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.
Here are the writing competitions I might
enter in March (eg, no poetry, YA or flash – a couple of really short shorts , though. Below a thousand words is a bit of a squeeze for me).
It looks like a busy month.
- The Bridgend Writer’s Circle offers a first prize of £100 for stories between 1,500 and 1,800 words – entry fee £5 and a deadline of 1 March
- The Elmbridge Literary Competition seeks stories of up to 1,400 words on the theme of ‘music’. The entry fee is £5 and top prize £250; the deadline is 5 March.
- The Stella Kupferberg prize is one of those tight ones, with a limit of a mere 750 words. It’s associated with American public radio; besides a prize of $1,000, the winner gets their story professionally read and gains free entry to a ten-week course (not sure if this is accessible online). Entry is $25 and the deadline is 5 March.
- The Fowey Festival offers a prize of £200 for a story on the theme of ‘breaking point’. The entry fee is £10 and the deadline is 7 March.
- Wild Hunt magazine is celebrating its fifth birthday by running its first competition. A reasonable 3,000 word limit applies, and a fee of £4 with a prize of £200. No theme, but stories should embrace the ethos and mission of the magazine, which ‘celebrates the weird, surreal, the other, and imaginary worlds’. Deadline 9 March.
- The Nelligan Prize is for a story of 10-50 pages or 2,500 to a whopping 12,500 words. Entry is $15, the top prize is $2,000 and entries must be in by 15 March.
- Harper’s Bazaar wants stories up to 2,200 words on the subject of ‘Threads’. It’s free to enter, but there is no money prize, just publication and two nights at the Mitre Hotel in Hampton Court. The deadline is 15 March.
- I love this one. Silver Apples offers a prize of €100 for a story of 1,500 to 5,000 words, with an entry fee of €10. All entries must have been previously rejected by publishers or failed in an earlier competition! The deadline is 17 March.
- You’ll need a full completed novel manuscript (at least 50,000 words) for the Daniel Goldsmith First Novel Prize. Entry is £25 and you can win £1,000. The deadline is 30 March.
Then as usual we have a clutch of competitions with deadlines at the end of the month.
- The regular Henshaw competition requires stories up to 2,000 words; entry is £6 and the first prize is £200.
- The Short Fiction/University of Essex prize has an entry fee of £7 and a prize of £500 for stories up to 5,000 words. There is an additional prize for ‘Wild Writing’ which goes to an entry on nature/the environment.
- The Ernest Hemingway Short Fiction Prize is run by Fiction Southeast and apparently has no direct connection with the author or his granddaughter Lorian, who used to run a regular short story contest. Enter a story up to 1,500 words for $10 and you could win $200.
- The Clay Reynolds Prize is for a novella (20,000 to 50,000 words) and offers an advance of $500 and a publishing contract. There’s an entry fee of $20.
- Finally, the Bethlehem Writers want a story with an element of mystery, up to 2,000 words. They plan to produce an anthology of stories that are ‘Sweet, funny and strange’. Entry is $15, first prize is $250.
Good Luck! If you win any of these, let me know!
Here are the writing competitions with February deadlines I’m considering. Not quite so many this month, which should give me a chance to catch up.
- Accenti is apparently a Canadian magazine with an Italian emphasis. Your piece can be on any topic. I sort of wonder whether it might need an Italian link, though it should definitely be in English. Non-fiction is allowed, but not poetry, plays, or essays. They’re looking for up to 2,000 words, the entry fee is $30 and the top prize $1,000. The deadline is 1 Feb.
- The Papatango play competition is back in a new form this year; normally the winner gets a full production and tour, but That Thing has made it difficult and for one year only they’re asking for an audio play, of 25 to 50 minutes (about the same number of pages. Entry is free and they provide substantial feedback to all entrants, which is a pretty good deal. There’ll be three winners this year with a top prize of £2,000 as well as audio production for all three. The deadline is 7 Feb.
- Another welcome freebie is the Artists and Writers Prize (yes, associated with the indispensable Yearbook). The top prize is an Arvon residential course, with publication on the website. These courses have a good reputation, but if you don’t want to go on one (as I don’t) the glory alone might not justify entering. Stories of up to 2,000 words are called for, and the deadline is 12 Feb.
- The Mary McCarthy Prize from Sarabande Books requires a manuscript of 150-200 pages, and an entry fee of $29. The winner gets $2,000 plus publication. The website gives a deadline of 15 Feb, but the Submittable page seems to say 21 Feb.
- My mind is slightly blown by the Puchi award. La Casa Encendida and Fulgencio Pimentel are looking for any kind of book project (comics, non-fiction, finished, unfinished, long, short, whatever), so long as it’s amazing. It can also be in any language, though at least a couple of pages and the supporting documents need to be in English. The prize is €8,000 plus publication and the deadline is 18 Feb.
- The Grace Paley Prize is part of the AWP award series; there’s an entry fee of $30 and a prize of $5,500 for stories of 150 to 300 pages; submit by 28 Feb.
