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DIRECTORY

Best Mystery Writing Contests in 2024

Showing 50 contests that match your search.

Oxford Flash Fiction Prize 2024

Oxford Flash Fiction

Genres: Flash Fiction, Fiction, Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, and Young Adult

Write yourself into history and become one of the greats with the Oxford Flash Fiction Prize. For centuries, the greats have come to Oxford to ink masterpieces. Now, in one of the oldest towns, where the history of the English language can be traced back to its ancient streets, we are celebrating one of the newest forms in literature – flash fiction.

Additional prizes:

2nd Prize: £200 | 3rd Prize: £100 | New Voice Prize: £200

💰 Entry fee: $9

📅 Deadline: January 31, 2024 (Expired)

Genres: Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, and Young Adult

We are seeking the year's best original short stories (fiction) devoted to the theme of global climate change and its human impact. We are interested in literary interpretations of how individuals and families, cities and nations are bearing the brunt of a world dominated by new extremes of weather, seasons, and eco-disasters. All genres welcome.

Top Prize:

$1,000

Additional prizes:

2nd: $500 | 3rd: $250 | Publication in anthology

💰 Entry fee: $10

📅 Deadline: March 01, 2024 (Expired)

Frightening First Line Contest 2023

Gotham Writers Workshop

Genres: Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Short Story, and Thriller

Autumn is the season of rustling leaves, a chill in the air, and, of course, Halloween. In that spirit, we invite you to create the first line of a frightening story. But we want that first line to be so intriguing or chilling or scary that it makes our skin tingle and our nerves twitch.

💰 Entry fee: $0

📅 Deadline: November 30, 2023 (Expired)

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Clash of the Query Letters

Darling Axe Editing

Genres: Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novel, Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Novella, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, and Young Adult

Our judge, Michelle Barker, will be asking herself one question: does this query letter convince me that I'm in the hands of an adept novelist with a unique and engaging story to tell?

Additional prizes:

CAD $200 for 2nd place, $100 for 3rd place

💰 Entry fee: $4

📅 Deadline: January 31, 2024 (Expired)

Genres: Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, and Young Adult

For this short story challenge, all participants will be randomly assigned a period in history. As soon as you receive your assignment, you'll have until the closing time to research, write, and submit a short story of no more than 4,000 words, set during this historical period.

Top Prize:

$1,131

💰 Entry fee: $17

📅 Deadline: October 28, 2022 (Expired)

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

The Storytrade Book Awards recognizes excellence in small and independent publishing. Open to all indie authors and publishers including self-published authors, university presses, and small or independent presses, our annual awards program spotlights outstanding books in a number of fiction and nonfiction categories.

Top Prize:

$1,000

Additional prizes:

Medal, Book Stickers, Digital Seal

💰 Entry fee: $75

📅 Deadline: June 30, 2024

Black Orchid Novella Award

Wolfe Pack & Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

Genres: Crime, Mystery, and Novella

Novellas are an important part of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe's opus. To celebrate this format, the Wolfe Pack and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine have partnered to sponsor the Black Orchid Novella Award. Each entry must be an original, unpublished work of fiction that conforms to the literary tradition of the Nero Wolfe series.

Top Prize:

$1,000

Additional prizes:

Publication in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

📅 Deadline: May 31, 2024

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)

Genres: Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult, Flash Fiction, and Science Writing

One of the largest awards open to unpublished writers and closed to professionals. We are the first magazine to pay pro rates and only accept submissions from new writers, putting over $100k into the hands of emerging talent around the globe so far. One new writer receives the grand prize. We also choose the best stories, pay the authors professional rates, and publish them in our magazine. March guest judge is Somto Ihezue.

Top Prize:

$3,000

Additional prizes:

10x Paid publication, 25 x $20 USD | Free entry to Novelist Accelerator

💰 Entry fee: $10

📅 Deadline: April 01, 2024

Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Romance, and Thriller

The Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense is named for Daphne du Maurier, the author of Rebecca, a suspense novel with romantic and gothic overtones and a precursor to today’s romantic suspense. The writing contest is for unpublished authors of mystery, suspense, and thrillers with or without romantic subplots.

