October 2022 contests

Here are the writing competitions I might enter with deadlines in October. 

  • The American Literary Review wants stories up to a generous 8,000 words. Entry is $15 and the top prize is $1,000. Deadline 1 October.
  • The Tennessee Williams and New Orleans Literary Festival has a word limit which is only slightly lower at 7,000, and their deadline is the same.. Besides $1,500, the top prize includes a pass to the festival with accommodation and air fare within the USA. Entry is $25.
  • Dillydoun will also accept up to 8,000 words, and entry is again $25, but their top prize is a full $5,000. The contest closes on 2 October.
  • With Zoetrope we’re down to the still-generous limit of 5,000 words. Entry is $30, top prize $1,000 and the deadline is 3 October.
  • You have a bit more time to polish your entry for the Calvino prize, for stories in the magic realist spirit of Italo Calvino (and if you haven’t read him, you really should). Entries can be up to 25 pages long, it’s $25 to enter and you could win $3,000. Oh, and the deadline is 15 October.
  • At last a British competition, from Galley Beggar Press, with a maximum word count of 6,000, an entry fee of £10, and first prize of £2,500. Deadline 16 October.
  • Omnidawn want longer pieces: between 7,500 and 17,500 words: they must be fabulist in character. Entry is $18 and the top prize is $1,000: the deadline is 17 October.
  • The Eyelands prize has several categories, including collections of prose or poetry up to 250 pages long. Winners get a week in Athens and a specially-made ceramic. Entry is €22 and the deadline is 20 October.
  • Creative Mind is an organisation that has apparently been around since the seventies, but this is its first writing competition (its website still has some rough edges too, with posts labelled ‘example blog post’ and bits of lorem ipsum style boilerplate text). Stories of up to 1,500 words must be on the theme ‘travel’: entry is £3 and the prize £50. Deadline 26 October.
  • Writefluence offers only publication, but then the entry fee is only INR 150 (currently about £1.66). There’s a 3,000 word maximum and the deadline is 30 October.

The rest of the list have a deadline of 31 October (but see below).

  • The Bedford competition has a limit of 3,000 words, an entry fee of £7.50 and a prize of £1,000.
  • SaveAs (which always sounds like a discount store to me) wants stories on the theme ‘Myth’. Up to 3,500 words, entry £3, prize £200.
  • Letter Review wants up to 2,000 words: entry $20, prize $650.
  • Fiction Factory is back, asking for maximum 3,000 words, with a fee of £7 and a prize of £500.
  • Sheila-Na-Gig wants literary pieces (A Sheila Na Gig is an obscene carving of a woman, often found on early medieval churches. Probably not a clue to what you should write about, though.), up to 5,000 words, entry $3, prize $100
  • Southport Writer’s Circle want up to 2,000 words, entry £3, prize £200

Finally a special mention for Globe Soup’s Historical Fiction Challenge.. To enter you buy a ticket of your chosen colour – this determines the period in which your story must be set (it doesn’t need to be historical in any stronger sense). You can try more than one colour and some hardy souls have bought them all. 4,000 words, entry fee £12 (£2.50 or £15 if early or late): prize £1,000, deadline 28 October. I single it out because Globe Soup is constantly running writing challenges and contests, many free, on its two Facebook sites (one completely free, the other for those who have entered a paid competition). They have a lively and supportive community going where you can always get feedback and advice, and it’s well worth checking out.

If you get somewhere with any of the contests above, do let me know!

September ‘22 Competitions

Here’s my regular look at writing competitions I might enter during the coming month. This time the majority have deadlines right at the end of the month. 

  • Among the early ones is On the Premises magazine, which wants stories of 1-5,000 words by 2 September. It’s free to enter and first prize is $250. The theme is ‘Objects in Motion’: the main characters must be in constant motion (being on Earth, which is orbiting the Sun, is not enough).
  • City Academy is again running its unique competition. The deadline is 5 September, but they issue a series of prompts and exercises, making the whole thing almost like a mini writing course. This probably makes the £15 entry fee rather good value, and you can win £1,500 and a voucher worth £300. The maximum word count is 4,000.
  • Terrain wants stories up to 5,000 words: entry is $20, the top prize $1,000, and the deadline is again 5 September.
  • The Jean Golding Institute wants stories up to 4,000 words on ‘The Secret Life of Data: entry is free, but you could win £1,000. The deadline is 12 September.
  • The annual contest in memory of Dinesh Allirajah is on the theme ‘Music’ this year. It’s free, the top prize is £500 and length must be 2-7,500 words. The competition closes on 22 September.
  • Juxtaprose wants stories up to 7,000 words: entry is $15, first prize $1,000, and the deadline is 26 September.

All the rest have a deadline of 30 September.

  • Creative Writing Ink want stories up to 3,000 words: entry is £9 and top prize £1,000
  • Ovacome is a charity providing support to sufferers from ovarian cancer: your story, of up to 1,500 words, does not have to be about cancer or health, but should be on the theme ‘Perspective’. Your £5 entry fee will help fund the charity’s good work, though with a first prize of £250 I suppose they’ll need at least fifty entries before they get into profit.
  • Those nice people up in Norwich are once again running the Olga Sinclair competition. 2,000 words, £9 entry, with a £500 top prize. This year there is no theme.
  • A little further north, those other nice people at Hammond House, in Grimsby, offer £1,000 for stories up to 5,000 words on the theme ‘changes’. The entry fee is £10.
  • Louise Walters is again running her unique ‘Page 100’ contest, which requires, well, just page 100 from your novel or novella (which must be at least 20,000 words long). It’ll cost you £6.50 and you could win a mentoring deal (I think to be honest I should prefer money and/or publication, but no doubt Louise, who made herself into both a writer and a publisher, would be a great mentor).
  • Ghost Story is again calling for, guess what, ghost stories, though anything supernatural or magic realist is acceptable: they like stuff that expands the boundaries of the form. Up to 10,000 words, $20 to enter and $1,500 for the winner.
  • If you thought Grimsby was in the North, what about the good folk of Crowvus, right up at the top end of Scotland? Once again they would like a Christmas ghost story in the good old tradition. Up to 4,000 words, just £3 to enter, and a prize of £100.
  • Blue Mesa will allow up to 6,000 words: entry is $15 and the prize $500.
  • Seven Hills only wants 3,000 words but will charge you $35 to enter for a prize of $300. (Is an entry fee which is more than 10% of the prize a bit much?)
  • Last but very much not least are those old stalwarts at Henshaw Press with their regular competition. 2,000 words, £6 to enter, and £200 prize.Good luck if you enter any of these, and do let us know if you get anywhere!

