The Storm Short Story Essay Contests

On By In 1

Standing out is hard. Sometimes you just want to blend in and stick with whatever everybody else is doing. Creative writing competitions are not those times.

I’ve judged a lot of competitions for young writers, which means I’ve read through thousands of stories, each one trying to stand out. But so many of them fall into the same traps. So often I spot a promising story and wish I could give the writer just a couple of simple pointers that would take their writing above the competition.

Read the Short Story Week young writer competition 2015-winning The Promise

Here are the tips I find myself screaming into my hands as I read those entries. Each one is an understandable mistake, and most of them don’t come up in English lessons at school.

Standing out will still be hard, because it takes a little extra time and extra thought to create something original. But if you follow these tips, you’ll give yourself the best chance of finding a spark of something special. Good luck.

(Oh, and the most important one is number 6…)

1. Don’t start with the weather

It’s an easy way to start, isn’t it? A lovely warm-up for the mind and typing fingers to ease yourself into the story, like spewing out “once upon a time” yet again.

It was a bright, sunny day… It was a dark and stormy night… It was rather chilly with a brisk easterly and a 50% chance of precipitation…

Nobody cares. I don’t even pay attention to weather reports in my real life, let alone take an interest in what’s happening in the sky above fictional characters I haven’t met yet. Start with one of two things, and preferably both: People and conflict. Those two things are the essence of any story. People and conflict. That’s all the reader (your judge) cares about. People and conflict will drive your story forward, will be the essence of everything you write. So start with people and conflict.

Sophie McKenzie’s top tips for writing tight plots and building suspense

(The only possible reason to start with the weather is if your story is ABOUT the weather – perhaps it’s a disaster story about a big storm, or a survival story where extreme conditions threaten an expedition. But even if you think your story is about the weather, it’s really about the people, isn’t it? People in conflict with their environment. So don’t start with the weather.)

2. Cut your first paragraph

It’s amazing how many stories are instantly improved by simply covering up the first paragraph. Try it. Your first paragraph is probably about the weather, anyway.

Or your brain found some other way of warming up. Or you were so excited you just had to tell me some crucial information in the first few lines. Well, that information is not as crucial as you thought it was. It can wait. The right moment will come up later in your story for you to SHOW me that information about your world. Or, even better, I’ll have worked it out for myself from the way you’ve written everything else.

Readers are two things: bright but impatient. It’s OK to plunge us straight into your story without explaining – straight into the conflict (see point one). So once you think you’ve finished your story, go back and see what happens if you cover up your first paragraph. Or cover up your first two paragraphs. Or three. Or scan your first page looking for the most arresting opening line. It’s there somewhere. You might not have realised it was the perfect opening line when you wrote it, but you can find it now and cut everything that comes before it.

3. Don’t write a “spooky story”

Spooky stories are wonderful. But for a writing competition they give you a lot of problems. First, everybody thinks they can write them. But you should want to stand out. Second, it’s very hard to come up with anything spooky that hasn’t already been done a million times. So how can you make your story unpredictable?

Top tips for writing ghost stories: Cornelia Funke

But the biggest problem is going to be your ending. Spooky things are usually spooky because they can’t be explained – the supernatural curse, the face at the window, the ghosts and ghouls from beyond our world… So once you reveal what’s behind the spooky stuff it feels like an anticlimax. And if you don’t reveal what’s behind your spooky stuff, what do you end with? You end with dot, dot, dot of course.

Almost two in three stories by young writers that I read for competitions are spooky stories that ‘end’ with a thrilling moment of danger and then… that’s it. No resolution, no explanation, no fun of seeing how the character fights back (or fails to) just the dreaded dot, dot, dot… I can usually guess from the first line whether a story is going to “end” with a dot, dot, dot.

Dot, dot dot is not an ending. It’s a beginning. If you really love the spooky situation you’ve come up with, start your story where you’ve written your dot, dot, dot. Develop it from there, then give me a wonderful, satisfying ending that I wasn’t expecting but which makes sense of everything that’s come before.

