Entering short story competitions is a brilliant exercise for writers of all levels. Even if you think your writing isn’t ready yet, it will give you a deadline to aim for – and there’s nothing like a due date to inspire you to get your story into shape.
There are thousands of competitions held every year, often run in conjunction with literary festivals or journals. Check out your local library or your favourite lit-themed events and publications to start. But also, don’t be afraid to look further afield. Writing is not constrained by geography. Entering international competitions can get your writing in front of a different audience or expose you to different opportunities.
So whether you’re an Australian writer, or one of our many international guests, we’ve rounded up some of the best international short story competitions you should enter before the end of 2019.
Would you love to enter one of these competitions, but feel a bit nervous about writing short stories? Check out our Short Story Essentials course and start developing your short-form fiction writing skills today.
Manchester Fiction Prize
First prize: £10,000
Entry fee: £17.50
Closing date: 20th September 2019
Word Limit: Up to 2,500 words
This is an absolutely huge prize, with £10,000 offered to the best short story and also to the best poem! Organised by the Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK, the prize was launched by Carol Ann Duffy in 2008.
Indiana Review Flash Fiction Prize
First prize: $1000 and publication
Entry fee: $20 (includes subscription to journal)
Closing date: 15 August 2019
Word Limit: 500 words or fewer
Flash fiction has gained in popularity in recent years, and this prize honours the mini-story form. The Indiana Review is a well-respected US literary journal which has been publishing new and established authors since 1976.
Zoetrope All-Story’s Annual Fiction Contest
First prize: $1000
Entry fee: $30
Closing date: 1 October 2019
Word Limit: 5,000 words or fewer
Don’t be put off by the hefty entry fee on this one. Zoetrope is a virtual studio established by Francis Ford Coppola where writers and artists can collaborate and workshop stories. This is the 23rd year they’ll be holding their short story comp, and all winners and commended authors will be considered for agency representation.
John Steinbeck Award for Fiction
First prize: $1,000
Entry fee: $20
Closing date: 1 November 2019
Word Limit: 5,000 words.
The John Steinbeck Award for Fiction is awarded each year by Reed Magazine, which is California’s oldest literary magazine. Since 1867, they’ve published amazing authors such as William Finnegan and Ursula K. Le Guin.
The Commonwealth Short Story Prize
First prize: Regional winners £2,500. Overall winner £5,000.
Entry fee: Free to enter
Closing date: 1 November 2019
Word Limit: 2,000–5,000 words
Open to residents of Commonwealth countries, with each of five regions winning one prize and one overall winner. Additionally, all winners are published in Granta and are also invited to attend the prize giving ceremony.
Chris O’Malley Prize in Fiction
First prize: $1,000 and publication
Entry fee: $2
Closing date: 1 December 2019
Word Limit: 30 pages
If you’re keen to enter a competition but less keen to fork out for entry fees, then this is the prize for you. The comp is run by The Madison Review, a student-run journal that has been publishing emerging authors since the 1970s.
The Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition
First prize: £1000
Entry fee: £15
Closing date: 2 December 2019
Word Limit: No more than 1,000 words (Stories must be suitable to be read in the sensitive environment of a hospital setting)
Despite being named for the famous crime and thriller writer, this is not a crime writing competition. It’s run to support the UK charity InterAct Stroke Support, so stories need to be suitable to be read in a hospital setting.This year’s judge is Margaret Drabble.
Mslexia Fiction Competition 2019
First prize: £3,000
Entry fee: $10
Closing date: 30 September 2019
Word Limit: 3,000 words
Mslexia is a UK magazine dedicated to women’s writing, so this one is open to women only. Sorry fellas. They offer several competitions each year, and in 2019 they’re offering prizes for poetry, flash fiction, short story, and adult novel.
And finally, don’t forget about our very own Furious Fiction short story competition. On every month and there’s $500 up for grabs each round! Join the club.