- Finally, with the same deadline, the Scottish Arts Club wants stories of up to 2,000 words, with an entry fee of £10 and a top prize of £1,000. You do not have to be Scottish, though if you are, you’re eligible for another award.
The very best of luck – if you win any of these, please let me know!
Here are the writing competitions I might enter in January. I seem to have picked up more from the USA this time. Some of these have a bit of a local feel – I haven’t seen one with any actual restriction, but I feel a bit shy about entering a competition that has never previously been won by someone who wasn’t from North Carolina…
- The Exeter Novel Prize has a deadline of 1 January (I don’t believe they’ll get much reading done that day, though). First 10,000 words with a 500 word synopsis – first prize £500
- Also with a 1 Jan deadline, Crazyhorse magazine wants stories of 2,500 to 8,500 words or 25 pages. The entry fee is $3 and top prize is $2,000 plus publication in the magazine.
- Bayou magazine will give you marginally more time if you want to go in for the James Knudsen prize, with a deadline of 2 January. Submit stories up to 7,500 words; there’s an entry fee of $20 and a prize of $1,000 plus a year’s subscription.
- The regular Henshaw competition has a deadline of 6 January with a first prize of £200. They want up to 2,000 words and the entry fee is £6.
- The Mogford prize offers a whopping £10,000 for a story about food and drink, up to 2,500 words. The deadline is 13 January, with an entry fee of £15.
- The K Margaret Grossman award, run by Literal Latte journal, offers a prize of $1000 for stories of up to 10,000 words, deadline 15 January. There’s $10 entrance fee, or you can enter twice for $15. They say that all entries are considered for publication, but the journal appears to be in trouble. It hasn’t published since its Fall 2018 number, so some scepticism seems excusable.
- The Bournemouth Writing Prize (previously known as the Fresher Prize) seeks stories up to 3,000 words, offering a top prize of £500 plus feedback. Th entry fee is £7 and the deadline is 25 January.
Then we have the usual clutch of competitions with a deadline of the end of the month, 31 January.
- Mighty Pens have a modest top prize of a £50 M&S gift card – but also a certificate and publication in their magazine. They want 500 to 1,000 words on the theme of ‘Winter’ (or possibly ‘Tears in Winter’ – that’s also mentioned at one point).
- The Parracombe Prize has a word limit of 2,020 (see what they did there), a first prize of £100 and an entry fee of £5.
- Secret Attic’s Long Short Story competition (they do have a short one as well) requires stories of 1,500 to 3,000 words (not all that long, then). Entry fee is £3.00, top prize is £100 plus publication in their ‘booklet’.
- The Winter Anthology, by contrast, has no hang-ups about word counts: send us as much as you like, they say. The top prize is $1,000, with an entry fee of $11.00. The winner is published in the latest anthology, and finalists are also considered for publication. They warn that if entries are not good enough, they will not award a prize; their Submittable page says reassuringly that this has never happened, but their webpage says it happened last year…
- Finally, it’s a bit out of my comfort zone, but the Fish Short Memoir competition has an entry fee of €18 and a top prize of €1000, plus publication in the Fish anthology.
A bit early, but I wish you a productive and successful New Year!
Here’s my look at writing contests I’m thinking of entering next month.
I have to admit I’m still working on October competitions…
- The Caledonia Novel Award offers a top prize of £1,500, and for the best entrant from the UK and Ireland, a week-long course at the Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre. The judge is literary agent Laura Williams, who I believe is keen to find new talent; entrants cannot already have representation. They want the first 200 pages plus a 200 word synopsis (rather tight); the deadline is 1 November so you need to get moving quickly.
- Also with a 1 November deadline is the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. This is judged in regions (1. Africa, 2. Asia, 3. Canada and Europe, 4. Caribbean and 5. Pacific.); regional winners get £2,500, with the overall winner getting £5,000. Entries in certain languages other than English are permitted (no idea how they judge across languages, and not all Commonwealth languages are covered – not even Hindi, it seems, though you can write in Bengali). If a winning entry is a translation, the translator gets a small extra prize, which is nice. They are looking for 2-5,000 words, one entry per writer.
- Sutton Writers, that excellent group, invites Christmas ghost stories of up to 1,500 words, deadline Friday 13 November… In addition to online publication there will be a cash prize made up of the entry fees (£5 per story), so the more people enter, the bigger the prize!
- Tripfiction promotes books with a strong sense of location, offering members a database where they can find recommended books about any particular place. Their competition encourages you to write some more of that kind of thing. They’re looking for 750 to 3,000 words with a strong ‘sense of place’; they provide more detailed tips, but only after you’ve registered (free) and signed up to enter. Top prize is £300, the deadline is 15 November.
- Hope Mill Theatre is looking for plays of at least an hour’s length; top prize is £5,000 and a full performance. Finalists also get a scene performed and one-to-one mentoring sessions. You need to submit the script, a short biog, synopsis and character list (thought a character list was a standard part of a script anyway?) all by 27 November.
- Fiction Factory offers a top prize of £300 for stories up to 3,000 words, with a deadline of 30 November. Top stories will be published in an anthology. The judge is Tim Symonds, who writes stories about Sherlock Holmes, which might be a clue to what’s likely to go down well.
