June ’22 Competitions

Here again is a look at writing competitions I might enter during the coming month (a personal selection, so no poetry or competitions not open to UK writers, for example – but competitions for old people are definitely in…)

  • Fitzcarraldo Editions (for Europe and Africa – elsewhere, other publishers) have a novel prize contest which is free to enter (so far as I can see), but offers a top prize of $10,000 plus publication. For these purposes a novel can be as little as 30,000 words – but the deadline is 1 June
  • Also closing on 1 June, the Salamander Fiction Prize requires up to 30 pages. Entry is  $15, and the top prize is $1,000.
  • Write by the Sea, based in Kilgore Quay, gives you a couple more days, with a deadline of 3 June. Maximum word count is 3,000, entry is €10. There are three categories: winners in two get €500, while the one judged overall winner gets €1,000. All three get a coveted trophy.
  • You have until 13 June to enter the Aurora prize: entry is £9, the prize£500, and 2,000 words is the maximum.
  • The splendid Stories Through the Ages competition is for ‘Baby Boomers plus’ – people born no later than1966. It’s $25 to enter and the prize is $500 – the best stories go into an anthology. The deadline is 15 June.
  • The Howard Frank Mosher competition allows up to a full 8,000 words. Entry is $20, first prize $1,000, and the deadline is again 15 June.
  • Not actually a competition as such, but Bureau Dispatch will pay $50 for stories up to 1,500 words. There is no fee (and there shouldn’t be). The deadline is 17 June.
  • Leicester Writes is back with a maximum word count of 3,500, entry fee of £5, and prize of £175 – deadline 20 June.

All the rest have a deadline of 30 June.

  • Write Time has another competition for us old folk – in this case, over 60s. The maximum word count is 1,500, entry is a modest £3 with a modest top prize of £50.
  • The Moth wants up to 4,000 words for a prize of €3,000 (that’s more like it!). Entry is €15.
  • The Wells Festival of Literature‘s prize is £750: entry is £6 and they’re looking for stories between 1 and 2 thousand words.
  • The regular Henshaw competition is back with its prize of £200 for 2,000 words, with entry at £6.00. I don’t usually go for the paid feedback options offered by some contests, and some are expensive and unhelpful: but I’ve found Henshaw good value for money in that respect.
  • The Boston Review accepts up to 4,000 words and offers a prize of $1,000 for a $20 entry fee: stories must be on the theme ‘Speculation’.
  • Also with a theme, ‘Ink’, Blackwater Press has an entry fee of $5 and a prize of $150. Although this is a short story competition, there is apparently no limit on length. Perhaps don’t send your 180,000 word fantasy novel, though.

If you get anywhere with any of these, please do let me know!

May ’22 Competitions

Here are the writing competitions I might enter with deadlines in May.
• The Belfast Book Festival is again running its Mairtín Crawford award, for stories up to 2,500 word. The entry fee is £6 and you can win £500 plus a writers retreat. The deadline is 1 May.
• With the same deadline, the Kipling Society has the John McGivering prize, for stories on the theme animals and connected in some way with Kipling and his work. The maximum word count is 2,000, the entry fee is £8, and the top prize is £350.
• The Australian Book Review has another contest named in honour of someone: the Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. Stories can be between 2,000 and 5,000 words: the entry fee is AU$25 and the top prize AU$6,000. The deadline is 2 May.
• Then the Bristol Short Story Prize closes on 4 May. Entry is £9, first prize £1,000, and stories can be up to 4,000 words.
Imagine 2200: Climate Fiction for Future Ancestors, run by Fix, is looking for upbeat stories from a future perspective about how climate change was beaten and a better world created. It’s free to enter, but you could win £3,000. The deadline is 5 May.
Writer’s Digest has a competition with nine separate categories. Different length rules apply to different categories: for mainstream/literary fiction it’s 4,000 words. Winners in each category get $1,000, while one overall winner gets $5,000. Entry is $30 and the deadline is 6 May.
• Another idealistic contest is Demos Rising, which invites stories that address issues of equity, democracy and the like. Though the subjects are likely to raise strong feelings, they look for nuance, perspective, authenticity, and even humour. Entry is free, but your only prize is publication in their anthology. For short stories the limit is 5,000 words (you can also enter poetry, flash, art or photography). The deadline is 14 May.
Ploughshares invites stories up to 6,000 words. Entry is $24, you can win $2,000 and the deadline is 15 May.
• With a deadline of 16 May, the Raymond Carver Prize has an entry fee of $17 and a first prize of $2,000: stories may be up to 6,000 words.
• The thriving community at Globe Soup has branched out into memoirs, of up to 3,000 words, on ‘Places that have made me, changed me, or inspired me’. The basic entry fee is £12, with lower ones for members and early entry. The prize is £1,000 and the deadline is 17 May.
All the rest have a deadline of 31 May.
• Not to be missed is the Bridport competition, with a maximum word count of 5,000, a prize of £5,000 and an entry fee of £12.
Frome Festival limits you to 2,200 words: the entry fee is £8 and top prize £400.
• The regular MTP competition is running again, with an entry fee of £7, prize of £1,000 and a limit of 3,000. Highly rated stories will be published in an anthology.
• The Yeovil Literary Prize competition is on again: for short stories the maximum word count is 2,000, entry £8 and top prize £600. There are several other categories including the intriguing ‘Writing Without Restrictions’.
• Last but not to be overlooked is the Bath Novel Award. You need to submit your first 5,000 words plus a one-page synopsis (you’ll need a full novel of at least 50,000 words for the later stages of judging).. Entry is £29, with the top prize £3,000: the shortlist gets feedback and agent introductions, with the long list is offered a writing course.