Setting up a spooky mystery is easy. I, your judge, will give you no credit for it. Setting up a spooky mystery unlike anything I’ve read before is a bit harder. I’ll still give you very little credit for it. I’m mean. Unravelling a mystery in a satisfying, surprising way… that’s hard. You’re going to need a brilliant twist. Try it if you dare…

4. Avoid celebrities or characters that already exist

Recently I was running a writing workshop for a group of students who had all written stories in preparation for the day with me. The first thing I did was to ask them to put up a hand if they’d written a story about a footballer. About a quarter of the room put their hands up. Then I asked them to keep their hands up if their stories were about either Ronaldo or Messi. All the hands stayed up.

This is pretty typical. And it’s understandable too: it’s easy to plug in a celebrity or existing character to your story. Of course it is. You don’t have to do any of the work of creating a character from scratch. You know a bit about the person so you can imagine them in a story. The same applies to characters from fairy tales or from popular stories that already exist.

I was recently judging a creative writing competition for a big network of hundreds of international schools. Thousands of students from all over the world write stories for this competition every year, and every year the organisation compiles a list of the characters or character names that crop up over and over. Most popular this year: Cinderella. Closely followed by, guess who, Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. There were superheroes on the list too, including Superman, Batman, The Hulk and One Direction (yes, of course they count as superheroes). James Bond was there, alongside, for some reason, the Tooth Fairy.

So think twice before grabbing an existing character or personality for your story. Fan fiction is great, and a wonderful way to start out as a writer. It can help you hone your skills and be a launchpad for your own imaginative journeys. But it’s not going to win a creative writing competition.

If you want to write about Harry Potter, or a footballer or superhero or celebrity, it doesn’t take that much extra time and imagination to use someone you’ve heard of as a starting point but then tweak it. Make it your own. Change the name. Change the situation. What are you really trying to say about that character? Try exaggerating an aspect of the personality to make your point bolder. Or, for a quick fix, mash two things together: a footballer superhero. A boy band that goes round after dark collecting people’s teeth. Suddenly, you’re in fresh territory and you won’t see your characters crop up on a list of what everybody else is writing.

5. Calm down. Keep it simple. Your words are giving me a headache.

When writing competitions are split into age categories, I see a really odd trend in the stories. Writers in the older age groups try to show me how well they can use fancy words. The younger writers are better at telling a story. Which do you think is more important? If you’re in the older age-group category, you might find that a tricky question. It isn’t. The story is ALWAYS more important.

Writing a good story is not the same thing as writing to get ticks from an English teacher. All those fancy words, the complicated constructions, the flowery images… cut them. Pretend you’re still a young kid who just wants to hear a story. Focus on that.

Want an easy way to work out whether you’re overwriting? Count your adjectives. Try to limit yourself to a couple per page. More than one per sentence is definitely not a good idea. Count your adverbs too. Then cut all of them.

There’s always a better way of SHOWING me your story than just TELLING me what to imagine by using an adjective or adverb. And the more syllables there are in your adjectives, the more they’re getting in the way of your story.

So calm down with your thesaurus. Nobody’s trying to break the English language into a new dimension. We just want to hear a story.

6. Write an ending

Remember why I warned you not to write a spooky story? Remember the dreaded dot, dot, dot…? Well, it turns out endings are difficult no matter what kind of story you’re writing. But remember this: if your story doesn’t have an ending, you haven’t written a story. At best, you’ve written a set-up. If you’re entering a story-writing competition, you’re going to need to write a story, and that means you need an ending.

Have you any idea how frustrating it is to read entry after entry, all of them setting up story situations, some of them excellent, but hardly any of them leading anywhere or giving me the satisfaction of a pay-off? Please, I’m begging you: give me that sense of completion that every story should promise – and deliver. Write an ending.

