8 writing competitions to enter in January and February 2016

The new year is the perfect time to stretch your creative legs and enter a writing competition. Perhaps you have a little extra time on your hands and a long list of writing goals to smash for the coming months.

When we asked you, our community, a few months ago what your goals were, a common answer was: “enter writing competitions”. Not necessarily to win (although of course, that would be a bonus!), but mainly for the experience, discipline, and rush of submitting your writing for someone else to read.

Always happy to oblige, we’ve dug out a few competitions coming up that can help you tick off that goal nice and early. Here they are, in order of closing dates. Good luck!

1. The Hope Prize Short Story Competition

Closes 31 January 2016
In association with the Brotherhood of St Laurence, The Hope Prize is a new national short story competition with a very clear mandate. It aims to encourage writers to “tackle a subject that is all too often hidden from public view or reduced to clichés” – people experiencing hardship in their lives. Stories should be 2000-5000 words and can be fiction or fact. The prizes are substantial: $5000 for first prize, second $3000, third $2000 and highly commended $500 each. There is also a $500 prize for best story by a writer under 18 years of age. Entries will be judged by Cate Blanchett, Kate Grenville and Quentin Bryce.

2. 2016 Newcastle Short Story Award

Closes 31 January 2016
A product of the Hunter Writers Centre, this 2000-words-or-fewer comp is open to all Australian residents. It may cost $15 to enter, but with a first prize of $2000, runner up of $1000, two highly commended prizes at $500 each and three $200 commended prizes, it’s a healthy payday!

3. The Scarlett Award

Closes 31 January 2016
Part of the Lorne Sculpture Biennale, this competition offers a point of difference – awarding “the best written and engaging review of a sculpture exhibition or public art installation” (2000 words maximum). It was created by Ken Scarlett, who was keen to see more critical writing on the subject. First prize is a none-too-shabby $3000, with the winner announced at the opening of the festival on 12 March.

4. 2016 Carnival of Flowers One-Act Playwriting Competition

Closes 31 January 2016
The Toowoomba Repertory Theatre has a total of $6000 in prizes to give away for the best three one-act plays from any playwright in the world, professional or amateur. First prize is $3000, second $2000 and $1000 for third – with all three podium plays being performed in a five-night season during the Carnival of Flowers in September.

5. 1000 Words or Less Flash Fiction Competition

Closes 31 January 2016
This competition is open to writers in Australia and overseas, with the title fairly self explanatory – a story of no more than 1000 words. There is no set theme, with a $1000 cash prize for the winning entry (that’s at least a dollar per word!) and up to five other prizes of $100 each. Entry costs $15.

6. Stringybark Short Story Award

Closes 31 January 2016
Your entry into this one needs to be no more than 1500 words, written for an adult audience, and involve some link to Australia in it (no matter how small). The total prize pool is $925 – including cash, publication into the anthology and more. Entries cost $9.95 per story, with an optional $15 to receive feedback on your entry from the judges.

7. Don’t Talk to Me About Love Competition

Closes 14 February 2016
This worldwide comp comes from Canada, with an inaugural search for stories and poetry about love. There are three $1000 prizes on offer – for fiction, non-fiction (2000 words max each) and poetry (max 75 lines) – as well as a free manuscript assessment!

8. E.J. Brady Short Story Competition

Closes 28 February 2016
Run by the Mallacoota Arts Council, this competition invites writers from Australia and overseas to compete in two categories. The Mallacoota Prize ($12 entry) looks for stories under 2500 words, with the winner walking away with $2000 (runner up, $300). Meanwhile, if brevity is more your thing, The Gabo Prize ($8 entry) will pay $500 to the best story under 700 words.

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