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

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?

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.

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!

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.