- Last but certainly not least we have the prestigious Fish Prize for stories of up to 5,000 words. Top prize is €3,000 plus a 5 day Short Story Workshop at the West Cork Literary Festival.
Second place brings a week at Anam Cara Writers’ Retreat and €300. Even the honourable mentions get €200, and the top ten stories will be published in an anthology. The deadline is 30 November.
A building that fills a whole world; an endless sequence of halls, all filled with statues. Here and there the sea has broken in and flooded or destroyed some of the great marble figures and massive stairways. And here lives one resourceful man who has contrived to live off fish, befriending the albatross and other birds who also live here. He is not quite alone. He regularly meets the Other, a man in smart suits, and together they try to obtain powerful magic. The Other jokingly calls him ‘Piranesi’; he knows this not his real name but does not mind. Piranesi believes there are probably only fifteen people in the world; the rest are all skeletons that he cares for respectfully.
This is the new novel from Susanna Clarke that we fans of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell have been waiting for so eagerly. We had The Ladies of Grace Adieu to keep us going, but nothing more substantial. Are we satisfied?
Well, the new novel is not a sequel, and as we eventually discover, it is set in the twenty-first century. There are no delightful footnotes, and it is relatively short. However, it clearly comes from the same imagination as Strange and Norrell. There are no fairies, but the underlying conception of magic as a dialogue with the powers of Nature is still here. The fascination with (the real) Piranesi’s bizarre architectural fantasies is obviously here, too. Even if our hero were not given the tell-tale nickname we should recognise that these halls owe something to the dream-like images of the Italian architect and artist, though for many readers they will call up faint echoes of Borges’ total library, too. These visions presumably shaped the King’s Roads in Strange and Norrell and explicitly provide the design for the tremendous Thoresby Bridge in Grace Adieu. There are some other signs of kinship with Strange and Norrell. We might say (slight spoiler) that both books feature a resourceful black man with a false friend who inadvertently inherits an enchanted realm.
One of Clarke’s great achievements in Strange and Norrell was to provide a really satisfying conception of magic which chimed well with folklore yet got everything to make sense. Here we don’t quite get that. Piranesi’s world is explained, partly by a kind of guru who seems to be a cross between Julian Jaynes and Aleister Crowley; but there’s a certain amount of handwaving involved. In some ways I almost feel it would have been better to leave the modern world out of it and simply give Piranesi adventures in his own self-justifying world.
Overall, this isn’t the further volume of Strange and Norrell that many of us would have liked, but it’s a great book and very welcome. More please, more!
Here’s my review of novel/short story contests I’m thinking of entering next month.
- Book Pipeline’s Unpublished competition is for full-length manuscripts and offers $15,000 to winners plus circulation to agents etc (though I’m never sure how much value to attach to the latter). Deadline is 5 October so you really need to have the finished manuscript already.
- Fosseway Writers offer £50 as their top prize for a story of up to 2,500 words on the (possibly prophetic) theme ‘Another Disappointment’. The deadline is 10 October.
- The University of Louisville is running its annual Calvino Prize for writing in ‘the fabulist experimentalist style of Italo Calvino’ – but entries must not be ‘merely imitative’ – tricky! First prize is $2,000 plus publication in their journal; entries can be part or all of a continuous work or a collection, but there is a strict limit of 25 ‘industry standard’ pages, whatever they are. The deadline is 15 October.
- The Dinesh Alirajah Prize for Short Fiction offers a top prize of £500; shortlisted entries will be published in an ebook anthology (I like to see paper myself). The word count must be between 2,000 and 6,000 words on the theme ‘Home’; the deadline is 23 October.
- Retreat West calls for stories between 1,500 and 3,000 words with a first prize of £400; the deadline is 25 October.
- F(r)iction is a beautiful periodical that seeks to push the literary boundaries. Its current competition offers ‘$1,600 in prizes’ for a story between 1,001 and 7,500 words (love that niggling ‘1,001’), with a deadline of 30 October.
Then once again we have a cluster of contests at the very end of the month, all with a deadline of 31 October.
- First the strange case of the Bedford International Writing Competition, where it seems there has been kind of coup. Back in May I (and presumably all the other previous entrants) received an email from the Chair saying that three committee members had seized control of the website and funds, in defiance of the other members and the constitution. The ‘proper’ competition had therefore had to be closed, and anything that was organised by the breakaway group would not be the BIWC and could not trade on its good reputation. There is indeed a Bedford competition under way, with a first prize of £500, and a maximum of 3,000 words; judge for yourself whether to enter!
- Cranked Anvil’s quarterly competition has a prize of £150 for a story up to 1,500 words.
- Southport Writers’ Circle also offers £150 but the word limit is a slightly more generous 2,000
- The Horwich Prize is £50 for a story of 1,500 words on the theme of ‘Nature and Nurture’.
- The Cinnamon Literature Award has categories for short story collections, full novels, and poetry; no prize except proper publication (yay paper!). You need two short stories of up to 5,000 words or 10,000 words of your novel (or ten poems, but that’s not for me).
Enough to keep me busy!