The writer magazine essay contest

Writing Contests for Young Writers

Where young writers can find print and online literary magazines to read, places to publish their own works, and legitimate contests. Some publish only young writers, some publish all ages for young readers. For specific submission guidelines, visit the publication’s website. Ages can include elementary, teen, or early college. This is an ad-free resource: publications and writing contests listed here have not paid to be included. This guide is maintained by Editor Denise Hill, a teacher who loves to encourage young writers.

Safety Matters! We expect sites listed in this guide to adhere to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

This is a select list of contests from reputable sources. There are many contests that charge fees, but for this resource, I have sought contests which mean to recognize and encourage young writers and do not charge reading or entry fees. Of those listed that do charge a fee, some provide a publication subscription in return as they are trying to gain new readers; that seems fair and the publishers are up front about it. Other fee-based contests are from reputable members of the literary community, and the fee is considered reasonable in relation to the prize winnings being offered.

Please avoid contests that tell you you’ve won and then want you to purchase expensive copies of the book in which you have been published. These types of “scam” contests publish hundreds, even thousands of entrants and profit greatly from the book sales. These contests take advantage of young writers and inexperienced writers of all ages.

Also see the NCTE Guidelines for Contests, which is helpful for contest organizers who want to reach out to K-12 students and for teachers assessing the legitimacy of contests for their students.

Contest Deadlines: I make every effort to update the contest list monthly and update deadline dates as the contest sponsors update them on their websites. Contest dates may change without anyone notifying me, so users of this guide should check the contest website for the most accurate information. If a previous year’s date is noted here, then the contest sponsor may not have updated their website yet, but they will likely be running the contest again. Please check back here or the contest sponsor’s site if you are interested in that contest. Covid-19 may also have impacted some annual contests, their ability to update their sites or run their contests at all. I will retain ‘outdated’ contest sites for one year to allow them time to catch up. Hopefully, by 2022, many of our lives will be back to a more steady status.

The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
Grades 7-12 during the current school year
Deadline: Varies by Region – Enter zip code to find deadline
[NOTE: 1/9/22 Site not responding]

Chicago Young Writers Review (CYWR)

Various contests with various deadlines
Grades K-8
All genres

The Earth Chronicles

Monthly Summer Writing Contests June/July/August 2022
Summer Challenge with weekly prompts June 6 – August 12, 2022
Grades 6-12

Manningham Trust Student Poetry Contest

National Federation of State Poetry Societies
Grades 6-12
Each participating state conducts its own contest with deadline.
Each participating state sends its top entrants to the national contest.
Click here for a list of participating states.

NAACP ACT-SO Program

Open to U.S. citizen students of African descent grades 9-12
Multiple categories within academic, scientific, and artistic achievement
Requires local program oversight and participation that culminates in a national competition.

National History Day Project Competition

Junior Division (grades 6, 7, 8) and Senior Division (grades 9, 10, 11, 12)
Categories: Paper, Performance, Documentary, Exhibit, Website
Check the website for an affiliate region near you for timelines.

National PTA Reflections Awards

Grades Pre-K to 12
Dance Choreography, Film Production, Literature, Music Composition, Photography and Visual Arts
Each state holds its own contest, submitting winners to the national contest.

New York Times

Ages 13-19
Various contests with varying deadlines
Editorial Cartoon Contest, Civil Conversation Challenge, Review Contest, Year in Rap Contest, Vocabulary Video Contest, Editorial Contest, Found Poetry Contest, Summer Reading Contest

Poetry in Voice

A monthly poetry contest for Candian students grades 9-12.
Based on a monthly prompt.
All poems submitted are considered for publication in Voices/Voix.

Six Word Memoirs

Six Words hold monthly contests for which writers must respond to a prompt in exactly six words.

Stone Soup Flash Contest

Stone Soup holds a monthly flash contest challenge based on a prompt.

Write the World

WtW holds monthly contests based on an idea or genre (poetry, fantasy, sports journalism, fiction, etc.). For young writers 13-18 years old.

WriteCause

An organization that runs quarterly writing contests with topics centered around different world issues, encouraging charity donations, and prompting teens to reflect on current crises and inspiring solutions.

YES! Magazine

National Student Quarterly Writing Competition
Based on essay from YES! Magazine and writing prompt.
Several age categories Grade 5 – Adult Learner
Biannual deadlines set for each semester

Youth Communication

Every three months, YC will highlight five recent articles and ask readers ages 14-19 to write a response to the author of a story (up to 300 words). Three winners will receive prizes of $150 (1st prize), $75 (2nd prize), and $50 (3rd prize.)

New College of the Humanities

Essay Competition
Prompts provided in humanities and social sciences.
Grade 12 only
Deadline: January 1, 2022

National Youth Foundation

Amazing Women Writing Contest
Theme: Local Heroines
Grades K-8
Deadline: January 7, 2022

The Trust for Sustainable Living

The Sustainability Challenge
International Schools Essay Competition and Debate
Ages Primary and Secondary School Categories
Deadline: January 9, 2022
Teachers must register class of students.
Registration opens in September.

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

Sponsored by Fidelity Investments
Grades 9-12
Deadline: January 14, 2022 postmark

Columbus State University

The Carson McCullars Literary Award
Fiction, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, Expository Essay, Playwriting, Screenwriting
High School Age Category for Georgia and Alabama High School Students
Deadline: January 14, 2022

Ringling College of Art and Design

High School Creative Writing Contest
High School Age Writers
Deadline: January 15, 2022

Elephant Aid International Essay Contest

“Welcome Bo!” Essay Prompts
Grade 3-5 and 6-8
Deadline: January 22, 2022

Columbia College Chicago

Young Authors Writing Competition
Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry
High School Age Writers
Deadline: January 30, 2022

Outdoor Writers Association of America

Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards
Grades 6-8 or 9-12
For outdoor-oriented works.
Deadline: January 31, 2022

The Telling Room

Themed Poetry and Fiction
Grades 6-12 / Ages 11-18
For Maine Residents only
Deadline: January 31, 2022

Arizona Mystery Writers

Mary Ann Hutchison Memorial Story Contest for Youths
Ages 9-16
Deadline: February 1, 2022

Bluefire 1000-word Story Contest

Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation
Grades 6-12
Deadline: February 1, 2022

Engineer Girl Writing Contest

Fiction in which the main character is a female who uses engineering skills to solve a problem.
Grades 3-12
Deadline: February 1, 2022

Gannon University

High School Poetry Contest
Grades 9-12
Deadline: February 1, 2022

Holocaust Art and Writing Contest

Chapman University
Grades Middle and High School
Deadline: Postmark February 1, 2022 or by February 3, 2022 for digital submissions

North Carolina Poetry Society

Student Poetry Contest
Grades 3-College Undergraduate
North Carolina Residents Only
Deadline: February 1, 2022

U.S. Kids Annual Cover Art Contest

Ages 2-12
Deadline: February 1, 2023

Davidson Fellows Scholarship

Davidson Institute, Reno, NV
Ages 18 and under as application date
For completion of a significant work in STEM or Humanities categories
Deadline: February 9, 2022

NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing

For Juniors in the current academic school year
Students must be nominated by their school’s English Department
Deadline: February 15, 2022

NCTE Promising Young Writers Program

For 8th grade students in the current academic year
Students must be nominated by a school committee or department
Deadline: February 15, 2022

Young Writers of Canada

Society of Professional Journalists and Journalism Education Association

Essay based on prompt.
Grades 9-12 U.S. Public, Private, & Home Schools
Deadline: February 19, 2022

Curieux Research Scholarship Award

Middle or High School Students
Deadline: February 20, 2022

West Chester University

Several contests for undergraduate college/university.
Deadline: February 21, 2022

Keats-Shelley Memorial Association

Young Romantics Prizes
Poetry, Essay
Ages 16-18
Deadline: February 23, 2022

Ice Lolly Review Campaign Contest

Theme: Social Issues of Importance to Youth
Ages 12-18
Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry
Deadline: February 28, 2021
[Inquiry sent 5/23.]

Polyphony Lit Black History Month Contest

Open to High School Students Globally
Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction
Deadline: Open February 1 – February 28, 2023

Polyphony Lit Winter Contest

Open to High School Students Globally
Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction
Deadline: Open February 1 – February 28, 2023

Carl Sandburg Student Poetry Contest

Grades 3-12
Deadline: March 1, 2022

Hunger Mountain

International Young Writers Prize
Open to High School writers worldwide
Deadline: March 1, 2021
[Sent inquiry 5/23.]

Hunger Mountain

Katherine Paterson Prize for YA and Children’s Writing
Young Adult (YA); Middle Grade (MG); Picture Book or Writing for Young Children
Deadline: March 1, 2021
[Inquiry sent 5/23.]

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society

University of Central Florida
Middle & High School Writing Contest
Story, Poem, Essay
Deadline: March 1, 2022

Project Yellow Light

Scholarship Competition
Grades High School or College
Video, Billboard, Radio PSA on not driving distracted
[Also listed under April]
Deadline: March 1, 2022

Writing for Peace

Dove Tales: A Writing for Peace Literary Journal of the Arts
Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction that explores social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes
Ages 13-19
Deadline: March 1, 2021
[Sent inquiry 5/23.]

American Society of Human Genetics

DNA Day Essay Contest
Grades 9-12
Deadline: March 2, 2022

Cancer Unwrapped Teen Essay Writing Contest

Cancer Pathways
Grades: 9-12
Deadline: March 4, 2022

Austin Poets Di-Verse-City Anthology

Adult and Youth Categories
Deadline: March 5, 2021
[Sent inquiry 5/23.]

It’s All Write! Teen Writing Contest

Ann Arbor District Library
Flash Fiction and Short Story Grades 6-12
Open to Michigan Residents Only
Deadline: March 6, 2022

VSA Playwright Discovery Competition

Grades 6-12 / Ages 11-18
Ten-minute play, screenplay, or music theater exploring the disability experience
Written by young writers with disabilities and collaborative groups that include students with disabilities
Deadline: March 9, 2022

Writopia Labs Worldwide Plays Festival

Micro-Play Contest
Grades 1-12
Deadline: March 11, 2022

Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program

Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction/Memoir
Online Flexible Dates June 20-August 1
High School and Gap Year Students
Financial Aid Available
Deadline: March 15, 2022

The Blank Theatre Young Playwrights Festival Competition

Original Plays or Musicals on any subject
Ages 9-19
Deadline: March 15, 2022

The Haiku Society of America

Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Competition
Grades 7-12
Deadline: March 21, 2022

Radiant Peace Education Awards

Essay, Art, Video, Projects
Grades 1-12
Deadline: Postmark March 23, 2022

Essay and Art Contest on Human and Civil Rights

Hindus for Human Rights
Open to South Asian American students in grades 6-12
Deadline: March 30, 2022

ukiaHaiku Festival

Haiku Contest
All Ages – Some Regional to California Counties
No Fee (except for Adult Contemporary Haiku)
Deadline: On hiatus for 2020.
The website includes helpful guidelines for writing haiku.
[Sent inquiry 5/23.]

