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Cara Shenton

Cara Shenton

 

     Despite having had hundreds of poems published I’ve never won a poetry competition, but that’s probably because I’ve only entered four.  However, I did once win a cash prize for a short story, and then I won the Peter Pook Humorous Novel Contest with Stiff Competition, a story that had previously been rejected by a top publisher for being too funny (see Comps Novel).  I therefore speak from experience when I say that winning literary competitions doesn’t always lead to fame.  But having a few such wins to boast about does you no harm when approaching editors or agents, so if you have dreams of a writing career, this could be the place to begin. Or maybe you just want to win some money.  Whatever your motives, the best advice I can offer is that you emulate my old friend Percy Vere, who reads, writes, reads, writes ad infinitum.

     Below is a list of the most interesting UK writing competitions I’ve seen recently.  I’ve done my best to vet them and eliminate the dodgy ones, but I can offer no guarantees.  Bear in mind that contests with smaller prizes attract fewer entries and are therefore easier to win.

     

UK Writing Competitions (currently 65)

 


Updated
 29.6.17

 

Writers’ Forum Short Story Competition.  There is a new contest in each issue of this glossy writers’ mag.  All types of stories are accepted, from horror to romance, with a length of between 1,000 and 3,000 words.
    Closing: Monthly.  Entries arriving too late for one comp automatically go into the next.
    Prizes: £300, £150, £100.
    Entry Fee: £6, or £3 for subscribers to the magazine.  Critique - £5 (enclose sae if entering by post).
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Updated
  29.6.17

 

Writers’ Forum Poetry Competition.  This monthly contest from the glossy magazine Writers’ Forum is for poems of up to 40 lines on any thme.
    Closing: Monthly.  Entries arriving too late for one month automatically go forward to the next.
    Prize: £100 and a Chambers dictionary.
    Entry Fee: £4 each, or £6 if you want a short critique (enclose sae for the critique if entering by post).
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Updated
 29.6.17

 

Telegraph ‘Just Back’ Travel writing Competition.  If you are just back from somewhere a shade more interesting than the local park, the Telegraph Online would like the gripping details in up to 500 words.  You can read previous winners on the website.  A ‘voyage’ across the Mersey is one of them - proving that you don’t have to write about anywhere exotic to scoop the prize.
    Closing: Monthly.
    Prize : £200 in your choice of currency.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
27.1.15

 

Hour of Writes Competition.  To enter this new weekly peer-reviewed contest from Manchester you submit a piece of writing of any type you choose running to no more than 2,000 words. There is a different theme every week.
    Closing: 11pm every Friday.
    Prize: £50 (usually the minimum, they say; prize increases if more entries are received).
    Entry Fee: £3.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
17.6.16

 

Hello again!
     Thanks for all you've done. I've had another two wins recently - Concrete Cow and UPLI - and I've actually had my book How to Win Writing Competitions accepted by a publisher! Your website gets a mention in it, of course.
     Best wishes,  Cathy Bryant

 


Updated
 29.6.17

 

Scribble Quarterly Short Story Competition.  This quarterly contest from Scribble magazine is for stories in any genre and on any subject, running to no more than 3,000 words.  Winners are chosen by the magazine’s readers.
    Closing: Quarterly.
    Prizes: £75, £25, £15.
    Entry Fee: £3.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
13.6.17

 

Dark Tales Short Story Competition.  As you may gather from the name of the competition, this is not for the sort of jolly happy-ending story that leaves you with a warm glow inside.  It is for horror and speculative fiction, the sort that leaves you afraid to turn out the lights in case something other than a tiny moth is hiding in the wardrobe.  Your entry must be limited to 5,000 words.
    Closing: Monthly.
    Prize: £100 and publication.
    Entry Fee: £4.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 


Added
22.1.18

 

Flash 500 Competition.  This quarterly flash fiction contest, which offers higher prize money than many similar competitions, is for stories of up to 500 words on any theme.
    Closing: 30.6.18, 30.9.18, 31.12.18.
    Prizes: 1st - £300.  2nd - £200.  3rd - £100.  Highly Commended - A copy of Bad Moon Rising.  Winners will be published on the website.
    Entry Fee: £5 each, £8 for two.
    Comp Page: Click Here .

             

                         The Rules, the T&Cs, the Fine Print
When you submit a story or poem to a competition, you are entering into a contract with the promoter.  Make sure you know the terms.  It may be, for instance, that you are granting the promoter the right to publish your work without payment even if you don’t win.  This is often the price you pay for entering a contest with no entry fee.  If it bothers you, don’t participate.  But before you get sniffy about that 450-word story set in the sedate world of turnip farming, ask yourself this: Would I really be able to sell it to anyone else?  Publication, even without payment, might not be a bad thing if it gets you a healthy crop of readers.  And if it’s in a newspaper or magazine that carries some prestige ... well, there are plenty of struggling writers who would gift wrap and hand over their very souls for the privilege of being able to put that in their cv.  Only you can decide if it’s worth it.

 


Added
16.1.18

 

Secret Attic Competitions.  Here are two free monthly contests from Secret Attic Press, one for short stories of up to 1,200 words, the other for poems running to no more than 28 lines.
    Closing: End of each month.
    Prizes (in each category): £10.  Best entries will be published in the monthly magazine.
    Entry Fee: None - free entry.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 

 

 

Dear Mr Michael
    I discovered your website back in November, then, in January, finally had the guts to enter the Whidbey Writers’ Competition, with the 'lazy' way of judging entries: stopping reading once they found 'the one'. The January theme was Villains, and, guess what, I won.
    Thank goody-goody gumdrops for Prizemagic.
    Keep Smiling
                                                   - Hannie Duncombe (The youngest ever Student Choice winner, at 13, thanks to you.)

