Short story competitions to fill the second half of your year

[Updated 16/10/18] ]It’s hard to keep track of all those deadlines, so here is an (updated) list of the main short story competitions coming up in the second half of the year. The management cannot take responsibility for any must-enter-them-all panic attacks, though I have no doubt you’re just one short edit away from victory. As always, do check out the fine print for yourself:

  • Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2018
  • Closing date: July 13
  • Prize:  the winner will be published by Wasafiri and receive a cash prize (the website doesn’t say how much). They will also be offered the Chapter and Verse or Free Reads mentoring scheme in partnership with The Literary Consultancy (dependent on eligibility)
  • Limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee:  £6 per story, up to three stories allowed



  • The HG Wells Short Story Competition 2018
  • Closing date: July 23
  • Prizes: 1st prize £250. All shortlisted stories will be published in an anthology. No remuneration as far as I can see. If you are lucky enough to be under 21 (I’m slightly over), they also have a competition called The Margaret and Reg Turnill Competition for Young Writers. This is free to enter with a prize of £1,000
  • Word limit: 1,500-5,000 words
  • Theme: Peace
  • Entry fee: £10 per story (£5 for students with student ID). Multiple entries permitted, open internationally


  • StockSnap_ZM4355NNXVWrite by the Sea Short Story Competition 2018
  • Closing date: July 26
  • Prize:  An independent panel of judges will pick one winner in each of three competition categories (short story, memoir, poetry), and one of the three will be selected as the overall winner. Each category winner will be invited to the Write by the Sea Festival in Kilmore Quay, Wexford, (which runs September 28-30) and will be given two day-passes worth €80, allowing two people free entry to the various workshops, talks, interviews and other events. They will be presented with an inscribed trophy and will read their winning works as part of the festival. Winning entries will also be recorded for the RTE Radio 1 maritime programme Seascapes at a later date. The overall winner will also receive a voucher sponsored by The Coast Hotels & Resorts, Kilmore Quay and Rosslare Strand, Co Wexford, for a two-night stay with one dinner for two people in one of their Wexford hotels.
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: Coastline
  • Entry fee: €10/£8, multiple entries allowed


  • Seán Ó Faoláin International Short Story Prize 2018
  • Closing date: July 31
  • Prizes: 1st prize €2,000, a week-long residency at Anam Cara Retreat in west Cork and publication in the Southword literary journal. 2nd prize €500 and publication in Southword. The 4 shortlisted entries will also be published and each receive a publication fee of €120
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €15, open internationally


  • StockSnap_LBQ6HIR9A8Costa Short Story Award 2018
  • Closing date: August 3
  • Prizes: 1st prize £3,500, 2nd prize £1,000, 3rd prize £500. The winning stories will be published on the Costa website
  • Word limit: 4,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: free to enter. Open to writers resident in UK or Ireland


  • 2018 Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Competition
  • Closing date: August 8
  • Prizes: 1st prize €300. The winner in the short story category has the opportunity to win a further €400 as they are pitted against the winner in the poetry category, one of whom will be crowned overall New Writer of the Year (crown not supplied, more’s the pity). The Over The Edge New Writer of The Year will read at the Over The Edge: Open Readings in Galway City Library at the end of the year. Turas Press will read, without commitment to publish, a manuscript of short stories submitted to them by the winner in the fiction category. The overall winner will also receive a hamper of books from Kenny’s Bookshop, Galway. 
  • Limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €10 for one story. The fee for multiple entries is €7.50 per entry, e.g. two entries will cost €15, three entries €22.50 and so on. Open internationally


  • IT Tallaght Short Story Competition 2018
  • Closing date: August 13 (at 12 noon)
  • Prizes: 1st prize €500, 2nd €250, 3rd €150. The winners and shortlisted stories may be published in an anthology
  • Word limit: 1,500-2,000 words
  • Theme: the organisers have asked for ‘strong’ stories with the loose theme of ‘Stand Fast!’, which will be the title in the event of an anthology
  • Entry fee: free to enter. Open internationally


  • Dalkey Creates Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: August 24
  • Prize: €1,000. The winner must be available to travel to the opening night of Dalkey Creates on October 11, at their own expense, to receive their prize
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €15 per entry, multiple entries allowed. Open internationally


  • Come-Day-Go-Day-1024x841
    Cover Art of John O’Connor’s Book Come Day – Go Day by Armagh Artist JB Vallely

    John O’Connor Short Story Competition

  • Closing date: August 28 (at 12 noon)
  • Prize: a bursary to attend the John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival in Armagh from November 1-4, plus a cash prize of £250. The winner will be formally announced at the opening of the writing school on November 2, and will have the opportunity to read during the festival. Single room accommodation will be available free of charge to the winning entrant
  • Word limit: 1,800-2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £10, one entry only. It does not appear to be open internationally