August 2022 competitions

A selection of writing competitions with deadlines in August that I might enter.

  • First, I got the deadline for the Reader Berlin contest wrong last time (unless they changed it surreptitiously…) it doesn’t close until 15 August.
  • Gival want longer stories of 5,000 to 15,000 words: entry is $25 and first prize $1,000: deadline 8 August
  • If you write SF, the NextGen Science competition offers a $200 prize, entry fee $20. Maximum length is 15 pages (I assume you’re not allowed to write in unspaced 8-point font on A3) and the competition closes on 15 August
  • The Masters Review (which always sounds a bit sinister to me) offers $3,000 for a story up to 6,000 words: entry is $20, deadline 28 August
  • Those nice people at Exisle Academy are offering a prize of training and resources valued at $2,000. The competition is free to enter and they want pieces up to 1,500 words on ‘the story I needed to have read’. Get your entry in by 28 August.
  • Etched Onyx are back, looking for stories up to 5,000 words with a prize of $500. The entry fee is $7.50 if you’re early, or $12.50 later, and the deadline is 28 August

All the rest have a deadline of 31 August

  • Aesthetica offers a prize of £2,500, for an entry fee of £12. The maximum word count is 3,000.
  • NAWG wants stories up to 2,000 words: entry is £5 and first prize is £200
  • The Willesden Herald, that august but largely imaginary newspaper, offers £300 for up to 7,000 words: entry is £5.
  • Anthology are looking for a brief 1,500 words at most, and offer a €500 prize. The theme is ‘courage’. Entry is €15
  • Hysteria have the theme ‘peace’. The top prize is £300 and entry £3: the maximum word count is a mere 1,000

Good luck if you enter any of these – if you get anywhere with them, do let me know.

July 2022 Competitions

Here’s another look at writing competitions I might enter during the coming month.  I’m afraid the first three are right at the beginning of the month, so if you haven’t been working on them already (or have something in stock) you might need to move quickly. It’s usually OK to enter the same story for more than one competition (so long as you withdraw other entries if you win one) but check the details.

  • The Royal Society of Literature’s V.S.Pritchett prize is for stories of 2-4,000 words: the entry fee is £7.50 and the top prize is £1,000. The deadline is 1 July.
  • Cranked Anvil have an interesting prompt competition for a story between 750 and 1,000 words. The story must take place within a 24 hour time frame, weather must play a role, and it must include the words STOOL, CONSULT, and LANGUID. The fee is £5 and the prize £150. The deadline is 1 July, but if you’re too languid to take to your stool for that one, there’s also their regular short story contest, for which any story up to 1,500 words is OK. Fee and prize are the same, but you’ve got until 31 July.
  • The CAS competition seems to be very much the personal enterprise of Catherine Assheton-Stones, and good for her. The maximum word count is 4,000, the fee is £7, and the prize is £800. The deadline is 1 July, but the competition closes earlier if Catherine gets 230 entries, presumably the most she can read.
  • The Faversham Literary Festival Competition gives you a bit more time, with a deadline of 10 July. Maximum 1,500 words, fee of £8 and prize of £350. It’s judged by Nicholas Royle, who besides writing his own novels and stories, judges the big Manchester competition and edits the prestigious annual Best British Short Stories and more. Clearly a good person to impress.
  • The H.G.Wells prize is for stories between 1,500 and 5,000 words on the theme ‘switch’ with a fee of £10 and top prize of £500; the deadline is 11 July.
  • Literary Taxidermy is back, with its unique competition. Your story must use the first and last lines of a nominated work (a slightly bigger selection is offered this year). The word limit is 2,000, the top prize is $500 and the fee is $10: this year, you can opt to have part of the fee donated to a charity supporting Ukraine. The deadline is 11 July.
  • The Doris Gooderson prize, run by Wrekin Writers, is for stories up to 1,200 words in length. The entry fee is £5, the prize £200, and the deadline is 12 July.

All the others have a deadline of 31 July.

  • The  Reader Berlin offers a three-week residency (guess where) as its first prize. Entry is  €10 and you need up to 3,000 words on the theme ‘escape’.
  • Novel London competition asks for your first 3,000 words plus a synopsis. It costs £11 to enter and the top prize is £500.
  • The Seán O’Faoláin prize, part of Munster’s lively Literature Centre, is for stories up to 3,000 words, with an entry fee of €19 and prize of €3,000 plus a week at Anam Cara retreat.
  • Hastings Book Festival is looking for 2,500 words: entry £u.50, prize £250.
  • 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.

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

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.

Pachydamned

My story ’Pachydamned’ got an Honourable Mention in the Literary Taxidermy competition – the one where you take the first and last lines of a novel and write a new story to fit between them. I’ve added it to the ’Read Now’ page.

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!