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Best Short Story Writing Contests in 2024

Showing 132 contests that match your search.

Genres: Fiction and Short Story

Every Friday, Reedsy sends out five writing prompts. Enter your response within a week for a chance at $250. Winners may also be included in a future issue of Reedsy’s literary magazine, Prompted.

Top Prize:

$250

Additional prizes:

$25 credit toward Reedsy editorial services

💰 Entry fee: $5

📅 Deadline: December 31, 2024

Genres: Flash Fiction, Fiction, and Short Story

Seeking short fiction of any genre between 250 - 750 words. The mission of this contest is to inspire creativity and great writing and provide well-rewarded recognition to contestants. Guest Judge: Tom Bromley, Head of Learning at Reedsy

Top Prize:

$600 cash, Reedsy's How to Write a Novel class ($1249 value), $25 Amazon Gift Card

Additional prizes:

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

💰 Entry fee: $10

📅 Deadline: August 31, 2024

Anthology Flash Fiction Award

Anthology Magazine

Genres: Fiction, Short Story, and Flash Fiction

The Anthology Flash Fiction Competition is open to original and previously unpublished flash fiction on any theme in the English language by writers of any nationality. We are looking for writing that is clever and unique, inspires us, and crafts a compelling story. Max 250 words.

Top Prize:

€300

💰 Entry fee: $12

📅 Deadline: September 30, 2024

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Genres: Flash Fiction, Short Story, and Fiction

All entrants share a main genre but will be given a twisted subgenre (unusual) from a pool of ten. Entrants will also get either an event/character/object/subject (depending on the contest) that they must include. They can reroll subgenre and subject three times each. For example, if thriller is the main genre, you might get occult detective as your subgenre. Rerolling that might give you cyberpunk, environmental, etc.

Top Prize:

$1,200

💰 Entry fee: $25

📅 Deadline: May 19, 2024 (Expired)

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

Enter our 91st Annual Writing Competition for the chance to have your work be seen by editors and agents! Almost 500 winners will be chosen. The top winning entries of this writing contest will also be on display in the Annual Writer’s Digest Competition Collection. [$20 for a poetry entry, $30 for a manuscript entry]

Top Prize:

$5,000

Additional prizes:

2nd: $500 | 3rd: $100

💰 Entry fee: $30

📅 Deadline: May 06, 2024 (Expired)

The Iowa Review Awards

The Iowa Review

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

Each January since 2003, The Iowa Review has invited submissions to The Iowa Review Awards, a writing contest in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Winners receive $1,500; first runners-up receive $750. Winners and runners-up are published in each December issue.

Top Prize:

$1,500

💰 Entry fee: $20

📅 Deadline: January 31, 2024 (Expired)

Goldilocks Zone

Sunspot Literary Journal

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

Sunspot Lit is looking for the perfect combination of craft and appeal in stories, CNF, novel or novella excerpts, artwork, graphic novels, poems, scripts/screenplays. Literary and genre accepted. Enter through Submittable or Duotrope.

Top Prize:

$500

Additional prizes:

Publication

💰 Entry fee: $10

📅 Deadline: April 30, 2024 (Expired)

Genres: Short Story

Open theme/subject/genre. Maximum 3,000 words. 2 runners-up prizes of $200 each and a free writing course of choice.

Top Prize:

$1,000

Additional prizes:

2x runners up: $200 | Free writing course | Publication

💰 Entry fee: $9

📅 Deadline: April 30, 2024 (Expired)

Genres: Fiction and Short Story

Fabula Press’ annual short story competition has two segments – a free section, and a paid section. At least 3 submissions from the free section will be selected for publication in the Fabula Press Anthology and on the Fabula Press website; for paid submissions, at least twelve entries will be included in the anthology on the website. There is no theme for our contests; also, barring a few exceptions, we are flexible about genre

Top Prize:

$500

Additional prizes:

2nd: $250 | 3rd: $100 | Stories selected for publication: $75

💰 Entry fee: $10

📅 Deadline: June 07, 2024 (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 (Expired)

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: May 02, 2024 (Expired)

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.

Top Prize:

Trophy

💰 Entry fee: $65

📅 Deadline: August 15, 2024

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

Stories Through The Ages - Baby Boomers Plus 2023 is open to people born 1966 or earlier. The deadline for entries is June 15, 2023. There is no prompt for the contest. Authors may write about any topic. The entry fee is $20 ($15 if submitting more than one story). The word count for this contest is 900 - 5000 words. Cash prizes of $500, $200 and $100 will be awarded. There will be a minimum of 15 finalists whose story will appear in the book.

Top Prize:

$500

Additional prizes:

2nd: $200 | 3rd: $100

💰 Entry fee: $20

📅 Deadline: June 15, 2024 (Expired)

Genres: Fiction and Short Story

Our quarterly short story competition is open for entries all year round. The competition is open to any theme or genre, but your story must be a maximum of 1,500 words (not including the title). You can enter up to three stories in each quarterly competition.

