Free-to-enter competitions 2020

From time to time, I do a round-up of competitions that have no entry fees because heaven knows it’s a costly business. Right at the moment, there aren’t that many available, but I think the list below is nonetheless an interesting mix. I’ll add to it as and when new opportunities arise, and I hope there will be something that is of use, whether you’re looking for a flash fiction, short story or novel competition.

(As a whimsical aside, when I was looking for a FREE image on Pixabay to illustrate this blog post, I was rewarded with an abundance of chicken pictures. Feast your eyes on these, if you care to. And, more importantly, good luck!)

Flash fiction

  • Morgan Bailey 100-word Competition
  • Closing date: next deadline is July 31, though this is a monthly-run competition
  • Prizes: 1st place a choice of three online courses (or a 2,000-word free edit by UK editor, author and competition judge Morgan Bailey), 2nd place two courses (or a 1,500-word edit), 3rd place one course (or a 1,000-word edit). Up to three highly commended entrants per month win either a free entry coupon code to a entering writing competitions course or a free 1,000-word edit
  • Word limit: 100 words
  • Theme: different every month. It’s ‘A Mature Student’ for July entries. Check website for future themes
  • Entry details: free to enter, three flashes permitted. Open internationally
  • Lennox Robinson 100 Short Story Award 2020
  • Closing date: September 30
  • Prize: €100
  • Word limit: 100 words
  • Theme: the story must link to some aspect of the life or work of Irish playright Lennox Robinson
  • Entry details: free to enter, one entry only. Open internationally

Short story

  • The George Floyd Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: August 14
  • Prizes: 1st place £250, 2nd £125, 3rd £75, Highly Recommended £30. Finalists will be published in an anthology entitled Black Lives, and will receive a year’s free membership to the Nottingham Writers’ Studio, regardless of locality
  • Word limit: 5,000 words (no minimum)
  • Theme: none specified, though the organisers say ‘With this anthology, we seek to capture not only stories of social justice that capture the mood, tone, and energy of the vital Black Lives Matter movement, but the entire gamut of BAME life experience, from social justice to comedies by black authors to romances with a predominantly Asian cast’
  • Entry details: free to enter, one entry only. Open internationally to all writers
  • TU Dublin Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: August 19
  • Prizes: 1st place €500, 2nd €250, 3rd €150. The winning and shortlisted stories will be published in an anthology
  • Word limit: 1,500-2,000 words
  • Theme: none, though the anthology will be called Creation, Cosmos & Caboodle and the organisers are looking for strong stories that even loosely reflect this title.
  • Entry detailsfree to enter, doesn’t say whether multiple entries are permitted. Open internationally
  • Costa Short Story Award
  • Closing date: EXTENDED TO August 28 (5pm)
  • Prizes: 1st place £3,500, 2nd £1,000, 3rd £500. The three shortlisted stories will be published on the Costa Book Awards site in November and the winner will be decided by a public vote
  • Word limit: 4,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry detailsfree to enter, one entry only. Open to writers resident in UK or Ireland
  • The Val Wood Prize for Creative Writing 2020: The Next Chapter
  • Closing date: August 31 (5pm)
  • Prizes: 1st place £100 and publication on the Valerie Wood website. The runner up will receive £50. One highly commended entry to the will receive £25
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: the organisers say they are looking for feelgood stories
  • Entry detailsfree to enter. Open internationally
  • The Liberties Press Humorous Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: August 31
  • Prizes: 1st place €1,000, 2nd €600, 3rd €500 – although the website lists the prize money the other way around. It take it to be meant as… humorous?
  • Word limit: 1,500 words
  • Theme: humorous!
  • Entry detailsfree to enter, one entry only. Open to writers who are Irish citizens or long-term residents of Ireland
  • Perito Prize 2020
  • Closing date: October 1
  • Prizes: 1st place £500 and publication in a winners’ anthology. The story will also be uploaded to the Perito Prize section of the Perito Ltd website. Two runners up will receive a special mention and the pieces will be included in the anthology and uploaded to the website. The finalists will also have the option to participate in podcast/reading opportunities. The anthology will be available to buy from Amazon and all profits will be donated to an access and inclusion charity highlighted on the blog section of the Perito website
  • Word limit: 1,000-2,000 words
  • Theme: the story must incorporate the theme of accessibility
  • Entry detailsfree to enter, one entry only. Open internationally
  • Funny Pearls Short Story Competition 2020
  • Closing date: October 30 (opens for entries September 1)
  • Prizes: 1st place a £200 Amazon gift card. Two runners up will each receive Amazon gift cards to the value of £50. The winners will also be published on the site
  • Word limit: 1,000-2,500 words
  • Theme: none, but stories should be humorous
  • Entry detailsfree to enter, one entry only. Open internationally to women
  • The ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award 2021
  • Closing date: October 31 (5pm – opens for entries August 4)
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000
  • Word limit: 5,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry details: free to enter, one entry only. Open to writers resident in the United Kingdom, Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland


  • Sustainable Societies Children’s Novel Competition
  • Closing date: September 14
  • Prizes: Best Pre-school/Illustrated book, £200. Best Novel in Young Readers category, £200. A literary agent from Curtis Brown will read the top entries and consider any writers they think suitable for representation
  • Requirement: preschool/ illustrated books (2-6) max 1000 words; young readers category (7-11) max 2,500 words. Stories must in some way touch upon ideas around building a sustainable society
  • Entry detailsfree to enter. It says open to all so I interpret this as open internationally
  • Discoveries Talent Development Programme
  • Closing date: January 17 (opens September 7)
  • Prizes: 1st place representation by the Curtis Brown Literary Agency (this has been set up in conjunction with the Women’s Prize for Fiction) and a cash prize of £5,000. A longlist of 16 and shortlist of six writers will be offered personalised mentorship packages from a Curtis Brown agent or industry expert tailored to their needs, and free or discounted places on Curtis Brown Creative writing courses
  • Requirement: the opening three chapters or up to 10,000 words 
  • Entry detailsfree to enter. Open to female writers resident in the UK or Ireland

PS. You’ll find my lists of paid short story competitions here and novel here, updated regularly. I’ll have a new flash fiction list fairly shortly (I’d say in a flash, but that would be a lie).

Picture: Clem Onojeghuo/StockSnap; Nayeli Dalton/Unsplash; Alexis Brown/Unsplash


One thought on “Free-to-enter competitions 2020

  1. […] 3. More Social Media: Writing Blogs and VlogsIf you are looking to broaden your literary horizon, literary b/vlogs are wonderful resources. From Latinx literature, to travel writing, writing about music and poetry reviews, there is likely something for everyone. Many vlogs and blogs offer generous amounts of tips that can elevate your writing and improve your submission game. On top of that, they offer and reading recommendations from the writing community, including (you’ve guessed it) current submission opportunities.  […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s