Short story contests are a great opportunity to gain exposure as an author, win cash prizes and get your writing published in magazines and anthologies.If you’re new to writing, you might be wondering what exactly a short story contest is.

Short story contests are open to all writers, but they aren’t for everyone. Contestants need to be able to turn out high-quality work quickly, because the submission process is tremendously time-consuming.

They also need to be able to deal with rejection, since most contests receive much more material than they can publish.

Finally, they need thick skin — it can sometimes take months before judges make their selections.


Short Story Contests List

What Are short story contests?

For short story writers, contests offer a chance to have their stories read and critiqued by published authors, editors, and industry professionals — all while winning cash prizes or even publication.

Trying your hand at writing short stories can be intimidating. One way to boost your confidence is by entering a contest.

There are many literary contests for short fiction — you don’t even have to be unpublished! Entering a contest is a great way to get feedback on your work and build up a body of work that you can use in future submissions.



Contests fall into three main categories:

  • those that publish only previously unpublished work,
  • those that accept both previously published and previously unpublished work, and t
  • those that accept only previously unpublished work.

Some contests will have special categories for specific genres, such as flash fiction or science fiction.

Some contests will also allow you to submit published pieces, but only under certain circumstances.

For example, you may only be able to submit one previously published piece, or you may not be able to win any prizes.

What Are Short Story Contests?

Like publishers and literary agents, contest judges are looking for writing that stands out from the crowd. Most importantly, if a judge likes your work, he/she wants it to move her emotionally.

Good literature does that — it makes us laugh or cry or think about things differently.

Contest judges also want writing that’s polished — concise and well-edited with strong characterization and a compelling plotline.

Benefits Of Short Story Contests

There are many benefits of joining short story contest.

The prize is another benefit of joining the contest. The prizes differ from one contest to another.

Prizes are given in cash, prizes and even full scholarships.We will now discuss about the benefits of short story contests.

The first benefit of joining the contest is that it will increase your writing skills. These skills can be helpful in your future job or career.

While you can write successfully on your own, there is nothing better than the feedback you receive from the judges when you have entered a short story contest.You get to know where you stand and what areas you need to work on.

While writing short stories, you need to have good descriptive skills so that you can set up a scene and convey your emotion through actions, words as well as thoughts.The emotions that are visible in a character’s face or body language help to engage the reader with the storyline.

You also learn how to use dialogue effectively and add layers of meaning through setting and description by using contrast, rhythm and imagery for creating mood.

Short Story, Flash Fiction, & Poetry

The form of a story, regardless of length, is determined by its content and not the number of pages it takes to tell it. In order to be considered a short story, flash fiction or a poem, it must have the same elements as longer stories.

There are always exceptions to this rule, but in general, I consider a short story to be less than 7500 words. Flash fiction is 500-7000 words and poetry is less than 500 words.

Telling a complete story in just a few pages is no easy feat but it can be done successfully if you know how to write an engaging beginning, middle and end that weave the themes of your story together fluidly.

Here are some tips:

  1. Make sure your main character changes throughout the course of the events you introduce in your plot
  2. Make sure there is a climax in your story that has stakes and tension
  3. Use good grammar and syntax so that your story is easy to follow and understand
  4. Use dialogue sparingly; it’s better for us readers to hear what you have your characters thinking instead of saying out loud
  5. Use vivid imagery when describing events or characters without overdoing it so that we can envision what you’re trying to convey in our own minds.

Short Story Writing Contests

It’s the time of year when short story writing contests are everywhere. As always, I’m often asked for a list of contests, so I put this together for you.

In case you’re not familiar with contests, they range from very broad with hundreds of entries to very specific with only a few dozen. Some are international and some are national or regional.

Some pay money, some give publication and some do both. A few days ago I received my acceptance notice to yet another contest – my 13th acceptance this year alone!

Of course, I’m not the only one who has done well.

The writer who was first in line before me in that same contest got her 3rd acceptance of the year as well.The usual advice is: “Don’t submit to more than 2 or 3 contests at a time.”

When you get your acceptance letter, remove yourself from that contest and submit to another one in its place.The more high profile short story writing contests have a very long response time from submission to notification (upwards of 8 months), so there’s no rush anyway.

Some of these contests offer “emerging writers” or “new writers” prizes specifically for those with less experience under their belts; others don’t say anything about that officially.

Rolling Short Story Contests

A short story contest is a great opportunity for writers to get published and for readers to discover new authors. They are also a huge draw for writers who have never entered a writing contest before and are looking for a low-risk way to get started.

Contests are also a means of supporting writers in the community. Many non-profit organizations use contests as fundraisers; some literary journals run their competitions to raise money or gather entries.

A number of magazines and journals offer prizes or publication exclusively to entrants who reside in the same state or province as the editors.

If you’ve never entered a story contest before, it can seem intimidating. Here’s how to enter, step by step!

  1. Check the guidelines carefully and follow them exactly!
  2. Get feedback on your story before you submit it. It’s important to make sure that the story is ready before you enter it into a contest. You want it to be your very best work, not something that you’re embarrassed about if you win!
  3. Find contests with open calls (or no deadline). Remember that contests will fill quickly, especially when they receive media coverage! If there’s no entry fee, try entering early in case the contest fills up quickly.

