Short story competitions to enter in 2020

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Love the thrill (and deadline!) of entering writing competitions? So do we. They can be great for boosting your right brain along with your productivity. We’ve compiled some awesome opportunities for writers in 2020 so you can explore your imagination, refine your techniques and – who knows, maybe win some cash along the way! And if you want to get the edge on short-form fiction writing, you’ll love our Short Story Essentials online course. Get insider secrets to build a compelling short story and then professional feedback from an experienced editor.

Good luck, writers!

Furious Fiction
Presented by us, the Australian Writers’ Centre, this fun, fast – and best of all – FREE short story challenge blasts off on the first Friday of every month. Anyone in the world aged 17 years and older is able to take part. Not only do you get to try your hand at a new creative challenge each and every month, the winning story takes home $500 in cash!
Opens: 5pm (Sydney/Melbourne time) on the first Friday of the month
Closes: 55 hours later (midnight, Sunday)
Word limit: 500 words
Entry fee: FREE
Prize: The winner takes home AUD$500 each month, and the shortlisted favourites are published on our blog.

Join the Furious Fiction Fan Club to be notified as soon as each challenge goes live.

World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship
World Nomads are giving three aspiring writers the opportunity to attend a travel writing workshop with professional travel writer and frequent contributor to The New York Times, Tim Neville, in Panama. After completing the workshop, they will put their writing skills to the test on a 10-day all-expenses-paid trip, each traveling across an area of the Caribbean while they document their adventures.
Theme: Travel story
Closes: 11 March 2020
Word limit: 700 words
Entry fee: Free
Prize: Scholarship to a writing course with Tim Neville and a 10-day all-expenses-paid travel writing trip.

(Did we have you at ‘travel writing’? Check out our awesome course that teaches you all the industry tips and tricks.)

An Axe to Grind – Flash Fiction Contest
The Daring Axe is showcasing a flash fiction competition for writers to join in and share great fiction stories in less than 1000 words.
Theme: Open
Closes: 31 March 2020
Word limit: 1000 words
Entry fee: $6.50 CAD
Prize: First prize $200 CAD and publication on the Chopping Blog.

Fiction Factory Short Story Competition
The Fiction Factory is looking for writers to submit their short stories of all genres (excluding Children and Young Adult Fiction). Winners will not only receive a monetary prize, but will also be published on the website and their future anthology.
Theme: Open
Closes: 31 March 2020
Word limit: 3000 words
Entry fee: £6 (for a critique £10)
Prize: £150, £50 and £25 and publication on their site.

The UNSW Press Bragg Prize for Science Writing
If science writing is your thing, the UNSW Press has established an annual prize for the best short non-fiction piece on science written for a general audience.
Theme: Science
Closes: 31 March 2020
Word limit: 7000 words
Entry fee: None
Prize: First prize $7000; two runners-up $1500 each

The Golden Pen Writing Award
Entries are open for The Golden Pen Writing Award 2020 hosted by the Scribblers Festival. Open to young writers of creative fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, comic, or graphic novel. There are three categories: Junior (ages 10-12), Middle (ages 12-14) and Senior (ages 15-17). Winning entrants will be chosen from each category by a panel of judges and announced at The YA Collective on Saturday, 9 May 2020.
Theme: Planet Earth
Closes: 31 March 2020
Word Limit: 3000 words
Entry fee: Free
Prize: Senior and Middle category winners – $500 each; shortlisted entrants – invited to attend a writing class with a Scribblers Festival 2020 author and a $100 Festival book voucher. The Junior category winner – $200; shortlisted entrants – $50 Festival bookshop voucher.

Audrey Daybook 2020 Short Story Prize
Audrey Daybook seeks to foster the art and practice of good old-fashioned story writing, and welcomes amateur, aspiring and accomplished writers to enter their Short Story Prize. Throughout 2020, stories will be shortlisted and published in Audrey. Fictional stories must be inspired by one of the puzzle names in Audrey Daybook (peruse the current or previous issues, or check out the puzzle names on the website).
Theme: Inspired by one of the puzzle names
Closes: Issue 17-1 April 2020
Issue 18-3 June 2020
Issue 19-5 August 2020
Word limit: 800-1000 words
Entry fee: Free
Prize: Winners' stories will be published in Audrey Daybook. Semi-finalists receive a 12-month subscription to the Lovatts Media title of their choice. At the end of the year they’ll announce their 2020 Audrey Short Story Prize winner who will receive $1,000.

Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction
Lip Magazine has launched it’s eighth annual Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction in honour of the magazine’s late founding editor, Rachel Funari. Open to all women, female-identifying and non-binary writers, Lip Magazine is looking for insightful and creative fiction stories that engage with the theme of future. Entries must be previously unpublished.
Theme: Future
Closes: 17 April 2020
Word limit: 2000 words
Entry fee: $10
Prize: Winner $1000 cash; second prize $500; third prize $250 cash. All three winners will also receive a 12-month digital membership to Kill Your Darlings, a book pack, and publication on Lip Magazine’s website.

Heroines Women's Writing Prize & Anthology
The Heroines Anthology is calling out for women to submit their short stories and poetry for the Heroines Women’s Writing Prize and Anthology. The Heroines Anthology is a collection of stories written by women with a particular focus on telling lost women's history, untold stories, and reimagined myths, fairy tales, folklore or legends.
Theme: Stories about women – history, fiction, or reimagined legends or fairy tales
Closes: 20 April 2020
Word limit: Short story 3000 words; poetry up to 5 pages
Entry fee: $15
Prize: Short story winner $1000; poetry winner $500
Note: You can submit more than one short story or poem, but each entry will incur an entry fee

Banjo Paterson Writing Awards
Open for submissions, the Banjo Paterson Writing Awards are choosing the best writers from three categories: short stories, contemporary poetry, and ABC Central West Radio Children’s Writing Awards. Established in 1991, these awards honour Banjo Paterson, a great Australian writer, and aim to foster writing with Australian content.
Theme: Australian content
Closes: 24 April 2020
Word limit: Short Story 3000 words; Contemporary Poetry 200 lines; Children’s Writing Awards 1000 words.
Entry fee: $15 per adult entry or $5 per Children’s Writing Awards entry (16 years and under)
Prize: Short Story First Prize only – $2,000
Contemporary Poetry  First Prize only – $2,000
Children’s Writing Awards First Prize – $200, Second Prize – $100, Third Prize – $100

Storyathon for Kids
Storyathon is a free online event which challenges children from Year 3 to 8 in writing microstories. They encourage young writers to submit fun, very short narratives. This challenge is set each school term, so there are a few opportunities throughout the year.
Theme: Open
Closes: At the end of each school term
Word limit: 100 words
Entry fee: Free

Bristol Short Story Prize
Open for entries, the 2020 Bristol Short Story Prize is awarding the best short story of any theme or subject, and of any style or genre. You can enter if you’re a published or unpublished author, UK or non-UK based writer – as long as you are over 16 years old.
Theme: Open
Closes: 30 April 2020
Word limit: 4000 words
Entry fee: £9
Prize: 1st prize is £1,000, 2nd prize is £500, 3rd prize is £250; 17 further prizes of £100 will be presented to the remaining shortlisted writers

The Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Awards 2020
Victorian writers are invited to enter the Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Awards. To support unpublished Victorian writers of various genres, there are five different awards being offered: The Dorothy Porter Award for Poetry, Narrative Non-Fiction Award, Short Story set in Melbourne, Life Writing Award for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Writers, and Feature – Script/Play.
Theme: Open
Closes: 3 May 2020
Word Limit: The Dorothy Porter Award for Poetry – 100 lines; Narrative Non-Fiction Award, Short Story set in Melbourne, Life Writing Award for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Writers – 5000 words each category, and Feature – Script/Play – 30 pages
Entry fee: Free
Prize: $2000 per category

The Stringybark Tales with a Twist Award 
Stringybark Publishing presents creative writers with the The Stringybark Tales with a Twist Award. The judges are looking for an exciting short story set inn any time or place, but the only condition is that the story must have a twist a at the end.
Theme: Open but must contain a twist at the end
Closes: 13 May 2020
Word limit: 1500 words
Entry fee: $14 for 1 story, $26 for 2 stories, $36 for 3 stories (max)
Prize: Over $1000 in cash and books

