Short story competitions April-September

[UPDATED 23/5] I generally update my competition listings as I see new opportunities pop up, but I thought I’d do a new post because the last one was a while back. Quite a few competions have extended their deadlines or amended their prizes due to the Covid-19 crisis, so there may be a few things here that are still open for entries beyond the expected dates. Some have boosted their cash prizes in lieu of retreats, workshops etc, or changed the means of entry (eg. accepting online entries where they normally require postal ones).

Obviously, in such extraordinary times there is a possibility of some competitions changing the prizes on offer or even being cancelled if they’re attached to festivals, closer to the time, so do keep an eye on their websites for up-to-date information.

It’s hard to concentrate on anything at the moment, but I hope there will be something here that will light a fire for you and get you back to the keyboard if you’re finding it difficult to write. Best of luck, as always!

  • Bath Short Story Award 2020
  • Closing date: April 20
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,200, 2nd place £300, 3rd place £100. Shortlisted stories will be published in the BSSA anthology
  • Theme: none
  • Word limit: 2,200 words
  • Entry details: £8 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Bristol Short Story Prize 2020
  • Closing date: April 30
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd place £500, 3rd place £250. 17 further prizes of £100 will be presented to the shortlisted writers
  • Theme: none
  • Word limit: 4,000 words
  • Entry details: £9 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Molly Keane Creative Writing Award 2020
  • Closing date: EXTENDED TO May 1 (12pm)
  • Prize: €500. Unlike previous years, this year’s winner is not required to attend the award ceremony, for obvious reasons
  • Theme: none
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Entry details: free to enter, one entry only . Open to writers resident on the island of Ireland
  • Francis MacManus/RTE Short Story Competition 2020
  • Closing date: May 8 (5pm)
  • Prizes: 1st place €3,000, 2nd place €2,000, 3rd place €1,000. Seven shortlisted writers will receive €250 each, and all 10 short stories will be broadcast in a season of new writing on RTÉ Radio 1 in the autumn. The top three prizewinning stories will also be published on thejournal.ie
  • Word limit: 1,800-2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open to writers who are Irish nationals or resident in Ireland
  • Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award 2020
  • Closing date: EXTENDED TO May 13
  • Prizes: 1st place €700 and a crystal trophy, 2nd place €500, 3rd place €300
  • Theme: none
  • Word limit: 1,700-2,200 words
  • Entry details: €10 per entry, one entry only. Open internationally
  • Mairtín Crawford Short Story Award 2020
  • Closing date: EXTENDED TO May 13
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000 (this has been increased from the original purse of £500) and a 3-night stay at The River Mill writers’ retreat in Co Down. 2nd place £250
  • Theme: none
  • Word limit: 2,500 words
  • Entry details: £6 per entry, looks like one entry only permitted. Open internationally
  • Leicester Writes Short Story Prize
  • Closing date: EXTENDED TO May 20
  • Prizes: 1st place £100, 2nd place £50, 3rd place £25. A longlist of up to 20 stories will be published in an anthology
  • Theme: none
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Entry details: £7 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Lucent Dreaming 2020 Short Story Contest
  • Closing date: May 30 (10pm)
  • Prizes: 1st place £100, publication on the Lucent Dreaming website and UK creative writing magazine, and free editing for a year. 2nd place £50, publication on the site and in the magazine. 3rd place £25 and publication on the website
  • Word limit: 2,000-7,500 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £4 per entry, up to five entries permitted. Entries are free for those from low-income backgrounds, from households earning £16,000 or less per year. There is no need to declare or prove your income threshold. Open internationally
  • The Bridport Prize for Short Story
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £5,000 and an invitation to the awards lunch to read your story to the audience, chat to the judges, meet other writers, agents and take part in publicity. 2nd place £1,000, 3rd place £500, both with an invitation to the awards lunch. 10 Highly Commended stories will be awarded £100 each. All the winning and highly commended pieces will be published in the Bridport Prize anthology and entered into the Sunday Times Audible competition, top prize £30,000. Literary agent AM Heath will read all the shortlistees and consider representation
  • Word limit: 5,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £12 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • 2020 Shooter Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £400 and publication in the winter edition of Shooter Literary Magazine, 2nd place £100. Both stories will be published on the site
  • Word limit: 5,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £7 for one entry, £10 for two, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • 2020 Frome Festival Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: May 31 (the festival has been cancelled but the competition will go ahead)
  • Prizes: 1st place £400, 2nd £200, 3rd £100
  • Word limit: 1,000-2,2000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £8 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • The Yeovil Literary Prize for Short Story
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £500, 2nd £200, 3rd £100. Judged by Susan Sandon, managing director of Cornerstone, a division of Penguin Random House