Making your writing the best it can be: top tips from children's books editors

If you’re finding it tough to work out an ending to your story: that’s the way it should feel. Endings are hard. But they’re worth it.

Here are a couple of hints to help you. The great film director Alexander Mackendrick said, “If you’ve got a beginning, but you don’t yet have an end, then you’re wrong. You don’t have the right beginning.” He also said, “There are no wrong endings, only wrong beginnings.”

I suggest you come up with your ending first. Plan that out, then plan how you’re going to get there.

How about writing just an ending? Remember up in point two, when I said you could cut your first few paragraphs? What if you cut the whole of the start of the story and just threw me, your reader, straight into a brilliant ending?

The writer Kurt Vonegut suggested something like that. One of his 8 tips on how to write a good short story is simply: “Start as close to the end as possible”

7. Get out of school

A quick one. A simple one. Most people hear about writing competitions in school. So they look around and they start writing a story set in a school. Break the mould. Think beyond the walls of the space you’re in.

8. Write from an adult’s point of view

Remember I suggested you think beyond the walls around you and write something that isn’t set in a school? How about getting beyond the body you’re in too? Try writing something with an adult as the main character, or from an adult’s point of view. Why not? It might seem difficult at first, but if I can write books starring a genetically-engineered assassin who’s only 12, you can make the leap into an adult’s existence.

Try it. Trust me: nobody else in the competition is doing it.

Pete Kalu’s top tips for writing non-cliched multicultural characters

9. Challenge every word

The best stories are the most re-written stories. It’s that simple. And the more you re-write, the more you’ll stand out from every other entry in a creative writing competition. Find the best bits of your story and hone them to make them better. Change what’s around them to show them off. Find the weaker parts – cut them. Cut and rewrite furiously. Are there sections where you’re rushing? Slapping down too much information at once? Are you explaining when you could be showing?

I could write a whole new piece on how to rewrite. I love rewriting. I don’t write a message in a birthday card without a rough draft I can tear apart and reconstruct into something better.

But it all boils down to this:

Make every line count – for the story, not for its own beauty.

Challenge every word.

Every. Single. Word.

How do I get involved in the Guardian children's books site?

Find out how to enter this year’s National Short Story Week competition here!

Are you a budding writer or poet? Join the Children’s books site and send us your scribblings!

NewPages Big List
of Writing & Book Contests

 

The Big List of Writing Contests features a comprehensive list of magazine, book, chapbook, audio, and video contests and competitions from independent publishers, literary magazines, alternative magazines, and writing conferences and festivals. Organized by upcoming deadlines.

 

January - February - March - April - May - June - July
August - September - October - November - December
Special Deadlines

 

March
back to top

  • Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Documentary Essay Prize. Nonfiction, Photography. Entry Fee. [writing] 3/1 [*genres alternate*]

  • Ahsahta Press. Sawtooth Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/1

  • North Carolina Writers' Network. Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/1

  • Soundings East. Claire Keyes Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/1

  • Writers' Union of Canada. Short Prose Competition for Emerging Writers. Fiction, Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [writing] 3/1

  • Hunger Mountain. Creative Nonfiction Prize. Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/1

  • Women's National Book Association. National Writing Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/1

  • Hunger Mountain. Ruth Stone Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/1

  • Hunger Mountain. Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/1

  • 42 Miles Press. Poetry Award. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/1

  • Atlanta Review. International Poetry Competition. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/1

  • Common Ground Review. Poetry Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/1

  • Lotus Press. Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award. Poetry. [book] 3/1
    [*African American poets only*]

  • St. Petersburg Review. Poetry Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/1

  • Symphony Space Selected Shorts. Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize. Fiction. Entry Fee. [writing] 3/1

  • Tusculum Review. Poetry Chapbook Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 3/1

  • Hunger Mountain. Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/1

  • Persea Books. Lexi Rudnitsky/Editor's Choice Award. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/7

  • Room. Creative Non-Fiction Contest. Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/8

  • Stockholm Writers Festival. First Pages Prize. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. 3/13

