Writing Competitions 2013 – January to June

On the basis of feedback from followers who’ve said they’ve found competition round-ups helpful, here’s a list of comps I’ve put together for the first half of the year, some of which I’m intending to enter myself(!)

Please note that they’re generally the most well know open competitions or those in recognised writing publications but by no means am I covering even a fraction of the comps that are out there.

Please remember to double-check the entry rules and details with the competition organizers as these are subject to change. The best tips I can give you are to read the rules carefully and stick to them, especially with regards to word count and format, and also to look at who the judges are, what type of genre they specialise in (if any) and what their writing style is, and to consider those factors when you think about the piece(s) of work you enter.

So, in order of closing date, here goes…


Northern Writers Awards – FOR NORTHERN WRITERS ONLY (not because I’m biased against writers from the rest of the UK but because this prize is under New Writing North sponsored by Arts Council England).

These awards are prestigious and feature high-profile literary judges.

The categories are:-

Northern Writers Awards – a fund of £20k awarded to writers to finish /move forward with works-in-progress

Angela Badendoch First Fiction Award – £2K award for first-time female writer over the age of 42

New Poets Bursaries – Six places worth £1.5K each on a professional development programme

New Fiction Bursaries – Five editorial reports worth £300 each with The Literacy Consultancy

The Arvon Award – An Arvon writing course for best prose received

International Residency Award – An established poet will be offered a residency worth £5K with Hunter Writers’ Centre in Newcastle, Australia

All applications have to be made through an online submission system. To read all the rules and enter go to www.northernwritersawards.com

Deadline is 31 January 2013.


Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Competition

This is a great one because entry is free, there’s a great prize (£500 and a place on an Arvon writing course of your choice) and publication in the WaA Yearbook which is a high-profile publication for those in the writing industry (I buy it every year for the articles and listings of publishers and agents) where the winner would be rubbing shoulders with best-selling authors and respected agents etc.

Entries must be a short story for adults with a maximum of 2000 words, on the subject of ‘Freedom,’ however you might want to interpret that.

Entry is online by emailing with WAY13 COMPETITION in the subject line to shortstorycompetition@bloomsbury.com BUT please check the details and rules at http://www.writersandartists.co.uk/competitions

Deadline is 15 February 2013


Mslexia 2013 Short Story Competition

There is a first prize of £2K as well as two optional extras, which are a week writing retreat at Chawton House Library and/or a day with a Virago Editor. Second prize is £500 and third prize £250. Winning entries will be published in a summer issue of Mslexia.

Stories will be judged by Janice Galloway, must be original, unpublished, on any subject, a maximum of  2,200 words and by a female writer.

There is a £10 entry fee. To read all the rules (pay particular attention to formatting of entries and the need for a separate cover sheet) and/or enter go to www.mslexia.co.uk/shortstory

Deadline is 18 March 2013

2013 flyer_thumb_medium300_0Bristol Short Story Prize

This is very prestigious competition which has been well-regarded for the six years it’s been running. There is a first prize of £1K plus a Waterstones’ gift car but also cash prizes for another nineteen entries with all top twenty stories to be published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 6. The winner is also published in the Bristol Review of Books Magazine and there’s an awards ceremony at the Bristol Festival of Literature in October.

The website states that stories can be on any theme or subject and are welcome in any style including graphic, verse or genre-based (crime, thriller, science fiction, fantasy, romance, historical etc.).  There is a maximum word count of 4,000 words but no minimum word count.

There is an entry fee of £8 and the rules and details of how to enter can be found at http://www.bristolprize.co.uk/rules.html

Deadline is 30th April 2013


The Yeovil Literary Prize 2013

In its tenth year, this is a really prestigious internationally acclaimed writing competition with three categories to be entered, with some great prizes. Just bear in mind the steeper entry costs (Novel £11, Short Story £6 and Poems £6 for one, £9 for two, £11 for three).

The Novel – Submit a synopsis and opening chapters (up to 15,000 words in total). The prizes  are 1st £1000, 2nd £250 and 3rd £100.

The Short Story – submit a piece up to a maximum of 2,000 words long. The prizes are 1st £500, 2nd £200 and 3rd £100.

Poetry – Poems up to a maximum of 40 lines. Prizes are 1st £500, 2nd £200 and 3rd £100.

There’s also an additional Local Prize – The Western Gazette Best Local Writer Award, which is judged from the entries to all three of the above categories and the author must live in Dorset or Somerset. The prize is £100 plus a trophy.

For further info go to www.yeovilprize.co.uk. 

Deadline is 31st May 2013.


The Bridport Prize 

This is one of the most prestigious open writing competitions in the English Language.

The categories are short story, poem or flash fiction with a maximum of 5000 words for short stories,  42 lines for poems and 250 words for flash fiction (and no minimum word count for any of these).

The Prize is open to anyone, including non-UK applicants of over 16 years, and is either postal or via email. For other eligibility criteria please see the website – entries cannot have been published anywhere including online or been placed in competitions previously. The entry fees are £6 for each flash fiction, £7 per poem and £8 per short story and you can send in as many entries as you like (and can afford!)

The prizes are attractive and as follows:

Poem: 1st prize  £5K,  2nd prize  £1K,  3rd prize  £500, Highly Commended  10 x £50

Short story: 1st prize  £5K, 2nd prize  £1K, 3rd prize  £500, Highly Commended  10 x £50

Flash fiction: 1st prize  £1K, 2nd prize  £500, 3rd prize  £250, Highly Commended  3 x £25

Deadline for postal entries is 31st May at 5.00pm, and online entries 31st May at Midnight GMT.

Writing Magazine Short Story – Monthly Open Competitions (there are also closed comps for Writing Magazine subscribers)

Cash prizes of £50 – £200 plus publication in the magazine (for the w inner) or on the website (runners-up). A different theme each month, with the word count dependent on the theme. Check the rules and deadlines, and enter online at www.writers-online.co.uk or buy Writing Magazine. Entry fee is £4 per story or £3 per story for subscribers. Postal entry is also available.  Themes are:

January – Start Talking (opening a short story with a piece of dialogue of a single sentence)

February – St Valentines Day (main character must receive an unexpected Valentine card)

March – Short short story (any theme, any genre but max 750 words)

April – Paranormal

May – Crime

June – Writing for Children; The Modern Family (story for children on your interpretation of the modern family)

Good luck if you decide to enter any of these comps. I’d love to hear from anyone who wants to share details of any other competitions, what they’ve entered and if they place…

Look out on Wednesday 16th for a guest post with author Peter Jones.

Happy writing, Nikki


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