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DIRECTORY

Best Essay Writing Contests in 2024

Showing 47 contests that match your search.

Journalism Competition 2024

Write the World

Genres: Essay and Non-fiction

What are the most important issues taking place close to home? Perhaps a rare bird sighting near your town? Or a band of young people in your province fighting for access to higher education? This month, immerse yourself in a newsworthy event inside the borders of your own country, and invite us there through your written reporting.

Additional prizes:

Runner up: $50 | Best peer review: $50

📅 Deadline: July 22, 2024

Great American Think-Off

New York Mills Regional Cultural Center

Genres: Essay and Non-fiction

The Great American Think-Off is an exhibition of civil disagreement between powerful ideas that connect to your life at the gut level. The Cultural Center, located in the rural farm and manufacturing town of New York Mills, sponsors this annual philosophy contest.

Top Prize:

$500

📅 Deadline: April 01, 2024

African Diaspora Awards 2024

Kinsman Avenue Publishing, Inc

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, and Short Story

Up to $1000 in cash prizes for the African Diaspora Award 2024. African-themed prose and poetry wanted. Top finalists are published in Kinsman Quarterly’s magazine and the anthology, “Black Butterfly: Voices of the African Diaspora.”

Top Prize:

$1,000

Additional prizes:

Publication in anthology, "Black Butterfly: Voices of the African Diaspora" and print and digital magazine

💰 Entry fee: $25

📅 Deadline: June 30, 2024

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NOWW 26th International Writing Contest

Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW)

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, and Short Story

Open to all writers in four categories: poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction, and critical writing.

Top Prize:

$150

Additional prizes:

2nd: $100 | 3rd: $50

💰 Entry fee: $7

📅 Deadline: February 29, 2024 (Expired)

Askew's Word on the Lake Writing Contest

Shuswap Association of Writers

Genres: Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Essay, Memoir, and Short Story

Whether you’re an established or emerging writer, the Askew’s Word on the Lake Writing Contest has a place for you. Part of the Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival in Salmon Arm, BC, the contest is open to submissions in short fiction (up to 2,000 words), nonfiction (up to 2,000 words), and poetry (up to three one-page poems).

Additional prizes:

Publication

💰 Entry fee: $11

📅 Deadline: January 31, 2024 (Expired)

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novel, Novella, Poetry, Script Writing, and Short Story

Literary or genre works accepted. Winner receives $500 plus publication, while runners-up and finalists are offered publication. No restrictions on theme or category. Closes: February 29. Entry fee: $12.50. Enter as many times as you like through Submittable or Duotrope

Additional prizes:

Runners-up and finalists are offered publication

💰 Entry fee: $12

📅 Deadline: February 29, 2024 (Expired)

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

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 fee: $20

📅 Deadline: March 01, 2024 (Expired)

Stories of Inspiration

Kinsman Avenue Publishing, Inc

Genres: Essay and Non-fiction

Nonfiction stories of inspiration wanted (between 500 to 2,000 words). Submissions should highlight the struggle and resilience of the human spirit, especially related to cultures of BIPOC or marginalized communities. Stories must be original, unpublished works in English. One successful entry will be awarded each month from April 2024 and will be included within Kinsman Quarterly’s online journal and digital magazine. Successful authors receive $200 USD and publication in our digital magazine. No entry fee required.

Top Prize:

$200

Additional prizes:

Publication in Kinsman Quarterly's online magazine

📅 Deadline: December 31, 2024

Genres: Essay, Humor, Memoir, and Non-fiction

Narratively is currently accepting submissions for their 2023 Memoir Prize. They are looking for revealing and emotional first-person nonfiction narratives from unique and overlooked points of view. The guest judge is New York Times bestselling memoirist Stephanie Land.

Top Prize:

$3,000

Additional prizes:

$1,000 and publication

💰 Entry fee: $20

📅 Deadline: November 30, 2023 (Expired)

Share Your Story

FanStory.com Inc.

Genres: Essay and Memoir

Write about an event in your life. Everyone has a memoir. Not an autobiography. Too much concern about fact and convention. A memoir gives us the ability to write about our life with the option to create and fabricate and to make sense of a life, or part of that life.

Top Prize:

$100

💰 Entry fee: $10

📅 Deadline: September 15, 2022 (Expired)

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, and Short Story

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.

💰 Entry fee: $15

📅 Deadline: March 07, 2024

Genres: Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Story, Essay, Memoir, and Novel

Established in 2018, the Women’s Prose Prize is for previously unpublished, original work of prose. Novels, short story collections, memoirs, essay collections, and all other forms of prose writing are eligible for consideration. The awarded manuscript is selected through a biennial competition, held in even-numbered years, that is open to all writers who identify as women.

Top Prize:

$1,000

Additional prizes:

Publication by Red Hen Press

💰 Entry fee: $25

📅 Deadline: February 28, 2024 (Expired)

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

The Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize is a writing competition sponsored by the stage and radio series Selected Shorts. Selected Shorts is recorded for Public Radio and heard nationally on both the radio and its weekly podcast. This years entries will be judged by Carmen Maria Machado (In the Dream House, Her Body and Other Parties).