 


 3.6.18

 

Stephen Spender Prize for Poetry Translation (in association with the Guardian).  How many readers aged 14 and under does the Guardian have, I wonder?  And how many of these translate poetry in their spare time instead of, say, playing computer games that are well good?  Not a vast number, I would have thought, and yet the contest has a category for this group.  That’s probably why the promoters put it on the Internet: there’d be no entries otherwise.  Luckily, adults may also have a go.  To enter, find a poem written by some foreigner and translate it into English (60 lines max), then send it in together with a commentary (up to 300 words) and the original poem.  But first, ask yourself this: Is there really such a shortage of home-produced poetry that we need to ship it in like melons from countries that don’t even speak the lingo?
    Closing: 6.7.18.
    Prizes: Adults - £1,000, £750, £500.  18 and Under - £250, £150, £100.  14 and under - £100.  All winners ‘and any others the judges wish to select’ will be published in a booklet.
    Entry Fee: Adults - £7.  Entry is free if you are 18 or under.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.4.18

 

Pennine Ink Flash Fiction Competition.  This contest from the Pennine Ink Writers Workshop of  Burnley in Lancashire is for stories of up to 500 words on the theme of Mine.  You can interpret the theme in any way you wish.
    Closing: 7.7.18.
    Prize: £50 plus publication in Pennine Ink and on the website.
    Entry Fee: £3 for one, £5 for two.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 

 

 

Michael,
     I have been a follower of your excellent site for a few years, finally with some success.  I usually submit poetry but I have won 2nd Prize in the Eyelands Short Story competition - a piece of Greek pottery and copy of the Anthology containing my story.
     I hope the Anthology copy which I receive is not all GREEK TO ME like Mary Hodges copy last Year!
                                                                          -  Regards Fred McIlmoyle

 


Added
16.4.18

 

Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition.  This annual contest from Ledbury in Wales is for poems of up to 40 lines.  It has three age categories: Adult (18 and over), Young People (12 to 17), and Children (11 and under).  The judge is Nia Davies, editor of Poetry Wales.
    Closing: 12.7.18 (5pm).
    Prizes: Adults: 1st - £1,000 plus a residential writing course at Ty Newydd, the National Writers’ Centre for Wales.  2nd - £500.  3rd - £250.   12-17 category - £100, £50, £25.  11 and under category - £25, £15, £10 (all in book tokens).
    Entry Fees: Adults - £5.75 for the first, £3.50 thereafter.  Young People and Children get the first entry free and pay £1.75 each for any subsequent entries.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
16.4.18

 

Doris Gooderson Short Story Competition.  Here’s another annual contest, this time from Wrekin Writers of Shropshire.  Stories can be on any subject but must not exceed 1,200 words.  50% of profits will be dontated to Severn Hospice.
    Closing: 12.7.18.
    Prizes: £200, £100, £50.
    Entry Fee: £5.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 


Added
17.5.18

 

Daily Mail First Novel Competition.  The good thing about having your novels rejected and your dreams tossed into the gutter like a greasy chip-wrapper is that you remain eligible for fabulous contests like this one which is only open to authors who have never had a book published.  Okay, it may be just another opportunity to see your best work swept away by a tsunami of indifference from some faceless judges, but for a while in your mind at least you can be the winner and have the literary world at your feet.  Lucky you.  To enter, you send in the first 3,000 words of your story and a synopsis of the rest of the plot (up to 600 words).
    Closing: 13.6.17 (5.30pm).
    Prize: A book deal with Penguin Random House UK and a £20,000 advance.
    Entry Fee: None - free entry.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
11.6.18

 

PENFro First Chapter Competition.  This offering from the PENfro Book Festival in Pembrokeshire is for novel openings of up to 3,000 words by unpublished authors.  The work submitted must be for adults.  This includes teens, they say.  Adult at 13, eh?  They grow up fast in Wales.  They also have something against sci-fi and fantasy it seems, as these are not required in this competition. The judges are Richard Davies of Partheon Books, and Rebecca F. John of the Cadogan & Quill Literary Consultancy.
    Closing: 13.7.18.
    Prizes: 1st - A face-to-face cosultation with Richard Davies - and a long report from Rebecca F. John.  2nd and 3rd - A face-to-face consultation with Richard Davies.
    Entry Fee: £10.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.3.18

 

Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2018.  ‘Wasafiri’, according to the website, ‘is a literary magazine at the forefront of mapping new landscapes in international literature.’  Try saying that in Kiswahili, the language from which the magazine’s title comes.  Now, you are probably thinking that the magazine itself must hail from Africa, but this is not so.  It was born at the University of Kent in 1984, and as far as I know it has no African connection at all.  Nor, I might add, has the contest.  This has three categories (Poetry, Fiction, Life Writing) and is open to anyone anywhere in the world who has not published a complete book in their chosen category.  The word limit for the Fiction and Life Writing is 3,000.  In the poetry category, you can submit up to five poems for the same entry fee (use separate pages).  You can enter more than one category, but only once each.  Incidentally, ‘wasafiri’, in case your Kiswahili is a bit rusty, means ‘cultural traveller’
    Closing: 13.7.18 (5pm).
    Prize (in each category): £300 and publication in the mag.
    Entry Fee: £6.  If you enter two separate categories it’s £10 and for three it’s £15.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.6.18