Top Prize:

£150

Additional prizes:

£75 for 2nd, £30 for 3rd

💰 Entry fee: $7

📅 Deadline: January 31, 2024 (Expired)

Genres: Fiction and Short Story

Stories may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. Winner receives $1,000 and a bronze medallion. Finalists receive $100. Winner and finalists are published in both the online and annual print editions of The Lascaux Review.

Top Prize:

$1,000

Additional prizes:

Publication in The Lascaux Review

💰 Entry fee: $15

📅 Deadline: December 31, 2021 (Expired)

100 Word Writing Contest

Tadpole Press

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, and Travel

Can you write a story using 100 words or less? Pieces will be judged on creativity, uniqueness, and how the story captures a new angle, breaks through stereotypes, and expands our beliefs about what's possible or unexpectedly delights us. In addition, we are looking for writing that is clever or unique, inspires us, and crafts a compelling and complete story. The first-place prize has doubled to $2,000 USD.

Top Prize:

$2,000

Additional prizes:

2nd: writing coach package

💰 Entry fee: $15

📅 Deadline: November 30, 2024

Genres: Fiction, Flash Fiction, Poetry, Script Writing, and Short Story

Minds Shine Bright is an arts business based in Melbourne Australia committed to supporting the arts and writers. We run two fiction writing competitions; Minds Shine Bright Confidence, a longitudinal look at the theme confidence in fiction and poetry, and Seasons a competition with a changing external theme. Light and Shadow is currently open.

Top Prize:

$500 AUD

Additional prizes:

2nd: $400 AUD | 3rd: $300 AUD | 4th: $200 AUD | Commended entries: $100 AUD

💰 Entry fee: $3

📅 Deadline: March 31, 2024 (Expired)

Narrative Prize

Narrative Magazine

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

The Narrative Prize is awarded annually for the best short story, novel excerpt, poem, one-act play, graphic story, or work of literary nonfiction published by a new or emerging writer in Narrative. The submission system is open all year.

Top Prize:

$4,000

💰 Entry fee: $27

📅 Deadline: June 15, 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.

Top Prize:

$1000 USD shared by 3 winners

💰 Entry fee: $25

📅 Deadline: April 30, 2024 (Expired)

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

We are looking for short stories that respond in any way to: 7:12am. You can use that in the text, as a theme, or any way you want. We accept any prose genre and any length of story up to 6k words. We’re looking for writers who have exciting voices and can move us - that can happen in any genre of prose. We’re not accepting plays or poetry for this competition.

Top Prize:

£100

Additional prizes:

2nd: £50 | 3rd & 4th: £25 | 10 short-listed entries: publication

💰 Entry fee: $8

📅 Deadline: April 30, 2024 (Expired)

Genres: Fiction and Short Story

What truth do you want to convey through your stories? This month, write a short story of up to 1000 words and invite readers into a contained universe. With only a small word limit to work with, you must choose carefully. Remember, as Neil Gaiman once said: “Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams.”

Top Prize:

$100

Additional prizes:

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

💰 Entry fee: $0

📅 Deadline: November 27, 2023 (Expired)

True Story Contest

FanStory.com Inc.

Genres: Non-fiction and Short Story

Share a true story about your life. Write about any event that happened in your life that you would like to share. Cash prize to the winner.

Top Prize:

$100

💰 Entry fee: $10

📅 Deadline: December 15, 2024

Genres: Fiction and Short Story

Exeter Writers runs an annual short story competition. The competition began in 2009 and is very popular, receiving entries from all over the world. The maximum word count is 3,000.

Top Prize:

$900

💰 Entry fee: $9

📅 Deadline: February 28, 2021 (Expired)

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.

Top Prize:

£100

Additional prizes:

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

💰 Entry fee: $15

📅 Deadline: September 30, 2024

Horror Writing Contest

FanStory.com Inc.

Genres: Fiction, Horror, and Short Story

Share a horror or thriller story to enter this writing contest. Write about anything but the object is to terrorize or thrill your reader. Cash prize!

Top Prize:

$100

💰 Entry fee: $10

📅 Deadline: November 12, 2024

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

Three days to write a 1000 word short story. The peer-powered quarterly writing contest where every story receives oodles of feedback. Write one. Read ten. Win thousands.

Top Prize:

Genre Winner (x4): $2,000

Additional prizes:

Genre Runner-up (x4): $500 | Feedback by industry professionals.

💰 Entry fee: $25

📅 Deadline: February 01, 2024 (Expired)

Great American Fiction Contest

Saturday Evening Post

Genres: Fiction and Short Story

In its two centuries of existence, The Saturday Evening Post has published short fiction by a who’s who of great American authors, including Ray Bradbury, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Louis L’Amour, Sinclair Lewis, Jack London, Joyce Carol Oates, Edgar Allan Poe, Anne Tyler, and Kurt Vonnegut, among so many others.

