January 2023 Competitions

A selection of writing competitions I might enter during the coming month, with no pretence of being a comprehensive list.

  • The Exeter Novel Prize requires your first 10,000 words and a synopsis: £20 to enter, with a prize of £1,000. The deadline is 1 January (though I’d be surprised if anyone is reading your excerpt on 2 January).
  • The European Society of Literature is running the European Writing Prize. Brits can still enter in spite of Brexit (in fact anyone  from anywhere). Entry is free, and the prize is €50 plus life membership (and think of the prestige!) They want between 1,500 and 3,500 words on the theme of ‘Anxiety’. To help with getting into the mood, the deadline is 1 January. They say results will be out by the end of the month, which is a bit hard to believe.
  • If you’ve got an excess of anxiety after that, you could try the Disquiet Literary Prize. 25 pages max, entry $15, prize $1,000, and for this one you’ve got until 2 January.
  • Cheering up, we have the regular Henshaw competition: as ever, it’s for 2,000 words, entry £6, prize £200. The deadline is 6 January.
  • What about trying non-fiction? The Nine Dots prize is for an essay on ‘Why the Rule of Law has become so fragile’. Really they are looking for something that will be developed into a full-length book. You need to provide 3,000 words, a structure, and a justification statement, but you’ve got until 23 January. Entry is free. Why are you thinking of non-fiction all of a sudden, you ask: well, it just seems attractive. The prize is $100,000.
  • The Bournemouth (Fresher) Writing Prize wants 3,000 words. It’s £7 to enter and you could win £500 plus feedback and a professional recording of your work. The deadline is 27 January.
  • The Face Project only wants 1,000 words and entry is free, but the only prize is publication, albeit in a unique new production. Your story must be inspired by one of the 28 pictures of faces on their site. Deadline is 29th (not 28th?)
  • The Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize has a limit of 3000 words: entry is $25, top prize $1,000 and the deadline is 30 January.

The rest all have a deadline of 31 January.

  • The Masters Review is back with its winter award. Up to 6,000 words, $20 to enter, and top prize is $3,000.
  • .The Parracombe prize has come back with a higher word limit – 2023 instead of last year’s 2022 (yes, I see what you did, Parracombe!) Entry is £5, the prize £150.
  • Askew’s Word on the Lake festival offers a prize of $200 (Canadian) for stories up to 1,500 words: entry is $15.
  • Finally the swamp pink prize from Crazy Horse wants up to 25 pages: entry is $20 and the prize $2,000.

If you get somewhere with one of these, do let me know

December 2022 Competitions

Here are the writing competitions I might enter with deadlines in December. I haven’t found all that many this month, especially British competitions. Most of these are American ones, but I believe they are all open to international entries.

  • Chimera are looking for fantasy novels (at least 50,000 words) submit the first 10,000 words with a one-page synopsis. Entry is £6 and the prize is a whacking £2,500 It’s.probably  too late to start writing, though: the deadline is 1 December
  • The St Louis Writers’ Guild has been running its annual competition for over a hundred years: previous winners include Tennessee Williams. However, first prize is a mere $50. Honourable Mentions get $10, which is actually less than the $15 entry fee. The word limit is 3,000 and again the deadline is 1 December.
  • Crazy Cats Theatre want a chaotic and/or violent story about the twelve days of Christmas, of up to 2,500 words. Entry is £10, the prize £100, and twelve stories will be published online. The deadline is 6 December. 
  • Omnidawn is back, again looking for fabulist stories between 7,500 and 17,500 words. $18 to enter, and a respectable prize of $1,000. Deadline 6 December.
  • Third Coast want stories up to 9,000 words long: entry is $15 and top prize is again $1,000. The deadline is 15 December.
  • Writers Digest has a ‘Short short story’ contest, for pieces up to 1,500 words (hey, I’ve read shorter). $35 entry, and a decent prize of $3,000. Get your entry in by 15 December.
  • Sunspot Lit are running a ‘Goldilocks Zone’ competition for stories that have the balance between fine literary writing and popular appeal just right. Up to 2,500 words, entry is $9.50 and the prize is $200. The deadline is 19 December..
  • The Kind Writers are looking for like-minded folk. They want stories up to 3,500 words (though they are open to a range of creative works), with an entry fee of $10 and a prize of $150. You must provide a short biography setting out the acts of kindness which qualify you to compete. The deadline is 30 December.

The last three all have a deadline of 31 December.

  • Write Time is for over-sixties (why yes, I really am that old). 1,500 words, entry £3, prize £50.
  • The Lascaux Review offers $1,000 for stories up to 10,000 words: entry is $15.
  • Boulevard magazine’s Emerging Writers competition allows up to 8,000 words and their entry fee is $16: the prize is $1,500

Let me know if you succeed with any of these, and Merry Christmas!

Dillydoun 2022

My story ‘A Voice Across the Coughing Brine’ has reached the Dillydoun Review long list!

The title is a quote from a Mervyn Peake poem…

A voice across the coughing brine
Has sewn your spirit into mine!
O love it is for me to die
Upon your bosom noisily,
Ah pity me, ah pity me,
What is it all about?
What is it all about?

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 11 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!

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!