 

Grist Competition 2018.  Here we have one from the creative writing department at the University of Huddersfield.  It has the theme of Trouble & Strife A Celebration of Protest.  Ah yes, student protests.  ‘We’re doing a protest at the weekend - are you joining us?’  ‘Too right!  What’s it about?’  Your entry can be fiction of up to 5,000 words or poetry of up to 40 lines - and there’s no use protesting about that.
    Closing: 15.7.18.
    Prizes: £500, £250, £125.
    Entry Fee: £5.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.7.18

 

Ambit Poetry Competition.  This contest from the well-known literary and art journal Ambit is for poems on the theme of Home.  This magazine has been knocking around since before your grandfather was born, and I can remember submitting material to it back in my early days as a literary genius (before I gave it up to make a living).
    Closing: 15.7.18.
    Prizes: £500, £250, £100.  Winners will be published in Ambit and will be invited to read at a launch event in London.
    Entry Fee: £6.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 

 

 

Hi Michael
     I spent a year or so reading all those comments on your website from people who, since consulting your list, seem have won just about every competition going. I read it and thought it must be too good to be true – but worth a try. Then, on my third submission, I have actually gone and won the Yeovil Literary Prize for Poetry. I am absolutely over the moon, unable to believe it, etc.  Thank you so much.
                                                                                   -   Andy Miller

 


Added
 1.5.18

 

Fitzcarraldo Editions Novel Prize.  This contest, which is supported by the Arts Council, is for unpublished novels of over 30,000 words by writers living in the UK or Ireland.  To enter you submit the complete novel plus a brief outline and a biographical note.  The judges will be looking for stories that ‘explore and expand the possibilities of the novel form, are innovative and imaginative in style and tackle subjects and themes relevant to the world we live in.’  Well, you didn’t expect it to be easy with such a big prize at stake, did you?
    Closing: 15.7.18.
    Prize: Publication with a £3,000 advance.
    Entry Fee: None - free entry.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
24.6.18

 

Catherine Walker Short Story Competition .  This contest from the Scottish Association of Writers is for stories of up to 2,000 words on the theme of Conservation).
    Closing: 21.7.18.
    Prizes: £100, £50, £25.
    Entry Fee: £7.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 2.5.18

 

HG Wells Short Story Competition .  This annual contest from the H.G.Wells Festival in Folkestone is for stories of between 1,500 and 5,000 words in any genre.  The stated theme is ‘PEACE in its broadest interpretation’.  I know some of you find the rules of these contests too tiresome to read, so I won’t try to badger you into looking at them in this instance.  However, I will just mention that there is something in there about double quotes.  Ooh, I wonder what that is?  Finally, if you can arrange to be 21 or under it will be to your advantage, as you can then qualify for a much bigger prize while at the same time entering for free.
    Closing: 23.7.18.
    Prizes: Adult (22 or over) - £250.  Junior (21 or under) - £1,000.  All shortlisted entries will be published in a  paperback anthology.
    Entry Fee: £10 if you are over 21.  Free if you are 21 or under.  If you are a student who is over 21 (with ID to prove it), it’s £5.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
11.6.18

 

PENFro Short Radio Drama Competition.  This contest from the PENfro Book Festival in Pembrokeshire is for radio dramas with a running time of between five and ten minutes.  Before you get started on a yarn with a cast of thousands, see the notes on the website re the number of characters.
    Closing: 29.7.18.
    Prizes: The top three dramas will be edited, performed live on stage at the festival, then recorded with music and FX and put on the website.  The winners will receive a CD of the final piece.  The top six dramas will receive a professional critique.
    Entry Fee: £5.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 

 

 

Hi Michael,
     Thank you for continuing to provide so much information on your blog. It’d be a good read just for some of your coments even if I hadn’t found it extremely helpful. I’ve had luck with a few of the competitions you’ve mentioned, including getting my first novel 'Escape to the Country' published a while back and more recently being placed in last month’s Spinetinglers competition.
                                                                                      -  Patsy Collins

 


Added
11.6.18

 

PENfro Open Poetry Competition.  This contest from the PENfro Book Festival in Pembrokeshire is for poems of up to 40 lines on the theme of ‘The Year of the Sea’.  The judge is poet Kathy Miles.
    Closing: 29.7.18.
    Prizes: £300, £125, £75.
    Entry Fee: £4.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
19.6.18

 

Marian Keyes Scholarship.  To apply for this award/prize, which is funded by Curtis Brown author Marian Keyes, you submit 3,000 words of a novel in progress together with a one-page synopsis.  Curtis Brown, in case you are for some odd reason not aware, is a mainstream London literary agency with a formidable track record in the world of books.  To be eligible you must be either: (a) unmarried, not co-habitating, and have a gross income of less than £25,000 and savings of less than £5,000, or (b) married or co-habitating and have a gross income of less than £35,000 and savings (jointly or individually) of less than £5,000.
    Closing: 29.7.18.
    Prize: A place on a Curtis Brown Creative six-month online novel writing course.
    Entry Fee : None - free entry.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.6.18

 

Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition.  This annual contest from Norwich Writers’ Circle is for fiction of up to 2,000 word on the theme of Markets.  You may incorporate the theme in any way you choose.
    Closing: 31.7.18.
    Prizes : £400, £250, £100.
    Entry Fee: £8.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.2.18

 