Top Prize:

$1,000

💰 Entry fee: $10

📅 Deadline: July 01, 2024 (Expired)

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

Our annual flagship competition, the Stringybark Stories Open Short Story Award 2023, is now bigger than ever! Thanks to Graeme Simpson and Anne Buist, a record prize pool of over $1300 is on offer. The theme is open, the only constraint is that there must be a reference to Australia somewhere in the story. It doesn't matter how small a link there is (it could be a jar of vegemite on the counter), there just needs to be one!

Top Prize:

$560

Additional prizes:

2nd: $360 | 3rd: $210 | 4th: $110

💰 Entry fee: $15

📅 Deadline: February 25, 2024 (Expired)

Genres: Fiction, Non-fiction, and Short Story

Welcome to the 31st annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest. Submit published or unpublished work. $9,000 in prizes.

Top Prize:

$3,000

Additional prizes:

Two-year gift certificate from Duotrope; 10 Honorable Mentions will receive $300 each

💰 Entry fee: $22

📅 Deadline: May 01, 2024 (Expired)

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

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!

Top Prize:

£500

Additional prizes:

Publication on website

💰 Entry fee: $0

📅 Deadline: April 22, 2024 (Expired)

Genres: Fiction and Short Story

Judged by Louise Kennedy, The Moth Short Story Prize is open to anyone over 16, as long as their story is previously unpublished. The word limit is 3,000. Winning story published as part of the summer fiction series in the Irish Times, while the 2nd and 3rd-prize-winning stories will be published in the Irish Times online.

Top Prize:

€3,000

Additional prizes:

2nd: week-long writing retreat at Circle of Misse in France plus open travel stipend | 3rd: €1,000

💰 Entry fee: $16

📅 Deadline: June 30, 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)

Genres: Fiction, Humor, and Short Story

The Folly Prize launched in 2023 with fierce competition from an incredible array of edgy, off the wall, sexy, fun writing submitted by talented writers from around the globe. The 2024 Folly Prize runs from 15 January - 30 April 2024, with a cash first prize of $1000 NZD and a Runner up prize of $500 NZD. The Prizewinner Runner Ups will be published in Issue 2 of Folly, due to be launched in late October 2024 and will receive a copy of the publication. We encourage entries from writers from around the world, and are specifically looking for work that is accessible (fun), yet well written. Your story doesn't need to be New Zealand-centric - we are looking for local and international stories that are pacey, provocative, honest and light. We want to choke into our coffee and laugh out loud. Submissions are via our Submittable portal, found on the Submissions page.

Top Prize:

$1000 NZD

Additional prizes:

Runner-up: $500 NZD

💰 Entry fee: $6

📅 Deadline: April 30, 2024 (Expired)

Flying South

WS Writers

Genres: Non-fiction, Poetry, and Short Story

All entries will be considered for publication. Winning submissions in each of the three categories (Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry) will be awarded prizes of $400 for First Place, $200 for Second Place, and $100 for a total of $2,100 in prizes. All finalists will be accepted for publication and will receive one copy of the current issue of Flying South.

Top Prize:

$400

💰 Entry fee: $15

📅 Deadline: May 31, 2024 (Expired)

Genres: Fiction and Short Story

The Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Prize celebrates imaginative and inventive writing in book-length collections (generally over 40,000 words, but there is no hard minimum). Past winners include Suzi Ehtesham-Zadeh (Zan), Nino Cipri (Homesick), Anne Valente (By Light We Knew Our Names), Chaya Bhuvaneswar (White Dancing Elephants), Jen Grow (My Life as a Mermaid), Julie Stewart (Water and Blood), and Ethel Rohan (In the Event of Contact). The winning submission will be awarded a $2,500 advance and publication by Dzanc Books.

Top Prize:

$2,500

Additional prizes:

Publication

💰 Entry fee: $25

📅 Deadline: September 30, 2024

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:

  • "How to Craft a Killer Short Story" (Click here)
  • "The Non-Sexy Business of Writing Non-Fiction" (Click here)
  • "How to Write a Novel" (Click here)
  • "Understanding Point of View" (Click here)
  • "Developing Characters That Your Readers Will Love" (Click here)
  • "Writing Dialogue That Develops Plot and Character" (Click here)
  • "Stop Procrastinating! Build a Solid Writing Routine" (Click here)

On Editing:

  • "Story Editing for Authors" (Click here)
  • "How to Self-Edit Your Manuscript Like a Pro" (Click here)
  • "Novel Revision: Practical Tips for Rewrites" (Click here)

Blog posts

  • "How to Write a Novel: Steps From a Bestselling Writer" (Click here)
  • "How to Write a Short Story in 9 Simple Steps" (Click here)
  • "100 Literary Devices With Examples: The Ultimate List" (Click here)
  • "20 Writing Tips to Improve Your Craft" (Click here)
  • "How to Write Fabulous Dialogue [9 Tips + Examples]" (Click here)
  • "8 Character Development Exercises to Write 3D Characters" (Click here)

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 Sans Serif | 2024-03

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