Good luck – if you get anywhere with these, do let me know!

April ’22 Competitions

I’m back (most of me) following my operation! Here is a look at writing competitions I might enter if I’ve got the energy during the coming month (so no poetry or competitions not open to UK writers, for example). Not a long list this time, but a couple of interesting ones.


• The Alpine Fellowship seeks stories of up to 2,500 words on the theme of ‘Freedom’. It’s also free to enter, but first prize is a massive £10,000 plus a trip to their annual symposium, so this is one you really want to go in for. There’s not much time, though, as the deadline is 1 April!
• The prestigious Bath short story award is for stories up to 2,200 words, with a top prize of £1,200 and an entry fee of £9. The deadline is 11 April.
• The Fabula competition allows you up to 6,000 words. The prize is $500 and entry is $10: stories must be in by 14 April.
Desperate Literature wants pieces up to 2,000 words and offers a prize of €1,500. Entry is €20 and the deadline is 15 April.
Writefluence wants stories about ‘Mr Rosewood’: they provide pictures of the jolly old gent but you are free to imagine the details – 2,000 to 2,500 words. The only prize is publication, but then the entry fee is only a modest 150 rupees (about £1.50). The deadline is 15 April.
• The Brick Lane Bookshop is running its regular competition again, with a top prize of £1,000 and an entry fee of £10. You can go up to 5,000 words and you have until 19 April, but must be a UK resident.
Forever Endeavour want stories up to 3,000 words. Half the entry fee goes to Young Minds, a charity supporting young people’s mental health: the basic fee is £5 but you can pay £10 if you want to contribute more. The deadline is 25 April.
Anthology is looking for stories up to 1,500 words on the theme of ‘courage’. It costs €10 to enter and the prize is €500. The deadline is 30 April, or if you pay €15 you get a deadline of 31 August.
• Also with a deadline of 30 April, The Ghost Story wants, well, guess what. Actually any story with a paranormal element is OK: it could even be magic realism, and they like stuff that pushes the boundaries. You can go up to 10,000 words for an entry fee of $20 and might win $1,500
• The Tom Howard/John H Reid contest is for stories up to 6,000 words. The entry fee is $20 and top prize a generous $3,000: the deadline is again 30 April.


Good luck if you enter any of these; if you are longlisted or win, please do let me know.

Dec (and Jan) Comps

Here’s my look at writing competitions I might enter during the coming month.

