2019 short story competitions

[Updated regularly] It may feel as if January is in its 95th day, but you have to trust me when I say it really is coming to an end. And if you’ve been struggling to get back to disciplined writing time after the lovely laziness of Christmas, this list of upcoming short story competitions might offer some incentive. As always, it isn’t definitive, but there are lots of interesting opportunities.

  • Cúirt New Writing Prize
  • Closing date: January 31, 2019 (at 5pm)
  • Prize: €500 and the opportunity to read at the Cúirt/Over the Edge Showcase event during the Cúirt International Festival of Literature, Galway, April 8-14 
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee:  €10 per story, unclear whether multiple entries are permitted. Open internationally
  • ChipLitFest 2019 Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: February 7
  • Prizes: 1st place £500, 2nd place £100, 3rd place £50. There will be an award event at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival in Oxfordshire on April 28, which will include readings of the winning stories, as well as feedback from judge Nicholas Royle
  • Word limit: there are two set limits, of either 2,500 or 5,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £5 for 2,500 story, £8 for 5,000 story, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: February 13
  • Prize: a place on an Arvon four- or six-day writing retreat at The Clockhouse in Shropshire. The winning story will be published on the Writers’ & Artists’ website
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none 
  • Entry fee: free to enter, you just have to register on the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook website. One entry only permitted, open internationally
Fancy a week’s residency in an Italian castle?
  • Desperate Literature Prize for Short Fiction
  • Closing date: February 14
  • Prizes: 1st place €1,000, a week’s residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy and a  consultation with a US literary agent from Foundry Literary + Media. Two runners- up will win €250. All shortlisted writers will be published in a limited edition Risograph booklet published by Desperate Literature and launched at the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize Salon, Madrid; publication in 3:AMStructo MagazineHelter SkelterThe London Magazine, and The Second Shelf  (women only); be invited to participate in Desperate Literature Prize Salons at Desperate Literature, Madrid; Shakespeare and Company, Paris; Burley Fisher, London; and The Second Shelf, London (women only); limited edition prints by Ruda Studio and participation in the Rizoma Film Festival. In addition, one shortlisted winner will be selected for a week’s residency at Casa Ana, Andalucia, as part of their creative writing programme
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €20 for the first entry and €10 for any subsequent entry, with a maximum of five entries per person. Open internationally
  • The Scottish Arts Club Short Story Competition 2019
  • Closing date: February 28
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000; 2nd place £500; 3rd place £250. The winners will be published in an anthology, have a dedicated page on the website to promote their work and will receive one year’s free membership to the Scottish Arts Club; six finalists will receive signed copies of one of chief judge Alexander McCall Smith’s books
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none, though it is worth noting that Alexander McCall Smith has expressed an interest in seeing more stories that are clever, upbeat, entertaining, or optimistic as most stories in recent years have been bleak
  • Entry fee: £10 per story, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Exeter Writers Short Story Competition 2019
  • Closing date: February 28
  • Prizes: 1st place £700, 2nd place £250, 3rd place £100. There is also a local prize for Devon-based writers of £100. Winning stories will be published on the Exeter Writers website
  • Word limit: none
  • Theme: 3,000 words
  • Entry fee: £7 per story, multiple entries allowed. Open internationally
  • Flash 500 Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: February 28
  • Prizes: 1st place £500 plus a two-year Duotrope gift certificate, 2nd place £200, 3rd place £100
  • Word limit: 1,000-3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €9/£7 for one story, €15.50/£12 for two, €21/£16 for three, €26/£20 for four. Open internationally
  • The White Review Short Story Prize 2019
  • Closing date: March 4 (at 5pm)
  • Prizes: 1st place £2,500 and publication in a quarterly print issue of The White Review. Shortlisted writers will have their work published online and receive feedback from the editors
  • Word limit: 2,000-7,000 words
  • Theme: none, but the judges are looking for stories that “explore and expand the possibilities of the form”
  • Entry fee: £15 per story, with 50 free entries available for low-income writers. Open to writers resident in the UK or Ireland who have yet to secure a publishing deal
Novelist Maria Edgeworth
  • Maria Edgeworth Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: March 8
  • Prizes: 1st place €250, 2nd place €100, 3rd place €50
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €5 per entry, multiple stories permitted. No mention of restrictions
  • Sligo Feis Ceoil Short Story Award 2019
  • Closing date: March 8
  • Prizes: 1st place €250, runner up €100. Prizewinners will be invited to attend the Sligo Feis Ceoil awards ceremony on April 24 in the Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo 
  • Word limit: 1,500-2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €10 per story. Open internationally
Bantry, west Cork