Stroud Book Festival Writing Competition.  This contest from the Stroud Book Festival has two categories: flash fiction of up to 500 words and poetry of up to 40 lines.
    Closing: 31.7.18.
    Prizes (in each category): £500, £250, £100.
    Entry Fee: Flash Fiction - £5.  Poetry - £5 for the first, £3 thereafter.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 7.5.18

 

Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2018.  This one from the Poetry Society is said to be the UK’s largest poetry competition for writers between the ages of 11 and 17.  It certainly attracts a lot of entries.  Over 6,000 young people from across the world submitted their work last year.  Poems can be any length and on any subject.
    Closing: 31.7.18.
    Prizes: The top 15 winners will be invited to attend a week-long residential writing course at a prestigious Arvon Centre, or they will receive mentoring from a professional poet.  The top 15 poems will be published in a print anthology which is sent out to over 20,000 school libraries and poetry enthusiasts.  The 85 commended poets will have their entries published in an online anthology.  There will be an awards ceremony in London on National Poetry Day to which all 100 winners will be invited.  I’ve been to some of these events and there’s generally free booze.  In addition fellow poets can usually be relied upon to supply some weed (best not mention this to your parents).
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.  You can enter more than one poem but they make it clear they don’t want you bunging in any old rubbish to make up the numbers (they put it more subtly than that, but that’s what they mean).
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Updated
11.10.17

 

Cinnamon Press Debut Novel/Novella Prize.  To enter this you submit the first 10,000 words of your novel or novella.
    Closing: 31.7.18.
    Prize: A publishing contract and 100 copies of the novel.
    Entry Fee: £12.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
16.4.18

 

STERTS One-Act Playwriting Competition.  Now in its seventh year, this international contest from STERTS Theatre in Cornwall is for one-act plays with a performance time of between 25 and 35 minutes.  Your play can have up to four  actors, all of whom should be adults.  The performance venue has a low ceiling, so no flying witches, cars, etc, and no trampolines.  I should avoid the jujitsu throws as well, as the victim’s feet might get tangled in the light fittings (mind you, if you’re aiming at comedy, this could work).
    Closing: 31.7.18 (noon).
    Prizes: 1st - £100 and your play produced on Novemeber 17 in Sterts Studio.  Runners-up will also receive prizes and their plays will be given a public performance.
    Entry Fee: £8.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 


Added
 1.1.18

 

Snapshot Press Chapbook Awards 2018.  This contest from Snapshot press of Ormskirk is for chapbook-length collections of between 8 and 24 haiku, tanka and other short poetry up to 25 lines including any blank lines (prose poems and haibun up to 200 words).  Poems must not have been previously published in a collection.
    Closing: 31.7.18.
    Prizes : Online publication by Snapshot Press.
    Entry Fee: £12 per collection.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.5.18

 

Audiojam Flash Fiction Competition.  This contest from Audiojam (formerly Soundwork) is for stories of up to 1,000 words suitable for audio broadcast.  All genres are welcome and work may have been previously published.
    Closing: 31.7.18.
    Prize: The winning story will be produced and recorded in a studio with professional actors.  The recording will be made available to an existing listener base and the world via the Audiojam website and SoundCloud.  The winner’s professional bio will be included on the website.
    Entry Fee: £1.99.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
14.5.18

 

Indigo First Collection Poetry Competition.  To enter this contest from Indigo Dreams Publishing in Devon you submit 15 poems of up to 40 lines each.  The competition is open to poets who have not had a full collection or pamphlet published.
    Closing: 31.7.18.
    Prizes: Two winners will have their debut collection published by Indigo Dreams.
    Entry Fee: £14 per block of poems.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.5.18

 

WB Limerick Competition.  This contest from Writers Bureau is for limericks.  Not much more I can say really ... although your entry does have to be your own work.
    Closing: 31.7.18.
    Prizes: 1st - £100 plus a Writers Bureau course.  Runners-up (2) - £50 plus a year’s membership to the Association of Freelance Writers.
    Entry Fee: £5 for four limericks (or fewer if you can’t manage four), then £1 for each additional entry.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
22.5.18

 

Seán Ó Faoláin International Short Story Competition.  This annual contest from the Munster Literature Centre in Ireland is for unpublished stories of up to 3,000 words on any subject.  The Munster Literature Centre, incidentally, is named after the town in southern Ireland where it is located, not the old American TV sitcom about a bunch of friendly monsters.
    Closing: 31.7.18.
    Prizes: 1st - 2,000 euros plus a week’s residency at Anam Cara Writer’s and Artist’s Retreat.  In addition, if you go to Cork to collect your prize, you will receive hotel accommodation, meals, drinks and VIP access to the literary stars at the Cork International Short Story Festival (12-15 September 2018).  2nd - 500 euros.  Runners-up (4) - 120 euros.  All six winners will be published in the literary journal Southword.
    Entry Fee: 15 euros.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.7.18

 

Riptide Childhood Writing Competition.  This contest from the literary journal Riptide (in association with Extreme Imagination and Exeter Literary Festival for and by Young People) is for adults and has the theme of Childhood.  To enter, you send a story of up to 5,000 words or up to five poems of up to 40 lines each.  The promoters say they want to be surprised, amused and challenged.  Your entry should include a 50 word biogaphical note.  I’m not sure if the promoters want this to surprise, amuse and challenge them but it’s a pretty safe bet they’ll be expecting it to be factual.
    Closing: 31.7.18.
    Prize: £50 and publication in Riptide.  Runners-up will also be published.
    Entry Fee:  Buy a copy of Riptide.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 