  • Modern Haiku. Robert Spiess Memorial Award Haiku Competition. Poetry. No Fee. [mag] 3/13

  • Center for Fiction. First Novel Prize. Fiction. [published book] 3/14
    [published book]

  • Colorado Review. Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/14

  • The Normal School. William Bradley Prize for the Essay. Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/15

  • Literal Latte. Food Verse Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/15

  • Newfound. Newfound Prose Prize. Fiction, Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [chap] 3/15

  • The Tishman Review. Tillie Olsen Short Story Award. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/15

  • Cold Mountain Review. RT Smith Prize for Narrative Poetry. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/15

  • West Chester University Poetry Center. Myong Cha Son Haiku Award. Poetry. No Fee. [writing] 3/15

  • West Chester University Poetry Center. Iris N. Spencer Undergraduate Poetry Award. Poetry. No Fee. [writing] 3/15

  • West Chester University Poetry Center. Rhina P. Espaillat Award. Poetry, Translations. No Fee. 3/15

  • Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation. Tor House Prize for Poetry. Poetry. Entry Fee. [literary site] 3/15

  • Poetry Society of New Hampshire. Poetry Contest for College Students. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/15

  • Slope Editions. Book Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/15

  • Gordon Square Review. Free Stamp Flash Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/15

  • Confrontation Magazine. Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/15

  • Cave Canem Foundation. Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/15

  • Able Muse. Write Prize. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/15

  • Wilkes University. James Jones First Novel Fellowship. Fiction. Entry Fee. [book] 3/15

  • Bellingham Review. Annual Literary Awards. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/15

  • The Claremont Review. Annual Writing & Art Contest. Fiction, Poetry, Art. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/15
    [*young adults only*]

  • Fourth Genre. Steinberg Essay Prize. Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/15

  • Jabberwock Review. Nancy D. Hargrove Editors' Prize. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/15

  • Tupelo Press/Kundiman. Kundiman Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/15
    [*for Asian Americans only*]

  • The Missouri Review. Miller Audio Competition. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Cross-genre, Audio. [audio] 3/15

  • Prairie Schooner. Book Prize. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/15

  • The Southeast Review. Annual Contests. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/15

  • Paper Darts. Short Fiction Award. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/15

  • Word Works. Washington Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/15

  • The Writer's Center. First Novel Prize. Fiction. [book] 3/15

  • The Pinch. Literary Awards. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/15

  • Verse. Tomaž Šalamun Prize. Poetry, Cross-genre. Entry Fee. [chap] 3/16

  • Texas Observer. MOLLY National Journalism Prize. Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [writing] 3/17

  • Crab Orchard Review. Annual Literary Contests. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/18

  • Les Figues Press. NOS Book Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Cross-Genre, Translations, Anti-Novel. Entry Fee. [book] 3/20

  • Toasted Cheese. Three Cheers and a Tiger. Fiction. No Fee. [mag] 3/21

  • Enizagam. Literary Awards in Poetry and Fiction. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/24

  • The New Quarterly. Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest. Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/28 [*Canadian residents only*]

  • The Robert Frost Farm. Frost Farm Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [literary site] 3/30

  • AWP. The Kurt Brown Prizes. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [conference] 3/30

  • CutBank. Chapbook Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 3/31

  • Elixir Press. Antivenmon Poetry Award. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/31

  • Four Way Books. Intro Prize in Poetry/Levis Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/31

  • Gemini Magazine. Short Story Contest. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/31

  • Narrative Magazine. Winter Story Contest. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/31

  • Word Works. Jacklyn Potter Young Poets Competition. Poetry. No Fee. [writing] 3/31
    [*DC-area high school students only*]

  • Port Yonder Press. Mary Hunter Austin Book Award. Fiction, Nonfiction, Prose Poetry, Cross-Genre. Entry Fee. [book] 3/31

  • Fence Books. Fence Modern Poets Series. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/31

  • Fence Books. Ottoline Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/31
    [*women poets*]