BreakBread Literacy Project Villena-Aldama Contest

Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, Art/Comics/Hybrid
Ages Under 25 years old
Deadline: March 31, 2022

The Caterpillar

Best Poem for Children Contest
This contest is actually for adults writing for readers ages 7-11(ish).
Deadline: March 31, 2022

Princeton University

Lewis Arts Center
Ten-Minute Play Contest
Grades 11and 12 in the current school year
Deadline: March 31, 2022

Sarah Mook Poetry Prize

Grades K-12
Deadline: March 31, 2022

Save the Earth Poetry Prize

The Weeden Foundation
American High School Students
Grades 11 and 12
Deadline: February 1 – March 31 *On sabbatical for 2019 to publish an anthology of past submissions.

The Sejong Cultural Society

Essay, Sijo (Poetry)
Open to Pre-college and Young Adults
Deadline: March 31, 2022

Taradiddle Youth Writing Contests

Animal-themed prompt-based fiction
Age Categories: Elementary under 13; High School 14-18
Deadline: March 31, 2022

Young Writers of Canada

Annual Young Writers Creative Writing Contest
Ages 5-18
Deadline: March 31, 2022

Zizzle Literary Flash Fiction Contest

One weekly prompt posted via social media must be included.
Ages 9-14
Deadline: March 31, 2021
[Sent inquiry 5/23.]

Project Yellow Light

Scholarship Competition
Grades High School or College
Video, Billboard, Radio PSA on not driving distracted
[Also listed under March]
Deadline: April 1, 2022

Dove Tales Young Writers Contest

Poetry, Fiction, nonfiction
Ages 13-19
Deadline: April 5, 2021
[Sent inquiry 5/23.]

United States Institute for Peace

High School Essay Contest
Deadline: April 4, 2022

American Foreign Service Association

High School Essay Contest
Grades 9-12
Deadline: April 4, 2022

#USvsHate

All-Media Public Anti-Hate Message Contest
Grade Categories: K12; 7-12 Grade; Higher Education
Individual and Class Group Submissions
Deadline: December 17, 2021 and April 8, 2022

Power to Explore Writing Challenge

California Institute of Technology
U.S. Students in grades K-12
Deadline: April 13, 2022

Binsey Poplar Press

Art and Writing on Environment/Environmental Awareness
Students Ages 12-26
Deadline: April 15, 2022

fingers comma toes

National Flash Fiction Day Youth Competition
All ages
Deadline: April 15, 2022

We the Students Essay Contest

Bill of Rights Institute
Ages 14-19
Deadline: April 15, 2022

The Legacy Project

“Listen to a Life” Writing Contest
Ages 8-18
Deadline: April 15, 2022

Americans Against Gun Violence

National High School Essay Contest
Theme provided on website.
Deadline: April 16, 2022

Korean Spirit & Culture Promotion Project

Nationwide Essay Contest
Topic provided on website.
Middle School and High School
Deadline: April 17, 2022

Short on Words

Poetry or Prose in response to one of ten photographs.
Age Categories 17 and under, 18 and older
$10 Nonprofit fundraising entry fee
Deadline: April 22, 2022

The Wilbur & NISO Smith Foundation

Author of Tomorrow Adventure Writing Contest
Ages 11 and under; 12-15; 16-21
Deadline: April 22, 2022

Skipping Stones Youth Honors Award

Promoting Multicultural Awareness, International Understanding and Nature Appreciation
Original Writing and Art
Ages 7-17
Deadline: April 25, 2022

Go On Girl! Scholarships

Aspiring Writer and Unpublished Writer
Each has unique criteria; See website
Deadline: April 30, 2022

Lake Superior State University Short Story Prize

Genre: Historical Fiction
Open to high school age writers
Deadline: On hiatus for the 2019-2020 school year

Metaphor Dice & Button Poetry Anthology Contest

Poetry
Open to all ages with a 17 and under “Student” category
There is a $2 or $3 fee depending on your age
Deadline: April 30, 2022

Dear Poet Project

Grades 5-12
Letters written in response to poets reading poems
Select letters will be published online; Select letters will receive a response
Deadline: May 1, 2022

The Junebug Journal

Prose, Poetry, Visual Art, Photography, Culinary Arts, Performing Arts, Videography
High School Artists Ages 13-19
Deadline: May 1, 2021
[Sent inquiry 5/23.]

LIGHT

Leaders Igniting Generational Healing & Transformation
Under 18 category
“How might we recreate public health as art, letters, stories, and poetry?”
Letters, Poetry, Stories, Art, and a “Surprise Us” category
Deadline: May 1, 2022

New Voices One-Act Competition for Young Playwrights

YouthPLAYS
Non-musical, one-act play suitable for HS audience
Written by Playwrights 19 years and under
Deadline: May 1, 2022

World Historian Student Essay Competition

World History Association
Grades K-12
Deadline: May 1, 2022

Skipping Stones Asian Celebration Haiku Contest

Ages 7-18
Deadline: May 5, 2022

Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center

Holocaust Writing, Art and Film Contest
Open to grades 5-12 in WA, OR, ID, AK
Deadline: May 13, 2022

Toyin Fálọlá Prize

Short Story Theme: Africanfuturism
Ages 15-35
Entrants must be African
Deadline: May 15, 2022

The Adroit Journal

Prizes for Poetry and Prose
Open to Secondary and Undergraduate Students
Fee Waiver Request Form available
Deadline: May 31, 2022

Humane Education Network

A Voice for Animals
Essay Contest for 14-15 and 16-18-year-olds
Video Action Project for 16-18-year-olds
Essay with Photos for 16-18-year-olds
Deadline: May 31, 2022

Last House Writing Contest for Emerging Writers

Sponsored by Audobon Canyon Ranch
Essay, Short Story, Poetry
Age Categories 8-12 years old and 13-17 years old
Deadline: May 31, 2022

California Young Playwrights Contest

Open to residents of California only.
Ages Under 19 as of June 1
Deadline: June 1, 2022

Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest

“Youth” Category of High School Age and Younger
Deadline: June 1, 2022

US Forest Service

“Get to Know Your Wild Neighbors”
Art, Writing, Photography, Videography, Music
Ages 11-18
Deadline: June 1, 2022

Jane Austen Society of North America Essay Contest

Ages High School / College / Graduate School
Topic changes each year
Deadline: June 2, 2022

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Contest

Art, Poetry, Prose, Film, Music, Multimedia, Performing Arts, Spoken Word
Ages 11-18
Deadline: June 13, 2022

Fraser Institute Student Essay Contest

Open to students studying in Canada and Canadian students studying abroad.
High School / Undergraduate / Graduate Categories
Topic changes each year
Deadline: June 15, 2022

Goi Peace Foundation International Essay Contest

Theme: Kindness
Ages 25 and under
Deadline: June 15, 2022

Lloyd Davies Philosophy Prize

Topic Essay Contest
Grade 12 or equivalent
Deadline: June 21, 2021
[Sent inquiry 5/23.]

National Teen Storyteller Contest: Solidarity

The Center for Fiction and The Decameron Project
Ages 13-18
Deadline: June 1 – June 25, 2022

Chicago Young Writers Review (CYWR)

Theme: “The Story That Made Me Feel”
Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry
Grades K-8
Deadline: June 30, 2022

Eden Mills Writers’ Festival

Poetry Contest for Children
Ontario Residents Only
Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7-8
Deadline: June 30, 2022

Eden Mills Writers’ Festival

Poetry Contest for Teens
Ontario Residents Only
Grades 9-10 and Grades 11-12
Deadline: June 30, 2022

The Geek Partnership Society

Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Supernatural and Alternate History Fiction
Poetry, Fiction, Graphic Novel
Various age categories (K-Adult)
Deadline: June 30, 2022

Polyphony Lit Pride Month Contest

Open to High School Students Globally
Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction
Deadline: Open June 1 – June 30, 2022

Polyphony Lit Summer Contest

Theme: “2020 Hindsight”
Open to High School Students Globally
Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction
Deadline: Open June 1 -June 30, 2022

1455 Teen Poetry Contest

Ages 13-19
Deadline: July 1, 2021
[Sent inquiry 5/23.]

Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Award

Ages: Adult; Youth (13-18); Youth (12 and under)
No fee for 12 and under.
Deadline: Postmark July 1, 2022

Johnson County Library Youth Short Story Contest

Short Story in Verse on the theme “Oceans of Possibilities!”
Grades 3-12
Deadline: Postmark July 6, 2022

Johnson County Library Youth Sticker Design Contest

Theme: “Oceans of Possibilities!”
Ages 11 and under
Deadline: Postmark July 6, 2022

Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize

State University of New York
Only undergraduates enrolled full-time in American and Canadian universities and colleges for the academic year are eligible
Deadline: July 14, 2022

NCTE Excellence in Student Literary Magazines

Open to all accredited middle and secondary schools (US, CA, VI, US schools abroad)
Deadline: July 31, 2022

Hominum Journal Young Writers Contest

Prose and Poetry
Ages 13-22
Deadline: July 11, 2020
[Sent inquiry 5/23.]

Student Book Scholars

National Youth Foundation
Theme: Anti-Bullying
Grades K-8
Deadline: July 15, 2022

“I Matter” Poetry Contest

National Youth Foundation
Topic: “Black Lives Matter”
Grades: K-12
Deadline: July 23, 2022

Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award

The Poetry Society
Ages 11-17
Deadline: July 31, 2022

The Lincoln Forum

Platt Family Scholarship Prize Essay Contest
Specific topic posted on the website.
For full-time college/university students.
Deadline: Postmark July 31, 2022

Writing Tournament

Ages 8-16
A free, not-for-profit writing competition for young writers which simulates the journey of a professional author.
Deadline: July 31, 2022

Young Writers of Canada

Annual Open All Ages Poetry Contest
Deadline: July 31, 2021

Sixteen Rivers Press Youth Poetry Contest

Ages 13-19
Deadline: August 4, 2021

Young Writers Project

Summer of Stories 2022
Written and Visual Submissions – All genres
Grades K-12
Deadline: August 15, 2022

Stone Soup Book Contest

Fiction, Memoir, Poetry Manuscript
Ages 14-24
Deadline: August 21, 2022

Eco-Generation Environmental Essay Competition

Tunza Eco Generation and Samsung Engineering
Undergraduates Only
Deadline: August 31, 2021

The Sucarnochee Review Poetry Contest

University of West Alabama
Undergraduates Only
Deadline: August 31, 2021

William Faulkner Literary Competition

Student Short Story Category
Open to Mississippi High School Students
Deadline: August 31, 2022

Friends Annual Bookmark Design Contest

Johnson County Library, Kansas
Bookmark Art
All Ages
Deadline: September 10, 2021
[Sent inquiry 5/23.]