  • From the Well Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: March 15 (at 5pm)
  • Prizes: a place on any 5-day workshop at the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry, Co Cork, which runs July 12-19, €250 towards expenses and publication in an anthology which takes its name from the winning story. 19 shortlisted stories will also be published in the anthology
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open to registered library members in any country
  • Alpine Writing Fellowship
  • Closing date: April 1
  • Prizes: 1st place £10,000, 2nd place £3,000, 3rd place £2,000. The three finalists will be invited to the 2019 Alpine Fellowship Annual Symposium in Fjällnäs, Sweden, August 15-18
  • Word limit: 2,500 words
  • Theme: ‘Identity’
  • Entry fee: free to enter, only one entry permitted. Open internationally
Last year’s winner looks awfully familiar
  • Molly Keane Creative Writing Award 2019
  • Closing date: April 5 (at 12 noon)
  • Prizes: a prize of €500 and a commemorative scroll will be awarded to the winner at a special ceremony during the IMMRAMA Travel Writing Festival in Lismore, Co Waterford in June 2019
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open to writers resident in Ireland
  • Bath Short Story Award 2019 
  • Closing date: April 15
  • Prizes:  1st place £1,200, 2nd place £300, 3rd place £100, plus £100 for the Acorn Award for an unpublished writer, and a £50 prize for the best local entry
  • Word limit:  2,200 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £8 per story, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Leicester Writes Short Story Award  
  • Closing date: April 15
  • Prizes:  1st place £100 and a bundle of books, 2nd place £50 and a bundle of books, 3rd place a bundle of books. A longlist of a maximum of 20 stories will be published in an anthology.
  • Word limit:  3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £7 per story, max 3 entries permitted. Open internationally
  • 2019 Shooter Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: April 21
  • Prizes: 1st place £500, publication in the summer issue and on the website. The runner-up will receive £100, and publication on Shooter’s website. All entrants will receive an e-copy of Shooter’s summer issue
  • Word limit: 5,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £7 for one story or £10 for two. Open internationally
  • Bristol Short Story Prize 2019
  • Closing date: May 1
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd place £500, 3rd place £250. Prizes of £100 will be presented to 17 shortlisted writers. All 20 stories will be published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 12 and the contributors will receive two copies each
  • Word limit: 4,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £9 per story, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Mairtín Crawford Short Story Award
  • Closing date: May 1
  • Prize: £500 and a three-night stay at The River Mill writing retreat in Co Downa consultation with editors of The Tangerine with the view to publication in the journal. The winner will also be invited to read at the award ceremony at the Belfast Book Festival 2019, which runs June 7-16
  • Word limit: 2,500 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £6, one entry only permitted. Open internationally
  • RTE Radio 1 Francis MacManus Short Story Competition 2019
  • Closing date: May 10
  • Prizes: 1st place €3,000, 2nd place €2,000, 3rd place €1,000. A shortlist of seven stories will win €250 each. All ten stories will be recorded by actors and broadcast on RTE Radio 1 in the autumn
  • Word limit: 1,800-2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only permitted. Open to people who are Irish, or resident in Ireland
  • The Bridport Prize 2019
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £5,000, 2nd place £1,000, 3rd place £500. 10 commended stories will win £100 each
  • Word limit: 5,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £12 per story, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • The Stringybark Times Past Prize 2019
  • Closing date: June 16
  • Prizes: 1st place AUS$350, 2nd place $250, 3rd place $125. The winners, along with a shortlist of 30, will be published in The Stringybark Times Past Award anthology
  • Word limit: ≤1500 words plus 100 word explanation of the historical facts that inspired the story
  • Theme: the story has to be historical and relate to some real event with a link, no matter how tenuous, to Australia
  • Entry fee: AUS$14 for one story, $26 for two stories, $36 for three stories (max). Open internationally
  • VS Pritchett Short Story Prize
  • Closing date: June 28
  • Prize: £1,000 and the winning story will be published in Prospect online and in the Royal Society of Literature Review
  • Limit: 2,000-4,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £7.50 per story, multiple entries permitted. Entrants must be resident in the UK, Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth
  • Queen Mary Wasafiri Short Story Prize
  • Closing date: June 28 (at 5pm)
  • Prizes:  1st place £1,000 and publication in Wasafiri in print and online. The winner will also be offered the Chapter and Verse or Free Reads mentoring scheme in partnership with The Literary Consultancy, which offers manuscript assessment and editorial advice (dependent on eligibility). Shortlisted entries will be published on the Wasafiri website
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £6, one entry only (although you can also submit one entry for the Poetry and/or Life Writing category if you wish). Open internationally
  • The 2019 Berlin Writing Prize 
  • Closing date: June 30
