53 Free Writing Contests in 2019 (for Aspiring Writers, Professionals , Teens and Young Writers) Updated

As a writer, especially when you’re just honing your craft, the most important thing you need is validation. While it is possible for those around you like family members and friends to give you that validation you desperately crave for, their biased standpoint may lead you to doubt the objectivity of their opinion.

This is where a writing contest comes in as it allows your writing expertise to be fairly judged on a neutral platform that is void of any sort of bias.

There are countless numbers of writing contests and competitions out there that give writers of all expertise-levels, ages, and genres the opportunity to exhibit their writing prowess on a far bigger stage. While some are free, others require an entrance fee to be able to submit a written work.

The writing contests that have been curated in this post include poetry competitions, short story contests, and screenwriting competitions.

These 53 free writing contests in 2019 provide the best opportunity for writers who are either inexperienced in the writing field or are professionals looking for a big break.

Note: Those on the list without an entrance fee stipulated are most certainly free.

 

  1. The Writers of the Future Contests

Genre: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Expertise Level: Aspiring and unpublished writers

Entrance Fee: Free

Prize Money: $1,000, $750, $500

Deadline: Every quarter on the 1st of January, 1st of April, 1st of July, and 1st of October

Writing Requirements: short story or novelettes, with a maximum word count of 17000 Words

Contest Description:

The Writers of the Fiction Contest is arguably the biggest writing contest for the Sci-fi and Fantasy genres. It is tailor-made for amateur writers that want their writing careers to take off without any hindrance.

Founded by the much-renowned sci-fi enthusiast, L. Ron Hubbard, the quarterly contest is one of the most competitive with thousands of entries received every quarter. While 3 winners are selected at the end of each quarter, the contest’s organizers also award many entries with an honorary status, which simply much stands as a validation of the writers’ expertise.

  1. Inkitt Novel Competition

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: Aspiring and unpublished writers

Entrance Fee: Free

Prize Money: $6,000

Deadline: 31st of December

Writing Requirement: A complete novel

Contest Description:

Many unpublished fiction writers understand how difficult the publishing market has become. The numbers of fictional books picked up by the big 5 publishing houses as well as the smaller publishers are nothing but a drop of water in the vast ocean of unpublished works. Many writers wait for decades to get their books published via the conventional medium and those who can’t harbor such patience and resilience simply settle for the self-publishing route.

The Inkitt Novel Competition, however, provides struggling fiction writers with the opportunity to showcase their works and win big cash prizes while also launching their writing career at the same time.

  1. Drue Heinz Literature Prize

Genre: Fiction

Entrance Fee: Free

Prize Money: $15,000

Deadline: Entries must be sent between the 1st of May and 30th of June

Writing Requirement: A collection of short stories or novellas, 150-300 pages

Contest Description:

Organized by the University of Pittsburgh Press, this writing contest gives fiction writers an opportunity to exhibit their writing prowess. It offers a reward of publication in the university’s press as well as mouth-watering prize money.

  1. Costa Short Story Award

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: Unpublished writers

Entrance Fee: Free

Prize Money: £3,000

Writing Requirement: Short stories with a maximum limit of 4000 words

Contest Description:

Having seen its much popular award, the Costa Book Awards, attain a revered status, the organizers decided to create a second platform for raw and unpublished writing talents looking for their big breaks. Introduced in 2012, the Costa Short Story Award is certainly one of the most promising when you consider the entrance fee as well as the price money you stand to win.

  1. Tony Hillerman Prize

Genre: Mystery

Expertise Level: Aspiring and professional writers

Entrance Fee:  Free

Prize Money: $10,000

Writing Requirement: A mystery novel, which must take place in the Southwest

Contest Description:

This contest is definitely perfect for writers in the mystery genre who want to gauge their expertise levels and of course, get validation. With prize money of $10,000 at stake, it is definitely one of the best writing contests out there.

  1. St. Francis College Literary Prize

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: Published writers

Entrance Fee: Free

Prize Money: $50,000

Contest Description:

Already established authors who have recently published at least their 3rd novels are free to enter them in the contest and stand a chance to win the attractive prize of $50,000. The winner must, however, be willing to visit St. Francis College located in Brooklyn, New York for a seminar and workshop.