Gigantic Sequins: Teen Sequins

Poetry
Ages 14-18 (before June 2022)
Deadline: September 12, 2022

Taradiddle Youth Writing Contests

Animal-themed prompt-based fiction
Age Categories: Elementary under 13; High School 14-18
Deadline: September 15, 2022

Reaching for Your Dreams Contest

Johnson County Library, Kansas
Stories, Essays, Poems, Art
Ages 10 and under
Deadline: September 1-14, 2021
[Sent inquiry 5/23.]

Art of Unity Creative Award

International Human Rights Art Festival
Poetry, Short Story, Essay as well as any creative media
Youth Age Category 18 and under
Deadline: September 30, 2022

Creators of Justice Literary Awards

International Human Rights Art Festival
Poetry, Short Story, Essay 2500 words or less on Human Rights Theme
Youth Age Category 18 and under
Deadline: September 30, 2022

Transitions Abroad Travel Contest

Student Writing Contest
Currently enrolled undergrad and grad students & recent grads.
Deadline: On hiatus until the pandemic allows more safe/open travel.

Embracing Our Differences

Art Exhibit and Quote Contest
For all ages
Deadline: October 5, 2022

National YoungArts Foundation

Ages 15-18
Various Arts Categories
Receive up to $10k + educational support
Applications Open June 22 – October 15, 2021

American Geosciences Institute

Earth Science Week Essay Contest
Theme: “Finding ‘Art’ in Earth”
Grades 6-9
Deadline: October 14, 2022

Polyphony Lit Latin Heritage Contest

Open to High School Students Globally
Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction
Deadline: Open September 15 – October 15, 2022

Polyphony Lit Fall Contest

Open to High School Students Globally
Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction
Deadline: Open October 1 – October 31, 2022

VFW Patriot’s Pen

Themed Essay Competition
Grades 6-8
Deadline: October 31, 2022

VFW Voice of Democracy

Audio Essay Competition
Grades 9-12
Deadline: October 31, 2022

Hollins University

Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest
For High School Sophomore and Junior Girls
Deadline: October 31, 2021

Bennington College

Young Writers Competition
Grades 10-12
Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction
Deadline: November 1, 2022

The Bridges Collaborative Student Contest

Performance Response to Prompt
Grades K-12
Video, Podcast, Classroom Lessons, Written Pieces, Poetry, Art, Music, Prezis, Powerpoint, & Other Creative Medium
Deadline: November 1, 2021

Interlochen Arts Academy

Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Competition
Fiction, Poetry, Spoken Word Personal essay or memoir, Screenwriting, Playwriting, Comics, Experimental or unclassifiable writing
Grades 8-11
Deadline: November 7, 2021

Lions International

Essay Contest: “We Are All Connected”
Ages 11, 12, 13 years old on November 15, 2022
Open to students who are considered visually impaired according to their national guidelines.

Rachel Carson Sense of the Wild Contest

Poetry and Prose w/ or w/o Photograph
Intergenerational Team of two or more only
Deadline: November 16, 2022

Rattle Young Poets Anthology

Open Call for Submissions
Ages 15 or younger
Deadline: November 15, 2021

One Teen Story Contest

Open Call for Submissions
Ages 13-15, 16-17, 18-19
Deadline: November 19, 2022

Princeton University

Leonard Milberg ’53 Secondary School Poetry Prize
Any student who is in the eleventh grade in the academic year is eligible.
Deadline: November 27, 2020

International Bipolar Foundation

High School Essay Contest
Ages 13-29
Deadline: October 15 – November 30, 2021

Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

The Kenyon Review
High School Sophomores and Juniors
Award: First place: Full scholarship to the Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop and publication. Second and third place: Publication.
Deadline: November 1 – 30, 2022

NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program

National Novel Writing Month
November 1 – 30, 2022

National Teen Storyteller Contest: Struggle

The Center for Fiction and The Decameron Project
Ages 13-18
Deadline: November 1 – November 30, 2022

Piedmont Institute of Communication, Art and Music

Emerging Writers Contest
High School and Community College Students
All styles, forms, genres under 5000 words
Deadline: December 1, 2020
[Sent inquiry 5/23.]

Saint Mary’s College

River of Words Poetry and Art Contest
Grades K-12 (Ages 5-19)
Deadline: December 1, 2021

Smith College

The Poetry Center High School Prize
An annual prize for sophomore & junior girls in New England
Deadline: September 1 – December 1, 2021

Radiant Peace Education Awards

Essay, Art
Grades 1-8
Deadline: December 4, 2019
Note: This contest is run twice each year. See entry under April.

Kemper Human Rights Education Foundation Essay Contest

Kemper Human Rights Education Foundation Essay Contest
High School Students
Deadline: December 10, 2021

#USvsHate

All-Media Public Anti-Hate Message Contest
Grade Categories: K12; 7-12 Grade; Higher Education
Individual and Class Group Submissions
Deadline: December 17, 2021 and April 8, 2022

Quantum Shorts

Short Story
“Entries must take inspiration from quantum physics and be no longer than 1000 words.”
Ages 13+
Alternates between sci-fi and sci films each year.
Deadline: December 16, 2021

Rider University

Annual High School Writing Contest
Grades 9-12
Essay, Short Story, Poetry
Deadline: December 20, 2021

The Trust for Sustainable Living

International Schools Essay Competition and Debate
Ages Primary and Secondary School Categories
Deadline: December 23, 2021
Teachers must register class of students.
Registration opens in September.

The National WWII Museum Essay Contest

Topic changes each year
Middle School and High School Students
Deadline: December 27, 2019

Auroras & Blossoms

PoArtMo Anthology
Poetry, Prose, Artwork, Mixed Genre
Ages 13-16
Deadline: December 31, 2022

The Fire Scholarship Contest

Essay: Prompt using video examples on topic of Free Speech
Grades High School Juniors & Seniors
Deadline: December 31, 2021

The Fitzgerald Museum

Fiction, Poetry, Multi-Genre
High School and College Students
Deadline: September 1 – December 31, 2021

Kay Snow Student Writing Contest

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry
Grades 1-12 and College
Deadline: December 31, 2020

Kay Snow YA Writing Contest

Roland Smith Award for YA and Middle-Grade Fiction
Written by adults for young adult or middle-grade readers.
Deadline: December 31, 2020
[Submissions open in November; check back for deadline.]

The Lyric Magazine

Poetry Contest
Undergraduate Students – USA and Canada
Deadline: Postmark December 31, 2022

Poetry Society of America

Louise Lois / Emily R. Bourne Student Award
Teacher/Administrator Nominated unpublished poem by 9-12 grade student.
Deadline: Postmark October 1-December 31, 2021
[Sent inquiry 5/23.]

The Society of Classical Poets

Poetry Competition
Ages 13-19
Deadline: December 31, 2021

Looking for a list of publications that publish young writers? Check out our guide here.

The NewPages Young Writers Guide to Contests is a free and ad-free resource for anyone looking for writing contests for teens, writing contests for high school students, scholastic writing contests, writing contests for middle school students, writing contests for kids, high school writing contests, writing contests for elementary students, creative writing contests for high school students, poetry contests for high school students.

Top 44 Writing Contests for Authors

Writing contests are a great way to get published, win a cash prize, and add another accomplishment to your resume, making it a valuable tool for authors to gain exposure and notoriety in their chosen niche.

There are as many different types of writing competitions as there are genres of content, from short story and poetry contests to science fiction, picture book, and chapbook competitions. Submitting your best work to a writing contest can help you build your reputation as an author, network with other industry professionals, and build your resume.

Here are the top 50 writing contests to apply for and answers to your most frequently asked questions about writing competitions.

Creative Writing Contests

Top writing contests for authors

Short Story Contests

1. The Iowa Short Fiction Award & John Simmons Short Fiction Award by the University of Iowa Press

The Iowa Short Fiction Award & John Simmons Short Fiction Award offers two authors of short fiction works under 150 double-spaced pages publication in the University of Iowa Press and in an anthology of winning works that can be purchased.

Application Deadline: September 2022

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: Unknown

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

2. Zizzle Literary Flash Fiction Contest

The Zizzle Literary Flash Fiction Contest is open to authors of flash fiction between 500 and 1,200 words or short stories between 2,000 to 4,500 words.

Application Deadline: March 2022

Entry Fee: $5

Grand Prize: $1,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: $500 second-place prize and $150 third-place prize for three (3) finalists

3. L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest

The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest accepts outstanding science fiction and fantasy novellas and short stories under 17,000 words. New writers are welcome to apply.

Application Deadline: Every quarter on the last day of the month

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: $5,000 annually

First Place Runners Up Prize: $1,000. Second and third place winners are awarded $750 and $500, respectively.

Flash Fiction Contests

4. Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize

The Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize is a writing contest sponsored by the long-running New York radio show Selected Shorts. Entries must be less than 750 words and winners will have their work read and recorded by a professional actor for airing on the radio. Writers of any age and from any country are eligible to submit their flash fiction story for consideration.

Application Deadline: Ongoing

Entry Fee: $25

Grand Prize: $1,000 plus access to a 10-week writing course by Gotham Writers

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

5. The Ernest Hemingway Short Fiction Prize

The Ernest Hemingway Short Fiction Prize offers a modest cash award for winning writers who submit flash fiction works under 1,500 words. Authors can submit multiple entries and all will be considered for publishing. Each year, one grand prize winner and three runners up are announced.

Application Deadline: April 2022

Entry Fee: $10

Grand Prize: $200 cash prize and publication in Fiction Southeast

First Place Runners Up Prize: Publication in Fiction Southeast

Novella Contests

6. Drue Heinz Literature Prize

The Drue Heinz Literature Prize is a prestigious award from the University of Pittsburgh Press offered to published writers with a minimum of three (3) short stories or novellas printed in literary journals or magazines. Famous authors who have judged works for the Drue Heinz Literature Prize include Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Robert Penn Warren, and more.

Application Deadline: Annually between May 1 and June 30

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: $15,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

7. The Miami University Press Novella Prize

The Miami University Press Novella Prize offers publication and a cash prize to novella authors who submit works between 18,000 and 40,000 words. Entries must not have been previously published online or in print and writers should inform the Miami University Press if their submitted work has been published elsewhere as soon as possible as it will no longer be eligible for award consideration.