💰 Entry fee: $30

📅 Deadline: March 15, 2024

The Rubery Prize

Rubery Book Awards

Genres: Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Novel, Novella, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult, and Romance

The Rubery Prize is a prestigious international book award seeking the best books by indie writers, self published authors and books published by independent presses, judged by reputable judges. Through our reputation of finding quality and outstanding books we aim to bring recognition to the works that win and heighten an author's profile.

Additional prizes:

£200, a write-up

💰 Entry fee: $60

📅 Deadline: March 31, 2024

Season Themes

HAVOK Publishing

Genres: Fantasy, Flash Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction, Short Story, and Thriller

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.

Top Prize:

$100

Additional prizes:

Publication in an anthology. Potential for larger gift card wins.

📅 Deadline: December 29, 2023 (Expired)

Genres: Fiction, Short Story, Crime, Mystery, Science Fiction, and Thriller

Inspiring Fiction’s first crime and speculative fiction short story contest is on the theme ‘Secrets’. The winner and shortlisted entries will be published in the fourth issue of Tangled Web Magazine.

Additional prizes:

Publication

💰 Entry fee: $6

📅 Deadline: July 31, 2023 (Expired)

A Warm Mug of Cozy Anthology

Warm Mug of Cozy

Genres: Crime, Flash Fiction, Mystery, and Short Story

Do you like writing short cozy mysteries? If so, we would love to invite you to submit your work for potential inclusion in our first Warm Mug of Cozy Anthology. Theme: No restriction, as long as your story follows the classic rules of Cozy Mystery.

💰 Entry fee: $5

📅 Deadline: March 31, 2024

Genres: Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Thriller, and Young Adult

The Not Quite Write Prize for Flash Fiction challenges writers to create an original piece of flash fiction based on two typical writing prompts plus one ""anti-prompt"". An anti-prompt is a challenge to break a specific “rule” of writing while telling a great story. Participants compete for AU$2,000 in cash prizes, including AU$1,000 for the winner, cash prizes for the entire shortlist and two bonus ‘wildcard’ prizes. Winners are read aloud on the Not Quite Write podcast, where the judges share in-depth analysis about the entries and offer free writing advice. The Not Quite Write Prize for Flash Fiction is hosted in Australia and open to all writers of any age and level of ability around the world.

Additional prizes:

Publication on the Not Quite Write website and podcast

💰 Entry fee: $16

📅 Deadline: April 21, 2024

Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Non-fiction, Science Fiction, and Young Adult

Launched in 2014, Book Pipeline connects writers worldwide with publishers, editors, agents, and the film industry. Through two submission platforms—Unpublished and Adaptation—the company seeks both new and established authors. For over 22 years, Pipeline has bridged the gap between up-and-coming writers and the industry through a unique, long-term, hands-on facilitation process. The result thus far has been $8 million in scripts sold to studios and networks since 1999.

Top Prize:

$15,000

💰 Entry fee: $45

📅 Deadline: August 20, 2024

Best Indie Book Award

Best Indie Book Award

Genres: Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Novel, Novella, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, and Young Adult

The annual Best Indie Book Award® (or BIBA®) is an international literary awards contest recognizing self-published and independently published authors from all over the world. Entries are limited to independently (indie) published books, including those from small presses, e-book publishers, and self-published authors.

💰 Entry fee: $65

📅 Deadline: August 15, 2024

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)

Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Romance, and Thriller

The Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense is named for Daphne du Maurier, the author of Rebecca, a suspense novel with romantic and gothic overtones and a precursor to today’s romantic suspense. The writing contest is for published authors of mystery, suspense, and thrillers with or without romantic subplots.