💰 Entry fee: $25

📅 Deadline: March 01, 2024 (Expired)

Environmental Writing 2024

Write the World

Genres: Essay and Non-fiction

The writer and activist Bill McKibben describes Environmental Writing as "the collision between people and the rest of the world." This month, peer closely at that intersection: How do humans interact with their environment? Given your inheritance of this earth, the world needs your voices now more than ever.

Additional prizes:

Runner up: $50 | Best peer review: $50

📅 Deadline: April 22, 2024

Bacopa Literary Review Annual Writing Contest

Writers Alliance of Gainesville

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, and Short Story

Bacopa Literary Review’s 2024 contest is open from March 4 through April 4, with $200 Prize and $100 Honorable Mention in each of six categories: Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Flash Fiction, Free Verse Poetry, Formal Poetry, and Visual Poetry.

Top Prize:

$200

Additional prizes:

100

📅 Deadline: April 04, 2024

Genres: Essay, Non-fiction, and Travel

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.

💰 Entry fee: $16

📅 Deadline: November 30, 2024

Genres: Essay, Non-fiction, Science Fiction, Science Writing, and Short Story

There is no topic relating to technology that brings more discussion than artificial intelligence. Some people think it does wonders. Others see it as trouble. Let us know your opinion about AI in this competition. Include experiences you have had with AI. 300-word limit. Winners will be selected January 1, 2024. Open to anyone, anywhere.

Additional prizes:

Publication

💰 Entry fee: $5

📅 Deadline: December 15, 2023 (Expired)

Irene Adler Prize

Lucas Ackroyd

Genres: Essay, Non-fiction, and Travel

I’ve traveled the world from Sweden to South Africa, from the Golden Globes to the Olympic women’s hockey finals. I’ve photographed a mother polar bear and her cubs and profiled stars like ABBA, Jennifer Garner and Katarina Witt. And I couldn’t have done it without women. I’ve been very fortunate, and it’s time for me to give back. With the Irene Adler Prize, I’m awarding a $1,000 scholarship to a woman pursuing a degree in journalism, creative writing, or literature at a recognized post-secondary institution.

Top Prize:

$1,000

Additional prizes:

2x honorable mentions: $250

📅 Deadline: May 30, 2024

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story, and Flash Fiction

As the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano once said, "the best that the world has is in the many worlds that the world contains." Therefore, this year we invite you to reflect on the following questions: How do you or your community celebrate these connections? How do you value those experiences with those people who leave a mark on your life? 1 work will be awarded in each category: 1) photography & visual arts, 2) poetry, and 3) narrative/essay/academic investigation.

Additional prizes:

Publication

💰 Entry fee: $0

📅 Deadline: February 01, 2023 (Expired)

Genres: Essay and Memoir

We want to hear about an experience in your life, rife with characters and description and conflict and scene… but we also want to hear how you make sense of this experience, how it sits with you, and why it has surfaced as writing. Open a window into your life and invite your readers to enter.

Additional prizes:

Runner up: $50 | Best peer review: $50

📅 Deadline: June 24, 2024

swamp pink Prizes

crazyhorse

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, and Short Story

From January 1st to January 31st, submit short stories and essays of up to 25 pages or a set of 1-3 poems. Winners in each genre will receive $2,000 and publication.

Top Prize:

$2,000

Additional prizes:

Publication

💰 Entry fee: $20

📅 Deadline: January 31, 2024 (Expired)

Annual Student Essay Contest

Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

Genres: Essay and Non-fiction

For this year’s Essay Contest, we are asking students to think about why the story of the Oklahoma City bombing is important today.

Top Prize:

$1,000

📅 Deadline: March 04, 2024 (Expired)

The Hudson Prize

Black Lawrence Press

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, and Short Story

Each year Black Lawrence Press will award The Hudson Prize for an unpublished collection of poems or prose. The prize is open to new, emerging, and established writers.

Top Prize:

$1,000

Additional prizes:

Publication

💰 Entry fee: $28

📅 Deadline: March 31, 2024

Genres: Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Novel, Poetry, Science Fiction, Script Writing, Short Story, and Thriller

The Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award is committed to discovering new writers, as well as superlative books by established authors and, upon discovery, sharing those writers and their works with new readers. There are a large number of both fiction and non-fiction categories you can enter.

Top Prize:

$250

💰 Entry fee: $79

📅 Deadline: June 15, 2024

Military Anthology: Partnerships, the Untold Story

Armed Services Arts Partnership

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Humor, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry, and Short Story

Partners are an integral aspect of military life, at home and afar, during deployment and after homecoming. Partnerships drive military action and extend beyond being a battle buddy, wingman, or crew member. Some are planned while others arise entirely unexpectedly. Spouses, family, old or new friends, community, faith leaders, and medical specialists all support the military community. Despite their importance, the stories of these partnerships often go untold. This anthology aims to correct that: We will highlight the nuances, surprises, joy, sorrow, heroism, tears, healing power, and ache of partnerships. We invite you to submit the story about partnerships from your journey, so we can help tell it.