Application Deadline: September 2022

Entry Fee: $25

Grand Prize: Winning writers receive $750, publication, and 10 copies of their novella

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

Creative Nonfiction Writing Contests

8. Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest

The Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest offers nonfiction, fiction, essay, poetry, and play writers $500 and publication. Submission limit is a maximum of 150 pages and authors may submit either published or previously unpublished works.

Application Deadline: January 2022

Entry Fee: $15

Grand Prize: $500

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

9. Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize

The Hunger Mountain Creative Nonfiction Prize is an award offered to entrants who submit creative nonfiction works of less than 10,000 words. Both grand prize and runner up winners receive online publication by Hunger Mountain. Submissions are sent via traditional mail and may not be electronically submitted. Authors can submit multiple entries but must notify the publisher if the work is accepted for publication elsewhere during the review process.

Application Deadline: March 2022

Entry Fee: $20

Grand Prize: $1,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: $100

10. The Page Prize from The Pinch Journal

The Page Prize by The Pinch Journal is a small nonfiction writing competition that offers $1,000 to winning writers who submit flash nonfiction essays with fewer than 1,000 words. Entrants can submit multiple essays.

Application Deadline: January 2022

Entry Fee: $10

Grand Prize: $1,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

Personal Essay Contests

11. John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest awards one high school student writer with $10,000 and a trip to Boston, Massachusetts to visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Essays must be between 700 and 1,000 words on the topic of a politically courageous act by an elected U.S. official between 1917 and now.

Application Deadline: January 2022

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: $10,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

12. Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest

The Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest is available for Canadian authors of personal essays. To be considered eligible, works must not be published elsewhere and must fall between 2,000 and 5,000 words.

Application Deadline: March 2022

Entry Fee: $40 per essay

Grand Prize: $1,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

13. Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

The Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest is one of the top writing contests available for authors of both personal essays and short stories. Entrants can be any age and most countries are eligible, with the exception of North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Crimea. Submissions may be as long as 6,000 words.

Application Deadline: April 2022

Entry Fee: $20

Grand Prize: $3,000 each for the winning story and essay

First Place Runners Up Prize: $200

14. New Millennium Writing Awards

The New Millennium Writing Awards offers a moderate cash prize to writers of short content under 7,499 words. Essays are submitted under the awards’ nonfiction category, and there are no restrictions or guidelines on the essay topic or writing style.

Application Deadline: November 30, 2021

Entry Fee: $20 for 1 entry, $35 for 2 entries, $45 for 3 entries, $60 for 4 entries, or $80 for 5 entries

Grand Prize: $1,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

15. The Preservation Foundation, Inc. General Nonfiction Contest

The Preservation Foundation, Inc. holds an annual General Nonfiction Contest that awards two writers with small cash prizes for outstanding short nonfiction pieces between 1,000 and 10,000 words. Submissions must include a short introduction and the author’s biography at the end of the piece. No editing services are provided.

Application Deadline: October 31, 2021

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: $200

First Place Runners Up Prize: $100

Children’s Books Competitions

16. Institute for Children’s Literature Middle Grade Mystery

The Institute for Children’s Literature offers a small cash prize for Middle Grade Mystery writers who can captivate their target audience of 8-12 year old children with a one-line summary and the first 1,000 books of their young adult mystery novella. Entries must be unpublished.

Application Deadline: November 15, 2021

Entry Fee: $19

Grand Prize: $650

First Place Runners Up Prize: Second Prize is $350 and Third, Fourth, and Fifth Place Prizes are $100 each

17. Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards

The Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards is an excellent opportunity for children’s book authors to gain notoriety and accolades in their chosen niche. Winning writers do not receive a cash prize, however, they are recognized at Moonbeam’s annual awards ceremony and are provided with a medal, certificate, and title of honor for their work.

Application Deadline: August 2022

Entry Fee: $95 in each category

Grand Prize: A display medal, a personalized award certificate, and an invitation to Moonbeam’s prestigious awards celebration

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

18. Golden Kite Award

The Golden Kite Award is given twice per year to two authors of children’s books in one of seven (7) categories including middle grade and young adult fiction, young adult nonfiction, picture books, and more.

Application Deadline: July and December

Entry Fee: Cost of SCBWI membership

Grand Prize: $2,500 cash prize plus $1,000 paid to a non-profit of the author’s choice

First Place Runners Up Prize: $500 cash prize plus $250 paid to a non-profit

19. Mom’s Choice Awards

The Mom’s Choice Awards reviews products and media for children and selects only the best to boast the Mom’s Choice Awards seal of approval.

Application Deadline: Ongoing

Entry Fee: $500 (nonrefundable)

Grand Prize: Lifetime rights to the Mom’s Choice Awards seal for marketing, plus advertising materials

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

20. Cybils Awards Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards

The Cybils Awards Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards offers their seal of approval to authors of children’s and young adult books that best marry popularity with literary quality.

Application Deadline: Annually between October 1st – 15th

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: Lifetime rights to the Cybils Awards seal for marketing

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

Poetry Competitions

21. Troubadour International Poetry Prize

The Troubadour International Poetry Prize is awarded every year to a writer from any country for one poem written in English. Poems must be 45 lines or less and cannot have been published previously. Entries are accepted via email only and writers may submit an unlimited number of poems for consideration.

Application Deadline: September 2022

Entry Fee: $7

Grand Prize: $2,830

First Place Runners Up Prize: $1,415

22. Poetry Nation Prime Poetry Contest

Poetry Nation’s Prime Poetry Contest awards two poets per year who are over the age of 13 with a generous cash prize and display plaque.

Application Deadline: Annually between January 1 – June 30 and July 1 – December 31

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: $2,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: $100

23. Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest

The Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest award is offered to one poet in any genre and one poet written in a traditional or rhyming style each year, along with ten (10) honorable mentions.

Application Deadline: September 2022

Entry Fee: $15

Grand Prize: $3,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: Two-year gift certificates to Duotrope

24. Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize

Every year, one poet will be awarded the Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize, which offers a cash prize, publication, a poetry book launch with national distribution and press, and 25 copies of the book to the author.

Application Deadline: Annually between August 1 – October 31

Entry Fee: $25

Grand Prize: $1,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

25. Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize

The Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, organized by the University of Pittsburgh Press, is offered to one writer of a previously unpublished full-length book of poetry with more than 48 pages.

Application Deadline: Annually between March 1 – April 30

Entry Fee: $25

Grand Prize: $5,000 and publication in the Pitt Poetry Series by the University of Pittsburgh Press

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

Writing Competitions for Young Writers

26. Young Lions Fiction Award

The Young Lions Fiction Award from the New York Public Library is offered to young writers under the age of 35. Although authors can be under the age of 18, the work must be written for an adult audience; YA fiction and children’s books are not eligible for this contest.

Application Deadline: Annually in May

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: $10,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

27. Bluefire 1,000 Words Writing Contest

The Bluefire 1,000 Words Writing Contest by The Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation awards a modest cash prize to young authors in 6th through 12th grade.

Application Deadline: Annually between November 1 and February 1

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: $1,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: $100 cash prize for seven (7) writers and $50 payment for stories accepted for publication in the Bluefire Journal.

28. Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

Students over the age of thirteen (13) and who are in grades 7 through 12 can enter the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for fantasy and science fiction writing, scriptwriting, essay writing, and works in a total of 28 categories.

Application Deadline: December 2021 and January 2022 depending on region

Entry Fee: $7 per entry or $25 to enter a portfolio

Grand Prize: $10,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: $1,000

29. Ocean Awareness Contest

The Ocean Awareness Contest was developed to help young adults learn about environmental and climate issues facing the world’s oceans today. Submissions are open to students between the ages of 11 and 18.

Application Deadline: June 13, 2022

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: Junior Division — $1,000 for first place. Senior Division — $1,500 for first place.

First Place Runners Up Prize: Junior Division — $750 for second place, $250 for third place, and $50 honorable mention. Senior Division — $1,000 for second place, $500 for third place, and $100 honorable mention.

30. Young Writers Awards

The Young Writers Awards, sponsored by Bennington College, are open to students enrolled in grades 9 through 12 in the genres of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Application Deadline: Annually between September 3 to November 1

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: $500 in each category

First Place Runners Up Prize: $250 second-place prize, $125 third-place prize

Free Writing Contests

31. St. Francis College Literary Prize

The St. Francis College Literary Prize offers mid-career authors with three (3) or more fiction publications under their belt with a cash prize of $50,000 and the opportunity to teach a class or deliver a lecture on their work at the St. Francis College campus in Brooklyn, New York.

Application Deadline: To be announced for 2022

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: $50,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

32. The Nine Dots Prize

The Nine Dots Prize is a free writing contest open to authors of provocative essays under 3,000 words. Entrants must respond to a predetermined question that addresses significant problems faced by society today. The 2021/22 question for the Nine Dots Prize was, “What does it mean to be young in an aging world?”

Application Deadline: January 2022

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: $100,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

Contests for Emerging Writers

33. Center for Fiction NYC Emerging Writer Fellowships

The Center for Fiction NYC Emerging Writer Fellowship Award is offered to eligible fiction writers in New York City. In addition to a $5,000 grant, winning writers receive a fellowship opportunity for one year and may have their manuscript edited and revised by an experienced staff member. The Center for Fiction is funded in part by the Amazon Literary Partnership.

Application Deadline: May 2022

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: $5,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

34. Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest

The Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest is open to unpublished writers in the genres of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Entrants may only submit one work in any genre per contest year. Poetry submissions must be between three (3) to five (5) pages and fiction/nonfiction submissions must be under 6,000 words.

Application Deadline: May 2022

Entry Fee: $0 for subscribers, $24 for nonsubscribers

Grand Prize: $2,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

High School Writing Contests

35. Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose

The Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose offer two students in either high school or college a cash prize of $200. Entries can include up to six (6) poems or up to three (3) works of prose totaling no more than 9,000 words.

Application Deadline: August 2022

Entry Fee: $13, financial aid available

Grand Prize: $200

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

36. The American Foreign Services Association Essay Contest

The American Foreign Services Association Essay Contest awards one writer annually with a cash prize for an outstanding essay on the topic of establishing peace in foreign countries.

Application Deadline: April 2022

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: $2,500, a Semester at Sea scholarship, and a paid trip to Washington D.C.

First Place Runners Up Prize: $1,250 and a International Diplomacy Program of the National Student Leadership Conference scholarship

37. We the Students Essay Contest

The Bill of Rights Institute hosts the We the Students Essay Contest yearly, awarding one student writer between age 14 and 19 a substantial cash prize. The essay must answer the question, “What essential qualities must a citizen in your community have in 21st century America?”