  • Prizes:  1st place a one-month residency at The Circus Hotel in Berlin. The winner will have their own apartment, plus a month’s breakfast vouchers for the hotel and up to €100 in travel costs. The winning story will be showcased in a Reader Berlin anthology published in 2020. There will also be a four-day pass to The British Council Germany’s Literary Seminar. Two runners up will receive two nights’ accommodation at The Circus Hotel for the prize-giving event in January 2020 and €100 towards travel expenses. A further seven shortlisted writers will win Reader Berlin goodie bags, plus invitations to the prize-giving event, and all ten finalists will be published on The Reader Berlin’s website and in the anthology.
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: ‘The Circus’. Can be fiction or non-fiction
  • Entry fee:  €12, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • The Moth International Short Story Prize
  • Closing date: June 30
  • Prizes: 1st place €3,000, 2nd place a week-long writing retreat at the Circle of Misse writers’ retreat in France plus a €250 travel stipend, 3rd place €1,000. All three stories will be published in the Autumn issue of The Moth magazine
  • Word limit: 5,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €15 per story, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • The HG Wells Short Story Competition 2019
    Closing date: July 8
    Prizes: 1st prize £250. All shortlisted stories will be published in an anthology. There is also a category called The Margaret and Reg Turnill Competition for Young Writers (under-21s), with a prize of £1,000
    Word limit: 1,500-5,000 words
    Theme: Time
    Entry fee: for entrants over 21, it’s £10 per story, or £5 for students with student ID, multiple entries permitted. Entry is free for writers under 21 (see above). Multiple entries permitted, open internationally
  • Write by the Sea Short Story Competition 2019
  • Closing date: July 26
  • Prize: the winner will be presented with a hand -crafted trophy at the opening reception of the Write by the Sea Kilmore Quay Festival in Wexford in September, where they will read their winning entry. They will also be given two day passes (worth €120), allowing free entry to the various workshops, talks, interviews and other events on that day. †The overall winner of the competition’s three categories (short story, memoir and poetry) will also receive a voucher, sponsored by Kelly’s Resort Hotel and Spa, Rosslare Strand, Co Wexford, for two nights bed and breakfast for two people (valid autumn to spring).
  • †Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: ‘Drawn to the Sea’
  • Entry fee: €10 per entry, multiple entries permitted (or enter all three for €20). Doesn’t state whether it’s open internationally
  • Seán Ó Faoláin International Short Story Prize
  • Closing date: July 31
  • Prizes: 1st place €2,000, a one-week residency at Anam Cara Writers’ Retreat in the Beara Peninsula, west Cork, and an invitation to read at the Cork International Short Story Festival with accommodation and meals covered. 2nd place €500. Four shortlisted writers will win €250 each. All finalists will be published in Southword
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: a pretty steep €18 (£18/$22) per entry. Open internationally
Kinsale, Co Cork. Yachting experience not required
  • 2019 Benedict Kiely Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: August 22
  • Prizes: 1st place £300 plus publication in the Irish Times Online. 2nd place £100. 3rd place £50. The three finalists will also receive two weekend passes to the Omagh Literary Festival, held in October (attendance not mandatory for entry), and their stories will be published in the festival chapbook
  • Word limit: ‘in the region of’ 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £7 per entry, max two entries permitted. Early bird entries are open until August 1 at a reduced entry fee of £5. Website doesn’t state whether it’s open internationally
  • Aesthetica Creative Writing Award
  • Closing date: August 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2020, a selection of books from Vintage and Bloodaxe Books, one-year print subscription to Granta and a consultation with Redhammer Management. 60 shortlisted entries will be published in the annual
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £18 per entry, multiple entries permitted for all you millionaires. Open internationally
  • Manchester Fiction Prize 2019
  • Closing date: September 20 (at 5pm)
  • Prize: £10,000
  • Word limit: 2,500 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £17.50 per entry, multiple entries permitted. A limited number of reduced price entries are available to writers who might not otherwise be able to take part in the competition, apply before June 30. Open internationally
  • Perito Writing Prize 2019
  • Closing date: October 1 (opens for entries September 1)
  • Prizes: 1st place £250 and the story will be published on the Perito Prize section of the Perito Ltd website (a UK-based consultancy that specialises in providing accessibility services to businesses, institutions and registered charities). Two runners-up will receive a special mention and have their short stories published on the website
  • Word limit: 1,000-2,000 words
  • Theme: accessibility. The website explains, ‘For some, this [accessibility] conjures up thoughts of wheelchairs, hearing aids, and guide dogs, but we see it as the simple concept that all people should be able to enjoy and have access to opportunity in the world we live in! Issues with access to spaces, opportunities and experiences can happen to anyone at any time, whether physical, mobility impairment or injury, mental health, or less visible neurocognitive conditions. We think there are so many great stories out there to celebrate the diverse world we live in’
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open internationally