  1. New Voices Award

Genre: Children’s book

Expertise Level: Unpublished writers

Entrance Fee: Free

Prize Money: $1,000

Writing Requirement: Picture book story, not more than 1500 words

Contest Description:

This contest is organized by the children’s book publisher, Lee & Low Books, and is geared towards promoting children book writers from minority groups. The winner is given $1,000 as well as a standard publishing contract. Not bad indeed.

writing competition

  1. FutureScapes Writing Contest

Genre: Nonfiction

Expertise Level: All writers

Entrance Fee: Free

Prize Money: $2,000, $1,000, $500

Writing Requirement: Realistic pieces that are backed with practical concepts

Contest Description:

If you’re not interested in writing a fictional story but want to craft an incredible piece that proffers a practical roadmap for a city or even a country, then this writing competition is certainly up your alley. You don’t only stand a chance of winning a variety of cash prizes but your written piece is also guaranteed to be in a publication that will be distributed to governors, mayors, and US Congress members.

  1. Stowe Prize

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: Published writers

Entrance Fee: Free

Prize Money: $10,000

Writing Requirement: Not specified

Contest Description:

Named after the acclaimed author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, this contest is for American authors whose fictional works directly impacts social justice in the American society.

  1. Mystery Writers of America Crime Novel Competition

Genre: Mystery

Expertise Level: Aspiring and unpublished writers

Entrance Fee: Free

Prize Money: $10,000 advance on a book deal

Writing Requirement: Original manuscript, book-length

Contest Description:

Sponsored by the book publishing company, Minotaur Books, this contest promotes the mystery genre by offering $10,000 in publishing stipends as prize money to outstanding mystery writers that are yet to be published.

  1. Nelson Algren Short Story Award

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: Aspiring and professional writers

Entrance Fee: Free

Prize Money: $3,500, $1,000, $500

Writing Requirement: Short story not more than 8000 words

Contest Description:

This writing contest is from the stables of the Chicago Tribune and it gives short-story writers an opportunity to get the recognition they deserve.

  1. Ocean Awareness Student Contest

Genre: Nonfiction

Expertise Level: Aspiring writers in middle school and high school

Prize Money: $100-$1,500

Deadline: June

Writing Requirement: Not specified

Contest Description:

For young writers and teenagers that wish to carve a mark in the society, perhaps writing on the impact of human activities on the ocean is the way to go. This contest presents you with the opportunity to carry out well-detailed research and also write engaging content that will make a difference.

  1. Rattle Young Poets Anthology

Genre: Poetry

Expertise Level: Teenagers not older than 18

Prize Money: Unavailable

Deadline: June

Writing Requirement: Not specified

Contest Description:

This is a contest for young and aspiring poets looking for an avenue to exhibit their crafts. Out of thousands of entries received by the contest’s organizers, only 50 of the best poems are selected.

  1. Princeton University Poetry Contest for High School Students

Genre: Poetry

Expertise Level: Aspiring poets still in high school

Prize Money: $500, $250, $100

Deadline: September – November

Writing Requirement: Not specified

  1. The Bennington Young Writers Awards

Genre: Poetry, fiction, and nonfiction

Expertise Level: Young writers in 10th – 12th grade

Prize Money: $500, $250

Deadline: September – November

Writing Requirement: Not specified

  1. Canvas Literary Journal

Genre: Fiction and nonfiction

Expertise Level: Aspiring writers between ages 13-18

Price Money: Not specified

Writing Requirement: Not specified

Content Description:

This isn’t your conventional writing contest with an alluring prize attached to it; however, it provides young writers with the opportunity to exhibit their talent on a much bigger platform.

  1. The New Voices One-Act Contest for Young Playwrights

Genre: Plays

Expertise Level: Aspiring writers that are 19 years or below

Price Money: Not specified

Writing Requirement: Not specified

Content Description:

This is one of the few writing competitions for young playwrights that hope to sharpen their skills and gain some recognition in the process.

  1. Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Genre: Fiction and nonfiction

Expertise Level: Talented writers and art enthusiasts in the 7th – 12th grades

Price Money: Not Specified

Writing Requirement: Not Specified

  1. Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest

Genre: Poetry

Expertise Level: Young and talented female poets in the 11th and 12th grade

Prize Money: $5,000

Writing Requirement: Not specified

Content Description:

This contest has been rewarding talented female poets still in high school for over 5 decades now. With a whopping sum of $5,000 as prize money, it certainly ranks as one of the most financially attractive writing contests for young writers.