  • The Exisle Academy is running an interesting competition for ‘Undiscovered Gems’ – a short story based on your unpublished book. It’s free to enter, and you could win $500. The deadline is 1 December.
  • Breakwater Review look for stories up to 4,000 words that ‘breathe freshness to the form’: £10 to enter and the top prize is £1,000. The deadline is 1 December.
  • MONO. want stories on the theme ‘scars’, of up to 3,000 words. Entry is £6, first prize £300, and the deadline is 3 December.
  • Bardsy also want 3,000 words, by 13 December, on the theme of an exchange of gifts. Entry is free and the top prize is $399 plus a year’s membership.
  • Nowhere has a competition for travel writing with a strong sense of people, time, or place: it can be up to 5,000 words and must be submitted by 16 December. The entry fee is $20, with a prize of $1,000.
  • Interact Stroke Support is running the Ruth Rendell competition for a story that can be used to entertain people in hospital: the winner will be commissioned to write four more stories over the course of the year and be paid £1,000. The story, no more than 1,000 words, should presumably be positive in tone. The deadline is 21 December and the entry fee is £15.
  • The Orna Ross prize is for a green novel, ie one that shows possible futures in which our environmental problems have been solved. They want three chapters, it’s free to enter and they offer a prize of £1,000. There’s no chance I could meet the deadline of 30 December, but I mention it because apparently 90% of entries were rejected last time: they simply didn’t meet the criteria (eg they portrayed unsolved problems). So I reckon if you have a ms that really ticks the boxes, you’ve got a great chance.

All the rest have a deadline of 31 December. 

  • You may feel uneasy about a competition that bears the name of L Ron Hubbard, but the quarterly Writers of the Future contest does not seem to have anything to do with Scientology. It’s for SF stories up to 17,000 words, is free to enter, and has a prize of $1,000 which could even turn into $5,000 if you go on to win best of the year.
  • The Lascaux Review looks for stories of up to 10,000 words, with an entry fee of $15. Top prize is $1,000 plus a very nice bronze medal!
  • Boulevard Magazine offers a prize of $1,500 for stories up to 8,000 words: the entry fee is $16
  • Those nice (planet-eating?) people at Globe Soup are once again running their classic flash competition (up to 800 words) for stories relating to a location which is only revealed once you’re signed up. It’s £3/£5/£12 to enter and you could win £1,000. Don’t forget their ongoing seven-day writing challenges, either!

I am going into hospital for major surgery in early December and will be out of action for some time, so I’m afraid there will be no update on January competitions. Ones you may want to keep in mind include Secret Attic’s regular contest, the Mogford competition for food-related stories, the prestigious Manchester award, the Fish memoir competition and the Parracombe prize. Otherwise, why not keep an eye on the helpful big list Globe Soup have put together here?

See you next year!

Update: my operation was cancelled – I don’t yet know when it will be rescheduled, but in the meantime I’m not up to much.

November 2021 competitions

Here’s my regular look at writing competitions I might enter during the coming month (so no poetry or competitions not open to UK writers, for example). 

  • The Caledonia Novel Award asks for your first twenty pages and a synopsis (not necessarily about Scotland): the entry fee is £25 and you could win £1,500, plus a special trophy and a place on a week’s residential course at Moniack Mhor in the Scottish Highlands. The deadline is 1 November.
  • With the same deadline, the Briar Cliff Review looks for stories up to 5,000 words: entry $20, top prize $1,000.
  • The John Steinbeck Award has exactly the same specs and deadline.
  • You could write for the Rain Fiction Podcast on the subject of ‘ghosts of the past’ – re-emerging objects that change current lives. It’s free, the prize is $50 (besides being podcast). A word count around 2,000 is suggested. The deadline is 7 November.
  • The BPA Pitch prize offers the chance to present your novel to literary agents, but entry will cost you £10. You’ll need 500 words and a synopsis (and I expect you’d do well to have your elevator pitch and all the rest ready too). The deadline is 14 November.
  • So to Speak has the same deadline for stories up to 4,000 words: entry is $9 and top prize $500.
  • Carve Magazine is looking for up to 5,000 words by 15 November for a top prize of $1,000, entry $17.
  • The Wenlock Olympian Society wants stories up to 2,500 words. It’s £5 for one, £8 for two, or an economical £12 for three entries. Top prize £150. The deadline is 15 November.
  • The Writer’s Digest offers lots of prizes. The top one is a generous $3,000 plus publication and an invitation to their conference, but writers in each of the first twenty-five places will get at least a $50 gift certificate, which is really nice. They want up to 1,500 words, and entry, by 15 November, costs $25.
  • With the same deadline, the Short Story Workshop looks for up to 5,000 words for its first ever competition, with an entry fee of $2.50: the prize is $75 but your work will also be podcast (everybody’s doing it).
  • Etched Onyx will take up to 6,000 words, with a fee of $11 and prize of $350. The winner will be published and, guess what, podcast. The deadline is 26 November.
  • Narrative are looking for various different kinds of writing. Short stories may be up to a weighty 15,000 words, with an entry fee of $27 and a prize of $2,500. No mention of a podcast opportunity. The deadline is 30 November.
  • Again by 30 November, the George Garrett competition wants completed manuscripts of novels or short story collections, between 40,000 and 120,000 words. Entry is $28, and you could win $1,000 and a publishing contract.
  • Last but definitely not least, the prestigious Fish competition is with us again, looking for up to 5,000 words. Entry is €20 and the top prize is €1,000, plus publication in the anthology and invitation to a five-day workshop in Ireland.  The deadline is 30 November

