Short story competitions July-December 2019

[Updated 13/11/19] The last time I did a short story round-up, the year was just beginning and the days were short – though the month was looong. Now here we are, already halfway through 2019, and some of us are in the middle of unprecedented heatwaves. Good times.

Here’s a brand new list of opportunities for all those soon-to-be-finished short stories in your Folder of Optimism. There are quite a few competitions coming up between now and decorating-your-Christmas-tree-time, and I will add to the list as new ones are announced. As always, do please read the small print before you enter.

  • The HG Wells Short Story Competition 2019
  • Closing date: July 8
  • Prizes: 1st place £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
  • Run by: HG Wells Competition (Folkstone, UK)
  • 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
  • HWA Dorothy Dunnett Short Story Award 2019
  • Closing date: July 14
  • Prizes: 1st place £500, mentoring sessions with the Chair of the UK Historical Writers’ Association (HWA) and Curtis Brown agent Norah Perkins either in person, on the phone or by email, publication in Historia magazine, and an invitation to an award ceremony in London in November. Two Highly Commended entries will receive mentoring and invitations to the award ceremony. The winners plus six shortlisted authors will have their stories published as an ebook / print on demand edition by the HWA and Dorothy Dunnett Society via Amazon. Each shortlisted author will receive two print copies, £25 and invitations to the award ceremony
  • Run by: Historical Writers’ Association (UK)
  • Word limit: 3,500 words
  • Theme: none, but stories must be historical in nature, set at least 35 years in the past
  • Entry fee: £5 per entry, one entry only. Open internationally
  • Michael Mullan Cancer Fund Short Story Competition 2019
  • Closing date: July 18
  • Prizes: 1st place €200, 2nd place €50. The winning entries will be published on the Michael Mullan Cancer Fund website and also on the 2019 Kildare Readers Festival website. Winners will be announced and prizes awarded at a special event during the festival on October 9 at Newbridge Library, Co Kildare. The shortlisted entries will be invited to read
  • Run by: Michael Mullan Cancer Fund (Kildare, Ireland)
  • Theme: none
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Entry fee: €15 per entry, multiple entries permitted (all entry fees go to the Michael Mullan Cancer Fund). The website doesn’t mention whether this is 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 (27th-29th), 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).
  • Run by: †Write by the Sea Kilmore Quay Festival (Wexford, Ireland)
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: ‘Drawn to the Sea’
  • Entry fee: €10 per entry, multiple entries permitted (or enter all three categories for €20). Doesn’t state whether it’s open internationally
  • Funny Pearls Short Story Competition 2019
  • Closing date: July 31
  • Prizes: 1st place a £250 Amazon gift card. Two runners up will each receive Amazon gift cards to the value of £100. Presumably the winners will also be published on the site
  • Run by: Funny Pearls online journal, featuring humorous writing by women (UK)
  • Word limit: 1,200-3,000 words
  • Theme: none, but stories should be intended to bring a smile to the reader’s face (dark humour qualifies)
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open internationally to women
  • To Hull and Back Humorous Short Story Competition 2019
  • Closing date: July 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd place £500, 3rd place £250. Three Highly Commended stories will be awarded £100 each. Fourteen shortlisted writers will each receive £50. All finalists will be published in the To Hull And Back Short Story Anthology, which will be available in print and on Kindle. The prize-giving involves a barking mad motorbike ride
  • Run by: writer Christopher Fielden (UK)
  • Word limit: 2,500 words
  • Theme: stories of a comic nature
  • Entry fee: £13 for one entry, £21 for two entries and £26 for three entries. Open internationally
  • Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition 2019
  • Closing date: July 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £400, 2nd place £250, 3rd place £100. The winners and seven shortlisted writers will be published in the annual anthology
  • Run by: Norwich Writers’ Circle (Norwich, UK)
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: ‘Spooks’
  • Entry fee: £8 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • 2019 Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Award
  • Closing date: August 7
  • Prizes: 1st place for fiction is €300. There is also a poetry category, and an overall winner will be chosen as New Writer of the Year out of the two category winners. They will receive an additional €400, and be a Featured Reader at the Over The Edge: Open Readings in Galway City Library, winter 2019/20. 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 of Galway
  • Run by: Over the Edge literary events organisation (Galway, Ireland)
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: one entry is €10. The fee for multiple entries is €7.50 per entry, ie. two entries for €15, three entries €22.50 and so on. Open internationally