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. Good luck, all!

Photo: Pixabay.com


2 thoughts on “2019 short story competitions

  1. Please see below details of this year’s short story competition run by the new Technological University, Dublin in association with the Red Line Book Festival and South Dublin County Council. I hope you can share it across your network.


    The TU Dublin Short Story Competition is run by the Library, TU Dublin – Tallaght Campus, in conjunction with South Dublin County Council, and in association with the Red Line Book Festival, and is free to enter. June Caldwell is this year’s judge. Her acclaimed short story collection ‘Room Little Darker’ was published in 2017 by New Island, and in 2018 by Head of Zeus. Her debut novel ‘Little Town Moone’ is forthcoming with John Murray. She has been shortlisted for many awards including the writing.ie Short Story of the Year and is a prize-winner of The Moth International Short Story Prize.

    Entries should be submitted via this online form only until 12.00 GMT (Irish Time), on 19the August 2018.

    Entries must be in short story format (a short work of fiction) between 1,500 and 2,000 words long, and should be completely the entrant’s own work written in English (high standard), original, unpublished. There is no restriction on theme or style, however the planned 2019 anthology will be called ‘Infinite Possibilites’ and we are looking for strong stories that (even loosely) reflect this title. Falsification of information and/or identity, plagiarism, racial discrimination and bigotry will see entries disqualified.
    The judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into. No criticism or advice will be provided.

    Contest Prizes:
    1. First Prize: €500
    2. Second Prize: €250
    3. Third Prize: €150
    It is the intention of the organisers that the winning and short listed entries maybe published in an anthology, or other format. Non-prize winning published entries will receive no remuneration. Previous year’s Anthologies are available on Amazon.

    You must read the Rules, and Terms and Conditions and agree to these before you can submit your entry.
    Queries before submission should only relate to the contest rules or if there are difficulties in submission. Queries should be sent via e-mail to ritt@ittdublin.ie.
    International entries are welcome.

    Further information and the submission form will be available online on at: http://bit.ly/TUDublinshorts19

    Please circulate this to anyone you think might be interested.

    Please let me know if you have any difficulties.

    With best wishes,

    Niamh Walker-Headon BA, MSc LIS, ALAI.
    Systems Librarian
    Tallaght Campus
    –  353 1 404 2151  – tudublin.ie. http://library.it-tallaght.ie

    OT Baile Átha Cliath – Campas Thamhlachta D24 FKT9, Éire

    TU Dublin – Tallaght Campus D24 FKT9, Ireland


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