 

 

Dear Michael,
     I love your website and its pertinent personal comments re the comps.
     I entered the Alexander Cordell one some months ago, the mini saga, and was short-listed to win. It was a 600 mile round trip with two toddlers but we had a really wonderful weekend. My husband is self employed and works really long hours so it was great to drag him away and out into the countryside. The people were lovely, the whole event was fascinating, and I was thrilled to get two books and a book token. My little girl age 3 gets excited every time Wales is mentioned on the news now! The greatest thrill was hearing the Director of Visit Wales read out my story so reverently, and with evident enjoyment. The organisers were delighted with the world-wide entries.  I don’t write for money - just as well - but for the love of the medium and the message.
     Keep up the good work!                                         -  Julie Noble

 


Added
 6.5.18

 

The Betjeman Poetry Prize.  This contest in honour of one of Britain’s most popular poets aims to foster creativity in young people.  Young people are apparently between 10 and 13, these being the age limits for the competition.  Old at 14, eh?  Too many crafty cigarettes behind the bike sheds, I reckon.  Entries should be on the theme of Place.  The place, say the promoters, ‘could be a country, a den at the end of the garden, Granny’s house or a hedge at the back of the school.’  They want to know what it means to you.  ‘It’s where I chill, innit?’ will not be sufficient.  There is no line or word limit. The judges are Scottish Makar Jackie Kay and poet Zaffar Kunial.
    Closing: 31.7.18.
    Prizes: 1st - £500 for the winner and £5,000 for the English Department at the winner’s school, or the winner’s local library.  The winner and two runners-up will each receive four Eurostar tickets to Paris, Brussels or Lisle.  The runners-up also get £200.  There will be £50 each for Highly Commended entrants.  There is in addition a prize draw for teachers who manage to bully their classes into entering.  The top 50 poems will be printed in an anthology.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
10.4.18

 

SPM Publications Poetry Book Competition.  This contest from Sentinel Poetry Movement Publications is for full-length collections of poetry in any style and on any subject.  For the first stage of the competition you send in 20 pages of poetry from your full collection.  Note that for this initial stage you must submit your entry under a pen name (one you’ve made up for yourself, not Bic, etc).
    Closing: 31.7.18.
    Prizes: £300, £200, £100.  The three winners will also receive publishing contracts for their collections and 20 copies of their published book.
    Entry Fee: £25 per collection.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 


Added
 6.5.18

 

Winchester Poetry Prize.  This annual contest from the Winchester Poetry Festival aims to ‘surprise and delight,’ they say.  However, don’t try to surprise and delight them with a short story or a photo of your cat dancing in a tutu.  Stick to a poem of up to 40 lines.
    Closing: 31.7.18.
    Prizes: £1,000, £500, £250.  Winners will be invited to read their entries at special prize-giving event at Winchester Poetry Day on October 6.  Winning and commended poems will appear in an anthology.  There is also a prize for the best poem written by a Hampshire-based poet.
    Entry Fee: £5 for the first, £4 thereafter.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Updated
  1.7.18

 

TXTLit Micro Story Competition.  For this contest you need a mobile phone.  Well, everyone’s got one, haven’t they?  No.  There’s still one person in the UK who hasn’t.  Me.  I don’t like phones of any sort.  I have one that plugs into the wall but I never answer it when it rings.  I think: ‘They’ll ring again if it’s important.’  They seldom do, and if they do I never answer it and they never ring again - which proves they were just time-wasters.  Now, I may seem to be rambling a bit here, but hey, what do you know, this turns out to be relevant because you mustn’t ramble in this competition.  Limit your stories to 154 characters (letters and spaces, not people), and while you’re about it, refrain from using abbreviated TXT gibberish, as this is not welcome.  At last - someone is fighting back on behalf of the English language!  There is a different theme each month.
    Closing: 31.7.18.
    Prize: Just the satisfaction of being the winner.
    Entry Fee: None.
    Website: Click Here .

 


Added
 1.6.18

 

Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction prize.   This annual contest from Canadian literary magazine The Malahat Review, is for personal essay, memoir, narrative nonfiction, socal commentary, travel, historical accounts and biographies - ‘all enhanced by such elements as description, dramatic scenes, dialogue, and characterisation.’  The length should be between 2,000 and 3,000 words.
    Closing: 1.8.18.
    Prize: ,000 (Canadian).
    Entry Fee: (outside North America): for the first, thereafter.  Dollars are US.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.6.18

 

Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition.  Two categories in this one from Oxford Brookes University: Open, and English as a Second Language.  If you are a young Internet user/texter who only seems to have English as a second language, then you should enter the Open category.  Whichever category you choose, your poem should run to no more than 50 lines.
    Closing: 6.8.18 (11pm).
    Prizes (in each category): £1,000, £200.
    Entry Fee: £5 each for the first three, £4 each thereafter.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 

 

 

Hi Michael
     Just to let you know I was a runner up in last year’s Eyelands short story competition. I entered it mainly because entries were accepted by email. The main prizes were very generous, as I remember they included video cameras and computers and “a notebook” which I took to mean a notebook computer. I didn’t win any of these but I was “awarded with distinction” and sent a certificate to prove it. I also received a copy of the Eyelands anthology which included my story. Only one problem – it’s in Greek. I recognised my story because it had my name at the top in English. I advise anyone entering this year's comp to look for the automatic translation feature in google - unless of course they understand Greek!
     Many thanks for your website. Always interesting even if I don't enter one of the comps.
                                                                               -  Mary Hodges