  • Fence Books. Fence Modern Prize in Prose. Fiction, Nonfiction, Cross-genre. Entry Fee. [book] 3/31 [*genres alternate*]

  • Cleveland State University Poetry Center. Open Book Competition. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/31

  • The Lascaux Review. Lascaux Prize in Flash Fiction. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/31

  • Eastern Iowa Review. Editor's Choice Lyric Essay Award. Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/31

  • Cleveland State University Poetry Center. First Book Poetry Competition. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/31

  • Cleveland State University Poetry Center. Essay Collection Competition. Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [book] 3/31

  • Pleiades. R.M. Kinder Award in Realistic Fiction. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/31

  • Iron Horse Literary Review. Chapbook Competition. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag][chap] 3/31

  • Banipal Trust for Arab Literature. Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation. Translations. No Fee. [book] 3/31

  • Puerto del Sol. Fiction & Poetry Contests. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/31

  • The Florida Review. Editors' Award. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/31

  • Able Muse. Book Award. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/31

  • Arts & Letters. Arts & Letters Prizes. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Drama. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/31

  • Beecher's Magazine. Annual Contests. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/31

  • Black Lawrence Press. The Hudson Prize. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 3/31

  • Flyway. Untold Stories Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Cross-Genre. Entry Fee. [mag] 3/1


April
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  • Zone 3 Press. Creative Nonfiction Book Award. Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [book] 4/1
    [*biennial - odd numbered years*]

  • Flyway. Sweet Corn Prize. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/1

  • Rusty Scythe Publishing. The Scythe Prize. Fiction, Nonfiction. No Fee. [anthology] 4/1
    [*undergraduate & graduate students only*]

  • Killer Nashville. Claymore Award. Fiction. Entry Fee. [book] 4/1

  • Zone 3. Literary Award Contests. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. No Fee. [mag] 4/1

  • Barely South. Norton Girault Literary Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/1

  • Orison Books. Orison Prize. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/1

  • North American Review. Torch Prize. Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/1

  • Poetry International. Poetry International Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/1

  • Southeast Missouri State University Press. Cowles Poetry Book Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/1

  • Solstice Lit Mag. Literary Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/1

  • Saturnalia Books. Poetry Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/1

  • Grain Magazine. Short Grain Writing Contest. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/1

  • Winning Writers. Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. Poetry. No Fee. [literary site] 4/1

  • Alice Munro Festival. Short Story Competition. Fiction. Entry Fee. [literary site] 4/1 [*writers living in Canada*]

  • White Pine Press. Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/7

  • Contemporary Verse 2. 2 Day Poem Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/7

  • Rabbit Catastrophe Press. Real Good Poem Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/8

  • University of Utah Press. Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/15

  • Indiana Review. Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/15

  • Chautauqua. Editors Prize. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/15

  • Harpur Palate. John Gardner Memorial Prize for Fiction. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/15

  • Passager. Poetry Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/15

  • Spoon River Poetry Review. SRPR Editors' Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/15

  • Dancing Poetry. Poetry Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [writing] 4/15

  • Zone 3 Press. First Book Award for Poetry. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/15
    [*biennial - even numbered years*]

  • Hub City Press. New Southern Voices Poetry Book Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/15 [*biennial - odd-numbered years*]

  • University of Arkansas Press. CantoMundo Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/15

  • University of Arkansas Press. Etel Adnan Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/15

  • Prime Number. Magazine Awards. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/15

  • PULP Literature. Magpie Award for Poetry. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/15

  • Sonora Review. Annual Prizes. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/15

  • Passages North. Waasnode Fiction Prize. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/15
    [*biennial - even numbered years*]

  • Cave Canem/Northwestern University Press. Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/15
    [*biennial - even numbered years*]

  • Passages North. Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize/Ray Ventre Nonfiction Prize. Poetry, Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/15

  • Permafrost. New Alchemy Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Audio, Video. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/15

  • Gulf Coast. Gulf Coast Prize. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/15

  • New South. New South Writing Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. 4/15

