Short story competitions April-December 2021

[UPDATED 12/7/2021] It really does feel like we’re emerging from a collective hibernation, doesn’t it? Armed with a Covid vaccination, or at least the promise of one in the near future. For many people, writing has been on the back burner – it certainly has been here at Wordherding Towers. But I have set a plan in motion to be more productive in the months ahead (more on that another time) and feel an urge to get things in order. Who knows, this might even extend to spring cleaning my house, which currently looks like a family of bears has overwintered in it.

As part of the endeavour, I thought I’d do an updated round of short story competitions (Ireland and UK). These lists have proven very popular with visitors to this blog and because I’m a helpful sort, I felt a fresh list would spare you having to wear out your scrolling function.

As ever, do read all the competition T&Cs – and best of luck!

  • 2021 Bath Short Story Award
  • Closing date: April 19
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,200, 2nd £300, 3rd £100. There’s also the Acorn Award of £100 for an unpublished writer of fiction. The top 20 stories will be published in the annual print and digital anthology
  • Word limit: 2,200 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee:  £9 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • The White Review Short Story Prize 2021
  • Closing date: April 26 (5pm)
  • Prizes: 1st place £2,500 and publication in The White Review print journal. Shortlisted writers will have their work published online
  • Word limit: 2,000-7,000 words
  • Theme: none, but the judges will be looking for short stories that explore and expand the possibilities of the form
  • Entry fee: £15 per entry, one entry only. Free entry is available for up to a hundred low-income writers, on application. Open to writers resident in the UK and Ireland
Desperate Literature bookstore, Madrid
  • Desperate Literature Prize for Short Fiction
  • Closing date: April 30 (the deadline has been extended from the original closing date of April 15)
  • Prizes: 1st place €1,500, a week’s residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy and a consultation with a literary agent from Andrew Nurnberg Associates in London. Two runners-up will each win €750. One shortlisted writer will be offered a spot at the Tbilisi International Festival of Literature, Georgia, along with a ten-day residency at the Writers’ House of Georgia. A travel stipend of €400 will be provided. All shortlisted writers will be published in a limited-edition book, which will be launched at the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize Salon, Madrid, Spain. They will also be published by one of Desperate Literature’s partner journals: Helter SkelterThe London Magazine, Open PenPrototypeHotelGorseKill Your DarlingsMinor Literature[s] or The Second Shelf. Covid restrictions permitting, there will be opportunities for participation in prize salons at Desperate Literature, Madrid; Burley Fisher, London; Typewronger Books, Edinburgh; and The Second Shelf, London
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee:  €20 for the first entry, €10 for every further entry up to a max of five entries permitted. There are also some free and reduced-fee entries available for low-income writers. Open internationally
  • Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award 2021
  • Closing date: May 1
  • Prizes: 1st place €700 and a crystal trophy, 2nd place €500, 3rd place €300
  • Theme: none
  • Word limit: 1,800-2,200 words
  • Entry details: €10 per entry, one entry only. Open internationally
  • Mairtín Crawford Award for Short Story
  • Closing date: May 2
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000 and a five-night stay at The River Mill Writer’s Retreat in Downpatrick, Co Down. Two runners-up will receive a cash prize of £250
  • Word limit: 2,500 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £6 per entry, doesn’t say if multiple entries are permitted. Open to writers who were born in or are citizens of Ireland and UK
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is download-2.jpeg
  • 2021 Bristol Short Story Prize
  • Closing date: May 5
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd place £500, 3rd place £250. Seventeen shortlisted writers will each receive £100. The twenty winning stories will be published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 14 by Tangent Books and the contributors will each receive two copies
  • Word limit: 4,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £9 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • RTE Short Story Competition 2021 in honour of Francis MacManus
  • Closing date: May 7
  • Prizes: 1st place  €3,000, 2nd place €2,000, 3rd place €1,000. A further seven runners-up will receive €250 each, and all 10 shortlisted stories will be published on rte.ie/culture and broadcast in a season of new writing on RTÉ Radio 1 in the autumn
  • Word limit: 1,800-2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee:  free to enter, one entry only. Open to writers who are resident on the island of Ireland, or, if living abroad, hold an Irish passport
  • 2021 Shooter Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: May 9
  • Prizes: 1st place £400 and publication in the summer 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
  • ChipLitFest Short Story Competition 2021
  • Closing date: May 16
  • Prizes: 1st place £500, 2nd place £100, 3rd place £50. The three winning stories will be published on the ChipLitFest (Chipping Norton Literary Festival) website
  • Word limit: you can choose to send stories of up to 2,500 or 5,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £5 for stories up to 2,500 words. £8 for stories up to 5,000 word, multiple entries permitted. Free entries are available for writers on low incomes. Open internationally
  • Lucent Dreaming 2021 Short Story Contest
  • Closing date: May 30 (9pm UK time)
  • Prizes: 1st place £250, publication in Lucent Dreaming magazine, a fiction bundle and limited-edition merchandise. 2nd place £50, publication in the magazine and merchandise. 3rd place £25 and merchandise. The three winning stories will be published on the website