 


Added
 3.7.18

 

Limerick Competition.  This contest from Limerick I swear
                                          Is for those with a rhyming flair.
                                          I’ve just heard a rumour
                                          If you throw in some humour
                                          You could win quite a wad over there.
    Closing: 10.8.18.
    Prize: 500 euros.  Note that to qualify for the prize you must be able  to attend the final in Limerick, Ireland on 25.8.18 (Saturday).
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.  You can enter up to three limericks.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
30.6.18

 

The Robert Graves Prize.  This contest from Roehampton Poetry Centre and Wimbledon BookFest is for poems of up to 40 lines on any subject.  The judges are literary agent Peter Straus, and poet David Harsent, chair of the Poetry Centre.
    Closing: 15.8.18.
    Prizes: £1,000, £100, £100.  Winners will be published in Poem magazine.
    Entry Fee: £5.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 


Added
 1.6.18

 

Buzzwords Poetry Competition.  This annual contest from Buzzwords Poetry of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire is for poems of up to 70 lines.  The judge, Graham Burchell, will read all entries .
    Closing: 25.8.18.
    Prizes: £600, £300, 5 x £50.  Gloucestershire Resident Prize - £200.
    Entry Fee: Postal - £4 for one, £10 for three.  Online - £4.35 for one, £8.70 for two, £11 for three.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
19.6.18

 

Link Age Southwark Writing Competition .  Link Age Southwark is celebrating its 25th anniversary with this contest for poetry and short stories.  The theme is Friendship and/or Generations.  Entry is open to residents of the UK and Ireland only.
    Closing: 31.8.18.
    Prizes: Adult - £200, £150, £100.  Children - three prizes of book vouchers.
    Entry Fee: Adults (18+) - £5.  Children - Free.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.6.18

 

HWA Dorothy Dunnett Short Story Award.  This competition from the Historical Writers’ Association is, not surprisingly, for historical stories.  These are defined for this contest as stories set at least 35 years in the past.  The theme and genre are both open.  Stories should run to no more than 3,500 words.
    Closing: 31.8.18.
    Prizes: 1st - £500, publication online and in Whispering Gallery, mentoring by an author and agent, and tickets to the HWA awards ceremony in London.  Runners-up - mentoring and tickets to the awards ceremony.
    Entry Fee: £5.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 


Added
 9.5.18

 

SaveAs Writers Gothic Writing Competition.  To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Save As Writers of Canterbury are running an international contest for poems and stories in the Gothic tradition.  They want you to chill them to the bone, they say.  You are allowed up to 60 lines to do this with poetry or 2,500 words with prose.  If that isn’t enough, get your monster costume on, go to Canterbury and jump out on them when the leave one of their meetings.
    Closing: 31.8.18.
    Prizes (in each category): £200, £100, £50.
    Entry Fee: Poems - £3 each, £8 for three.  Stories - £4 each, £10 for three.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 

 

 

Hi
    Before I discovered your website I’d never even thought of trying my luck in a writing competition. My stories were a very private part of my life, I was (and for the most of the time still am) very convinced that they are not good enough for the ‘outside world’.
     I don’t know what made me try - call it a crazy moment of self-confidence - but here I am the October winner of the Cazart short story competition. I haven’t felt so good about myself in months. It might not seem like a big deal to the world but for me it means everything. And it would not have happened if it wasn’t for your wonderful website.
     Thank You very much.                                         -  Dorota Nocun

 


Added
 1.3.18

 

Aesthetica Creative Writing Award.  This annual contest from Asthetica magazine is for Short fiction running to no more than 2,000 words and poetry of up to 40 lines.
    Closing: 31.8.18.
    Prize (in each category): £1,000 plus other writing related prizes.  Finalists will be published in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual.
    Entry Fee: £18 for fiction, £12 for poetry.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 2.3.18

 

ACW Journalism Competition.  This contest from the Association of Christian Writers is for topical articles of up to 1,000 words.  Your aricle doesn’t necessarily have to have a Christian slant (see the advice on the comp page). 
    Closing: 31.8.18.
    Prizes: 1st - £25 book token.  2nd - £10 book token.  Winners will be published in Christian Writer , a magazine distrbuted to 800 ACW members.
    Entry Fee: £3 each, £5 for two.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 6.5.18

 

Cheshire Prize for Literature.  This contest from the University of Chester is for short stories running to no more than 1,500 words.  There is no theme.  To be eligible to enter you need to have lived, studied or worked at some point in Cheshire, Wirral, Warrington or Halton.  Documentary evidence may be requested, they say.  So if nobody made a documentary about you while you were there, I’m afraid you’ve had it ... although it’s possible I’ve misunderstood this requirement.
    Closing: 1.9.18.
    Prizes: 1st - £2,000.  Additional prize money of £750 will be awarded, but the precise details were not revealed to me at the time of writing.  The best entries will be published.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.6.18

 

Franze Wright Prize for Poetry.  Here’s another contest with good specs from Eyewear Publishing.  It is for full collections of poetry.  Manuscripts should be between 48 and 120 pages.
    Closing: 6.9.18.
    Prize: ,000 and publication by Eyewear Publishing.  The book will be distributed in the UK and USA.
    Entry Fee: .
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.2.18

 

New Voices Novel Competition.  This international contest from London-based mentoring service Adventures in Fiction requires you to submit the first page of your novel and a one-page synopsis.
    Closing: 14.9.18.
    Prizes: A start-up mentoring package (nomally costing £550) which includes manuscript appraisal, a consultation and a development strategy.
    Entry Fee: £10.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.7.18