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £7 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize: Short Story
  • Closing date: EXTENDED TO June 15 (5pm)
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, publication by UK literary journal Wasafiri both in print and online, and an offer of the Chapter and Verse or Free Reads mentoring scheme in partnership with The Literary Consultancy (dependent on eligibility). Shortlisted writers will be published online with Wasafiri and may be eligible for Free Reads mentoring also
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee:  £10 for a one entry, £16 for two. A limited number of subsidised entries will be available at £6 per entry, which must be accompanied by an explanation of the entrant’s need for subsidised entry. 25 subsidised entries will be accepted per month during the months that the prize is open (February-May 2020). Open internationally
  • The Cambridge Short Story Prize 2020
  • Closing date: June 15
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd £300, 3rd £200, and all remaining shortlisted will be awarded £50. The winning and shortlisted writers will be published online during 2020
  • Word limit: 2,500 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: early bird fee £8 until May 14, £9 thereafter, multiple entries permitted. There are also 20 free entries for those in economic hardship on a first come, first served basis. Open internationally
  • Writing Magazine Grand Prize
  • Closing date: June 30
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000 and publication  in the October Writing Magazine Competition Supplement, 2nd place £250, 3rd place £100, 4th place a WM Courses mini-critique, 5th place a twelve-month subscription to Writing Magazine
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £15 per entry (£10 for subscribers), multiple entries permitted. Appears to be open internationally
  • The Moth Short Story Prize 2020
  • Closing date: June 30
  • Prizes: 1st place €3,000, 2nd €250 and a week-long stay at the Circle of Misse artists’ retreat in Missé, France, 3rd €1,000
  • Word limit: 5,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €15 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • VS Pritchett Short Story Prize
  • Closing date: July 3
  • Prize: £1,000 and publication in Prospect magazine online and in the RSL (Royal Society of Literature) Review
  • Word limit: 2,000-4,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £7.50 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open to writers resident in the UK, Republic of Ireland or Commonwealth (see list of countries here) and likely to be available for a prize-giving event in London in November 2020
  • The HG Wells Short Story Competition 2020
  • Closing date: July 6
  • Prizes: 1st place £500. 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: ‘Vision’
  • 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/Kilmore Quay Short Story Competition 2020
  • Closing date: July 10 (the festival has been cancelled but the competition will go ahead)
  • Prizes: two category winners (there are also memoir and poetry categories) will receive €250 and the overall winner will receive €500. All three will receive a handcrafted trophy and have their winning entries published on the Write by the Sea Festival website
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: ‘Waves’
  • Entry fee: €10 per entry, or €25 for three entries (which can be in any or all of the three categories), multiple entries permitted. Appears to be open internationally
  • 2020 Doris Gooderson Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: July 15
  • Prizes: 1st place £200, 2nd place £100, 3rd place £50. The winning entries may be published in the next Wrekin Writers Anthology and on the Wrekin Writers website, though this is not guaranteed
  • Word limit: 1,300 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £5 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Michael Mullen Cancer Fund Short Story Competition 2020
  • Closing date: July 16
  • Prizes: 1st place €200, 2nd €50. Winners will be announced and prizes will be awarded at a special event in Naas Library as part of the 2020 Kildare Readers Festival (scheduled for October 1-20, but this is obviously open to change closer to the time depending on the Covid-19 situation). The winning entries in each competition will be published on the Michael Mullan Cancer Fund website and also on the Kildare Library and Arts Service website
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €15 per entry, multiple entries permitted. All entry fee money will go to the Michael Mullen Cancer Fund
  • Benedict Kiely Short Story Competition 2020
  • Closing date: August 21
  • Prize: 1st place £300 and publication on The Irish Times Online, 2nd £100, 3rd £50. The three winning stories will also be published in a chapbook
  • Word limit: 2,500 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: early bird entries are £5 per story until August 1, thereafter £7 per entry. A maximum of two entries is allowed. 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 Aesthetica anthology
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £18 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Manchester Fiction Prize 2020
  • Closing date: September 18 (5pm)
  • Prize: £10,000 (yes, seriously)
  • Word limit: 2,500 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £18 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally

PS. If you’re new to writing and/or submitting, you might find a useful tip or two in my post 6 Things I’ve Learned About Entering Competitions

Photo: Rudy and Peter Skitterians/Pixabay

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