The Best Thriller Writing Contests of 2023

Writing competitions curated by Reedsy

Showing 74 contests


Weird Christmas Flash Fiction Contest

Weird Christmas

Genre or humor based stories around "weird" Christmas/solstice/winter-holiday themes. Winners read aloud on Weird Christmas podcast and published on site. (Honorable mentions read/published, as well.)

Top prize

$75

Additional prizes

3 runners up: $50 and publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: November 06, 2023


Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Poetry, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller

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100 Word Writing Contest

Tadpole Press

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 requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: November 30, 2023


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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The Letter Review Prize for Books

The Letter Review

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 Seeking most unpublished (we accept some self/indie published) novels, novellas, story collections, nonfiction, poetry etc. 20 entries are longlisted.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 requirements

💰 Fee: $25

Deadline: October 31, 2023


Genres

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

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Story Unlikely's Short Story Contest

Story Unlikely

Story Unlikely's Annual Short Story contest is simply looking for great stories, judged both by the technical and literary quality as well as the author's ability to tell a story. We are not genre specific, and judging is blind, not based on the author's credentials, background, or pedigree. This is merit only. May the best story win.

Top prize

$750

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: January 31, 2024


Genres

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

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Frightening First Line Contest 2023

Gotham Writers Workshop

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.

Top prize

Free Gotham Writers class

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: November 30, 2023


Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Short Story, Thriller

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Novel Fair 2024

Irish Writers Centre

Now in its 12th year, the Novel Fair is an annual competition initiated by the Irish Writers Centre. Described by The Irish Times as ‘A Dragons’ Den for writers’, each year the Fair introduces twelve up-and-coming writers to top publishers and literary agents, giving novelists the opportunity to bypass the slush pile, pitch their ideas and place their synopsis and sample chapters directly into the hands of industry professionals. Novel Fair has been attended by representatives from: Curtis Brown, Penguin Random House, Conville & Walsh, époque, Fletcher & Co, Poolbeg Press, Harper Collins, John Murray, Hachette, Lilliput Press, New Island Books, The Book Bureau, The Bent Agency, Greene & Heaton, Storyline Literary Agency and many others.

Top prize

Present your novel to leading publishers and agents at the Irish Writers Centre

Additional prizes

Runners up: Critique from the judging panel

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $60

Deadline: September 30, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

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

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Winter Flash Fiction Battle

Writing Battle

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

$10,000

Additional prizes

Feedback by industry professionals.

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $25

Deadline: February 01, 2024


Genres

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

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Autumn Short Story Battle

Writing Battle

Five days to write a 2000 word short story. The peer-powered quarterly writing contest where every story receives oodles of feedback. Write one. Read ten. Win thousands.

Top prize

$10,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $25

Deadline: October 31, 2023


Genres

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

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7 Day Story Writing Challenge

Globe Soup

Register now for our next 7-day story writing challenge. A secret theme, a randomly assigned genre, and just 7 days to write a story of no more than 2,000 words. Our 7-day story writing challenges take place throughout the year. The challenges are free and you can even get feedback on your story. Take part in one challenge or take part in all of them!

Top prize

£500

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: October 16, 2023


Genres

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

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Elegant Literature's Award For New Writers

Elegant Literature

One of the largest awards open to unpublished writers, and the only one 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. One new writer receives the grand prize. We also choose the best stories, pay the authors above-professional rates, and publish them in our magazine. September's guest judge is multi-award winning author Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki.

Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

Paid publication, 25 x $20 USD | Free entry to Novelist Accelerator | Now Novel Package

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $10

Deadline: October 01, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

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

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I Am In Print Novel Award 2023

I Am In Print Ltd

I Am In Print are excited to be working with Canelo, one of the largest independent digitally focused publishers in Europe and one of the largest UK fiction publishers by volume, to find the best, as yet unpublished, manuscripts. Novels entered must be complete, written in English and be between 70,000 and 100,000 words. The award is open to writers globally and novels written for an adult audience in the following genres are welcome: Action thriller, Cosy mystery, Crime, Historical adventure, Horror, Psychological thriller, Romance, Saga. First prize is £1000 plus a 60 minute online consultation with a Canelo Editor!

Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

60 minute online consultation with a Canelo Editor

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: October 09, 2023


Genres

Crime, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Novel, Romance, Thriller

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Wenlock Olympian Society Short Story Competition

Wenlock Olympian Society

This is an international competition. There should be a maximum of up to 2,500 words on any theme and in any genre except YA and Children's stories. The contest will be judged by acclaimed author Philip Caine and winners announced in March 2024.

Top prize

£150

Additional prizes

2nd: £50 | 3rd: £25

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: October 30, 2023


Genres

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

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The Book of the Year Awards

The Independent Author Network

The Independent Author Network presents the 2024 IAN Book of the Year Awards, an international contest open to all authors with 55 fiction and non-fiction categories. Winners are eligible to receive a share of cash prizes of $6,000 USD. Open to all English language print and eBooks available for sale, including small presses, mid-size independent publishers, university presses, and self-published authors.

Top prize

$2,500

Additional prizes

$6,000.00 USD in total cash prizes

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: August 15, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Novel, Novella, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Thriller, Young Adult

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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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Summer Nanofiction Battle

Writing Battle

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.

Top prize

$4,000

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: August 04, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Short Story, Thriller

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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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She Writes Press and SparkPress Towards Equality in Publishing (STEP)

SparkPoint Studio

Since 2018, we’ve been proud to play a role in the much-needed elevation of writers of color by awarding 2-3 authors of color publishing packages per year as part of our She Writes Press and SparkPress Toward Equality in Publishing (STEP). The purpose of this contest is to support inclusivity across our lists, and to fortify our own mission to give voice to women writers.