If you get anywhere in one of these competitions, do let me know!

October ’21 Competitions

Here are the writing competitions with deadlines in October that I might enter – so mainly short stories and novels, with no poetry or flash.

  • The Jeffrey E. Smith contest wants stories up to 8,500 words: the entry fee is $25 and top prize is $5,000, with a deadline of 1 October.
  • With the same deadline, the Grindstone International Novel Prize needs 25 pages of a complete novel plus a synopsis. Entry is £18, first prize is £1,000.
  • Zoetrope wants literary stories up to 5,000 words. Entry is $30, the prize is $1,000, and again the deadline is 1 October.
  • Galley Beggar Press offer £2,000 for stories up,to 6,000 words, with an entry fee of £10 – the deadline/ is 10 October.
  • The Calvino Prize is for pieces in the magic realist spirit of Italo Calvino. Submit up to 25 pages  by15 October with a fee of $25 for a top prize of $2,000. (I was a finalist last year, but I’ve got no inspiration this time round.)
  • Black Spring want those strange, imperfect but promising pieces from your bottom drawer, of 40 to 1,000 pages. Entry is free, and the winner gets a publication contract.
  • The Create the Future prize seeks writing about climate change of up to 2,000 words that addresses one of three questions they pose. Entry is free: the winner will be published online and (if in the UK) receive a ‘bundle’ of Delphis Eco cleaning products. Deadline 17 October.
  • Omnidawn want fabulist stories – quite hefty ones, between 7,500 and 17,500 words. Entry is $18, and the winner gets $1,000 plus 100 copies of the printed version (a chapbook). What would I do with 100 copies? The deadline is 18 October.
  • Beartooth Anthony  is looking for your best Halloween campfire stories, of any length, the scarier the better. Entry is free, and the winner gets a really nice hammock. Enter by 22 October.
  • This year the Dinesh Alirajah contest is looking for crime stories between 2,000 and 6,000 words. It’s free, and you could win £500. The deadline is 29 October.

All the rest have a deadline of 31 October.

  • The Bedford competition is for stories up to 3,000 words and the top prize is £1,000. Entry is £7.50 or a bargain three goes for £15.
  • Southport Writer’s Circle want 2,000 words. Entry is £3 and first prize is £150.
  • Cranked Anvil look for a slim 1,500 words: entry is £5 and first prize £150.
  • Finally, the Dillydoun International Fiction Prize offers $2,000 for a story up to a chunky 8,000 words: entry is $25.
  • A late addition – the Fiction Factory competition has a maximum word count of 3,000 and a deadline of 31 October. Entry is £6 (discounts for multiple entries)

Good luck – if you get anywhere with these, do let me know!

Wit to Won’t

I think I may owe an apology to anyone who may have entered the Wit to Woo contest after seeing it on my list. I believe they were originally supposed to announce a short list in mid July. On 29 July, their Facebook page claimed winners had been notified and an announcement was coming soon. Comments were barred.
Nothing has happened since except that the website has gone down. In effect they have disappeared, and it seems we must assume the worst.

September 2021 Competitions

Here’s my regular look at writing competitions I might enter during the coming month. The ones I know of seem to be grouped in the later part of the month (which I suppose means more time, though things could be hectic on 30th!). This month we’ve got several unusual formats, and quite a few freebies.