💰 Entry fee: $30

📅 Deadline: March 15, 2024

The Paul Cave Prize for Literature

Tim Saunders Publications

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

The Paul Cave Prize for Literature, established in 2023 by Tim Saunders Publications, is in memory of Paul Astley Cave-Browne-Cave (1917 to 2010), a hugely inspirational magazine and book publisher. What we are looking for All forms of poetry: haiku, free verse, sonnet, acrostic, villanelle, ballad, limerick, ode, elegy, flash fiction, short stories and novellas. Work must be new and unpublished. International submissions welcome.

Additional prizes:

Best Short Story: £50 | Best Flash Fiction: £25 | Best Poem: £25

💰 Entry fee: $15

📅 Deadline: September 30, 2024

Genres: Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Short Story, and Thriller

We’re interested in flash fiction pieces of between 250 and 1,000 words. We’re seeking the finest work we can find that incorporates an uncanny element. Ghost stories are welcome, of course—but your submission may involve any paranormal or supernatural theme, as well as magic realism. What we’re looking for is superb writing, fresh perspectives, and maybe a few surprises.

Top Prize:

$1,000

Additional prizes:

print and online publication

💰 Entry fee: $15

📅 Deadline: January 31, 2024 (Expired)

Edinburgh Short Story Award

Scottish Arts Trust

Genres: Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Suspense, Thriller, and Young Adult

£3,000 first prize for writers worldwide and stories on any topic up to 2,000 words. We welcome stories in all genres: literary, historic, crime, romance, gritty realism, contemporary, humour and more.

Additional prizes:

2nd: £500 | 3rd: £250 | Publication

💰 Entry fee: $12

📅 Deadline: February 29, 2024 (Expired)

Genres: Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, and Young Adult

For this short story challenge, all participants will be randomly assigned a genre pairing. As soon as you receive your ‘smashed’ genres you'll have until the closing time to write and submit a short story of any length up to 5,000 words, that perfectly and seamlessly combines both genres into one amazing short story.

Additional prizes:

Publication

💰 Entry fee: $11

📅 Deadline: October 23, 2023 (Expired)

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

Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story, Crime, Horror, Mystery, Romance, and Thriller

Are you seeking lots of feedback? Ever wondered what it’s like to step into the shoes of a jury? Pull a genre, pick a prompt, and let your creativity soar. Submit your piece, then review other entries and develop an eye for what makes a story stand out. Receive detailed feedback, evolve as a writer and you might even walk away with the prize money!

💰 Entry fee: $15

📅 Deadline: April 14, 2024

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

We aim to assist writers in the completion of an important literary project and vision. The Unleash WIP Award offers writers support in the amount of $500 to supplement costs to aid in the completion of a book-length work of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Writers will also receive editorial feedback, coaching meetings, and an excerpt/interview feature in Unleash Lit.

Top Prize:

$500

Additional prizes:

Coaching, interview, and editorial support

💰 Entry fee: $35

📅 Deadline: July 15, 2024

Summer Nanofiction Battle

Writing Battle

Genres: Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Short Story, Thriller, and Young Adult

Two days to write a 250 word short story. The peer-powered quarterly writing contest where every story receives oodles of feedback. Write one. Read ten. Win thousands.

Additional prizes:

Genre Runner-up (x4): $375 | Feedback by industry professionals

💰 Entry fee: $20

📅 Deadline: August 02, 2024

Chapter One Prize

Gutsy Great Novelist

Genres: Fiction, Novel, Young Adult, Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, and Thriller

The Gutsy Great Novelist Chapter One Prize is awarded for an outstanding first chapter of an unpublished novel. The prize is open internationally to anyone over 18 writing a novel in English in any genre for adult or YA readers. Winners will be announced March 29, 2024.