Top prize

Publishing package valued at $9500

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: August 15, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

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

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Inspiring Fiction's Crime and Speculative Fiction Contest

Inspiring Fiction

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.

Top prize

£100

Additional prizes

Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $6

Deadline: July 31, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Short Story, Crime, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

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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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Flash Fiction Competition

Pigeon Review

This year's Flash Fiction competition centers around the theme of "home". What it means to you, how you understand it, and the emotions "home" evokes within you.

Top prize

$125

Additional prizes

2nd: $100 | 3rd: $75

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $5

Deadline: July 31, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Humor, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller

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Green Stories Writing Competition

University of Southampton

Theme: Microbes to the Rescue! This short story competition is sponsored by the Environmental Biotechnology Network. It may appeal to writers with a scientific bent as it aims to use fiction to raise awareness of Environmental Biotechnology and what microbial systems can do for us. Eligibility: Open to all – we encourage international writers. All submissions must be in English and unpublished. Length: We ask for a short story of between 1000 and 3000 words.

Top prize

£500 prize

Additional prizes

2nd: £200 | 3rd: £100

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: September 21, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Novel, Short Story, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Thriller

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Gothic Short Story

Briar Press New York

Briar Press NY is looking for Short Stories in the Gothic tradition, previously unpublished and set in any time period/place/culture. We are looking for beautiful writing, an engaging plot, memorable characters, and that authentic Gothic atmosphere (classic tropes are welcomed, but we also want substance and depth!)

Top prize

Publication in Anthology

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: August 01, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Short Story, Thriller

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Oxford Flash Fiction Prize

Oxford Flash Fiction

This summer we celebrate the meaning of gifts, exchanges and the stories we tell about them. This competition runs in partnership with the Bodleian Libraries’ Gifts and Books exhibition at the University of Oxford. Each entrant to the 2023 summer competition will also receive an e-book special edition Oxford Flash Fiction anthology.

Top prize

£1000

Additional prizes

2nd Prize: £200 | 3rd Prize: £100 | New Voice Prize: £50

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $8

Deadline: August 31, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

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

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Page One Prize for Novelists

Gutsy Great Novelist

The Gutsy Great Novelist Page One Prize is awarded for an outstanding opening page 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.

Top prize

$1,000

Additional prizes

2nd $500 | 3rd $250

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $20

Deadline: July 14, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

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

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Fiction Factory Flash Fiction

Fiction Factory

This is an international competition, open to writers from all over the world over the age of 16. Stories may be on any theme but we sadly do not accept YA or Children's stories.

Top prize

£300

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $7

Deadline: July 31, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Crime, Horror, Humor, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

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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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The Paul Cave Prize for Literature

Tim Saunders Publications

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 requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: September 30, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

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

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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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Not Quite Write Prize for Flash Fiction

Not Quite Write Podcast

A flash fiction writing competition with a twist. Entrants will be given two writing prompts and one ""anti-prompt"" and will have 60 hours to write and submit a 600-word piece of flash fiction. Open to all ages and abilities.

Top prize

$300 AUD

Additional prizes

Publication on podcast and website

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: July 16, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

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

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Reader Views Literary Awards

Reader Views

The Reader Views Literary Awards program helps level the playing field for self-published authors, recognizing the most creative and exciting new books in the industry. Our awards program is recognized industry-wide as one of the top literary awards programs for independent authors.

Top prize

$2,500

Additional prizes

Several marketing prizes (e.g. book review)

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $89

Deadline: December 31, 2023


Genres

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

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The Synopsis Skirmish—a contest for querying authors

Darling Axe Editing

Our judge, Michelle Barker, will be asking herself one question: "Does this synopsis convince me that I'm in the hands of an adept novelist with a unique and engaging story to tell?" According to literary agent Sarah Davies, a good query submission can be described in terms of concept and craft. In other words, you want to convey an original idea or fresh take and demonstrate a mastery of narrative structure. These elements are both important in your pitch, but even more so in your synopsis. So lay out your story's chain of consequence, and demonstrate character, context, and conflict—with style but without gimmick. And may the best plot summary win!

Top prize

$700 CAD

Additional prizes

2nd: $200 CAD | 3rd: $100 CAD

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $4

Deadline: May 31, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

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

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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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Imagine 2200

Grist

Imagine 2200 is an invitation to writers from all over the globe to imagine a future in which solutions to the climate crisis flourish and help bring about radical improvements to our world.

Top prize

$3,000

Additional prizes

2nd: $2000 | 3rd: $1000 | 9x finalists: $300 | Publication

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $0

Deadline: June 13, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story, Thriller, Fantasy, Humor, Mystery, Romance

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3nd Annual WCWF Writing Contest

Wine Country Writers' Festival

Fire up those pens and get those unpublished stories and poems submitted to WCWF 3nd Annual Writing Contest. Three winners in each category (fiction/nonfiction/poetry), publication in Anthology, and your own copy. Entries: $15 or two for $25.

Top prize

$150

Additional prizes

2nd Place: $75 | 3rd Place: $50

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: $15

Deadline: June 30, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

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

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Evening Standard Stories Competition

Evening Standard

We’re searching for fresh new voices who can take the idea of ‘belonging’ in a surprising direction, or tackle it in a way that stops us in our tracks. This competition is not limited to a ‘short story’. Submissions can be a piece of spoken word or performance, perhaps it’s a monologue, a script or a self-contained episode of a narrative podcast. Entries can be submitted as written, audio, or film.

Top prize

Mentorship with top industry contacts

Additional prizes

Publication in Evening Standard media

Entry requirements

💰 Fee: FREE

Deadline: April 12, 2023 (Expired)


Genres

Crime, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Script Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

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