  • New Ohio Review. New Ohio Review Prizes. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/15

  • Marsh Hawk Press. Robert Creeley Memorial Award/Rochelle Ratner Memorial Award. Poetry. [book] 4/20

  • Omnidawn. Poetry Chapbook Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 4/23

  • Ninth Letter. Literary Awards. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/23

  • The Bath Novel Award. Fiction. Entry Fee. [book] 4/23

  • Diagram. Chapbook Contest. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 4/28

  • Longleaf Press. Poetry Chapbook Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 4/29

  • Beloit Poetry Journal. Adrienne Rich Award for Poetry. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/30

  • The Ashland Poetry Press. Richard Snyder Memorial Publication Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/30

  • Glimmer Train. Very Short Fiction Award. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/30

  • Nimrod. Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction/Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/30

  • Trio House Press. Louise Bogan Award. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/30

  • Trio House Press. Award for First or Second Book. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/30

  • Tupelo Press. Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/30

  • Minerva Rising Press. Memoir Contest. Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [book] 4/30

  • University of Iowa Press. Iowa Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/30

  • University of Pittsburgh Press. Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/30

  • North Carolina Literary Review. James Applewhite Poetry Prize Competition. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/30

  • River Styx. International Poetry Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/30

  • Grist. Pro Forma Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Cross-genre. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/30

  • River Styx. Founder's Award. Poetry. No Fee. [mag] 4/30
    [*St. Louis Area high school students only*]

  • Noemi Press. Book Award for Fiction. Fiction. Entry Fee. [book] 4/30

  • Redivider. Beacon Street Prize. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/30

  • Red Hen Press. Nonfiction Award. Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [book] 4/30

  • Storm Cellar. Force Majeure Flash Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Cross-Genre, Drama, Comics. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/30

  • Sequestrum. Editor's Reprint Award. Fiction, Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/30

  • Glimmer Train. Fiction Open. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 4/30

  • Inlandia. Hillary Gravendyk Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 4/30

  • Finishing Line Press. New Women's Voices Series Chapbook Competition. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 4/30

  • Winning Writers. Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [literary site] 4/30

  • Two Sylvias Press. Chapbook Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 4/30

  • Vallum. Vallum Chapbook Award. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 4/30


May
back to top

  • Bristol Short Story Prize. Fiction. Entry Fee. [anthology] 5/1

  • SI of Rittenhouse Square, PA. Brittany Noakes Poetry Award. Poetry. Entry Fee. [broadside] 5/1

  • Talking Gourds. Fischer Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [literary site] 5/1

  • Crucible. Poetry & Fiction Competition. Fiction, Poetry. No Fee. [mag] 5/1

  • Leapfrog Press. Fiction Contest. Fiction. Entry Fee. [book] 5/1

  • The Malahat Review. Far Horizons Award. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/1
    [*genres alternate each year*]

  • The Southwest Review. David Nathan Meyerson Fiction Prize. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/1

  • The Sow's Ear Poetry Review. Chapbook Competition. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 5/1

  • Wick Poetry Center. Stan & Tom Wick Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 5/1

  • Oberlin College Press. FIELD Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 5/1

  • Moon City Press. Moon City Poetry Award. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 5/1

  • The Carolina Quarterly. wake, and dream again. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/1

  • Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society. William Faulkner - William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 5/1

  • Pleiades Press. Editor Prize for Poetry. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 5/1

  • St. Francis College. Literary Prize. Fiction. [published book] 5/1 [*biennial - odd-numbered years*]

  • Fugue. Prose and Poetry Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/1

  • Jacar Press. Full-Length Poetry Book Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 5/1

  • Jacar Press. Poetry Chapbook Competition. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 5/1

  • The Conium Review. Innovative Short Fiction Contest. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/1

  • Mad Creek Books. Gournay Prize. Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [book] 5/2

  • South Carolina Writer's Association. Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Awards. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/31

  • The American Poetry Review. Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/14

  • Lynx House Press. Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 5/15

  • Montreal International Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [anthology] 5/15