Application Deadline: April 2022

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: $5,000 and a Constitutional Academy scholarship

First Place Runners Up Prize: $1,250 for second place, $500 for honorable mention

Literary Magazine Writing Contests

38. Boulevard Nonfiction Contest for Emerging Writers

Boulevard offers a modest cash prize every year to an unpublished emerging writer in the nonfiction genre. Essays for the Boulevard Nonfiction Contest for Emerging Writers must be 8,000 words or less.

Application Deadline: September 2022

Entry Fee: $16

Grand Prize: $1,000 and publication in Boulevard

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

39. Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize

The Missouri Review awards the Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize to three (3) writers annually with a generous cash prize and publication in The Missouri Review. Entries are limited to poetry, essays, and short stories.

Application Deadline: October 2022

Entry Fee: $25

Grand Prize: $5,000

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

40. TulipTree Publishing Disrupters Issue Contest

The Disrupters Issue Contest by TulipTree Publishing offers poem and prose writers a modest annual award for exceptional work on a provided topic.

Application Deadline: October 2022

Entry Fee: $20

Grand Prize: $1,000 and publication in TulipTree Review

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

41. Tamaqua Award

The Tamaqua Award is organized by Hidden River Arts and provides one writer with a cash prize and publication for manuscripts of any length. Entries must include a synopsis, biography, and an outline.

Application Deadline: October 31, 2021

Entry Fee: $20

Grand Prize: $1,000 and publication by Hidden River Press

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

Full-Length Book Contests

42. North Street Book Prize

The North Street Book Prize is a substantial award given to one writer who has self-published a book in the genres of fiction, creative nonfiction, picture books, graphic novels, memoirs, and poetry books. Submissions may not be over 200,000 words, and winners also receive top-level marketing services from industry professionals.

Application Deadline: June 2022

Grand Prize: $8,000

Entry Fee: $70 per book

First Place Runners Up Prize: $1,000 for the top winning writer in each genre and a $250 honorable mention to the third place winner.

43. The Restless Books Prize For New Immigrant Writing

The Restless Books Prize For New Immigrant Writing awards first-generation American immigrants with a $10,000 cash prize and manuscript publication for stories highlighting the immigration experience.

Application Deadline: September 2021 to March 2022

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: $10,000 and publication by Restless Books

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

44. Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards offer one author of a recently published work with a substantial monetary award for exceptional writing that improves society’s understanding of racism and its appreciation of diverse cultures.

Application Deadline: Annually between September 1 and December 31

Entry Fee: $0

Grand Prize: $10,000 and media appearance opportunities

First Place Runners Up Prize: Not applicable

The Final Word on Writing Contests

Whether you’re writing a book of poetry, children’s books, a short story collection, a full-length book, or a work of fiction, writing contests can help you establish more secure footing in your chosen niche.

FAQs About Writing Contests

Do writing competitions always have a cash prize?

Although most writing contests offer a cash prize to the winning writers, some competitions offer other types of incentives. For example, a prestigious literary journal may offer a writing fellowship to annual contest winners versus a lump sum award.

How are finalists chosen from contest entrants?

Typically, finalists are selected from a pool of contest entrants by initially narrowing down the pool of eligible candidates. Applications will be reviewed to determine which do not meet basic eligibility criteria, such as minimum word count or following the assigned writing prompts.

What do I need to win a short story award?

To win an award for an outstanding short story, you must submit your best work to a short story competition in your niche. Depending on the writing contest, you may need to pay an entry fee and submit the entirety of your short story for publication if it wins. If the contest you entered offers a cash prize, you will typically be awarded a check several weeks following the announcement of your win.

How do I win a poetry prize?

A poetry prize is awarded by hundreds of different creative writing contests every year. Some awards are small while others are substantial enough to fund an author’s work for a short period of time. Submit your poem or collection of poems to a poetry contest you meet the eligibility requirements for.

How can I submit my best work to win first prize?

Writing awards are offered to established and emerging writers who have submitted exceptional work in a chosen niche, such as creative writing, creative nonfiction, short fiction, and more.

To earn the top prize in any writing contest, you should proofread your work multiple times and ensure your spelling, English grammar, and formatting are free of errors. Your content should be compelling, engaging, and easy for your target audience to read and identify with.

What can winning writers expect after becoming a contest prize winner?

New writers often want to know what to expect after becoming a contest prize winner before submitting their work for a literary prize. Winning writers should be prepared to quickly grow their social media networks as they gain increased notoriety. Young adults and authors new to the industry should consider working with a professional agency to secure adequate representation.

What are honorable mentions?

Writers who are not among the first, second, or third place winners may be given an honorable mention. Honorable mentions are considered excellent works in their own right. Multiple winning writers typically indicates that the competition was stiff and many writers deserved recognition for their work.

Can fiction writers win a creative writing contest?

There are multiple contests for fiction writers that offer a range of cash prizes to authors that write short fiction, flash fiction, short stories, and other types of fiction. Competition can be stiff for these contests, however, so it’s critical to ensure that the content you submit is award-worthy.

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The Best Essay Writing Contests of 2022

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Showing 37 contests

ScienceQuest NextGen Science Literary Writing Competition

Established to recognize and encourage creative writing and provide a platform for publication, this science literary competition is open to original and previously unpublished short stories in the English language by a writer of any nationality, living anywhere in the world. Writing samples submitted must be from the genres of: Science fiction, Dystopian, Futuristic, Fantasy, Paranormal ​​ We accept essay, short story, and novel submissions up to 15 pages in length, double-spaced.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Consultation with literary agent Leticia Gomez

Entry requirements

Deadline: July 15, 2022

Genres

Essay, Fantasy, Novel, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Short Story, Young Adult

M&P High School Essay Contest

McMillan & Phillips Digital Creative Agency

McMillan & Phillips is an award winning creative digital agency on the search for the next generation of marketers who want to shake up the status quo, and usher in a new era. The contest is open to United States high school students in grades twelve attending public, private, parochial, or home schools.

Top prize

3 month remote editorial internship with M&P

Additional prizes

2nd place: $155 USD | 3rd place: one year subscription to Sanvello

Entry requirements

Deadline: May 16, 2022 (Expired)

Genres

YeahWrite Super Challenge

The Super Challenge is a prompted, 48-hour flash competition alternating between fiction and creative nonfiction. Prompts are released on a Friday night; writers have 48 hours to craft a response in 1,000 words or fewer. Professional editors read all entries and provide detailed feedback on each. The top writers move on to round 2 with new prompts.

Top prize
Additional prizes

$100 for second place | $50 for third place

Entry requirements

Deadline: December 23, 2022

Genres

Essay, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction

Geminga: $250 for Tiny Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, or Art

Authors and artists eligible. Sunspot Lit’s Geminga contest honors the power of the small. No restrictions on theme or category. $250 cash, publication for the winner, and publication offered to runners-up and finalists. Enter as many times as you like, but only one piece per submission.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Publication in digital and print

Entry requirements

Deadline: June 30, 2022

Genres

Crime, Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Poetry, Romance, Science Fiction, Script Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

The Hal Prize

Peninsula Publishing & Distribution

The Hal Prize offers publication to a readership of more than 25,000 and cash awards for winners. The contest is open to writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and to photographers throughout the United States. Prose should be no more than 4,000 words and poetry no longer than a page. The annual literary and photography contest is presented by the Peninsula Pulse and Write On, Door County.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Cash prizes for 2nd and 3rd place, publication in 8142 Review, and a handmade mug

Entry requirements

Deadline: September 15, 2022

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story

Mr. Rosewood Short Story Contest

A brand new challenge is here! After the success of Mrs. Rosewood’s antics last year, here’s Mr. Rosewood waiting for you to write about any of his days into a story. He could be bright, gloomy, witty, loveable, or always ready to fight. It’s your character, create him! Then, tell us a story about a day in the life of your Mr. Rosewood and get published in our next publication.

Top prize

Publication in anthology

Additional prizes

Publication, eCertificates and Author features

Entry requirements

Deadline: April 15, 2022 (Expired)

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Short Story

Teen Angst: Mix Tape Vol 2

4 Horsemen Publications, Inc.

Poetry, Journals, Diaries & Love Letters, we all have them collecting dust on a shelf, in a box under your bed, or hidden away in the attic where no one can find them. That journal, diary, or even composition book full of your teen angst. We want them. In the raw, unedited, all the teen angst you can hit us with. Take a picture of the journal, the page, angsty doodles,love letters and more. We will share them to the world, all backgrounds, all ages and generations (including our own)! This project is co-hosted between 4 Horsemen Publications and Battle Goddess Productions.

Top prize

Publication in anthology

Additional prizes

Access to buy author copies at a discounted rate

Entry requirements

Deadline: June 30, 2022

Genres

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction, Poetry

Emerging Writer’s Contest

In the spirit of the journal ‘s founding mission, the Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest recognizes work by an emerging writer in each of three genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One winner in each genre per year will receive $2,000 and publication in the literary journal. Authors are considered “emerging” if they haven ‘t published or self-published a book.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Publication in Ploughshares

Entry requirements

Deadline: May 15, 2022 (Expired)

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story

Lazuli Literary Group Writing Contest

Lazuli Literary Group

We are not concerned with genre distinctions. Send us the best you have; we want only for it to be thoughtful, intelligent, and beautiful. We want art that grows in complexity upon each visitation; we enjoy ornate, cerebral, and voluptuous phrases executed with thematic intent.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Publication in “AZURE: A Journal of Literary Thought”

Entry requirements

Deadline: May 22, 2022 (Expired)

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Poetry, Short Story, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Novella, Script Writing

2023 Book Prize

Writers are invited to submit novels, short story collections and creative nonfiction manuscripts. The Editors’ Prize winner receives a publication contract with Unleash Press and $1000 prize, along with 10 printed copies of the final book. We may also offer publication contracts to additional outstanding manuscripts.

Top prize
Additional prizes
Entry requirements

Deadline: December 31, 2023

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Novel, Short Story

100 Word Writing Contest

100 words per entry. Submit as many entries as you’d like. All ages. All genders. All nationalities. All writers welcome. This year’s theme is the power of words. The words we write, the words we say, the words we keep to ourselves. They make a difference in the lives of those around us. How can you use your words to instill a sense of calm, of hope, of community? To remind one another of the beauty of diversity. To encourage us to support, love, and inspire one another.

Top prize
Additional prizes

2nd: writing coach package 3rd: developmental or diversity editing package.

Entry requirements

Deadline: April 30, 2022 (Expired)

Genres

Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Humor, Memoir, Mystery, Non-fiction, Science Fiction, Science Writing, Thriller, Young Adult

The Fountain Essay Contest

We want to hear your COVID-19 story. What has the virus taught you about life? If you were not infected, what has your experience been like as an “outsider?” We encourage our contestants to explore this issue in a way that is most meaningful to them, and to do so while making sure to avoid speculative narratives and political polarization.

