

Writers are invited to submit novels, short story collections and creative nonfiction manuscripts. The Editors' Prize winner receives a publication contract with Unleash Press and $1000 prize, along with 10 printed copies of the final book. We may also offer publication contracts to additional outstanding manuscripts.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publishing contract

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $35

Deadline: December 15, 2023


Genres

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

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Weekly Writing Competition

the archipelago

the archipelago is looking for great works of fiction, poetry, and personal essay. Eligibility: One piece per entry. One entry per person for each week (you can submit your writing for each round of competition repeating every week). The writing must be previously unpublished (including online). All entries must be in English. 700 - 1000 maximum word count for stories. 150 maximum lines for poetry. Submission Dates: April 10 - July 10

Top prize

$150 AUD

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: June 10, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

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

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High School Academic Research Competition

Columbia Undergraduate science journal

The SARC is an exciting opportunity for students, aged 13-18 years old, who are looking for ways to exercise their research skills and have their works published in preparation for college. In SARC 2023, you will conduct research and write a 2-page essay on ANY topic of your choice -whether it be the sciences, a social issue in your community, or anything! The competition takes place across May through June 2023 and is 100% virtual, removing geographical barriers!

Top prize

$1,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: May 27, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Science Writing

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Mr. Rosewood Short Story Contest

WriteFluence

After the success of Mr. Rosewood’s antics last year, and Mrs. Rosewood’s a year before the last; here’s Mr. and Mrs. Rosewood waiting for you to write about any of their days into a story. We are excited to announce our latest short-story writing contest. This time, we challenge you to write a captivating story about a day in the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Rosewood.

Top prize

Publication in anthology

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $2

Deadline: June 15, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Fiction, Short Story

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Anthology Travel Writing Competition 2023

Anthology Magazine

The Anthology Travel Writing Competition is open to original and previously unpublished travel articles in the English language by writers of any nationality, living anywhere in the world. We are looking for an engaging article that will capture the reader’s attention, conveying a strong sense of the destination and the local culture. Max 1000 words.

Top prize

€500

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $16

Deadline: November 30, 2023


Genres

Essay, Non-fiction, Travel

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2023 John Estey Student Writing Competition

American Writers Museum

"Give me a song of hope and a world where I can sing it.” – Pauli Murray, Dark Testament Pauli Murray (1910-1985) was difficult to define. They were a poet, a lawyer, a priest, a freight hopper, Eleanor Roosevelt’s friend, arrested for refusing to comply with bus segregation laws, a closeted member of the LBGTQ+ community, a professor, and so much more. Their work has influenced Supreme Court decisions, the Civil Rights movement, and countless individual people. This prompt is a quote from Murray’s collection of poems titled Dark Testament. It can be used as a first line, a last line, a jumping-off point, an inspiration for your students’ work. They can use the entire quote or portions of it to write a fiction or nonfiction story, poem, song, scene, short monologue or other form of writing. Submissions should be 1,000 words or less regardless of format.

Top prize

3x Elementary Grade winners: $500 | 3x Middle School winners: $1,000 | 3x High School winners: $2,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: June 05, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Script Writing

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Abstraction & Reasoning in AI

Lab42

The ARC Essay Challenge is a competition that desires the evolution of human-level abstraction and reasoning in AI agents. We are looking for interdisciplinary ideas in your essays that draw inspiration from fields such as biology, mathematics, philosophy, neuroscience, or any other to contribute to understanding and improving the adaptability of AI in new and unknown situations.

Top prize

$1,500

Additional prizes

2nd: $1000 | 3rd: $500 | Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: May 07, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Science Writing

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100 Word Writing Contest

Tadpole Press

100 words per entry. Submit as many entries as you’d like. All ages. All genders. All nationalities. All writers welcome. The theme is using humor as healing.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

2nd: writing coach package 3rd: developmental or diversity editing package.

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $10

Deadline: April 30, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Thriller, Young Adult, Children's, Poetry, Romance, Short Story, Suspense, Travel

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International Essay Contest

Institute for Youth in Policy

Countless countries around the world suffer from a plethora of issues – economic hardship, social turmoil, political polarization, pandemic recovery, unreliable leadership, corrupt governance, warfare and conflict, the list goes on. If you were elected the leader of your country, what would you do to address the issues your country faces in order to build a more prosperous society?