  • Ploughshares. Emerging Writer's Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/15

  • Blue Collar Review. Working People's Poetry Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/15

  • Breakwater Review. Peseroff Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 5/15

  • Crab Creek Review. Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/15

  • The Georgia Review. Loraine Williams Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/15

  • Lost Horse Press. Idaho Prize for Poetry. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 5/15

  • Crook's Corner Book Prize. Debut Novel Prize. Fiction. Entry Fee. [published book] 5/15

  • Slapering Hol Press. Chapbook Competition. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 5/15

  • subTerrain. Lush Triumphant Literary Awards. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/15

  • Academy of American Poets. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 5/15

  • Carve Magazine. The Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/15

  • Palooka Press. Chapbook Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Cross-genre. Entry Fee. [chap] 5/15

  • Transitions Abroad. Expatriate & Work Abroad Writing Contest. Nonfiction. No Fee. [literary site] 5/15

  • Del Sol Press. First Novel Competition. Fiction. Entry Fee. [book] 5/15

  • Gazing Grain Press. Inclusive Feminist Chapbook Contests. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 5/15

  • JMWW. Claudia Emerson Poetry Chapbook Award. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 5/15

  • BOMB Magazine. Fiction Contest/Poetry Contest. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/15
    [*genres alternate*]

  • Ruminate. Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/15

  • New Letters. Literary Awards. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/18

  • Stony Brook Southampton. $1,000 Short Fiction Prize. Fiction. No Fee. [mag] 5/25
    [*undergraduates only*]

  • The New Quarterly. Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/28
    [*Canadian residents only*]

  • Anhinga Press. Robert Dana Prize for Poetry. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 5/30

  • Gival Press. Novel Award. Fiction. Entry Fee. [book] 5/30
    [*biennial - even numbered years*]

  • New Millennium Writings. Sunshot Prize Series. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 5/30

  • Bacopa Literary Review. Annual Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/31

  • Paper Nautilus. Vella Chapbook Prize. Fiction, Poetry, Cross-genre. Entry Fee. [chap] 5/31

  • Paper Nautilus. Debut Series Chapbook Contest. Fiction, Poetry, Cross-genre. Entry Fee. [chap] 5/31

  • The Backwaters Press. The Backwaters Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 5/31

  • Baltimore Review. Summer Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/31

  • Black Lawrence Press. Black River Chapbook Competition. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 5/31

  • Elixir Press. Fiction Award. Fiction. Entry Fee. [book] 5/31

  • The Adirondack Review. Fulton Prize. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/31

  • University of Georgia Press. Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. Fiction. Entry Fee. [book] 5/31

  • WOW! Women On Writing. Flash Fiction Contest. Fiction. Entry Fee. [literary site] 5/31

  • BOA Editions. BOA Short Fiction Prize. Fiction. Entry Fee. [book] 5/31

  • Southern Poetry Review. Guy Owen Award. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/31

  • Midway Journal. -1000 Below: Flash Prose and Poetry Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/31

  • Winston-Salem Writers. Flying South Annual Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/31

  • Connecticut Poetry Society. Connecticut Poetry Award. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 5/31

  • Bridport Arts Centre. Bridport Prize. Fiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [literary site] 5/31

  • Backbone Press. Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [literary site] 5/31

  • New England Poetry Club. Annual Writing & Book Contests. Poetry. [literary site][published book] 5/31


June
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  • Great River Shakespeare Festival. Maria F. Faust Sonnet Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [writing] 6/1

  • Mid-American Review. Fineline Competition. Fiction, Poetry, Cross-genre. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/1

  • HeartWood Literary Magazine. Broadside Series Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Cross-genre, Translations. Entry Fee. [broadside]  6/1

  • Boulevard. Poetry Contest for Emerging Poets. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/1

  • Kentucky Women Writers Conference. Betty Gabehart Prizes. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [conference] 6/1

  • Boston Review. Poetry Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/1

  • Southern Indiana Review. Thomas A. Wilhelmus Short Prose Award. Fiction, Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/1

