Short story competitions 2023

[UPDATED 26/1/23] It’s that time again, when writers everywhere are filled with a fresh New Yearsy resolve to polish up those unfinished short stories and put work out into the world. Besides inspiration, determination and a decent supply of snacks, you also need some idea of where to aim for when ready. And so I present to you a bumper crop of competitions currently open for entries in Ireland and the UK.

Last year, a few people contacted me to let me know they’d placed in competitions (or indeed won, whoop!) as a result of my lists. If anyone has any luck this year, do please let me know in the comments below – these victories need to be celebrated.

Quite a few of the regular annual competitions have yet to confirm their details, but I’ll update the list as they do so you might want to pop back occasionally. And as always, check out the small print for yourself to make sure you’re happy with what you’re entering. Best of luck!

  • Bournemouth Writing Prize 2023
  • Closing date: January 27
  • Prizes: 1st place £500, plus feedback on a sample of your work (short story or a short extract from your novel) from a commissioning editor or agent and a professionally produced recording of your work for your website. Shortlisted writers will be considered for anthology publication
  • Judges: include Greyhound Literary agent Julia Silk and Hutchinson Heinemann senior commissioning editor Ansa Khan Khattak
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £7 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • ChipLitFest Short Story Competition 2023
  • Closing date: February 5
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd place £250, 3rd place £100. The three winning stories will be published on the Chipping Norton Literary Festival website (the festival takes place April 27-30)
  • Judge: literary agent Antony Harwood
  • Word limit: 2,500 words or 5,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £8 for stories of up to 2,500 words, £10 for stories up to 5,000 words, mutiple entries permitted. Some sponsored free entries are available for low-income writers, on application. Open internationally
  • Writers’ & Artists’ Short Story Competition 2023
  • Closing date: February 14
  • Prize: a place on an Arvon residential writing course in the UK worth £850. The winning story will also be featured on the Writers’ & Artists’ website
  • Judge: writer Naomi Booth
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: ‘Love’
  • Entry fee: free to enter, you just have to register for a free account on the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook site, one entry only. Open internationally, though travel costs will not be provided if you win a place
  • From the Well Short Story Competition 2023
  • Closing date: February 17 (5pm)
  • Prizes: the winner and two runners-up will be invited to read at the 2023 West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry (July 7-14). The top twenty stories will be published in the annual From the Well anthology
  • Judges: doesn’t say but the head judge is usually writer Billy O’Callaghan
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: free to enter, one entry only. Open to registered library members in Ireland
  • CWA/Margery Allingham Short Mystery Competition 2023
  • Closing date: February 28 (6pm)
  • Prize: £500 plus two weekend passes to CrimeFest 2023 (May 11-14) in Bristol, UK, run by the Crime Writers’ Association
  • Judges: doesn’t say
  • Word limit: 3,500 words
  • Theme: a mystery that fits into crime writer Allingham’s definition of what makes a great story: “The Mystery remains box-shaped, at once a prison and a refuge. Its four walls are, roughly, a Crime, a Mystery, an Enquiry and a Conclusion with an Element of Satisfaction in it.”
  • Entry fee: £12 per entry, mutiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Exeter Writers 14th Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: February 28
  • Prizes: 1st place £700, 2nd place £350, 3rd place £200. There is also a £100 prize for the best entry by a Devon-based writer
  • Judges: doesn’t say
  • Word limit: 3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £7 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
Judge Ian Rankin
  • Scottish Arts Club Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: February 28
  • Prizes: 1st place £3,000, 2nd place £500, 3rd place £250. This year there is also a category called Mango for humorous stories. And there is a £750 Isobel Lodge Award for unpublished writers living or studying in Scotland. At least twenty stories will be included in the anthology. The Scottish Arts Club will present one year free membership of the Club to the finalists
  • Judges: chief judge is author Ian Rankin
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none, though the Mango category is for stories that fit the description of ‘fun, amusing, bizarre and as delicious as a mango’ (they will also be in the running for the main prize)
  • Entry fee: £10 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Flash 500 Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: February 28
  • Prizes: 1st place £500, 2nd place £200, 3rd place £100
  • Judge: novelist Sue Moorcroft
  • Word limit: 1,000-3,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry details: £7 for one story, £12 for two, £16 for three, £20 for four. There is also an option to receive a critique for £25 per story. Open internationally
  • The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize 2023
  • Closing date: March 1
  • Prizes: 1st place £3,000. Two runners-up will receive travel expense support of £1,000 that must be used to attend The Alpine Fellowship 2023 Symposium (a charitable foundation that supports, commissions and showcases artists, writers, academics and playwrights), which will be held August 10-13 in Fjällnäs, Sweden
  • Judges: doesn’t say
  • Word limit: 2,500 words
  • Theme: ‘Flourishing’
  • Entry fee: appears to be free to enter, one entry only permitted in each category (prose, poetry etc). Open internationally
  • Fowey Festival/ Daphne du Maurier Short Story Competition for Adults
  • Closing date: March 5
  • Prizes: 1st place £250, 2nd place £100. The official prizegiving will be at the Fowey Festival of Arts and Literature (May 12-20), which celebrates the life and work of Daphne du Maurier. The winning entries will be published on the website
  • Judge: doesn’t say
  • Word limit: 1,500 words
  • Theme: stories must have the title ‘I’ll Never Be Young Again’, inspired by the title of du Maurier’s second novel, published in 1932
  • Entry details: £10 per story, one entry only. Open internationally
  • The Henshaw Short Story Competition