  • Word limit: 2,000-5,000 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/$20,000 or less per year. There is no need to declare or prove your income threshold. Open internationally
  • The Yeovil Literary Prize for Short Story
  • Closing date: May 31 (EXTENDED from April 30)
  • Prizes: 1st place £600, 2nd place £250, 3rd place £125
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £8 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Michael Terence Publishing Short Story Competition 2021
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £2,021 and publication in the MTP 2021 anthology (print and ebook), which will take its title from the winning story. The T&Cs don’t mention it, but presumably the shortlisted stories will also appear in the anthology
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £7 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • The 2021 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize
  • Closing date: May 31 (5pm)
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000 and print publication in Wasafiri literary journal. Shortlisted writers will have their work published on the Wasafiri website. All fifteen shortlistees and winners will also be offered the Chapter and Verse or Free Reads mentoring scheme in partnership with The Literary Consultancy (dependent on eligibility), and a conversation with Nikesh Shukla of The Good Literary Agency to discuss their career progression
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee:  £10 for one entry or £16 for two, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Bridport Prize for Short Story
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £5,000, an invitation to take part in the awards celebration and feedback from the judges and Bridport Prize professional partners. 2nd place £1,000, 3rd place £500, both with an invitation to the awards ceremony. Ten Highly Commended stories will be awarded £100 each. All the winning and highly commended pieces will be published in an anthology and entered into the Sunday Times Audible competition, top prize £30,000. Literary agency 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
  • 202Frome Festival Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £400, 2nd place £200, 3rd place £100. Frome Festival, held in Somerset, UK, is expected to go ahead this year (July 2-11)
  • Word limit: 1,000-2,2000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £8 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Aurora Prize for Writing 2021
  • Closing date: June 7
  • Prizes: 1st place  £500, feedback on a piece of work of their choice from a leading literary agent (or editor as appropriate) and a year’s free membership to the Society of Authors, which includes access to advice and resources on all aspects of the business of writing. The winner will also be offered a session with Society of Authors staff including an introduction to how the Society can support them in their careers as professional authors and covering essential advice on copyright, payment terms and contracts. 2nd place £150. 3rd place winners a one-day course of their choice from Writing School East Midlands
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee:  £9 for one entry, £7 for any subsequent entries, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • The Cambridge Short Story Prize 2021
  • Closing date: June 14
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd place £300, 3rd place  £200, and all remaining shortlisted writers will be awarded £50. The winners and shortlisted stories will be published on the TSS Publishing site
  • Word limit: 2,500 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: there’s a staggered entry fee, with early-bird of £7.50 until April 14, £8.50 until May 14 and then £9.50 until the closing date, multiple entries permitted. There will also be thirty free entries for those in economic hardship on a first-come, first-served basis. Open internationally
  • Write by the Sea Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: June 25
  • Prizes: 1st place €250, plus an additional €250 for the outright winner of the three available categories (short story, memoir and poetry). The winner will also have their work published on the website, and receive a handcrafted trophy as well as a weekend pass to the Write by the Sea Literary Festival 2021, to be held (either virtually or live in Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, depending on circumstances) September 24-26
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: ‘Rescue’
  • Entry fee: €10 per piece or submit three pieces (in any category) for €20. Open internationally
  • Molly Keane Creative Writing Award 2021
  • Closing date: June 25 (12 noon)
  • Prize: €500. The winner will be announced during an online event for Culture Night in September
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open to writers resident on the island of Ireland
  • The Moth International Short Story Prize 2021
  • Closing date: June 30
  • Prize: 1st place €3,000, 2nd place a week-long writing retreat at Circle of Misse  in France and a travel stipend of €250, 3rd place €1,000. The winning stories will be published in the autumn edition of The Moth magazine. The judge is novelist Ali Smith
  • Word limit: 5,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €15 per story, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • The HG Wells Short Story Competition 2021
  • Closing date: July 12
  • 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: ‘Mask’
  • 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). Open internationally
  • Doris Gooderson Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: July 13
  • Prize: 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. Publication in the anthology, or on the website, is not guaranteed
  • Word limit: 1,200 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £5 per entry, multiple entries permitted (50% of any profits will be donated to the Severn Hospice). Open internationally
