Short story competitions to enter in 2021

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A deadline and a prize – what better writing motivation is there? If your 2021 goal is to get your writing momentum fired up, flex those writing muscles or to test your writing techniques – and possibly earn some cash on the side – then short story competitions are the way to go. 

We’ve put together a list of fun and challenging short story competitions you should enter in 2021, and we’ll keep updating the list throughout the year so you don’t lose that writing MOJO! 

So start your engines, you’ve got some writing to do…

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

WILD WORDS Writing Competition
Brought to you by the WellBeing team, Wild is the publication to ‘provide a platform for discussion and connection’ for millennials. And they’re holding their WILD WORDS Writing Competition for millennial writers – both established and emerging. Writers are being asked to submit an 800 word opinionated and innovative piece on one of four topics that will comment on events and trends happening now.
Theme: Personal/Life Journey, Political/Social Commentary, Environmental, or Fiction/Short Story
Closes: 29 January 2021
Word limit: 800 words
Prize: Winners from each topic will be commissioned and published in Wild. The best writers will also be contacted to pitch ideas for Wild (commissioned), write regularly or develop their initial story to be print-ready.

Fiction Factory Flash Competition
Fiction Factory is challenging writers to come up with a compelling story in only 1000 words. Author Helen Cox will be selecting the flash fiction story and winners will be announced in February 2021.
Theme: Open
Closes: 31 January 2021
Word limit: 1000 words
Entry fee: £5
Prize: £150, £50 and £25

The Stringybark Open Short Story Award 2021
Stringybark Publishing are asking writers to enter a compelling short story into the The Stringybark Open Short Story Award 2021. The judges are looking for a story with a link to Australia – no matter how obvious that link is – written for an audience 16 years and older.
Theme: Open but must contain a link to Australia
Closes: 31 January 2021
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

Voices of Women Monologue Competition
Voices of Women welcome writers to submit their unpublished short monologues and narratives (800 words) written in the first person for the fourth Voices of Women Monologue Competition: Entanglement. All genres are welcome, as long as the theme plays on the concept of entanglement and the storyteller needs to be a woman. The judges are looking for stories that an actor can bring to life, so go nuts!
Theme: Entanglement
Closes: 2 February 2021
Word limit: 800 words
Entry fee: $15
Prize: $100 and the stories will be presented by professional actors in live and filmed performances around International Women’s Day and Month (March 2021) and other events.

The Tasmanian Writers' Prize 2021
Since 2009, Forty South Tasmania has awarded writers the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize for the most outstanding short story submitted into this competition. Open to Australian and New Zealand residents, the writer with the best 3000 word short story with an island, or island-resonant, theme will be awarded a cash prize and published in Forty South magazine. A selection of entries will be published Forty South Short Story Anthology 2021.
Theme: Island or island-resonant
Closes: 15 February 2021
Word limit: 3000 words
Entry fee: $20
Prize: $500 and publication in Forty South

Nature Writing Prize 2021
Created by The Nature Conservancy Australia to promote and celebrate the art of nature writing in Australia, the Nature Writing Prize 2021 is open for submissions. Writers, 18 years and older, are invited to write an essay on the genre of ‘Writing of Place’. The essay deemed as the best exploration of one’s relationship and interaction with Australian landscape will receive a large cash prize and the opportunity to be published in the Griffith Review online.
Theme: Writing of place
Closes: 19 February 2021
Word limit: 3000 – 5000 words
Entry fee: $25
Prize: $7500 and publication in Griffith Review online

Aniko Magazine: Issue 2 submissions
Aniko Magazine are looking for short written works – short stories, poetry and experimental short pieces both fiction and creative non-fiction – to publish in their second issue. In this new issue, Aniko want to publish 10-15 written works that are previously unpublished and link to the theme of revolt. According to their site, they want writing that “rebels; writing that is revolting; writing with guts! We want revolutions big or small, historical or personal. Engage with the theme or turn it inside out.” Time to start writing your revolution.
Theme: Revolt
Closes: 28 February 2021
Word limit: Fiction/non-fiction stories – 1500 words; poetry – 50 lines
Prize: $125 and publication in Aniko Magazine

The Golden Pen Writing Award
Entries are open for The Golden Pen Writing Award 2021 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).
Theme: Big and small
Closes: 21 March 2021
Word Limit: 3000 words
Prize: Winning entrants will win a cash prize of up to $500, Festival Book Shop vouchers and a creative writing Masterclass

The Masters Review Anthology Volume X
Every year The Masters Review opens submissions to produce an anthology – a collection of ten stories and essays written by the best emerging authors of fiction and non-fiction. Ten winners are nationally distributed in a printed book with their stories and essays exposed to top agents, editors, and authors across the country.
Theme: Open
Closes: 28 March 2021
Entry fee: $20 USD
Prize: 10 authors will be awarded $1,000 USD, publication in The Masters Review Anthology and a copy of it; a book from word west