  • Closing date: March 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £200, 2nd place £100, 3rd place £50. The winning stories will be published on the website and in the fifth Henshaw Press Anthology
  • Judge: doesn’t say, but Henshaw Press is described as ‘a small group of writers, editors, lecturers and of course readers who wish to actively support creative writing’
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £6 per entry, multiple entries permitted. There’s also an option to receive a critique for an extra £14. Open internationally
  • Bath Short Story Award 2023
  • Closing date: April 24
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,200, 2nd place £300, 3rd place £100. There’s also the Acorn Award of £100 for a previously unpublished writer of fiction. The top twenty stories will be published in the annual print and digital anthology
  • Judge: Farhana Shaikh, writer, teacher and Managing Editor of independent publishers Dahlia Books
  • Word limit: 2,200 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £9 per entry, multiple entries permitted. There are a limited number of free places available, on application. Open internationally
  • 2023 Bristol Short Story Prize
  • Closing date: April 26
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,000, 2nd place £500, 3rd place £250. Seventeen prizes of £100 will be awarded to the shortlisted writers. The Sansom Award will be presented to the highest placed story by a Bristol writer. The top twenty stories will be published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 16
  • Judges: literary agent with The Good Literary Agency Abi Fellows, editor, writer, and creative producer Heather Marks, and writer and independent bookshop manager Daniel Ross
  • Word limit: 4,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £9 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Some free entries available on application. Open internationally
  • The 2023 Bloom Writing Contest – Short Story
  • Closing date: May 1
  • Prizes: 1st place €500. The winner will be showcased in The European Literary Review, The European Society of Literature’s quarterly magazine. The winner will also have their own author showcase in the journal discussing their life, aspirations, literature, motivations etc, but this is optional, and not required. The shortlisted entries will also be showcased in the magazine, along with some selected pieces from the longlist
  • Judges: ‘The European Society of Literature’s competition team is made up of writers, authors, journalists, avid readers and people within the field of literature’
  • Word limit: 2,500 words, no minimum
  • Theme: ‘Beauty’. Named after the late Harold Bloom, a renowned literary critic and scholar, the contest will place heavy emphasis on works of deep meaning, aesthetic beauty and literary quality (essays and poems also accepted)
  • Entry fee: €3 per entry, 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
  • Judge: not yet revealed
  • Word limit: 5,000 words (no minimum requirement)
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: £14 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Yeovil Literary Prize for Short Story
  • Closing date: May 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £600, 2nd place £250, 3rd place £125
  • Judge: writer and publisher Steven Kay
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee:  £8 per entry, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • WestWord Prize for Short Stories
  • Closing date: June 25
  • Prizes: 1st place £300, 2nd place £200, 3rd place £100. All winning, shortlisted and longlisted stories will be published in the online anthology WestWord, a new literary journal published by Retreat West
  • Judges: WestWord editorial team
  • Word limit: 1,000-2,500 words
  • Theme: ‘Wild’
  • Entry fee: £10 per entry, multiple entries permitted. There’s also an option to get feedback for £40 per entry. Open internationally
Can you write a funny story?
  • To Hull and Back Humorous Short Story Competition 2023
  • Closing date: June 30
  • Prizes: 1st place £1,200 and a motorbike ride (yes, you are reading that correctly, check out the website as it’s too odd to explain here), 2nd place £600, 3rd place £300. Three Highly Commended stories will win £150, fourteen shortlisted will win £75. Twenty longlisted writers will win a free early-bird entry to the next competition (scheduled for 2025, worth £13). The winners and shortlisted entries will be published in the To Hull And Back Short Story Anthology, both as a print edition and ebook
  • Judge: writer Christopher Fielden
  • Word limit: 2,500 words
  • Theme: no set theme, but stories must have some element of humour
  • Entry fee: early bird fee until March 31 of £13 for one entry, £21 for two, £26 for three. Thereafter it’s £15 for one entry, £24 for two, £30 for three. Open internationally
  • Anthology Magazine Short Story Competition 2023
  • Closing date: August 31
  • Prizes: 1st place €1,000, publication in Anthology and a one-year subscription to the magazine. 2nd place €250, 3rd place €150
  • Judges: doesn’t say
  • Word limit: 1,500 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: early bird entry of €12 per story until April 30, thereafter €18 per story, multiple entries permitted. Open internationally
  • Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2023
  • Closing date: August 31
  • Prizes: 1st place £2,500, publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual, a five-day course with Arvon, a consultation with Redhammer Management, and a one-year print subscription to Granta magazine and digital subscription to Mslexia. The twenty shortlisted writers will be published in the Annual
  • Judges: quite a long list of writers and agents here
  • Word limit: 2,000 words
  • Theme: none
  • Entry fee: early bird entry of £9 until January 14, thereafter £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

PPS. What’s that, you say? You wish you could buy me a coffee in return for all this invaluable information? Funnily enough, there’s a way to do that now on my brand-new Ko-fi page – link here

Photos: Werner Moser/Pixabay; Robin Higgins/Pixabay; Markus Winkler/Pixabay

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3 thoughts on “Short story competitions 2023

    1. Ah thanks, Jo, I hope you’ll find something of use. All those competitions can be a bit overwhelming at first so my advice would be to select a few that particularly appeal – you can’t enter them all (well, I suppose you could…) Also, the bigger the prize fund the great the number of entries (eg Bridport), so the odds become trickier. Best of luck!

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