Top prize
Additional prizes
Entry requirements

Deadline: April 01, 2022 (Expired)

Genres

Essay, Memoir, Non-fiction

Irene Adler Prize

The Irene Adler Prize offers a $1,000 US scholarship to a woman pursuing a degree in journalism, creative writing, or literature at a recognized post-secondary institution in the U.S. or Canada, based on an essay competition.

Top prize
Entry requirements

Deadline: May 30, 2022 (Expired)

Genres

Red Hen Press Women’s Prose Prize

Established in 2018, the Women’s Prose Prize is for previously unpublished, original work of prose. Novels, short story collections, memoirs, essay collections, and all other forms of prose writing are eligible for consideration. The awarded manuscript is selected through a biennial competition, held in even-numbered years, that is open to all writers who identify as women.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Publication by Red Hen Press

Entry requirements

Deadline: February 28, 2022 (Expired)

Genres

Fiction, Non-fiction, Short Story, Essay, Memoir, Novel

Olive Woolley Burt Awards For Creative Writing

League of Utah Writers

The Olive Woolley Burt Awards are open to the general public for previously unpublished work. Discounts for entry given to members of the League of Utah Writers.

Top prize
Entry requirements

Deadline: May 13, 2022 (Expired)

Genres

Essay, Fantasy, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Non-fiction, Poetry, Science Writing, Script Writing, Short Story, Thriller, Young Adult

Dandy Writers Short Story Contest

Submit a story of no more than 200 words. Your submission must be in line with the theme of the month. A writer is only permitted to submit one application per month. No more than one application. No plagiarism, even if it’s your work already published. Your work must be yours. Your data entered must be accurate. You must pay the entry fee. Note: Failure to comply with these rules will result to your application cancelled. And your entry fee will not be refunded. Thanks as you obey these rules.

Top prize
Additional prizes
Entry requirements

Deadline: May 30, 2023

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Novel, Novella, Short Story

Share Your Story

Write about an event in your life. Everyone has a memoir. Not an autobiography. Too much concern about fact and convention. A memoir gives us the ability to write about our life with the option to create and fabricate and to make sense of a life, or part of that life.

Top prize
Entry requirements

Deadline: September 15, 2022

Genres

FemmeFluenza 2.0

Become a published woman author by this International Women’s Day! Announcing our second exclusively-for-women-writers story-writing international contest FemmeFluenza 2.0 ‘Cos life is all about celebrating womanhood and surviving through various challenges it brings along! Theme: Survival stories through various challenges faced by women – be it prejudices, physical or emotional abuse, sexual harassment, corporate biases, denied education, breast cancer, female infanticide, gender discrimination, single-parenthood, divorce, social stigmas and taboos, etc.

Top prize
Additional prizes

Author features and Merit certificates (digital)

Entry requirements

Deadline: February 15, 2022 (Expired)

Genres

Essay, Fiction, Memoir, Non-fiction, Short Story

Hispanic Culture Review – Literary and Photographic Contest 2021-2022

Hispanic Culture Review

If the past year has taught us anything, it is that circumstances are always changing. Just as the world inevitably changes around us, we, too, go through various cycles of transformation in our lifetimes. Our identities are not static but evolve as we experience life and confront obstacles that come our way. Who we are is not fixed but rather a reflection of ourselves at a certain point in time and the journey it took to get there. As Maya Angelou once stated, “we delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” This year, we invite you to reflect on the following questions: What does the phrase “ever-changing” mean for you or your community with respect to the journey of transformation? What has made you the person you are today? 1 work will be awarded in each category: 1) photography & visual arts, 2) poetry, and 3) narrative/essay/academic investigation. The selected works will be published in our magazine, and winners will receive a monetary prize of $100 dollars and a certificate of recognition, and will be notified through email as well as on our Facebook page (Hispanic Culture Review GMU). Prizes will be issued in the Spring of 2022.

The Fountain Essay Contest 2021-2022

After a long dormancy in this Covid era, our lives seem to be taking off for a fresh start. Vaccination is speeding up, people are mostly cautious in their interactions with less handshakes and kisses, and despite ups and downs in new cases and deaths, signs for “revival” are getting more visible every passing day.

  • What does revival mean to you? How do you revive?
  • Is getting back to “normal” a revival when there is a new normal every day? What is your new normal?
  • Having faced the reality of death grievously during the pandemic, what would “revival” mean to those who lost their lives and to their loved ones left behind?
  • How has your perception of life changed as we have realized our fragility and could not prevent the loss of millions?
  • Do you believe in revival after death, and how did you rely on these beliefs during the pandemic?

Writing is an important to heal ourselves. We are expecting your essays on “revival” to hear your story which can be a source of healing for you and others.

  • Submissions to be posted: December 1, 2021 – April 1, 2022
  • Deadline for submissions: April 1, 2022
  • Contest open to all writers worldwide
  • Ideal word count to be between 1,500 and 2,500
  • For submissions check out www.fountainmagazine.com
    For submissions click here

Cash prizes

Frequently Asked Questions

THEME

What qualifies a good essay?

An essay that you feel your heart rests more comfortably on. The more concise an essay, the more acceptable it is. Its authenticity and uniqueness, and how elaborately you put your theme into words so that others are inspired from it.

REFERENCES

Do we have to include references, bibliography, notes, etc. as in an academic journal?

The Fountain is not a journal. Thus, we do not expect a full scale reference list for all the information you provide. But, we encourage contributors to provide at least a reasonable number of references (not more than four or five) especially for the arguments borrowed from other sources, as it would make your work more reliable. If the kind of information you provide needs citation, please provide it; but essays with lengthy references are not preferred. Some reference and recommendations for further reading may help readers who are interested in the essay. Accuracy of data is expected in essays in which information provided needs sourcing. An essay based on personal experience does not require citation, and it is equally acceptable.

WORD COUNT

Does the word count limit include the bibliography or just the essay itself?

The Fountain is not a full-scale academic journal, so we expect authors to keep references to a maximum of four or five. Notes can be more. References and notes do not make a big change in word count which is advised to be between 1,500 and 2,500. A range is always necessary to be able to have an objective measure in terms of size.

STYLE

What kind of writing style do you expect? Can we use informal phrases? Is this essay supposed to be a personal opinion piece, or more of a scholarly supported article?

In writing style, we mainly seek consistency. We prefer the Chicago Manual of Style, but if you are more familiar with another style, that is also acceptable. Some informal usage can be OK in a certain essay, but not in another. It is basically the author’s call.

Would an essay in the short story genre qualify for the contest?

As long as your theme is skillfully woven through its structure, and if it upholds The Fountain’s values and principles, yes.

PUBLISHING

Are you going to publish submitted essays anywhere?

We might publish submissions in The Fountain, both the print and web editions, even if the essays did not win any prize. By submitting your essay to this contest, you agree that you give permission to The Fountain to publish it in any medium.

As the copyright holders before published, the authors have the right to submit their work elsewhere on condition that they notify The Fountain in advance.

NUMBER OF ENTRY

Can I submit more than one essay?

No. One entry per person.

DISQUALIFICATION

What makes an essay disqualified?

  • Offensive and devotional essays — particularly essays that emphasize superiority of a specific worldview or derogating a specific worldview—will be disqualified. Essays that “propagate” a certain spiritual order, a religious denomination, a spiritual leader, or a political activist, etc. in a way that subordinates all other faiths and traditions are considered devotional and will be disqualified.
  • Title is missing – Do not forget to put a title. Titles are important for readers and reviewers to see what lies in the center of your message. Missing title will disqualify your submission.
  • Submissions already published elsewhere are not accepted.

EVALUATION

Who will determine the winners? Can you explain more specifically what you are looking for in a winner?

The winners will be determined by our board who will decide according to the literary effectiveness of the essay in reflecting the philosophy behind the motto, richness in content, and authenticity.

All submitted essays will be evaluated using the following criteria.

  1. Relevance to the contest theme (40 points)
  2. Innovation & creativity (30 points)
  3. Writing style and structure (30 points)

SUBMISSION

How am I going to submit my essay?

Submissions are over as of April 1st. Thank you all for your interest!

When is the last day for submissions?

ELIGIBILITY

Who is eligible to participate in this contest?

There is no age limit or a condition to fulfill for entry. The contest is open to all who want to share his or her ideas with us.

Annual Writing Competition

ENTER NOW! Deadline: June 20, 2022. Writer’s Digest’s oldest and most popular competition, the Annual Writing Competition, is currently open for entries. Winners of the 91st Annual competition will be announced in the Nov/Dec 2022 issue of Writer’s Digest.

Writer’s Digest has been shining a spotlight on up and coming writers in all genres through its Annual Writing Competition for over 90 years. Enter our 91st Annual Writing Competition for your chance to win and have your work be seen by editors and agents! Almost 500 winners will be chosen.

  • Prizes
  • Categories
  • How to enter

Prizes
One Grand Prize winner will receive:

  • $5,000 in cash
  • An interview with them in Writer’s Digest (Nov/Dec 2022 issue) and on WritersDigest.com
  • A paid trip to the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference, including special recognition at the keynote
  • A coveted Pitch Slam slot at the Writer’s Digest Conference where the winner will receive one on one attention from editors or agents
  • Publication of their winning piece on WritersDigest.com

The First place winner in each category will receive $1,000 in cash and publication of their winning piece on WritersDigest.com.

The Second place winner in each category will receive $500 cash.

The Third place winner in each category will receive $250 in cash.

The Fourth place winner in each category will receive $100 in cash.

The Fifth place winner in each category will receive $50 in cash.

The Sixth through Tenth place winners in each category will receive a $25 gift certificate for writersdigestshop.com.

All top winners will also receive:

  • Their names and the title of their winning piece listed in Writer’s Digest and on WritersDigest.com
  • A one-year subscription (new or renewal) to Writer’s Digest magazine
  • A one year subscription to Writer’s Digest Tutorials
  • 20% discount off of purchases made at Writer’s Digest University
  • A special graphic recognizing their winning status

All Honorable Mentions receive:

  • Their names and the title of their winning piece listed in Writer’s Digest and on WritersDigest.com
  • 20% discount off of purchases made at Writer’s Digest University

Categories

  • Inspirational/Spiritual
  • Memoirs/Personal Essay
  • Nonfiction Essay or Article
  • Genre Short Story (Mystery, Romance, etc.)
  • Mainstream/Literary Short Story
  • Rhyming Poetry
  • Non-rhyming Poetry
  • Script (Stage Play/Television/Movie Script/Short Film)
  • Children’s/Young Adult Fiction

How to Enter

ENTERING IS EASY!

Create your free Submittable account by clicking the SUBMIT button. If you already have a Submittable account, simply log in!

You can compete in multiple WD competitions with a single login! Check back often for an updated list of competitions.