 

Magma Poetry Pamphlet Competition.  Here’s another contest from the poetry magazine Magma which will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year.  It is for poetry collections of between 18 and 34 pages.
    Closing: 25.9.18.
    Prize: The winner’s pamphlet will be published and given a launch reading.  The winner and three others will have a poem published in Magma.
    Entry Fee: £22.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 2.7.18

 

Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair 201 9.  This international contest from southern Ireland has been described by an Irish newspaper as Dragon’s Den for writers.  The aim is to introduce up-and-coming novelists to publishers and literary agents.  Many top publishers and agents from Ireland and the UK have attended the Fair in the past, so this could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for - or not.  To be eligible, you must not have had a novel published under an ISBN, and of course you must be able to attend the fair in person for the whole day on February 17, 2019.  If this sounds attractive and you are prepared to gamble a pretty thick wad of currency on your novel (entry fee plus travel and hotel accommodation/tent), submit up to 5 chapters (around 10,000 words), plus a synopsis of up to 300 words.  Any genre is acceptable.
    Closing: 28.9.18 (5pm).
    Prizes: Twelve shortlisted entrants will be invited to take part in the fair and will each have a stand where they can meet publishers and agents.  They will be invited to a How-to-Pitch-Your Novel seminar two weeks before the fair.  If you make it on to the longlist but not the shortlist, you will receive a critique on your novel from the judging panel (a critique?  Considering the entry fee, I’d expect them to come and see me in person to apologise).
    Entry Fee: 50 euros.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 


Added
 1.5.18

 

Bedford International Writing Competition.  This annual not-for-profit contest from Bedfordshire, home of the famous Shuttleworth Collection (old aeroplanes and cars) is for stories of up to 3,000 words and poems running to no more than 40 lines.
    Closing: 30.9.18..
    Prizes (in each cetegory): £500, £150, £100.  In addition there is the Bedford Prize for local residents: £100 in each category.
    Entry Fee: £6 each, £12 for three.  Full-time students: £4 each, £8 for three.  Net proceeds will be donated to charity.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.6.18

 

Hammond House International Literary Prize.  This contest from Hammond House Publishing is for short stories of between 2,000 and 5,000 words, poems of any length, and screenplays of up to 10 pages (approx. 10 minutes duration).  In all categories the theme is Precious (this is intended to be inspirational, not restrictive, they say).
    Closing: 30.9.18.
    Prizes: Short Story - £500, £100, £50.  Poetry - £100, £50, £25.  Screenplay - 1st - £25 and the script professionally produced on film and submitted to the AESTHETICA Film Festival.  Runners-up will receive a short trailer of their script.  Shortlisted story and poetry entries (25) will be published in an anthology.  There will be a televised awards ceremony.
    Entry Fee: £10.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 


Added
 3.7.18

 

Galley Beggar Short Story Prize.  This contest from Galley Beggar Press of Norwich is for stories of up to 6,000 words.  The Guardian has described Galley Beggar as ‘A tiny publisher with a cartload of guts.’  So now you know what they do to writers who don’t obey the rules.
    Closing: 30.9.18.
    Prizes: 1st - £1,000 or 12 months of editorial support from the directors of Galley Beggar Press.  Shortlisted writers receive £150, while those on the longlist get £50 in book vouchers and a 4-book subscription to Galley Beggar Press.
    Entry Fee: £10.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 

 

 

Dear Michael, 
     Thank you for maintaining your informative and witty list of writing competitions.
     I entered loads of them last year and got precisely nowhere, but I ploughed on regardless and have just won second prize (£100) in the Flash 500 Humour Verse contest, which would suggest that your friend Percy Vere might be onto something.
                                                                             -  Melanie Branton

 


Added
10.4.18

 

NUHA Blogging Prize. Back for the eighth year running is this international blogging competition from the NUHA foundation, a registered charity based in England.  The contest was established ‘as a platform to debate issues of education and development, and to provide an opportunity for authors to be published and to develop their self-confidence’.  It doesn’t matter if English is your first, second or third language - you will be judged on the quality of your argument and the originality of your ideas.  There are three age categories: Adult, Youth and Young Writer.  Each category has a different writing task.  Entries will be posted on the website, and you can get your family and friends to vote for your entry and comment on it.  Well, you can try.
    Closing: 13.10.18 (midnight PST.  In the UK, assume this to be 4pm BST). 
    Prizes: The prizes depend on sufficient entries being received.  Adult - (up to) ,400, ,200, 0.  Youth Prize - (up to) 0, 0, £150.  Young Writers - (up to) 0, 0, .  There is a possibility of matched prizes for teachers and schools.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 6.5.18

 

Troubadour International Poetry Prize.  Time to roll out the old 'grounds for celebration’ pun again.  Yes, it’s the annual international contest from Coffee-House Poetry, with its usual generous prizes.  And as usual, it’s for poems of up to 45 lines on any subject.  These lines, take note, must fit on an A4 or US letter size page, so you can forget about having lines that are 200 words long (and if you want to know why, here’s a clue: the judges will be reading all of the submitted poems.  This year’s judges are Daljit Nagra and Jo Shapcott.
    Closing: 22.10.18.
    Prizes: 1st - £2,000.  2nd - £1,000.  3rd - A week long writing course at an Arvion centre of your choice.  There are also numerous runners-up prizes.  Winners wll be invited to read with the judges at Coffee-House Poetry on prize night in November.
    Entry Fee: £6 for the first, £4 thereafter.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 