Free Short Story Contests

Many writers, including myself, are looking for new ways to get their writing out there. One of the best ways is to enter free short story contests.

However, many writers don’t know where to look for the free short story contests. This post will help you find free short story contests.


TIP: Most of these contests are looking for original material. If you can write a good story and submit it under a pen name and you might have a chance at winning some money or getting your work published!

  1. The Writing Bug Short Story Contest. This contest is hosted by The Writing Bug . It is open to students between the ages of 13 and 19. The winner will receive $500 and publication in an anthology of stories from The Writing Bug .
  2. Writer’s Digest Annual Short Short Story Competition.

Black Lawrence Press Short Story Contest

Welcome to the 2014 Black Lawrence Press Short Story Contest. We are looking for a great story to publish in our next anthology.

The theme is “New York Stories.” You can interpret that theme in any way you like.

We are also open to flash fiction, though the limit will be 1,000 words.The $5 entry fee is due by midnight on October 31st, 2014 and you must be 18 years old or older to enter.

No simultaneous submissions please.You retain all rights to your work including the right to have it published elsewhere after the contest deadline.

However, BLP will have first publication rights for this anthology only.

Short Story Competitions

Every year thousands of writers participate in short story competitions. There are many different types of competitions: poetry, flash fiction, novel length fiction and so on.

Here is a list of some of the major short story competitions that are held every year.

The Sunday Times Short Story Competition is one of the most prestigious literary competitions in the world, with the winner receiving £30,000.

The prize was formerly known as the Whitbread (now Costa) Award for Best Short Story, until Costa Coffee ended its sponsorship in 2009.Description:The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is an annual award for unpublished short fiction open to citizens of Commonwealth countries.

The prize is worth £10,000.Description:The BBC National Short Story Award releases a collection of 100 stories each year on a theme set by the judges.

The recipients receive £15,000 and there is an overall winner who receives another £15,000.

Hemispheres Magazine hosts a short story contest with winners being published in their magazine as well as receiving cash prizes.

In 2011 they offered first place $1,200 second place $500 third place $300 fourth place $200 and fifth place $100. Are you a budding writer? What is a short story competition? 

A short story competition, or creative writing competition, is an event in which writers submit their original short stories and other creative pieces to a competition with the hope of winning prize money and possible publication in a professional magazine, anthology or book.

You don’t have to be published to enter, but many competitions will request that you have been published at least once before you submit your work. Some contest organizers also ask for submissions in specific genres and styles.

There are many reasons why writing competitions are a good way to get started in the publishing world. For one thing, they’re free — there’s no fee to submit your work.

And most of them let you enter multiple times, so you can send in different pieces each time and see which one wins. Competitions can be a good way to boost your confidence as well — if you win or place highly in a contest, it means someone out there liked what you wrote enough to give it some recognition.

This may help you feel more comfortable sending out your work in the future.

Writer’s Digest Short Story Contest

The Writer’s Digest Short Story Contest is one of the most prestigious competitions for unpublished short fiction in the world. Each year, we receive more than 7,000 entries from writers across the globe who are seeking to be published by Writer’s Digest Books.

The competition has five categories: Fiction Open, Fiction Amateur, Fiction Semi-Pro, Fiction Pro and Flash Fiction.

The top prize for each category is $2,500. Our first- and second-prize winners will also have their stories published in Writer’s Digest magazine!

All winning entries are considered for publication by Writer’s Digest Books.

The Author retains all rights to the story submitted. By entering the contest, you agree to transfer any rights or reproductions of your story to the Sponsor upon acceptance of your entry.

By entering this contest, you also agree that if your work should be selected as a winner, all reproductions of your work shall bear a copyright notice that includes your name and the year in which it was written (i.e., © 2018 Your Name).

If you do not wish for your copyright to appear in this manner, you may withdraw your entry after it has been selected.

Short Fiction Writing Contests

Short fiction writing contests are an excellent way to help you improve and hone your short story writing skills. There are many different types of short story contests, including contests for new writers and for established writers.

Other short story contests focus on a specific subject matter, such as horror writing or romance writing. Some contests pay the winner money, while others offer publication in a magazine or book.

Trying your hand at writing a short story is one of the best ways to improve your writing skills, whether you’re trying your hand at poetry, flash fiction or any other type of genre fiction.

A lot of aspiring writers never get around to actually sitting down and writing because they don’t think they have anything good to say or they just don’t know where to start.

The beauty of a short fiction story is that it can be as long or as short as you like – there isn’t really a limit – but it’s still considered a story.

It can be about absolutely anything, from love to murder mysteries, from science fiction to historical novels.

Short stories are also great for practicing grammar rules and getting the hang of the different types of styles and techniques that are used in written works of fiction.

The more you practice, the better you’ll get at crafting engaging and entertaining stories.