  • The Lee Smith Novel Prize is free to enter (yay!) though you can make a voluntary donation. You only need a minimum of 25,000 words, which is pretty slim for a novel. Top prize is $1,000 and publication. 
  • Those lively people at Globe Soup are running another 7-day contest. You register in advance (by 6 Sept), and then get assigned a theme and genre for your story, which must be written in 7 days! Word counts can be up to 2,000, the prize is £500, and again, it’s free (yay again). Looks like fun, but I don’t know how I would manage with some genres.
  • Impress invite submissions of a proposal, synopsis and sample chapter (up to 6,000 words) of your book. The entry fee is £25, the prize is £500, and you might be published. The deadline is 13 September.
  • Dream of Shadows wants stories about Halloween Monsters. The entry fee is £6 with a prize of £300, max 1,500 words and the deadline is 15 September.
  • You think seven days isn’t much time? The Mollie Savage Memorial Writing Contest (formerly Three Cheers and a Tiger) from Toasted Cheese  is a 48-hour short story writing contest which runs twice a year. Topic and word count will be revealed on 17th September (we know it’s fantasy/SF) and entries must be in by 19th. First prize is $35, or $50 if they get more than fifty entries. It’s free (three yays!).
  • Streetcake Magazine want up to 2,500 words and they want them experimental in style. Entry is free (what’s going on this month?); no cash prize but some mentoring, networking, and a book bundle. The deadline is 20th September.
  • Dream Quest One offer a prize of $500 for a story of up to five pages, with an entry fee of $10 and a deadline of 22nd September.
  • Beechmore are looking for pieces of writing on the theme ‘Perspective’, and their top prize is £200 plus a year’s supply of their journals. And yes – it’s free to enter! The deadline is 25th September.
  • Literary Taxidermy is back! This is the contest where you are given the first and last lines of an existing work and you have to write a new story to fit between them. This year the first and last lines are from a short story by Katherine Mansfield. The maximum word count is 2,500, the entry fee is $10, and the top prize is $500. The deadline is 26th September.

All the others have a deadline of 30th September.

  • The First Page Challenge calls for, guess what, the first page of your novel. The entry fee is CA$5 and the top prize is CA$70 plus online publication and access to a course.
  • LWB, by contrast, want the hundredth page. You can enter a novella, but it must be at least 20,000 words. The entry fee is £7, and first prize is £50: you also get four books and  a report on your work.
  • The annual Hammond House competition is back. As before the maximum word count is 5,000. The entry fee is £10, the top prize is £1,000 and the theme is ‘Stardust’.
  • The Juniper Prize is for short story collections of 15 to 30 pages. The entry fee is $30: top prize is $1000.
  • Red Hen want a minimum of 150 pages: the entry fee is $25 and again the top prize is $1000.

I’ve been doing these posts for a year now – how time flies! Good luck if you enter any of these competitions; if you are long-listed, win, or get some recognition, please do let me know.

August 2021 Competitions

H04A7B972-83E8-42FA-92C8-5F8B122D1A2Bere are the writing competitions with deadlines in August that I might enter – though to be honest I have reservations about a couple.

  • Grindstone wants stories of up to 3,000 words; the entry fee is £12 and the top prize is £500 – deadline 1 August.
  • Then the mighty Costa competition is back. As always, there are two rounds. The judges pick three stories and then the public votes to decide the winner. The word limit is 4,000, and the top prize is £3,500 plus immense prestige. Best of all, it’s free to enter – but the deadline is 2 August, so we need to get moving.
  • Future Folklore also offer free entry for stories up to 2,000 words, and offer a top prize of $400. The story must be ‘cli fi’ – fiction about climate change. My impression is that they’re looking more for optimistic views of how we might deal with the problems, rather than anything bleakly dystopic. We’ve got until 8 August.
  • Gival want chunky sized stories – 5,000 to 15,000 words. Entry is $25 and the prize is $1,000, with a deadline of 8 August.
  • Arena fantasy magazine asks for up to 3,000 words inspired by a picture (of a medieval army in action). Entry is £10, but the top prize is only £100, which doesn’t seem a very generous ratio.
  • The VS Pritchett competition run by the Royal Society of Literature, no less, is for stories up to 4,000 words; entry is £8 and the prize is £1,000. The deadline is 20 August.
  • The Val Wood prize has the theme ‘Now and Then’, intended to mark the end of lockdown and reflect times of positive change. Stories can be up to 2,000 words long, and it’s free to enter, with a prize of £100. The deadline is 28 August.
  • The Masters Review asks for stories under 6,000 words. The entry fee is $20, the top prize $3,000, and the deadline is 30 August.