  • Aesthetica Creative Writing Award
  • Closing date: August 31
  • Prizes: 1st prize £1,000, publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual, a consultation with literary agency Redhammer Management, a subscription to Granta and books courtesy of Bloodaxe Books and Vintage Books. Shortlisted stories will be published in the annual
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £18 per story, multiple entries permitted (work that has already been published elsewhere is accepted). Open internationally


  • Colm Tóibín Short Story Award
  • Closing date: September 1
  • Prizes:  1st prize €1,000, 2nd prize €500, 3rd prize €300
  • Word limit: 1,800-2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €10, one entry only permitted. Open internationally


  • Benedict Kiely Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: September 1
  • Prizes:  1st place £300. The winner and two runners-up will receive weekend passes to the Benedict Kiely Festival in Omagh on October 12-14 (attendance not mandatory for entry), as well as publication in a festival chapbook.
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £5 for one story; a second story can be entered for a further £3


  • Galley_Beggar_logo-1_white_400x400Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize 2018
  • Closing date: September 20
  • Prizes: £1,000 or a year’s editorial support for a writing project. Shortlisted authors will each receive £150. Longlisted authors will receive £50 of book vouchers and a 4-book subscription to Galley Beggar Press
  • Word limit: 6,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £10 per entry, open internationally


  • Ireland’s Own Open Short Story Competition 2018 
  • Closing date: September 28
  • Prizes: 1st place €600, 2nd place €200 plus two runners-up will win €100. The winning and highly commended stories will be published in an anthology by Ireland’s Own. (There is also a beginner’s short story category, for writers who have not yet had work published. First prize is €300, with three runner-up prizes of €100. They also have a memories/memoir category.)
  • Word limit: approx 2,000 words
  • Theme: none, though the publishers state that stories should adhere to the ethos of Ireland’s Own and be of a non-experimental nature
  • Entry fee: €10/£8 per entry, multiple entries permitted


  • Mslexia Women’s Fiction Awards 2018:  Short Story Competition 
  • Closing date: October 1
  • Prizes: 1st place £5,000 plus two optional extras: a week’s writing retreat at Gladstone’s Library in north Wales, and a day with an editor at Virago Press. Three other finalists will each receive £100. All four winning stories will be published in the March 2019 issue of Mslexia. (There are also flash fiction, novella and children’s book categories)
  • Word limit: 300-3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £10 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally to women


  • Retreat West Short Story Prize
  • Closing date: October 28
  • Prizes: 1st prize £400, 2nd prize £250, 3rd prize £150,  shortlisted stories £20. All winning and shortlisted stories will be published in the annual anthology
  • Word limit: 1,500-5,000 words
  • Theme: none 
  • Entry fee: £10 per story, multiple entries permitted


  • InkTears Short Story Contest
  • Closing date: November 30
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd place £100, 6 highly commended stories will win £25. All 8 will have their stories published in the InkTears Readership and theirs bios will be published on the InkTears site
  • Word limit: 1,000-3,500 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £7.50 per story, multiple stories permitted, open internationally


  • BookofKells1Book of Kells Creative Competition
  • Closing date: November 30
  • Prizes: 1st place individual €800, invitation to awards ceremony in Trinity College Dublin and certificate of merit (or €400 and VIP tour of Trinity if you enter as part of a school or group); runner-up wins €400, invitation to the awards ceremony and certificate. There are also poetry and art categories
  • Word limit: 3,500 words
  • Theme: animals of the Book of Kells. Can be fiction or non-fiction
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. I can’t see any restrictions in terms of who can enter


  • Doolin Short Story Competition 2019
  • Closing date: December 1
  • Prizes: 1st prize €1,000. The winner will read an excerpt from their story on Saturday night of the Doolin Writers’ Weekend (January 25-27) in Co Clare. Accommodation and meals will be provided on the Friday night of the festival. The runner-up will win a weekend pass to Doolin Writers’ Weekend and a voucher for two nights Bed & Breakfast with evening meal at Hotel Doolin.
  • Word limit: 1,000-3,000 words
  • Theme: none 
  • Entry fee: €10 per story, multiple entries permitted, open internationally


  • StockSnap_MHAEYKL7J3The Mogford Prize for Food and Drink Writing 2019
  • Closing date: January 7, 2019 (competition opens for entries November  5)
  • Prizes: 1st place £10,000. Three runners-up will receive £250 each
  • Word limit: 2,500 words
  • Theme: a short story involving food and/or drink in some way
  • Judges: restaurateur Jeremy Mogford, Julian Barnes  and Tim Hayward
  • Entry fee: £10 per story. Open internationally


  • Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: February 13, 2019
  • Prize: a place on an Arvon four- or six-day writing retreat at The Clockhouse in Shropshire. The winning story will be published on
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none 
  • Entry fee: free to enter, just make sure you’re registered on the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook website. One entry only permitted, open internationally

As always, this is not a definitive list. If there are other competitions you think would make good additions, do please drop me a line, either in the comments section below or on Twitter @wordherding.




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