Top prize

$250

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: June 15, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay

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The Scribes Prize

Fairfield Scribes

The Scribes Prize is looking for fiction & creative nonfiction stories of 90-110 words. Prizes include publication, award seals, and cash: $250 for gold, $125 for silver, $60 for bronze & 15 honorable mentions for $20 each. Simultaneous submissions & reprints welcome. Max 3 submissions per author. All entries will receive feedback from 2 editors.

Top prize

$250

Additional prizes

2nd: $125 | 3rd: $60 | Publication | Editor's deedback

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $5

Deadline: September 01, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller

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Emerging Writer's Contest

Ploughshares

In the spirit of the journal 's founding mission, the Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest recognizes work by an emerging writer in each of three genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One winner in each genre per year will receive $2,000 and publication in the literary journal. Authors are considered "emerging" if they haven 't published or self-published a book.

Top prize

3x $2000

Additional prizes

Publication in Ploughshares

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $24

Deadline: May 15, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

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

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Narratively's 2023 Profile Prize

Narratively

Narratively is looking for profile pieces that tell the story of ordinary people or communities doing extraordinary things. The grand prize winner will receive $3,000, and the two finalists will receive $1,000 each. Guest judges are renowned journalists Gay Talese, Lisa Lucas and Rebecca Traister.

Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

$1000 for two other finalists

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: April 14, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Non-fiction

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Bacopa Literary Review

Bacopa Literary Review

Bacopa Literary Review is an annual international print journal published by the Writers Alliance of Gainesville. Our Bacopa Literary Review Editors’ blog shows the quality of writing we seek by highlighting work we respect from previous Bacopa issues as well as other sources.

Top prize

£200 in 6 categories

Additional prizes

$100 Honorable mention in 6 categories

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: April 16, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

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

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Young Sports Journalist Competition 2023

Pitch magazine

Pitch magazine is pleased to announce the launch of the Young Sports Journalist competition 2023! We are seeking well-argued articles from students aged 14-24 for this competition.

Top prize

£150 in each category

Additional prizes

Publication | Work experience at The Times and FIPP

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: April 07, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay

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Geminga: $250 for Tiny Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, or Art

Sunspot Lit

Geminga is a neutron star so small it was difficult to detect. It was named, in part, for a transcription of gh’è minga, meaning “it’s not there.” With Geminga: $500 for Tiny Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, or Art, Sunspot Lit honors the power of the small. No restrictions on theme or category. Word limit is 100 for fiction and nonfiction. Micropoetry is limited to 140 characters. Graphic novelsshould be 4 pages or less.

Top prize

$500

Additional prizes

Publication in digital and print

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $10

Deadline: March 31, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Script Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

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King of Essay

Papers Owl

To all TV shows nerds: we're incredibly excited to announce a competition for the best essay based on the TV series you are keen on. This is a new challenge for folks who may be under budget and interested in winning subscriptions on streaming services (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney).

Top prize

Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or Disney+ subscription for 6 months

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: May 15, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

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Write By The Sea Writing Competition

Write By The Sea

Flash Fiction (700 words), Short Story (2,500 words), Poetry (40 lines) Memoir/Personal Essay (1,000 words). The winner of each category will receive a cash prize of €500, a beautiful hand-crafted WBTS 2023 Writing Competition trophy and a free weekend pass to Write By The Sea festival 2023. All four winning pieces will be published on the Write By The Sea website.

Top prize

€500

Additional prizes

2nd: €200 | 3rd: €300

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $11

Deadline: June 04, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Poetry, Short Story

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Aurora Polaris Creative Nonfiction Award

Trio House Press

We seek un-agented full-length creative nonfiction manuscripts including memoir, essay collections, etc. 50,000 - 80,000 words.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $25

Deadline: August 31, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction

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Eco Friendly Writing Contest

Howard's New Beginnings

The aim of the contest is to share eco-friendly ideas. Tell us something you think helps make the planet become more eco-friendly such as an eco-friendly product or packaging, a recipe for a natural product, or a waste-management tip. Up to 500 words. Any writer from anywhere can submit an entry. Contest deadline is April 22 2023, Earth Day.

Top prize

$150

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $5

Deadline: April 22, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Essay, Non-fiction, Science Writing

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