An Axe to Grind – Flash Fiction Contest
The Darling Axe wants you to write a piece of flash fiction with no more than 1000 words – so you’ll have to chop out your darlings to present a concise compelling story.
Theme: Open
Closes: 31 March 2021
Word limit: 1000 words
Entry fee: $5 CAD
Prize: First prize $700 CAD and publication on the Chopping Blog

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

2021 Newcastle Short Story Award
If you are a writer over 18 years old and have a short story that you think is a standout, then Hunter Writers Centre want you to submit it for the chance to win the Newcastle Short Story Award this year. Your story can only be 2000 words, including the title and subtitle (if you have one) and intended for an adult audience. 
Theme: Open
Closes: 14 April 2021
Word limit: 2000 words
Entry fee: $16.50
Prize: Over $7500 in prizes

Peter Cowan 600 Word Short Story Competition
The Peter Cowan Writers Centre has announced their Peter Cowan 600 word Short Story Competition is open for entries. Launched in 2010, the Peter Cowan Writers Centre have offered this competition in honour of Peter Cowan, one of Western Australia’s most esteemed academics and writers who published several short story volumes.
Theme: Open
Closes: 16 April 2021
Word limit: 600 words
Entry fee: One story $10, two stories, $18 three stories $25; Youth entry $5 (one entry only)
Prize: 1st prize – $200; 2nd prize – $100; 3rd prize – $50; Novice prize – $50; Julian Cowan Youth Award – $100

The 2021 Sutherland Shire Literary Competition
The Sutherland Shire Literary Competition opens 22 February 2021 and aims to recognise the breadth and diversity of literary talent within the Sutherland Shire and across Australia. Sutherland Shire Council is offering major prizes of $1,000 and $500 to the top entrants across competition categories of ‘Rhyming Poetry’, ‘Free Verse Poetry’ and ‘Short Stories’. 
Theme: Open
Closes: 19 April 2021
Word limit: Rhyming verse – 80 lines; Free verse – 80 lines; Short story – 2,000 words
Entry fee: $15
Prize: First prize $1000; Second prize $500 (in each category)

Saci Books Writing Competition 2021
Saci Books is reaching out to kids and teens to write about 2020 or the coronavirus for and enter the Writing Competition 2021. From 19 March, young writers are welcome to submit their writing in any format, such as a song, comic strip, poem, or short story, and can illustrate it if they wish. Between five and ten stories will be selected for each age group and the winners will be published. The age groups are 4-6 years, 7-11 years, and 12-17 years old.
Closes: 19 April 2021
Word limit:
3000 words
Entry fee:
Winning Entrants will receive a publishing agreement with the publishing steps and author compensation based on a percentage of royalties to be paid based on book sales

Anthology Magazine Short Story Competition
Writers of short fiction are invited to enter the Anthology Magazine Short Story Competition which has been established to recognise and encourage creative writing and provide a platform for publication. This competition is open to original and previously unpublished short stories in the English language by a writer of any nationality, living anywhere in the world.
Theme: Memories
Closes: Early bird – 30 April 2021; final deadline – 31 July 2021
Word limit: 1500 words
Entry fee: Early bird – €10 per story; final deadline – €15 per story
Prize: €500

Furphy Literary Award
This year, the Furphy Literary Award Short Story Competition returns to support emerging writers with an increased prize pool. If you can write a good Australian yarn – either fiction or non-fiction – and are over 18 years of age, then you should submit your Furphy for the chance to win.
Theme: Australian Life (in all its diversity)
Closes: 30 April 2021
Word Limit: 5000 words
Prize: First prize – $15,000 and a residency at La Trobe University Shepparton; Second prize – $3,000; Third prize – $2,000. Select finalists will receive publication in the 2021 Furphy Anthology

Questions Writing Prize
Questions is an online publication about writing and ideas which seeks involve, inform and inspire writers and artists. This year they aim to recognise and reward young Australian writers (18 to 30 years) with the Questions Writing Prize. Submissions can be fiction or non-fiction on any topic as long as it is between 1500 and 2000 words. So young Australians, what are you waiting for?
Theme: Open
Closes: 1 May 2021
Word limit: 1500-2000 words
Prize: $2000

Writers Unleashed 2021 Picture Book Writing Competition
Writers Unleashed Sutherland Shire Writers' Festival is happy to announce their Writers Unleashed 2021 Picture Book Writing Competition is open for entries. If you have an original, unpublished picture book manuscript ready to go, then get your submission in and be in to win a great prize. 
Theme: Open (picture book only)
Closes: 3 May 2021
Word limit: 500 words
Prize: First prize – $500 plus mentorship with Clare Hallifax, Children's Fiction Commissioning Editor, Scholastic Australia; second prize – $200; third prize – $100 plus a certificate to all shortlisted and winning entries

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: 5 May 2021
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