  • The Cupboard. Annual Cupboard Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Cross-Genre. Entry Fee. [chap] 6/1

  • Tiferet. Prizes for Poetry & Prose. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/1

  • Quarterly West. Chapbook Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Cross-genre. Entry Fee. [chap] 6/1

  • Southern Humanities Review. Auburn Witness Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/1

  • Killer Nashville. Silver Falchion Award. Fiction, Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [published book] 6/1

  • Southeast Missouri State University Press. Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Photography. No Fee. [anthology] 6/1

  • The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review. Gertrude Stein Award in Fiction. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/1

  • Eyewear Publishing. Sexton Prize for Poetry. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 6/1

  • The Iowa Review. Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. No Fee. [mag] 6/1 [*even numbered years*]

  • Munster Literature Center. Fool For Poetry International Chapbook Competition. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 6/1

  • Salamander. Fiction Prize. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/2

  • The MacGuffin. National Poet Hunt Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/3

  • Willow Springs Books. Spokane Prize for Short Fiction. Fiction. Entry Fee. [book] 6/5

  • Western Connecticut State University. Housatonic Book Awards. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [published book] 6/15

  • New Rivers Press. American Fiction Short Story Award. Fiction. Entry Fee. [anthology] 6/15

  • PULP Literature. Hummingbird Prize for Flash Fiction. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/15

  • Miami Book Fair. Miami Book Fair/de Groot Prize. Fiction. Entry Fee. [book] 6/15

  • Willamette Writers. Kay Snow Awards. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [conference] 6/15

  • december. Curt Johnson Prose Awards. Fiction, Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/15

  • Gertrude Press. Chapbook Competition. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 6/15

  • Main Street Rag. Cathy Smith Bowers Chapbook Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 6/15

  • Swan Scythe Press. Chapbook Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 6/15

  • The Bitter Oleander. Library of Poetry Book Award. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 6/15

  • Texas Review Press. Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Competition. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 6/15

  • University of Akron Press. Akron Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 6/15

  • New American Press. New American Fiction Prize. Fiction. Entry Fee. [book] 6/15

  • Philadelphia Stories. Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/15

  • Towson University English Department. Towson Prize for Literature. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Drama. No Fee. [published book] 6/15 [*Maryland writers only*]

  • Slate Roof Press. Poetry Chapbook Contest. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 6/15

  • Narrative Magazine. The Narrative Prize. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Drama. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/15

  • Carolina Wren Press. Bakwin Award for Writing by a Woman. Fiction, Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [book] 6/15

  • American Short Fiction. Short Story Contest. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/15

  • Bard College. Bard Fiction Prize for Young Writers. Fiction. No Fee. 6/15
    [*for writers age 39 or younger*]

  • Western Connecticut State University. Housatonic Book Awards. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [book] 6/16

  • New Millennium Writings. Annual Contest. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/17

  • Cultural Center of Cape Code. National Poetry Competition. Poetry. Entry Fee. [literary site] 6/19

  • Toasted Cheese. A Midsummer Tale. Fiction, Nonfiction. No Fee. [mag] 6/21

  • Gival Press. Oscar Wilde Award. Poetry. Entry Fee. [literary site] 6/27

  • One Throne Magazine. Joust: 24h Writing Contest. Fiction. No Fee. [mag] 6/27

  • Winning Writers. North Street Book Prize. Fiction, Nonfiction. Entry Fee. [published book] 6/30

  • The London Magazine. Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/30

  • Los Angeles Review. Bi-annual Awards Series. Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/30

  • Glimmer Train. Short Story Award for New Writers. Fiction. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/30

  • Island Verse Edition. Island Verse Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [chap] 6/30

  • CALYX. Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [mag] 6/30

  • Tupelo Press. Tupelo Broadside Prize. Poetry. Entry Fee. [broadside] 6/30

  • University of North Texas Press. Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction. Fiction. Entry Fee. [book] 6/30

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