  • 2019 TU Dublin Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: August 19
  • Prizes: 1st place €500, 2nd place €250, 3rd place €150. The winner and shortlisted stories will be published in an anthology
  • Run by: Technological University Dublin (TU) and Red Line Book Festival (Dublin, Ireland)
  • Word limit: 1,500-2,000 words
  • Theme: there is no restriction on theme or style, however the planned 2019 anthology will be called Infinite Possibilities so they are looking for strong stories that (even loosely) reflect this title
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open internationally
  • 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 (12th-14th, though attendance is not mandatory for entry), and their stories will be published in the festival chapbook
  • Run by: Omagh Literary Festival (Tyrone, N Ireland)
  • 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. Open internationally
  • Wild Atlantic Words Short Story Competition 2019
  • Closing date: August 30 (at 5pm)
  • Prize: 1st place €500, 2nd place €250. Winners will be invited to attend the prize-giving as part of the Wild Atlantic Words Festival (10th–13th) at The Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, Co Mayo, on October 12
  • Run by: Wild Atlantic Words Literary Festival (Mayo, Ireland)
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €10 per entry, one entry only. Open to people who are Irish or resident in Ireland
  • 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 Aesthetica anthology
  • Run by: Aesthetica magazine (UK)
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £18 per entry, multiple entries permitted for all you millionaires. Open internationally
  • Ireland’s Own Writing Competition 2019
  • Closing date: September 27 (5pm)
  • Prizes: 1st place €600, 2nd place €200 and two finalists will receive €100. There is also a Beginner’s Prize for writers who have never had a story published before. The winner receives €300, with three finalists receiving €100. The winners and shortlistees will be published in an anthology
  • Run by: Ireland’s Own magazine (Wexford, Ireland)
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none, but stories should reflect the ethos of the magazine and be non-experimental in nature
  • Entry fee: €10, multiple entries permitted. Appears to be open internationally
  • Ninevoices Short Story Competition 2019
  • Closing date: September 28
  • Prizes: 1st place £250, 2nd place £50. The winner and a shortlist of ten will be published on the Ninevoices website
  • Run by: Ninevoices writers (UK)
  • Word limit: 1,200-1,500 words
  • Theme: ‘Summer’ (this competition is held to raise funds in aid of the Polymyalgia Rheumatica & Giant Cell Arteritis charity)
  • Entry fee: £5 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally. To be eligible to enter, you should have earned less than £300 from your fiction writing during 2018 – something that won’t disqualify too many people!
  • Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize 2019/2020
  • Closing date: September 29 (though the Details pages lists it as September 30)
  • Prizes: 1st place £2,000. Shortlisted authors will each receive £150. Longlisted authors will receive £50 of book vouchers and a 4-book subscription to Galley Beggar Press
  • Run by: Galley Beggar Press (UK)
  • Word limit: 6,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £10 per entry, looks like multiple entries are permitted. There are also 70 free entries available to those on low incomes, offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Open internationally
  • Silver Apples Redemption Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: September 30
  • Prizes: 1st place €250, 2nd place €175, 3rd place €125. The winning and seven shortlisted stories will be published in a future edition of Silver Apples magazine
  • Run by: Silver Apples magazine (Limerick, Ireland)
  • Word limit: 1,500-3,000 words
  • Theme: not a theme exactly, but this competition is for unpublished work that has been previously rejected from other publications, competitions etc
  • Entry fee: €10 for one entry, €5 for any subsequent entries. Open internationally
  • Mslexia Short Story Competition 2019
  • Closing date: September 30
  • Prizes: 1st place £3,000 plus two optional extras: a writing retreat at Moniack Mhor in Scotland, and mentoring by an editor at Virago Press. Three other finalists will each receive £100. All four winning stories will be published in the March 2020 issue of Mslexia
  • Run by: Mslexia magazine (UK)
  • Word limit: 300-3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £10 per story, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally to women writers
  • 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 website. Two runners-up will be published on the website
  • Run by: Perito Ltd, a UK-based consultancy that specialises in providing accessibility services to businesses, institutions and registered charities
  • 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
  • Dalkey Short Story Prize 2019
  • Closing date: October 6
  • Prize: €1,000. The winning story will be published on the Dalkey Creates Writing Festival website and in Books Ireland magazine