SmokeLong Quarterly Flash Fiction Award 
In June 2020, SmokeLong Quarterly will publish an all-contest issue of their journal. Writers are to present their flash fiction stories to SmokeLong Quarterly to win a monetary prize and publication in the June edition.
Theme: Open
Closes: 24 May 2020
Word limit: 1000 words
Entry fee: Feb 10-April 26: $13.50 for up to two stories; April 27-May 24: $15.50 for up to two stories
Prize: $2000 and publication in SmokeLong Quarterly

Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition
Regulas Press invites writers to submit an original story of up to 2500 words in any genre. The catch? Your opening and closing lines are chosen for you from a classic work of literature, and this year there are two options from which you can choose. You can use the opening and closing lines of either Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World or Toni Morrison’s Beloved.
Closes: 4 June 2020
Word limit: 2500 words
Entry fee: USD$10
Prize: USD$500 for the winner, runners-up will receive USD$50, and winner and runners-up will be published in the forthcoming 2019 Literary Taxidermy Anthology

AAWP/SC Creative Nonfiction Prize
In partnership with Slow Canoe Live Journal, the Australiasian Association of Writing Programs presents emerging creative nonfiction writers with this competition for their best unpublished essay, profile, memoir, article or hybrid written work.
Theme: Open
Closes: 30 June 2020
Word limit: 3000 words
Entry fee: $20
Prize: $500, fully subsidised fees for AAWP’s annual conference in November, and opportunity to be considered for Slow Canoe Live Journal publication

Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards
The country’s favourite children’s poetry awards are open for submissions. Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards aim at encouraging young people to develop their poetic talents and love of writing. There are various categories in which young writers can enter individually or submit group poems through their school.
Theme: ‘We used to live there’ (optional)
Closes: 30 June 2020
Word limit: 80 lines
Entry fee: Individual (up to 3 poems) $20; up to 30 poems $30; over 30 poems $60; over 100 poems $80
Prize: Lower Primary (Years K-3) – winner $300, runner-up $150
Upper Primary (Years 4-6) – winner $400,runner-up $200
Assisted Learning Primary – winner $400, runner-up $200
Junior Secondary (Years 7-9) – winner $500, runner-up $300
Senior Secondary (Years 10-12) –winner $500 runner-up $300
Assisted Learning Secondary – winner $500, runner-up $300
David Maher Award (primary schools only) – winner $250
Schools’ Award – winner Primary $1000,winner Secondary $1000

Stuart Hadow Prize
In honour of WA writers Lyndall Hadow and Donald Stuart, the annual short story competition run by the Fellowship of Australian Writers WA is open to all Australian creative writers. The winner will receive a cash prize and a week's residency at the Mattie Furphy House in Swanbourne, WA.
Theme: Open
Closes: 1 July 2020
Word limit: 3000 words
Entry fee: $15
Prize: Winner $1000 and one week residency at the Mattie Furphy House in Swanbourne; second prize $300; third prize $100

ABWF Short Story Competition
Apollo Bay Word Fest organisers want Victorian residents not to be discouraged by COVID-19 but rather continue to write creative stories. The ABWF are inviting Victorian residents to submit a short story that follows the Apollo Bay Word Fest theme of ‘insight and hindsight’ for their chance to win some great prizes.
Theme: Insight and hindsight
Closes: 1 July 2020
Word limit: Under 12s category – 500 words; Young category (12-18 years old) – 1000 words; Adult category  – 3000 words
Entry fee:  Under 12s category – free; Young category –$5; Adult category  – $10
Prize:  Under 12s category – $200 book store voucher; Young category (12-18 years old) – $300 book store voucher; Adult category  – $1000

Environment Prize 2020
In honour of its former patron, Bob Walshe, Sutherland Shire Environment Centre holds an annual Writing for the Environment prize. The Sutherland Shire Environment Centre wants to uphold the value of writing that Bob Walshe was so passionate about, so they are calling writers to enter the Environment Prize and shape a sustainable world through the written word of fiction.
Theme: I am Earth
Closes: 3 July 2020
Word limit: 800-1000 words.
Entry fee: Free
Prize: $500