  1. The Critical Junior Poet’s Award Contest

Genre: Poetry

Expertise Level: Young Poets between the ages of 13 and 18

Prize Money: $100

Writing Requirement:  Not specified

  1. Greywolf Press Nonfiction Prize

Genre: Nonfiction

Expertise Level: Aspiring nonfiction writer with at least one publication credit

Prize Money: $12,000

Deadline: 31st January

Writing Requirement: A complete manuscript

  1. Young Lions Fiction Award

Genre: All types of fiction except YA and children’s books

Expertise Level: Aspiring and published writers not older than 35 years

Prize Money: $10,000

Deadline: December

Writing Requirement: Not specified

  1. The Ernest J. Gaines Award

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: Aspiring writers

Prize Money: $10,000

Writing Requirement: Not specified

Contest Description:

This highly esteemed writing contest is mainly for aspiring African American writers that wish to showcase their talents on a larger platform and also hasten the process of getting published.

  1. Faulkner Award for Fiction

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: Aspiring writers based in the US

Prize Money: $15,000, $5,000

Deadline: 31st of October

Writing Requirement: Not specified

  1. Brooklyn Nonfiction Prize

Genre: Nonfiction

Expertise Level: Aspiring and professional writers

Prize Money: $500

Deadline: Middle of November

Writing Requirement: Not less than 2,500 words

  1. Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

Genre: Fiction and Nonfiction

Expertise Level: Published writers

Prize Money: $10,000

Deadline: 31st of December

Writing Requirement: this contest is only for published writers that make racial and cultural diversity the center subject of their entries.

  1. National Award for Arts Writing

Genre: Nonfiction

Expertise Level: Published writers

Prize Money: Not specified

Deadline: usually the last quarter of the year

Writing Requirement: Not specified

  1. The W.Y. Boyd Literary Award

Genre: Military-themed fiction

Expertise Level: Aspiring writers

Prize Money: $5,000

Deadline: 1st of December

Writing Requirement: Not specified

  1. FAW Chicago Awards

Genre: Literary fiction, nonfiction as well as YA/children’s book

Expertise Level: Unpublished and published writers

Prize Money: $500-$2,000

Deadline: End of the year

Writing Requirement: Writers entering this contest must reside in the following locations: Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Ohio, or North Dakota or must set their stories in any of the listed states.

writing contests

  1. Hektoen Grand Prix Essay Contest

Genre: Essays

Expertise Level: All writers

Prize Money: $1,200, $1,000

Writing Requirement: Maximum word count for the contest is 1,600 words

  1. Words & Brushes

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: All writers

Prize Money: $350

Writing Requirement: Entries are short stories with a minimum of 2000 words and a maximum word count of 5,000 words.

Contest Description:

This unique contest doesn’t only draw on a writer’s writing prowess, but also on his or her creativity. How else will you describe a contest where you’re given a piece of artwork and asked to create a short story for it? The short story can be in any genre but with a maximum word count of 5,000 words.

  1. Write the World

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: Young aspiring writers between the ages of 13-18

Prize money: $100, $50

Deadline: Every month

Writing Requirement: Not specified

Contest Description

This is one of the best free writing contests in 2019 for teens and young writers. There aren’t many writing competitions where a writer gets direct feedback on an entry and is even given the opportunity to edit and resend a final draft. Write the World’s awesome writing competition actually operates this way for all entries received, which ensures that the standard of every writer’s work is incredible.

  1. Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award

Genre: Poetry

Expertise Level: Aspiring and professional poets

Prize Money: $500

Deadline: Every month

Writing Requirement: 60-90 pages of fluent poetry

This competition is only open to African-American poets.

  1. James Laughlin Award

Genre: Poetry

Expertise Level: Published poets about to publish their second works

Prize Money: $5,000

Deadline: 15th of May

Writing Requirement: Not specified

  1. The Diana Woods Memorial Award

Genre: Nonfiction

Expertise Level: All writers

Prize Money: $250

Deadline: February and August

Writing Requirement: Maximum word count of 5,000 words

  1. A Very Short Story Contest

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: All writers

Prize Money: None

Deadline: May 2019

Writing Requirement: A short story in ten words or less

  1. SmokeLong Quarterly Award

Genre: Flash Fiction

Expertise Level: All writers

Prize Money: $1,500

Entrance Fee: $10

Deadline: 20th of May

Writing Requirement: Not specified

  1. Wundor Short Fiction Contest

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: All writers

Prize Money: $500

Entrance Fee: $10

Deadline: 31st of May

Writing Requirement: Word count should not exceed 45,000 words.