Additional prizes:

$250 for each genre category (prose, poetry, visual art)

📅 Deadline: March 01, 2024 (Expired)

Creative Nonfiction Prize

Indiana Review

Genres: Essay, Fiction, and Non-fiction

Send us one creative nonfiction piece, up to 5000 words, for a chance at $1000 + publication. This year's contest will be judged by Lars Horn.

Top Prize:

$1,000

💰 Entry fee: $20

📅 Deadline: March 31, 2024

Genres: Essay, Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, and Poetry

As we move forward we carry our culture wherever we go. It keeps us alive. This is why we propose the theme to be “¡Hacia delante!”. A phrase that means to move forward. This year we ask that you think about the following questions: What keeps you moving forward? What do you carry with you going into the future? How do you celebrate your successes, your dreams, and your culture?

Top Prize:

$100

Additional prizes:

Publication in magazine

📅 Deadline: February 07, 2024 (Expired)

Genres: Essay

Welcome to our prestigious International Essay Competition. At Avernus Education, we are thrilled to provide a platform for young minds to showcase their prowess in Medicine, Engineering, Law, Economics, Psychology, History and Politics. These varied subject categories underscore the importance of interdisciplinary study, a crucial foundation for future leaders in our increasingly interconnected world. Winners receive an exclusive Avernus Education Scholarship worth over £5000 - granting them free entrance to our exclusive summer camp at Oxford University! Outstanding Runners Up receive 5 hours worth of Credits for Avernus Education courses, conferences and tutoring services.

Additional prizes:

Partial scholarship

📅 Deadline: February 19, 2024 (Expired)

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

The Letter Review Prize for Books is open to writers from anywhere in the world. Seeking most unpublished (we accept some self/indie published) novels, novellas, story collections, nonfiction, poetry etc. 20 entries are longlisted.

💰 Entry fee: $25

📅 Deadline: October 31, 2023 (Expired)

Solas Awards

Best Travel Writing

Genres: Essay, Non-fiction, and Travel

Extraordinary stories about travel and the human spirit have been the cornerstones of our books since 1993. With the Solas Awards we honor writers whose work inspires others to explore. We’re looking for the best stories about travel and the world. Funny, illuminating, adventurous, uplifting, scary, inspiring, poignant stories that reflect the unique alchemy that occurs when you enter unfamiliar territory and begin to see the world differently as a result. We hope these awards will be a catalyst for those who love to leave home and tell others about it.

Top Prize:

$1,000

Additional prizes:

Publication

💰 Entry fee: $25

📅 Deadline: September 21, 2024

Genres: Essay, Memoir, and Non-fiction

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 fee: $25

📅 Deadline: May 15, 2024

Genres: Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction, and Novel

Small presses have potential for significant impact, and at Vine Leaves Press, we take this responsibility quite seriously. It is our responsibility to give marginalized groups the opportunity to establish literary legacies that feel rich and vast. Why? To sustain hope for the world to become a more loving, tolerable, and open space. It always begins with art. That is why we have launched this writing competition.

Top Prize:

$1,000

Additional prizes:

Book publication

💰 Entry fee: $25

📅 Deadline: July 01, 2024

Genres: Non-fiction and Essay

Seeking creative nonfiction essays on any topic (1000 words or less) and in any style--from personal essay and memoir to lyric essay and hybrid, and more! The mission of this contest is to reward bravery in real-life storytelling and create an understanding of our world through thoughtful, engaging narratives. Electronic submissions via e-mail only; reprints/previously published okay; simultaneous submissions okay; multiple submissions are okay as long as they are submitted in their own individual e-mail. Open internationally.

Top Prize:

$500

Additional prizes:

2nd: $300 | 3rd: $200 | 7 runner-ups: $25 Amazon Gift Cards

💰 Entry fee: $12

📅 Deadline: January 31, 2024 (Expired)

Jane Austen Society of North America Essay Contest

Jane Austen Society of North America

Genres: Children's and Essay

JASNA conducts an annual student Essay Contest to foster the study and appreciation of Jane Austen's works in new generations of readers. Students world-wide are invited to compete for scholarship awards in three divisions: high school, college, and graduate school.

Additional prizes:

Two nights’ lodging for JASNA’s Annual General Meeting

📅 Deadline: June 02, 2022 (Expired)

Genres: Essay, Memoir, and Non-fiction

This month, dear writers, ahead of COP27, help us raise the voices of young people in this urgent fight. In a piece of personal narrative, tell the world’s leaders gathering in how climate change impacts you. How has this crisis changed your environment, your community, your sense of the future? Storytelling, after all, plays a critical role in helping us grasp the emergency through which we are all living, igniting empathy in readers and listeners—itself a precursor to action.

Top Prize:

$100

Additional prizes:

Runner-up: $50

📅 Deadline: October 18, 2022 (Expired)

Discover the finest writing contests of 2024 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 2024 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 2024

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 2024

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.

Prompts | Prompts 3 Copy test | 2024-02

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