  • Michael Mullen Cancer Fund Short Story Competition 2021
  • Closing date: July 15
  • Prizes: 1st place €200, 2nd place €50. The winner will be announced at a special event (actual or online) as part of the Kildare Readers Festival, and the winning story will be published on the Michael Mullan Charity Fund website and on the Kildare Library and Arts Service website
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €15 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Michael sadly passed away last year, so all entry fee money will go towards Kidney Cancer Research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, USA, where he was treated. Open internationally
  • Wild Atlantic Words Short Story Competition 2021
  • Closing date: July 31 (5pm)
  • Prizes: 1st place €500, 2nd place €250. Winners will be expected to attend the reading and prize-giving event as part of the Wild Atlantic Words Festival (October 4-9) in The Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, Co Mayo, if Covid-19 restrictions permit
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: €10 per entry, one entry only. Open to writers who are Irish or resident in Ireland
  • Anthology Magazine Short Story Competition 2021
  • Closing date: July 31
  • Prize: €500, publication in a future issue of Anthology magazine and a one-year subscription
  • Word limit: 1,500 words
  • Theme: ‘Memories’
  • Entry fee: early bird entry of €10 per story by April 30, €15 per story thereafter, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • To Hull and Back Humorous Writing Contest 2021
  • Closing date: July 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,200, 2nd place £600, 3rd place £300. Three Highly Commended writers will receive £150 each, fourteen shortlisted writers will receive £50 each. All finalists will be published in the To Hull And Back Short Story Anthology, which will be available both in print form and on Kindle
  • Word limit: 2,500 words
  • Theme: no set theme, but stories must have an element of humour
  • Entry fee: early bird entry of £13 for one story, £21 for two , £26 for three until April 30. Thereafter, £15 for one story, £24 for two, £30 for three. Open internationally
  • Olga Sinclair Prize 2021
  • Closing date: July 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £500, 2nd place £250, 3rd place £100. The three winners and seven shortlisted stories will be published in competition organiser Norwich Writers’ Circle annual anthology
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: ‘Lost’
  • Entry fee: £9 for one entry, £7 each for two or more entries. Open internationally
  • Costa Short Story Award 2021
  • Closing date: August 2 (5pm)
  • Prizes: 1st place £3,500, 2nd place £1,000, 3rd place £500
  • Word limit: 4,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open to writers resident in the UK or Ireland
  • Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2021
  • Closing date: August 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £2,500, publication in the Aesthetica creative writing anthology, a consultation with Redhammer Management, a selection of books from Vintage Books and a one-year print subscription to Granta magazine. The twenty shortlisted writers will be published in the anthology
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £18 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • National Association of Writers and Groups (NAWG) Open Competition
  • Closing date: August 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £200, 2nd place £100, 3rd place £50. Winning entries may be published on the NAWG website, in Link magazine or the annual NAWG anthology. This competition is open to everyone, not just members of the association
  • Word limit: 500-2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £5 per entry, multiple entries permitted. A critique is also available for £5 per story. Open internationally
  • The 2021 Exeter Writing Prize and Trisha Ashley Award
  • Closing date: August 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £500, 2nd place £150, 3rd place £100, Trisha Ashley Award £200. Each story submitted will receive a line or two of feedback
  • Word limit: 5,000 words (no minimum requirement)
  • Theme: none, but judge Trisha Ashley has expressed an interest in engaging and quirky stories
  • Entry fee: £12 per entry, multiple entries permitted. A one-page critique is also available for £40 per story. Appears to be open internationally
  • Mslexia Short Story Competition 2021
  • Closing date: September 20
  • Prizes: 1st place £3,000 plus mentoring by a specialist literary agent. Three additional finalists each receive £100 and all four winning entries are published in Mslexia magazine. Winning entries plus eight more shortlisted entries will be published in Mslexia’s inaugural ebook anthology Best Women’s Short Fiction 2021
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £12 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally to writers who identify as female
  • Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize 2021/2022
  • Closing date: October 10
  • Prizes: 1st place £2,000. Shortlisted writers will each receive £200. Longlisted writers will each receive £50 and a four-book subscription to Galley Beggar Press
  • Word limit: 6,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £10 per entry. There will also be 200 free entries available for low-income writers, on a first-come first-serve basis. Open internationally
  • The Bedford Competition for Short Story
  • Closing date: October 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd £200, 3rd £100. The prizewinning and shortlisted stories will be published in an anthology as a downloadable e-book and a hardcopy paperback, after the results have been announced
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £7.50 per entry, three for £15. 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

Photos: Leandro De Carvalho/Pixabay; Jarmoluk/Pixabay; Tim Hill/Pixabay

4 thoughts on “Short story competitions April-December 2021

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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