When you are ready to submit your work to the WD Annual Writing Competition readers, you’ll want to have the following information available:

Your contact information (be careful that the information provided is accurate). Contact information is to be provided only on the submission form (not on the submission’s file upload). Time sensitive information such as credits and contact information (for prize distribution) is taken directly from the submission form. Due to the nature of deadlines, corrections to this information are not guaranteed.

Your ANNUAL WRITING COMPETITION submission file (see the PREPARING YOUR ENTRY tips for more information).

Your method of payment (see the ENTRY PRICING, SUBMISSION DEADLINES AND WINNER NOTIFICATION page for tips for all pricing and deadlines).

Ready to enter? Click on the link below to get started!

Enter your email below and receive a free download, “Writer’s Digest Complete Guide to Writing Contests,” and be a step ahead of your competition!

The 22 Best Writing Contests with Cash Prizes

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All writers begin their journey for their own reasons. Some seek fame and fortune, while others simply have a story that is worth telling. At EditionGuard, we have worked with writers and authors from all walks of life, writing about a wide assortment of genres. Although not all writers strive to strike it rich, being rewarded for their craft is always appreciated. Based on our experience, most writers hope to be paid-in-full for the work they produce. However, they also want recognition for their content. For both of these reasons, EditionGuard provides industry-standard DRM solutions at a price accessible to self-published authors. With this week’s post, we want to continue protecting the writers we work with by providing them with a reliable resource on writing courses. Since it is difficult to know whether or not a writing contest is legitimate, we decided to create a shortlist of reputable contests—and ones that come with a cash reward.

These 20 Writing Contests Are Definitely Worth Your Time

Whether you specialize in writing science fiction short stories or live for nonfiction, these writing contests are well worth checking out. Not only can they help you gain recognition, but these contests hand out a nice chunk of change. After all, who doesn’t want to be paid a respectable cash prize for doing something they love? The following annual contests are actually worth the time it takes to enter. Not only are they legitimate but they also celebrate the art of writing and the writing community itself.

1. The Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition

  • What to write: Each story must be an original, unpublished work of fiction. Although there are no restrictions on the theme, each submission may not exceed 3,500 words.
  • Deadline: With a deadline of May 1, 2018, this year’s contest has already passed. However, writers can already submit for the 2019 competition. Learn more about submission (including the $5 fee here ).

2. Colorado State University’s Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction

  • What to write: Each fictional story must be at least ten pages (or 2,500 words) but no more than 50 pages (12,500 words). Once again, there is no restriction as to genre, and all stories must be previously unpublished.
  • Deadline: The contest will open this year on December 1, 2018, and the deadline is March 14, 2019. The winner will not be announced until mid-June 2019.

3. The Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition

  • What to write: The maximum word count varies depending on the category chosen and the exact final word count must be typed at the top of the manuscript. The categories include Inspirational Writing, Memories/Personal Essay, Magazine Feature Article, Any Genre Short Story, Mainstream/Literary Short Story, Rhyming Poetry, Non-Rhyming Poetry, Script, and Children’s/Young Adult Fiction.
  • Deadline: May 4, 2018, was the early bird deadline and the final deadline (which costs slightly more) was June 1. This means you can start preparing your outline for next year’s competition.

4. The Glimmer Train Press Very Short Story Award

  • What to write: Any length up to 12,000 words is welcome. They have since opened this contest to all writers, requiring a short story of your choice. They also run a “ Fiction Open ” contest, where stories can be from 3,000 to 28,000 words.
  • Deadline: This contest runs twice annually, with a deadline of April 30 and August 31.

5. The Roswell Award

  • What to write: All science fiction stories must be 1,500 words or less. It is suggested that you write an engaging story with an emphasis on mood, imagery, tone, themes, and strong characters.
  • Deadline: Submissions are free and open in fall 2018.

(Source: Adobe )

Looking for a Writing Contest to Enter?

Hannah Yang

Writing contests can be a useful way to send your work out into the world. With a strong submission and a bit of luck, you can win publication, recognition, and even cash prizes.

This article will give you the inside scoop on the most high-quality writing contests to enter.

Are Writing Contests Worth Entering?

Entering writing contests can be useful for several reasons:

  • They give you a deadline and often even a prompt to write about, which many writers find motivating
  • The results can help you get a sense of where you are on your writing journey and how you can improve your craft
  • Winning a contest can be a fantastic boost to your journey as a writer

The benefits of writing competitions

On the other hand, it’s important to keep in mind that it takes a lot of luck to win a contest, since there are usually only a few winners chosen from among hundreds of strong contestants.

If your goal is to get your writing published, you’ll likely fare better by submitting to magazines and anthologies than by entering contests.

Download our free eBook on how to publish your writing

If your goal is to make money, you should prioritize freelance writing jobs instead.

With that being said, there are many incredible writing contests out there that can absolutely be worth your while, as long as you enter with realistic expectations.

The best option for your writing goal

What Are Some Writing Contests That Are Free to Enter?

Many writing contests cost fees to enter, since they give out cash prizes and hire guest judges that they need to pay for their time.

Charging an entry fee doesn’t necessarily mean the contest is a scam. It does mean, however, that you need to be judicious about which contests to submit your work to.

Free writing contests are more accessible to all writers, and there’s nothing to lose from giving them a shot.

We’ve compiled a list of legitimate, high-quality writing contests that charge no entry fees.

Prose Weekly Challenge

Prose, a social network for readers and writers, offers weekly challenges meant to spark your creativity. This is a fun, low-stakes challenge, with a small cash prize to sweeten the deal.

Prize: Each week’s winner receives $100.
Guidelines: Submit a short piece of writing (up to 500 words) related to the weekly prompt.
Deadline: Weekly.

Prose Weekly Challenge

Prime Number Magazine 53-Word Story Contest

Press 53’s Prime Number Magazine hosts a monthly micro-fiction contest based on a theme.

All stories must be exactly 53 words long. There’s no cash prize, but this can be a fun and low-stakes contest to participate in if you’ve got some spare time and are looking for a writing prompt.

Prize: Publication, a free book from Press 53.
Guidelines: Submit a 53-word story based on a monthly prompt. Open to writers around the world who write in English.
Deadline: Monthly on the 15th of each month.

Prime Number Magazine 53-Word Story Contest

Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction

The Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction is an annual short story contest co-hosted by Comma Press and the University of Central Lancashire.

If you live in the UK and are interested in crime stories, this is a great contest to consider, with a £500 for the winner and publication for the runners-up.

Prize: £500 ($692) for first place, and publication for 10 shortlisted authors.
Guidelines: Submit a short story (between 2,000 and 6,000 words). The theme for the 2022 Prize is “Crime Stories.” Only residents of the UK age 18 or older are eligible.
Deadline: October 29, 2021.

Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction

Commonwealth Short Fiction Prize

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is an annual short fiction contest administered by the Commonwealth Foundation.

If you’re a short story writer and a citizen of a Commonwealth country, this contest is a fantastic option, with a generous £5,000 cash prize for the winner.

Prize: £5,000 ($6,922) for the overall winner and £2,500 ($3,461) for regional winners.
Guidelines: Entrants must be citizens of a Commonwealth country and age 18 or over. Submit a short story (between 2,000 and 5,000 words). As well as English, stories are accepted in the Bengali, Chinese, French, Greek, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Tamil, and Turkish languages. Translated entries from any language into English are also eligible.
Deadline: November 1, 2021.

Commonwealth Short Fiction Prize

ServiceScape Short Story Award

ServiceScape is a platform that matches freelance writers, editors, and graphic designers with clients. They offer a yearly Short Story Award with a $1,000 prize.

Prize: $1,000 for first place and publication on the ServiceScape blog.
Guidelines: Accepts original, unpublished work (5,000 words or fewer) in any genre, fiction or non-fiction. Writers must be age 18 or older.
Deadline: November 29, 2021.

ServiceScape Short Story Award

The Roswell Award

The Roswell Award is an annual science fiction contest with a $500 prize, co-presented by Sci-Fest L.A. and the Light Bringer Project.

This is a great option if you like using your writing to unite the worlds of science and art.

Prize: $500 for first place, $250 for second place, and $100 for third place.
Guidelines: Submit a science fiction story. Open to writers around the world age 16 or older. Writers are encouraged to explore scientific, social, technological, environmental, and philosophical themes in their writing and always, at the core, to master the art of great storytelling.
Deadline: December 21, 2021.

The Roswell Award

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest

The Writers of the Future Contest is the most enduring and influential contest in the history of science fiction and fantasy.

The contest is held once every three months, with a generous $1,000 prize.

Prize: $1,000 for first place, $750 for second place, and $500 for third place.
Guidelines: Submissions must be short stories or novelettes (up to 17,000 words) in the genre of science fiction or fantasy. Open to new and amateur writers around the world.
Deadline: Quarterly on December 31, March 31, June 30, and September 30.

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest

Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award

The Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award is an annual contest, co-hosted by the National Space Society and Baen Books, for stories about manned space exploration.

If you’re interested in the role that science fiction plays in advancing real science, this is a great option that pays professional rates.

Prize: Professional paying rates (8 cents per word). The winner’s story will be published as the featured story on the Baen Books main website. The winner will also receive free entry into 2020 International Space Development Conference and a prize package with various Baen Books and National Space Society merchandise.
Guidelines: Submit a short story (up to 8,000 words) that shows the near future (no more than about 50-60 years out) of manned space exploration. The judges want to see moon bases, Mars colonies, orbital habitats, space elevators, asteroid mining, artificial intelligence, nano-technology, realistic spacecraft, heroics, sacrifice, and/or adventure. Open to writers around the world who write in English.
Deadline: TBD 2022 (the previous year’s deadline was February 1, 2021).

Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award

The Fountain Essay Contest

A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.

Fountain Magazine holds an annual contest for essays related to the personal challenges you’ve faced in your life.

Challenges can span from moving across the country and starting at a new high school or getting out of bed in the morning while undergoing depression. There are generous cash prizes for the winners.

Prize: $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place, $300 for third place, and $150 each for two honorable mentions.
Guidelines: Submit a personal essay (between 1,500 and 2,500 words) on the annual theme. All writers worldwide are eligible.
Deadline: TBD 2022 (the previous year’s deadline was March 1, 2021).

The Fountain Essay Contest

The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize

Every year, The Alpine Fellowship awards writing, visual arts, and theater prizes related to an annual theme.

This is an extremely competitive fellowship, with global recognition for the winner and a whopping £10,000 first place prize.

Prize: £10,000 ($13,840) for first place, £3,000 ($4,150) for second place, and £2,000 ($2,770) for third place.
Guidelines: Submit a piece of writing related to the annual theme (2021’s was “Untamed: On Wilderness and Civilization”). Entries must be unpublished and a maximum of 2,500 words. Poetry, prose, or non-academic essays welcome.
Deadline: TBD 2022 (the previous year’s deadline was April 1, 2021).