ACU Prize for Poetry
On 6 April 2020, the Australian Catholc University will open its 2020 ACU Prize for Poetry. This prize was founded by the initiative of the University’s Office of the VIce President in support of the importance and significance of poetry in Australian culture.
Theme: Generosity
Closes: 6 July 2020
Word limit: 80 lines
Entry fee: $25 per entry
Prize: Winner – $10,000; first runner-up –  $5000; second runner-up –  $3000

The 2020 Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize
In honour of poet and environment activist Venie Holmgren, Holmgren Design and Rabbit: a journal for nonfiction poetry offer poets the opportunity to submit their best unpublished poems to the Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize.
Theme: The environment
Closes: 20 July 2020
Word limit: 80 lines
Entry fee: $10
Prize: $1000

AAWP/UWRF Emerging Writers’ Prize
In partnership with the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, the Australiasian Association of Writing Programs calls for emerging fiction writers and poets to enter their best sort story or poem to celebrate the art of writing.
Theme: Mulat Sarira: Self-reflection
Closes: 31 July 2020
Word limit: 30 lines of poetry; 3000 word short story
Entry fee: $20
Prize: A ticket to the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, accommodation for the duration of the festival and $500.00 towards economy airfares, one-year annual membership toAAWP and fully subsidised conference fees to attend the annual conference of the AAWP, where you will be invited to read from your work, and editors at Meniscus will consider your work for publication

AWP/ASSF Emerging Wrtiers’ Short Story Prize
To celebrate the craft of writing, the Australiasian Association Writing Program and Australian Short Story Festival have teamed up to award this prize to the author who enters their best short story.
Theme: Open
Closes: 31 July 2020
Word limit: 3000 words
Entry fee: $20
Prize: A ticket to the Australian Short Story Festival in 2021, as well as economy airfares and accommodation, and fully subsidised conference fees to the AAWP’s annual conference in November 2020. The winning entry will also be considered for publication in Meniscus

Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition
Hawkeye Books want up-beat good stories that warm you to the core to be submitted in the Sydney Hammond Short Story Competition this year. Abiding to the theme ‘if only’, Hawkeye Books want a well-edited story that stands out from the rest.
Theme: ‘If only’
Closes: 1 August 2020
Word limit: 1000 words
Entry fee: $10
Prize: Winner receives $250 Hawkeye Books gift voucher and an anthology cover design based on their story. The top 40 stories will be published; all those published receive a free anthology

Saint Kilda Historical Society Short Story Competition
Celebrating their 50year anniversary, the St Kilda Historical Society is holding a short fiction story competition which must be set in or inspired by St Kilda. There is both an open and a junior category.
Theme: Open, but must be set in or inspired by St Kilda.
Closes: Friday 7th August 2020 11.59 pm. Entries will not be accepted after this time
Word limit: Open category 1500-2000 words; junior category up to 1500 words.
Entry fee: Free
Prizes: Open Section – Winner $1000, second place $500, and third place $250.
Junior Section – Winner $500, second place $250, and third place $100

Alice Sinclair Memorial Writing Competition
In honour of Alice Sinclair, member and supporter of the Fellowship of Australian Writers NSW, the Lake Macquarie Branch is inviting all writers to submit their short stories and poetry from 29 May 2020.
Theme: Open
Closes: 28 August 2020
Word limit: Poetry category – free or traditional to 50 lines; Short Story category – 2500 words
Entry fee: $10
Prize: Winners from each category will receive $100 plus a certificate; second place $50 plus a certificate

Boroondara Literary Awards
In celebration of the creativity of Australian writers and poets, the Boroondara Library Services have opened their 22nd annual Boroondara Literary Awards for submissions. There are two awards this year: Short Story Competition open to all Australian writers, and the Keith Carroll Award for the best entry by a Boroondara resident.
Theme: Open
Closes: 28 August 2020 (5pm)
Word limit: 1500–3000 words
Entry fee: Free
Prizes: Short Story Competition – Winner $1500; second place $1000; third place $500. Keith Carroll Award – $500

Gulf Stream Summer Contest
The Gulf Stream Summer Contest runs annually to unearth exciting new works of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. It offers emerging writers a great opportunity to have their work read by published poets and authors..
Theme: None
Closes: 30 August 2020
Word limit: 5000 for fiction and nonfiction; 5 poems for poetry
Entry fee: $7 USD
Prize: Winners in each category receive a cash prize of $100 USD plus publication in Gulf Stream Literary Magazine Issue #26. Two finalists from each category will be published in Issue #26 and reimbursed their entry fee.