Added
 2.6.18

 

Dinesh Allirajah Prize.  This freebie from Manhester’s Comma Press and the University of Central Lancashire is for stories of between 2,000 and 6,000 words on the theme of Scent.  Along with your story you must submit a covering letter, as specified on the website.
    Closing: 26.10.18.
    Prizes: £500.  Shortlisted entries will be featured in an ebook anthology.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 


Added
 6.5.18

 

Momaya Poetry Competition. This is the first poetry contest from Momaya Press of London in the UK and Roxbury in the USA.  Open worldwide, it is intended to be an annual event.  The theme this year is Love and there is a word limit of 1,500.
    Closing: 30.10.18.
    Prizes: £70, £35, £20.  Winners along with up to 50 Honourable Mentions will be published in the Momaya Poetry Review 2018.  The three winners will receive a free copy.
    Entry Fee: £7.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.7.18

 

Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize.  This contest, which is for fiction or non-fiction of between 1,000 and 1,500 words, is for young writers aged between 18 and 25 living in the UK.  Entries should interpret the following Benjamin Franklin quote for its relevance today: ‘Let all man know thee, but no man know thee thoroughly.’
    Closing: 31.10.18.
    Prizes: £750, £500.  Winners will be published on The Telegraph website.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 

 

 

Hi Michael
     Love, love, love your site! But it should come with a word of warning to other would-be comp winners. Go straight to terms and condition page first. Just spent the last hour and a half crafting (skillfully obviously) a poem about bingo for one of the contests on your site, only to find that (unlucky for some, or rather - me) when I went to email it, it was for UK residents only! I went to dramatically raise my hand to my forehead saying `oh st!` when I knocked over my glass of wine on the desk. As I went to quickly mop up everything, I knocked my phone off the table where it now lies wet and immobilised.
     So, to re-evaluate: 1. Check terms and conditions. 2. Don`t make any sudden, dramatic hand movements. 3. Don`t place wine on same surface as computer. 4. Don`t place mobile phone on same surface as wine glass.  And finally, 5. Make sure there`s a spare bottle of wine in fridge when you go to drown your sorrows on your time-wasted, expensive, quiet sunday evening in.
                                                                            -  Susan from Dublin

 


Added
22.1.18

 

Novel Opening Competition.  For this annual contest from the Flash 500 website you submit the first chapter of your novel, or just the first 3,000 words if the chapter is longer.  Add to this a one-page synopsis outlining the rest of the story.
    Closing: 31.10.18.
    Prizes: £500, £200.
    Entry Fee: £10.
    Comp Page: Click Here .

 


Added
 1.7.18

 

Everything With Words Urban YA Competition.  This contest from new publisher Everything With Words is for first young adult novels of between 40,000 and 70,000 words, set in a real city in today’s multicultural Britain.  To enter you submit the completed novel plus a summary of up to 500 words.
    Closing: 30.11.18.
    Prize: £1,000 and possible publication of your novel.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page: Click Here

 


Added
17.6.18

 

Holland Park Press Poetry Competition.  Here is another contest from Holland Park Press of London.  It is for poems of up to 50 lines on the theme of Brexit.
    Closing: 31.12.18.
    Prize: £200.  The winner and runners-up will be published in the online magazine.
    Entry Fee: None - free entry.
    Comp Page: Click Here.

 


Added
11.6.04

 

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Competition.  This US contest is open worldwide and is for short stories of up to 17,000 words.  They should be science fiction, fantasy or horror with fantastic elements.
    Closing: Quarterly.
    Prizes: ,000, 0, 0.
    Entry Fee: None.
    Website: Click Here.

 


Added
 1.9.11

 

Dear Michael
     Just to say a big ‘Thank You’ for your work on the website. I have been selected for publication in the Mirador competition which ran last year and have been awarded 3rd place in the Stringybark Speculative Fiction competition. To be published twice is like a dream for me, which the information found on your site made possible. Thanks again.
                                                                                    -   Pat Davies

                     


Notes: Unless otherwise stated in the rules, all poetry should be single-spaced.  The rest should be double-spaced (which is to say, double spacing between the lines, not the words!).  It is sometimes the case that your name shouldn’t appear on the manuscript.  Again, check the rules.  If you put your name on there after being told not to, you’re out.  Don’t use coloured paper or fancy fonts, and don’t send your manuscript done up like the Queen’s dinner menu with a fancy gold-tooled leather cover.  These things merely announce that you have no confidence in your submission or, worse, that you think the judges are shallow enough to judge on appearance rather than content.  Plain white A4 80gsm paper is the stuff to use, with plain black typing or print.  Write on one side of the sheet only (unless asked to put your address on the back).

             

            Before you start writing, allow me to introduce you to an old friend

                                       The Typo Goblin

            I am the Typo Goblin, my heart is made of flint,
            My role in life is simply this: to keep you out of print.
            I sneak into your manuscript and do my fiendish work,
           Adding errors guaranteed to make you look a berk.
           And then I cast the ‘Careless’ spell: you say, ‘Ah, what the heck!’
           And pop your script into the post without that final check.
           At length some hapless editor receives your golden wit,
           And after reading fifty words he writes it off as ... unpublishable.

                                                                            - Michael Shenton

     

Finally, as you sift through the remnants of your shattered dreams and wonder if it’s worth going on ... www.samaritans.co.uk/

               


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