  1. Reader’s Digest 100-Word Story Competition

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: All writers

Prize Money: £2,000

Writing Requirement: Word count must be exactly 100 words for the story to be considered for the contest.

  1. WF (Wergie Flomp) Humour Poetry Contest

Genre: Poetry

Expertise Level: All writers

Prize Money: $1000

Writing Requirement: A 250 line limit for each entry

  1. Keats-Shelley Prize

Genre: Romantic Poetry

Expertise Level: All writers

Prize Money: £3,000

Writing Requirement: A maximum word count of 3,000 words

  1. Young Authors Writing Competition

Genre: Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry

Expertise Level: Aspiring writers still in high school

Prize Money: $300, $150, $50

Deadline: January

Writing Requirement: Not specified

  1. The Odyssey Con Contest

Genre: Fiction (sci-fi, fantasy and horror)

Expertise Level: Aspiring writers not older than 18 years

Prize Money: $50

Deadline: January

Writing Requirement: Not specified

  1. Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition

Genre: Short story fiction, personal essay, memoirs, and feature articles

Expertise Level: Aspiring Writers

Prize Money: $5000

Deadline: 4th of May

Writing Requirement: Not specified

  1. The Prose Challenge

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: All writers

Prize Money: $100

Writing Requirement: Word count ranges from 150 – 500 words

  1. International Sweek Feminist Campaign: #HerStory

Genre: Fiction, nonfiction, literary fiction, poetry

Expertise Level: Aspiring writers who are feminists

Prize Money: Publication in Sweek Magazine

Deadline: 15th of April

Writing Requirement: A female protagonist and a maximum word count of 5,000 words

Contest Description:

Solely for writers that feel strongly about feminism, this contest lends a voice to aspiring writers that wish to contribute positively to the feminist movement with insightful written pieces.

  1. New Deal Writing Competition

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: All writers

Entrance Fee: $5

Prize Money: $200

Deadline: 2nd of April

Writing Requirement: Every writer is required to craft a story using a painting as inspiration

  1. Marfield Prize

Genre: Nonfiction

Expertise Level: All writers

Price Money: Not specified

Deadline: Last quarter of the year

Writing Requirement: Not specified

  1. National Flash Fiction Youth Competition

Genre: Flash fiction

Expertise Level: Young Writers

Price Money: £100

Deadline: Unavailable

Writing Requirement: A word limit of 360 words

  1. Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: Aspiring writers and unpublished writers

Prize Money: £5,000

Writing Requirement: Word count range of 2,000-5,000 words

Contest Description:

Solely for Commonwealth citizens, this short story contest ensures that talented aspiring writers are given a chance to prove their worth as well as exhibit their creative tendencies; and with no entry fee needed, it is definitely one of the lucrative writing contests to enter.

51. The Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: All writers

Entrance Fee: $5

Prize Money: $1,500

Deadline: May

Writing Requirement: Submissions must not exceed a word-count of 3,500 words

Contest Description:

This is a writing contest that is organized by Lorian Hemingway, the grand daughter of the literary legend, Ernest Hemingway. The contest has been running for about 35 years now and is highly regarded as one of the best around. Entering the competition is a piece of cake and can be done online.

52. Colorado State University’s Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: All writers

Entrance Fee: Free

Prize Money: $2,000

Deadline: March 14

Writing Requirement: Each entry must have at least 2,500 words or be 10 pages long. Word-count must not surpass 12,500 words though.

Contest Description:

This contest, which is organized by the Center of Literary Publishing in Colorado State University, is definitely one of the best writing contests in 2019 to enter. It is open to both US writers and those located overseas.

53. The Glimmer Train Press Very Short Story Award

Genre: Fiction

Expertise Level: All writers

Entrance Fee: Free

Prize Money: $2,000

Deadline: April 30th and August 31th

Writing Requirement: Maximum word-count of 12,000 words.

Conclusion

There you have it folks, 53 of the best free writing contests in 2019 for creative writers of all ages and different caliber. So pick your preferred contests and begin sending in those entries.

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