Short Story Contests

Short story contests are a great way to get published. Many new authors find it difficult to get their work into print, but there are many opportunities out there for unpublished writers. Short Story Contests have been around for more than a century and continue to be popular with both amateur and professional writers alike.

These contests can be found all over the internet. Their popularity comes from the fact that the prize of getting your work published is often high, such as having your story in a prestigious magazine or online publication.

There are several different types of Short Story Contests:

Open Short Story Contests – these allow anyone to enter their story into the competition with no restrictions on what type of story it is or how long it is. It is usually just the quality of the writing that will win you first prize!

Closed Short Story Contests – These only accept entries from writers who have previously published a certain amount of work, such as three short stories or one novel. If you haven’t already published something you can still enter, but you will probably not be able to place in their top places if you are new to writing!

Online Short Story Contests – These require you to submit your story via email which means you do not have to include any identifying.

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Why Submit To Writing Contests?

If you write, it’s likely you’ve been asked at least once in your life to submit a piece to a writing contest. Perhaps you’ve been asked to submit a piece to win a prize, or perhaps you’ve been asked as a favor to a friend who wants to promote their work.

Secretly, though, you wonder: what’s the point of submitting to writing contests? Truthfully, there’s no one single reason why writers submit to writing contests.

The reasons are as varied and diverse as the writers themselves!Some writers enter contests because they genuinely want the prize money.

It’s true that some contests offer more money than others. Some winners have even won over $100,000!

Others enter contests because they want exposure for their work;they hope that winning an award will help them land that perfect book deal or magazine contract.

Some simply want the validation of knowing their work is good enough to win,  even if it doesn’t win anything else beyond recognition and appreciation from other writers and readers.But whatever your reason for entering writing contests, it’s important that you go into any contest with your eyes open about the reality of the situation.

Annual Short Story Contest

The deadline for the annual short story contest sponsored by the Friends of the Library is approaching. The entry deadline is Friday, November 30th.

The Friends sponsor the contest to encourage library users to create holiday gifts and contributions for library staff members and volunteers.

The Friends will purchase up to 20 gift certificates for $25 each for local restaurants and shops, as well as a Grand Prize Certificate for a two-night stay at the Inn at Pomegranate Hill valued at $350.

To participate in this fun event, send your original short story to me by Friday, November 30th. Entries must be received no later than 5:00 PM on that date.


The winning entry will be announced on December 7th.All entries will be posted in the Library lobby area during December to allow patrons to read them, and the winning entry will be displayed in the Library lobby through January 1st.

The Friends are also sponsoring a special award of $25 to go toward a gift of your choice from the Friends Bookstore or any other bookstore of your choice.We have had some wonderful stories submitted in the past years and look forward to receiving yours.

If you have questions, please contact me at (828) 697-6010 or email mary.

TWF Very Short Fiction Contest

The Twilight FanFiction Contest is hosted by The Writer’s Forum, a free online resource for writers with over 700 pages on the craft of writing and publishing.

TWF hosts several contests every year, all designed to help aspiring authors improve their skills and gain exposure in the industry.

Our goal is to help writers get their work out into the world and build an audience.Award-winning stories are routinely published in magazines such as Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Apex Digest, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Lightspeed Magazine and more.

The contest has been running since 2008, with hundreds of stories finding homes on prestigious sites like The Bewildering Stories Quarterly, Flash Fiction Online and Microfiction Monday.

It has received international recognition from well known authors such as Jean Johnson, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Robb Pearlman and Jason Sanford.

The contest runs from January 1 through April 30 each year. We accept submissions from around the world with stories limited to 500 words or less (including story title).

All genres are welcome with a special focus on speculative fiction.

Havok Writing Contests

Havok Writing Contests is a program that fosters writing and art through collaborative story-writing. Participants create worlds, characters, and stories together, with a focus on worldbuilding, character development and collaborative storytelling.

The goal of this project is to create an ever-expanding universe with dozens of unique worlds and thousands of unique characters (all of which are created by the participants).Details:The contest is open to all writers.

There is no word limit, but each entry must comprise at least 1,000 words of original content. Your entry must be sent in by the deadline posted for each contest.

If we receive multiple entries within a single day from a single participant, only the most recent one will be considered for posting on the site. We suggest that you sign up for an account before you begin writing your submission.

If you do not have an account, simply do not make an attempt to sign in when you submit your story and it will be accepted as anonymous work.

Larry Brown Short Story Award

Larry Brown Short Story Award is given annually to the best short story in English written by an American citizen and published in the United States during the previous calendar year. The prize is $1,000 and publication in the Missouri Review.

The award was established in 1985 through a gift from the late Larry Brown of Saint Louis, Missouri.

The award has been given to: James Alan McPherson (1986), Grace Paley (1987), Alice McDermott (1988), Russell Banks (1989), William H. Gass (1990), Amy Hempel (1991), Alice Munro (1992), Andre Dubus III (1993), Jamaica Kincaid (1994), Charles Baxter (1995), Michael Cunningham (1996), E.L. Doctorow (1997), Rick Bass (1998), Tobias Wolff (1999) Denis Johnson(2000), Jhumpa Lahiri(2001) and Ron Carlson(2002).