Top Prize:

$1,000

Additional prizes:

2nd: $500 |3rd: $250

💰 Entry fee: $20

📅 Deadline: March 01, 2024 (Expired)

North Street Book Prize

Winning Writers

Genres: Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry, Children's, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, and Young Adult

Submit a self-published or hybrid-published book, up to 200,000 words in length. One grand prize winner will receive $10,000, a marketing analysis and one-hour phone consultation with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a $300 credit at BookBaby, three months of Plus service (a $207 value) and a $500 account credit from Book Award Pro, and 3 free ads in the Winning Writers newsletter (a $525 value)

Top Prize:

$10,000

Additional prizes:

$1,000 for top winner in each category | $300 for honorable mentions

💰 Entry fee: $75

📅 Deadline: May 01, 2024

The 2022 First Chapter Book Contest

TheNextBigWriter, LLC

Genres: Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Novel, Science Fiction, Thriller, and Young Adult

Have a book or a novel idea you've been noodling? Enter your first chapter into the Booksie First Chapter Contest and see how it does. You don't need to have finished the book. You don't even need more than the first chapter. We're looking for a start that will grab our attention, that is original, that is well written, and that makes us want to beg you to see what comes next. And for those we find, we'll provide some awards to inspire you to finish writing the book or, if finished, to help get it published.

Top Prize:

$500

Additional prizes:

Gold contest badge.

💰 Entry fee: $5

📅 Deadline: May 14, 2022 (Expired)

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

The Letter Review Prize for Unpublished Books (Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction) is open to writers from anywhere in the world. Three Winners are awarded, and 20 entries are Shortlisted.

💰 Entry fee: $20

📅 Deadline: February 29, 2024 (Expired)

Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition

Minotaur Books & Malice Domestic

Genres: Mystery and Novel

Welcome to the Tony Hillerman Prize for Best First Mystery Set in the Southwest Competition! The Competition is open to any writer, regardless of nationality, aged 18 or older, who has never been the author of any Published Mystery Novel (including self-published works and ebooks), as defined by the guidelines below, and is not under contract with a publisher for publication of a mystery novel.

Additional prizes:

Contract with Minotaur Books

📅 Deadline: November 30, 2021 (Expired)

Jim Martin Memorial Story Contest

Arizona Mystery Writers

Genres: Fiction, Mystery, and Short Story

Every year the Arizona Mystery Writers hosts the Jim Martin Memorial Story Contest. Naturally, since we’re the Arizona Mystery Writers, we want a mystery story, but we’re flexible about the boundaries of that category, and we also accept thrillers and suspense stories. It doesn’t matter if your story’s characters are in outer space, riding horses, or living underground. Costumes and settings don’t matter as long as the story is a mystery, thriller, or suspense tale as described.

Top Prize:

$200

Additional prizes:

2nd: $100 | 3rd: $75

💰 Entry fee: $15

📅 Deadline: August 01, 2024

Debut Dagger

Crime Writer's Association

Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Novel, Novella, Suspense, and Thriller

The Debut Dagger is a competition for the opening of a crime novel by a writer who isn’t represented by an agent by the time the competition closes, and who has never had a traditional contract for any novel of any length, or who has never self-published any novel of any length in the last 5 years. Writers submit their opening 3,000 words and a 1,500 word synopsis. Entries from shortlisted writers are sent to UK literary agents and publishers. Every year, authors find representation this way.

Top Prize:

$577

💰 Entry fee: $41

📅 Deadline: February 29, 2024 (Expired)

First 5 Pages Prize

Stockholm Writers Festival

Genres: Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Novel, Novella, Science Fiction, Thriller, and Young Adult

SWF is proud to launch the First 5 Pages Prize to mark our 5th anniversary. Dazzle us with your brilliance. Delight us with your wit. Deceive us with your dastardly plot-twists. There will be one Grand Prize winner chosen from all entries. The winner will receive: $1000 cash, a ticket to SWF22, a pitch meeting with an agent conducted over Zoom, two night’s accommodation at a boutique hotel, and a full developmental edit donated by Reedsy, the industry’s leading platform for writing services.

Top Prize:

$1,000

Additional prizes:

A full developmental edit donated by Reedsy & pitch meeting with an agent

💰 Entry fee: $20

📅 Deadline: January 31, 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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