  • Run by: Dalkey Creates Literary Festival, supported by Bank of Ireland, in partnership with Books Ireland (Dublin, Ireland)
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €15 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Retreat West Short Story Competition 2019
  • Closing date: October 27
  • Prizes: 1st place £400, 2nd place £250, 3rd place £150. Shortlisted writers will receive £20, and all winning and shortlisted stories will be published in the annual RW anthology
  • Run by: Amanda Saint/Retreat West (UK)
  • Word limit: 1,500-5,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £10 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Bedford International Writing Competition
  • Closing date: October 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £500, 2nd place £150, 3rd place. £100. All shortlisted and prizewinning stories will be published in an anthology. There is also a Young Writers’ Prize for entrants aged 17-30. The prizewinner in that category will receive £100 and be published in the 2019 anthology. (I’m not clear what happens if the overall winner is in this age group)
  • Run by: The Bedford Writing Competition (Bedford, UK)
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £6 for one story, up to three can be entered together for £12. Full-time students pay £4 for one, up to three for £8. Open internationally
  • The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award 2020
  • Closing date: October 31 (5pm)
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd place £500
  • Run by: The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), in memory of the playwright and novelist Tom Gallon (UK)
  • Word limit: 5,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: appears to be free to enter, one entry only. Open to writers resident in the United Kingdom, Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland
  • Fish Short Story Prize
  • Closing date: November 30
  • Prizes: 1st place €3,000 plus a five-day short story workshop at the 2020 West Cork Literary Festival (July 10-17). 2nd place a week at Anam Cara Writers’ Retreat in west Cork and €300. 3rd place €300. 7 Honourable Mentions will win €200 each. The top ten stories will be published in the Fish Anthology 2020
  • Run by: Fish Publishing (Ireland)
  • Word limit: 5,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €20 for one story, €10 for subsequent entries, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Doolin Writers’ Weekend Short Story Competition 2020
  • Closing date:  December 1
  • Prizes: 1st place €1,000. The winner will be invited to read their story at the festival, with accommodation provided. One runner up will receive a weekend pass to the festival and a voucher for two nights accommodation and one evening meal at Hotel Doolin
  • Run by: Doolin Writers’ Weekend/Hotel Doolin (Doolin, Co Clare, Ireland)
  • Word limit: 1,000-3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €10 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
Ruth Rendell
  • Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition 2020
  • Closing date: December 2
  • Prize: £1,000 and the winner will be asked to write four further stories for InterAct Stroke Support UK (a charity Ruth Rendell was a patron of) over the course of one year. The winner will be chosen by Margaret Drabble
  • Run by: InterAct Stroke Support (UK)
  • Word limit: 1,000 words
  • Theme: none, and can be in any genre but stories must be suitable to be read in the sensitive environment of a hospital setting
  • Entry fee: £15 per entry. Open internationally
  • Nobrow Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: December 9
  • Prizes: 1st place £2,000 and publication in an anthology. Up to 11 shortlisted writers will receive £150, publication in the anthology and two complimentary copies. All the finalists will be invited to attend events including a launch and readings
  • Run by: Nobrow Ltd (London, UK)
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: ‘The Censor’, however you interpret that
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open internationally
  • HE Bates Short Story Competition 2019
  • Closing date: December 9
  • Prizes: 1st place £500, 2nd place £200, 3rd place £100
  • Run by: Northampton Writers Group (UK)
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £6 for one entry, £10 for two, subsequent entries £5 each. Open internationally
  • Kurious Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: December 12
  • Prizes: 1st place £500. The 10 shortlisted stories will be published on-line and in an anthology with a profile page for each author. A special commendation will be given to each judge’s favourite story
  • Run by: Kurious Arts (UK)
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: ‘Curious’
  • Entry fee: £5 per entry, multiple entries permitted. 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. Please note I stick to Ireland/UK/European English-language competitions as trying to keep up more globally would be a full-time job. Also, I don’t respond well to being told I must include a particular competition (it’s happened) – I’m pretty good at making up my own mind!

Good luck, all.

Photos: Pixabay; Salvatore Ventura/Pexels; Steve Buissinne/Pixabay; Arshad Sutar/Pexels


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