The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

The Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest is a contest for humor poems. This is a really fun contest if you like wordplay and witticisms, and you might even win $2,000.

Prize: $2,000 for first place, $500 for second place, and $100 each to 10 honorable mentions.
Guidelines: Writers of all ages can submit an original, humorous poem with 250 lines or less. The poem you submit should be in English. Inspired gibberish is also accepted.
Deadline: April 1, 2022.

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

Parsec Short Story Contest

Parsec Ink holds an annual contest for science fiction, fantasy, and horror short stories from non-professional writers, with a small cash prize for the winners.

Prize: $200 for first place, $100 for second place, and $50 for third place.
Guidelines: Submit a short story (up to 3,500 words) based on the annual theme. The 2022 theme has not yet been announced. (The 2021 theme was “Still Waters, Deep Thoughts”).
Deadline: TBD 2022 (the previous year’s deadline was April 15, 2021).

Parsec Short Story Contest

Bacopa Literary Review Contest

Bacopa Literary Review is an international journal published by the Writers Alliance of Gainesville. They hold an annual contest that welcomes fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.

Prize: $300 for first place and $100 for second place in each of four genres: Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, and Prose Poetry.
Guidelines: Submit a piece of writing in one of the four genres. You can find detailed guidelines for each genre on the website.
Deadline: TBD 2022 (the previous year’s deadline was May 31, 2021).

Bacopa Literary Review Contest

Stony Brook Southampton Short Fiction Prize

The Stony Brook Southampton Short Fiction Prize is a short story contest specifically for college students.

If you’re an undergraduate and want to try a writing contest, this is a fantastic option because you have a smaller set of competitors.

Prize: $1,000, a scholarship to the 2021 Southampton Writers’ Conference, and consideration for publication in TSR: The Southampton Review.
Guidelines: Only full-time undergraduates in United States and Canadian universities and colleges are eligible. Submissions must be short fiction (7,500 words or less).
Deadline: June 1, 2022.

Stony Brook Southampton Short Fiction Prize

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Annual Anthology Contest

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group holds an annual contest for short stories based on a theme.

There’s no cash prize, but all winning stories are published in their anthology, and you can receive royalties from sales.

Prize: Winning stories will be edited and published, and authors will receive royalties from the anthology.
Guidelines: Submit a short story (between 5,000 and 6,000 words) related to the annual theme.
Deadline: TBD 2022 (the previous year’s deadline was September 1, 2021).

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Annual Anthology Contest

Hektoen Grand Prix Essay Contest

Hektoen International, an online journal dedicated to medical humanities, holds an annual contest for essays related to medicine, with a generous $5,000 cash prize.

Prize: $5,000 for the winner and $2,500 for the runner-up.
Guidelines: Submit a short essay (up to 1,500 words) on any topic so long as it has a relation to medicine. The essay can include art, history, literature, education, and more. Writers must be age 18 or older.
Deadline: TBD 2022 (the previous year’s deadline was September 15, 2021).

Hektoen Grand Prix Essay Contest

Owl Canyon Press Short Story Hackathon

Owl Canyon Press holds an annual “hackathon” for 20-paragraph stories, with a $1,000 prize.

The contest provides the first and last paragraph and the short story writer crafts the rest.

Prize: $1,000 for first place, $750 for second place, and $500 for third place. Publication in a short story anthology for 24 finalists.
Guidelines: Writers are invited to create and submit a short story consisting of 20 paragraphs. The contest provides the 1st and 20th paragraphs, and the short story writer crafts the rest. There is no entry fee for submissions received during the first month of the contest.
Deadline: TBD 2022 (last year’s deadline was September 30, 2020).

Owl Canyon Press Short Story Hackathon

Transitions Abroad Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest

The Transitions Abroad Writing Contest is an annual contest for essays related to your experience abroad. If you’ve ever lived and worked abroad, this is a great contest with a $500 cash prize.

  • Prize: $500 for first place, $150 for second place, $100 for third place, and $50 for all finalists.
  • Guidelines: Submit a practical and inspiring essay or mini-guide (between 1,200 and 5,000 words) that provides in-depth descriptions of your experience moving, living, and working abroad (including any form of work such as teaching English, internships, volunteering, short-term jobs, etc.). The contest is open to writers from any location around the globe.
  • Deadline: TBD 2022 (last year’s deadline was October 15, 2020).

Transitions Abroad Expatriate and Work Abroad Writing Contest

How Can I Increase My Chances of Winning?

Each of these contests has different requirements. What works for one probably will not work for another.

But what will increase your chance in every contest is good grammar and a solid structure. This is where ProWritingAid can help.

We may not be able to write your story for you, but we can help you submit your best work.

ProWritingAid’s 25 reports provide personalized, in-depth feedback on everything from grammar and spelling to pacing, word choice, passive voice, and more.

prowritingaid's summary report

Sign up for a free account to see how ProWritingAid can help you.

Where Can I Find More Writing Contests?

There are many resources for writers that compile lists of writing contests. You should check these regularly, as different writing contests have different submission periods.

Some of my favorite resources include:

With many writers’ sites, you can filter for free contests specifically, and you can also filter by the type of work you want to submit.

I usually check these sites once a season (fall, winter, spring, summer) to compile a list of the contests I want to submit to.

Do you have a favorite writing contest? Let us know in the comments.

FREE WEBINAR: How to Improve Your Chances of Winning the Debut Dagger, Nov 11, 2pm ET / 7pm UK

improve your chances of winning the debut dagger, Nov 11 2pm ET / 7pm UK

Have you been thinking about entering your story for the CWA Debut Dagger this year? The deadline isn’t until the end of February but we want to help you prepare.

We’ve invited Dea Parkin, Secretary of the Crime Writers’ Association, and Leigh Russell, Chair of the Debut Dagger judges, to come and share their insider information. Learn what the judges are looking for and how to give your story the best shot at winning.

Have you tried ProWritingAid yet? What are you waiting for? It’s the best tool for making sure your copy is strong, clear, and error-free!

Hannah Yang

Hannah Yang

Speculative Fiction Author

Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on hannahyang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.

The writer magazine essay contest

Courtesy photo

Adult Short Story Judges

Carrie Callaghan is the author of the historical novels Salt the Snow and A Light of Her Own (both with Amberjack Publishing). She lives in Silver Spring with her family.

Courtesy photo

Will Pittman is a multimedia artist who could have been found as a poet (D. Selby Fing) and writer (Y.S. Fing) working with such organizations as The Washington Biography Group, the Washington Independent Review of Books and the Washington Writers Conference before taking up collage (Bugs Pacino) and music (Y.S. Fing and the Microcosmic Examples). He teaches academic writing at a local university and lives in Silver Spring with his wife.

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Adam Schwartz’s debut collection of stories, The Rest of the World, won the Washington Writers’ Publishing House 2020 prize for fiction. His stories have won prizes sponsored by Poets & Writers, Philadelphia Stories and Baltimore City Paper and have appeared in Mississippi Review, December, Raritan, Popshot, J Journal, Gargoyle and elsewhere. He lives in Elkridge, Maryland.

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High School Short Story Judges

Myna Chang’s work has been selected for The Best Small Fictions, Fractured Lit and The Citron Review, among others. She has won the Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction and the New Millennium Award in Flash Fiction. She lives in Potomac with her family. Read more at mynachang.com or @mynachang.

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Ofelia Montelongo is a bilingual writer from Mexico. She has a Master of Arts in Latin American literature. Her work has been published in The Rumpus, Latino Book Review, The Acentos Review and elsewhere. She was a 2019 Writer’s Center fellow. She currently teaches at George Washington University and was a PEN/Faulkner writer in residence, a 2021 Macondista and a PEN America Emerging Voices fellow. Montelongo lives in Gaithersburg. Read more at ofeliamontelongo.com.

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Alice Stephens’ debut novel, Famous Adopted People, was published in 2018 by Unnamed Press. A resident of Silver Spring, she is the editor of Bloom, a book reviewer, and writes a column, “Alice in Wordland,” for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

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Adult and High School Essay Judges

Christine Koubek Flynn’s stories have appeared in many publications, including The Washington Post, Poets & Writers, Washingtonian and Chautauqua, and received several awards from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Fairfield University and is the recipient of a 2021 Elizabeth George Foundation grant for her novel in progress. In helping writers shape their stories, she has led workshops for The Writer’s Center, The Muse Writers Center and Armed Services Arts Partnership. A travel columnist for Bethesda Magazine, she lives in Gaithersburg.

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GG Renee Hill is an author, workshop facilitator and creative coach who helps others discover and express their truths through writing. In her books and workshops, she advocates for self-discovery and emotional awareness through writing, as she creates safe spaces for others to own their voices and tell their stories. She’s the author of two guided journals: Self-Care Check-In and A Year of Self-Reflection Journal. Her personal essays and creative coaching articles can be found on Medium.com and Shondaland.com. She is currently working on a nonfiction book about the healing power of creativity. She lives in Silver Spring with her partner and three children.

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Lisa Page is co-editor of We Wear the Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America (Beacon Press). Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Lit Hub Weekly, The Crisis, Virginia Quarterly Review, American Short Fiction, Playboy, The Washington Post Book World and other publications. She is an assistant professor of English and the director of creative writing at George Washington University. She previously served as interim director of Africana studies. She is also a resident faculty member of the Yale Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Takoma Park.

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Short Story Contest Organizer

Caroline Bock is the author of Carry Her Home, winner of the Fiction Prize from the Washington Writers’ Publishing House, and the young adult novels LIE and Before My Eyes, from St. Martin’s Press. She is also the winner of The Writer magazine short story award and the Adrift short story award from Driftwood Press. Her creative work has been published in SmokeLong, jmww, Brevity, Gargoyle, Vestal Review, Fiction Southeast, Delmarva Review, Little Patuxtent Review, Ploughshares, Bethesda Magazine and more. In 2022, she was named co-president of the Washington Writers’ Publishing House, a cooperative nonprofit press based in D.C. She lives in Potomac with her family. Find her on Twitter
@cabockwrites.

Contest Information

Bethesda Magazine and the Bethesda Urban Partnership work together to honor local writers through the short story and essay contests. Short stories are limited to 4,000 words, and authors must be residents of Montgomery County or Upper Northwest D.C. (20015 and 20016 ZIP codes). Essays are limited to 500 words and writers in the adult contest must live in Washington, D.C., or select counties of Maryland (Montgomery, Prince George’s, Howard and Frederick) or Virginia (Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William); high school writers must be residents of or attend a school in Montgomery County or Washington, D.C.

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