Jugiong Writers Festival Short Story and Poetry Competitions
Jugiong Writers Festival have opened their short story and poetry competitions for submissions of previously unpublished short stories and poems. There are categories for both competitions – for primary students, secondary students, and adults. Winners will be announced via the internet and social media on 23 May 2021.
Theme: ‘Bringing it to Light’
Closes: 7 May 2021
Word limit: Short story – 1000 words; Poem – 500 words
Entry fee: $5; Schools – $10
Prize: Primary student winner – $25; Secondary student winner(two categories)  – $25; Adult (two categories) – $75 

What Matters? Competition
Inspired by Gough Whitlam's commitment to young people’s involvement in shaping Australia's future, the What Matters? competition is aimed at school children aged 5-12 years to express their views on any subject that they care about.
Theme: Open
Closes: 14 May 2021
Word limit: 400-600 words
Prize:Prizes are awarded in 4 categories: Years 5/6, 7/8, 9/10 and 11/12.$350 for each category winner and $200 for each category runner-up. Winners and runners-up will also receive a book pack from Allen & Unwin at an awards ceremony

The SmokeLong Grand Micro Competition 2021
From 1 March, the editors from the SmokeLong Quarterly will be looking for the tightest, most compressed works of microfiction writers can come up with for their June double issue. Not only will you be published if your story is chosen, but you’ll score a cash prize too. So, start thinking small and submit up to four micros for the SmokeLong Grand Micro Competition 2021.
Theme: Open
Closes: 16 May 2021
Word limit: 400 words
Entry fee: $6 for one micro; $10 for two micros; $16 for up to four micros
Prize: First prize – $1500; Second prize – $500; Third prize – $300; Finalists: $100;
All the above will be published in the June 2021 issue of SmokeLong Quarterly.

RD Walshe Memorial Writing for the Environment Competition 2021
The Sutherland Shire Environment Centre invites writers – or those who want to write – to submit a short script for a play for their national RD Walshe Memorial Writing for the Environment Competition. The Sutherland Shire Environment Centre seek to raise awareness and protect biodiversity, so they are looking for creative and powerful original scripts that will address the current pressing issue of the ‘loss of biodiversity’.
Theme: Loss of biodiversity
Closes: 22 May 2021
Word limit: Script that can be read in 7 minutes for a 10 minute play
Prize: In the three categories (Up to 18 years; 19-25 years; over 65): First prize $500; runner-up $100

Grieve 2021
Since 2013, Hunter Writers Centre and their partner-sponsors invite Australian writers – both first-time and published – to submit their short stories and poems in honour of Grief Awareness Month (August). Of all the entries, 120 works are selected and published in the annual Grieve Anthology. So if you’ve got a story or poem – fiction or non-fiction – that addresses grief and loss then you’re welcome to submit to Hunter Writers Centre.
Theme: Grief and loss
Closes: 26 May 2021
Word limit: Short story – 500 words; Poem – 36 lines
Entry fee: $16.50
Prize: Over $7000 in prizes

Anthology Poetry Award 2021
The Anthology Poetry Award has been established to recognise and encourage excellence in the craft of poetry writing and to provide a platform for publication. So, poets it is time to submit your original and previously unpublished poems. Entries are invited from poets of all nationalities, living anywhere in the world.
Poems submitted must be on the theme of ‘Freedom’ and should not exceed 40 lines. There is no limit to entries per person.
Theme: Freedom
Closes: Early bird – 31 July 2021; final deadline – 31 October 2021
Entry fee: Early Bird – €10 per poem; final deadline – €15 per poem
Word limit: 40 lines
Prize: €500 and one year subscription to Anthology magazine

Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition 2021
Hawkeye Books are looking to read light-hearted, positive short stories so they can award the writer as the 2021 winner of the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition 2021. Let your imagination run wild with a heart-warming story about courage. The judges will favour stories with critical thinking, humour and/or a point of difference – so get creative.
Theme: Courage
Closes: 1 August 2021
Word limit: 1000 words
Entry fee: $12
Prize: Winner – $250AU Hawkeye Gift Voucher + Anthology front cover design based on winner’s story;  Shortlisted (2nd – 4th placed) names published; Top 40 stories published in an anthology; Best 5 Junior stories – published, with the Junior Winner receiving a free copy of the writing guide: Winning Short Story Competitions

Hindsight is seeking writers from around the world who can capture the ‘new normal’ of 2020 in a non-fiction short story. They want true stories that get up close and personal with the struggles of 2020 to publish in their independent, one-time publication of short stories. Content will be made available in two forms: some stories will be shared on their website and their favourites will be compiled into a print anthology, which will be published in 2021.
Theme: Non-fiction story about the new normal of 2020
Closes: Rolling
Word limit: 2000 words
Prize: Stories will be published on the Hindsight website. Writers whose work is selected for the print anthology will receive a complimentary hard copy of the book, as well as a digital file.

Have you looked at this list and thought maybe you need some guidance on how to get started? Maybe you’re new to short story writing and want to learn what techniques you need to write compelling short stories? Or you just need to refine your skills in writing compact fiction? Our Short Story Essentials self-paced course is the ideal place to start. 

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