The QueryLetter.com Writing Contest
The QueryLetter.com calls all writers to let their imagination run wild (to the extent of 100 words) and write a blurb about a book that doesn’t exist. The team at QueryLetter.com will judge the entries and choose a winner based on how well they hook readers, taking into account the writing style and the overall impression. Who knows – you might even write the novel for that blurb one day!
Theme: Open
Closes: 15 September 2020
Word limit: 100 words
Entry fee: Free
Prize: $500 USD

The Stringybark Times Past Short Story Award 2020
Stringybark Publishing proudly presents their new award, The Stringybark Times Past Short Story Award 2020. Clean the spilt coffee out of your keyboard (or sharpen your goose quill – whichever is more appropriate) and start writing a 1500 word (max.) story that will excite the judges. This is an historical fiction award and your tale must be based on a real event (or events) and the events must have occurred in Australia or have clear relevance to Australia.
Theme: Based on real event relevant to Australia
Closes: 27 September 2020
Word limit: 1500 words
Entry fee: $14 for one story, $26 for two stories, $36 for three stories (max)
Prize: Over $1000 in cash and books.

First Page Challenge
The Darling Axe presents the First Page Challenge for writers to hook the judges in a single page for the chance to win a growing prize pool, plus publication on the Darling Axe’s Chopping Blog.
Theme: Open
Closes: 30 September 2020
Word limit: 1 page
Entry fee: $5 CAD
Prize: starting at $200 CAD

World tales: Short Story Competition
UNESCO and the Idries Shah Foundation have launched their own World Tales short story competition for teenagers from across the globe. This competition welcomes teenagers between the ages 12 and 18 to get creative and write a compelling short story about the imagined world of tomorrow.
Theme: ‘Once upon a time in my future’
Closes: 15 October 2020
Word limit: 250 – 500 words
Prize: 21 Laureates – their winning story will be published in a special edition hardcover book, a copy of the book and certificate; 7 Gold Laureates  – win an iPad.

Buzz Words Short Story Prize
The Buzz Words Short Story Prize is an annual prize awarded for recognised excellence in short story writing for children. The story must be suitable for readers 8 to 11 years. The first and second prize winners will receive a cash prize, and three runner-ups will be assessed and edited by the competition sponsor, Dianne Bates.
Theme: Open
Closes: 31 October 2020
Word limit: 1500 words
Prize: First – $1000; second – $500; three runner-ups will be assessed and edited by the competition sponsor, Dianne Bates.

Odyssey House Victoria Annual Short Story Competition
Open to writers of all ages adn experience, Odyssey House welcomes you to submit your best short story about ‘isolation’ with reference to alcohol and/or drugs. The money raised from this competition will go towards the work of Odyssey House Victoria who provides a supportive drug-free environment for people and their families affected by problems associated with drugs and alcohol.
Theme: Isolation
Closes: 13 November 2020
Word limit: 1500 words
Entry fee: $10
Prize: First prize is $1,000 and a one year membership to Writers Victoria; 2nd prize is $100 and 3rd prize is $50

TripFiction ‘Sense of Place’ Short Story Competition
Tripfiction are encouraging writers to create short stories that transport people to a place where imaginations can escape from the claustrophobia of locked down life and restricted travel for the Trip Fiction ‘Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition. Entries can be a fully formed short story, a travelogue or a personal memoir, as long as the story has a strong sense of place: the destination must be at the heart of a story.
Theme: Sense of place
Closes: 15 November 2020
Word limit: 750 – 3000 words
Entry fee: £5
Prize: First prize of £300, second prize of £150, third prize of £50. ​The winning entries will be featured on the TripFiction site

ServiceScape Short Story Award 2020
ServiceScape will be awarding $1000 USD to the writer who submits the best original unpublished short story of any theme or genre – fiction or non-fiction. The winner will also have their winning story featured on the ServiceScape blog.
Theme: Open
Closes: 30 November 2020
Word limit: 5000 words
Entry fee: Free
Prize: $1000 USD

Short story competitions will continue to be added to this page throughout 2020.

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