All the others have a deadline of 31 August.

  • Aesthetica, that bastion of intellectual art and design, wants stories of up to 2,000 words. The entry fee is £18 and you could win £2,500 and a consultation with Redhammer Management (which I believe is Peter Cox of Litopia).
  • Blue Mesa has a generous word limit of 6,000: entry is $12 and the prize is $500.
  • The Exeter Story Prize has the same limit, and the same fee and prize, except in pounds instead of dollars; you’re allowed up to 5,000 words.
  • NAWG wants stories up to 2,000 words, with an entry fee of £5 and a prize of £200.
  • SaveAs, of Canterbury, allows up to 3,500 words, on the theme ‘horizons’ in honour of TS Eliot (no, I don’t really get it, either). Entry is £4 and the prize £200.
  • Seven Hills asks for up to 3,000 words. The entry fee is $30 and first prize is $150 – an even meaner ratio than Arena’s! (Update – they increased the first prize to $300 and extended the deadline to the end of September.)
  • Finally, if you have a whole collection of stories, running to between 130 and 180 pages, St Lawrence would like to see it. $27 is the fee and the prize is $1,000.

July 2021 Competitions

163FD447-50E2-4524-A839-A0AD1D070605 Here’s my regular look at writing competitions I might enter during the coming month (so no poetry or competitions not open to UK writers, for example). The majority have deadlines at the end of the month, so you mostly have a bit of time to work on a story.
  • Ambit seeks stories of up to 1,000 words (arguably flash fiction) on the classic Ovid/Kafka theme of ‘Metamorphosis’; the entry fee is £6 and the top prize is £500. You’ll need to get writing because the deadline is 1 July.
  • The Gutsy Great Novelist Page One competition requires only the first page of your novel-in-progress, by 7 June. The entry fee is $20 and the top prize $1,000.
  • The H.G.Wells prize is for stories between 1,500 and 5,000 words on the theme ‘mask’ with a fee of £21 and top prize of £500; the deadline is 12 July.
  • The Doris Gooderson prize from Wrekin Writers is for stories up to 1,200 words in length. The entry fee is £5, the prize £200, and the deadline is 13 July.
All the others have a deadline of 31 July.
  • The Novel London competition asks for your first 3,000 words plus a synopsis. It costs £11 to enter and the top prize is £500 (plus mentoring).
  • The Olga Sinclair Prize, from Norwich Writers’ Circle, is for stories on the theme ‘lost’. The word count limit is 2,000, the entry fee £9, and top prize £200.
  • The Seán O’Faoláin prize from Munster Literature is for stories up to 3,000 words, with an entry fee of €18 and prize of €2,000.
  • The Fiction Factory First Chapter competition requires, guess what, the first chapter of your completed novel. Although you can send a chapter of any length, it seems only the first 5,000 words will be taken into account. The entry fee is £18 and the top prize is £500.
  • Fabula Press is back and wants stories of up to 6,000 words; the fee is $10 and top prize $500.
  • The regular Cranked Anvil competition comes round again next month with a word limit of 1,500, entry fee of £5 and prize of £150.
  • Anthology offers a prize of €500 for stories up to 1,500 words on the theme ‘memories’.
  • HISSAC (Highlands and Islands, but you don’t have to be Scottish) wants stories up to 2,000 words; the entry fee is £5 and the prize £200.
  • Finally, you need a humorous piece of up to 2,500 words to enter the unique To Hull and Back competition. The entry fee is £15 and the cash prize is £1,200. In addition, a selection of stories will be published in an anthology, and the winning author’s face will be photoshopped into a dramatic picture showing them on a motorbike journey to Hull (think Meatloaf album cover). In addition, the organiser will strap the winner’s copy of the anthology to the front of his Harley Davidson and ride from Bristol to Hull and back, returning the book with whatever damage the elements may have inflicted along the way. I said it was unique!
Good luck if you enter any of these; if you are longlisted or win, please do let me know.