31 Short Story Contests in 2019

If you’re a short story writer looking to hone his or her writing skills, then the best way to do this is to enter a variety of short story contests. Whether you’re an aspiring writer, an established one, or even in your teens, there are lots of short story competitions that perfectly suit your expertise level.

By also competing against other writers, you’re able to know exactly where you are and all you need to get to the next level. While some of these short story contests are free with no entry fee, others require a small entry fee.

If you’re, however, just looking for non-specific writing contests, you can check out these 50 best free writing contests in 2019 as well as these 13 free online writing contests.

So without much further ado, here are the best short story contests in 2019 you should definitely try to enter:

  1. L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest

This is definitely one of the most popular short story contests and a renowned writing competition for aspiring writers in the Fantasy and Sci-Fi genre. It is held quarterly and allows entries from all over the world.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $500, $750, $1000 for three winners

Deadline: January 1, April 1, July 1, October 1

Writing Criteria: A maximum word count of 17,000 words, which means novelettes are also accepted

  1. Aftermath Magazine’s End of the World Short Story Contest

If you’ve got an idea for a story that explores apocalyptic repercussions to the destruction of the environment then you may want to give this contest a shot.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $1000 top prize

Deadline: August 31st

  1. Reedsy’s Writing Prompts Inspired Short Story Contest

If you think you’re not ready for the major writing contests then you can test yourself with a low-stake short story contest. Reedsy is a writing blog that regularly runs a writing prompt-centred short story contest via its newsletter.

All you have to do is respond to one of its weekly newsletters containing writing prompts with a short story and you automatically stand a chance of winning $50. You also get your story featured on its medium blog.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $50

Deadline: None

Writing Criteria: Make use of the writing prompt to craft a short story

  1. Glimmer Train Contest

This is an awesome short story contest that is open to all kinds of writers regardless of the genres they specialize in. Apart from the prize money, the winner also gets his or her story published in the Glimmer Train publication.

Entry Fee: $2

Prize Money: $700

Deadline: Nov 30th

  1. Carve Magazine’s Raymond Carver Contest

This is one of the most prestigious short story competitions that you can enter. If you’re truly confident that your writing can compete with the best in the fictional writing field, then this is one contest you should definitely give a shot.

Entry Fee: $17

Prize Money: $1,500

Deadline: May 15th

Writing Criteria: Original Short Story

Short Story Contests

  1. Narrative Magazine’s Narrative Prize

This writing contest doesn’t only accept short stories, it also deals with poems, one-act plays, novel excerpts, graphic stories, and even non-fictional works. It is probably one of the most lucrative contests for young and emerging writers.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $4,000

Deadline: June 15th

Writing Criteria: Original Works

  1. Southwest Review’s The David Nathan Meyerson Prize for Fiction

This writing contest is held as a tribute to the amazing writer, David Nathan Meyerson, who died before becoming acclaimed in the field. It is open to all aspiring writers who are yet to publish a single literary work.

Entry Fee: $25

Prize Money: $1,000

Deadline: May 1st

Writing Criteria: Stories with a maximum word count of 8,000 words

  1. Nimrod Literary Awards

This is a short story writing contest that is more suitable for more established writers. Past contests have been judged by some acclaimed authors including Karen Russell, Marvin Bell, and Olga Broumas etc.

The contest also accepts other literary works like novellas and poems.

Entry Fee: $20

Prize Money: $1,000

Deadline:  April 30th

Writing Criteria: Original Work

  1. Hidden River Arts William Van Wert Award for Fiction

Publication in the much renowned Hidden River Review of Arts & Letters and $1000 prize money are at stake if you choose to enter this contest. The competition is held mostly for short stories and well written excerpts from novels.

Entry Fee: $17

Prize Money: $1,000

Deadline:  June 30th

Writing Criteria: Original Work

  1. Nelson Algren Short Story Award

This writing contest is organized by the Chicago Tribune and is for aspiring short story writers who wish to boost their popularity. It focuses solely on fictional works and is open to all writers, particular those who are yet to catch their big breaks.

Entry Fee: Free

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

Deadline:  June 30th

Writing Criteria: original short stories that aren’t longer than 8,000 words

  1. Masters Review’s Short Story Contest For New Writers

This short story contest is open to writers that are still waiting to publish their first literary works. The writing competition is held more than once in a year so you have several opportunities to participate and win.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $3,000

Deadline:  Summer, Fall, and Winter

Writing Criteria: original short stories that aren’t longer than 7,000 words

  1. Kenyon Review’s Short Fiction Contest

If you’re a writer who is yet to publish a fictional book, then you can try your hands on this short story contest. Apart from a cash reward, the winner is also given a free scholarship to attend a writer’s workshop run by the contest’s organizers.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: Unavailable

Deadline:  January 31st

Writing Criteria: original short short stories that aren’t longer than 1,200 words

  1. Newcastle Short Story Award

For Australians looking for a writing contest that prioritizes Australian writers, the Newcastle Short Story Award is the contest to enter. You can earn up to AUD$3,000 and you won’t even be asked to pay an entry fee.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: AUD$3,000

Deadline:  5th of February

Writing Criteria: original short stories of up to 2,000 words are accepted

  1. Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Competition

If you’re not too thrilled with receiving monetary rewards from a writing contest then you may want to enter this short story contest. The winner of this competition gets to choose an Arvon residential writing course of his or her choice. The winning story will also be published on writersandartists.co.uk.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: Arvon residential writing course with a value of about $1200

Deadline:  13th of February

Writing Criteria: original short stories of up to 2,000 words are accepted

  1. Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize

If you want both a cash reward and a writing residency at an esteemed writing institution, then this contest is definitely for you. Along with these two rewards, the contest’s winner also gets free consultation from a major US literary agency. This is pretty awesome, isn’t it?

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money:  $1200, a week’s residency in Italy at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation and of course free consultation from Foundry Literary Agency

Writing Criteria: original short stories of 2,000 words or lower are accepted

  1. Commonwealth Short Story Prize

This writing contest is heralded as one of the most esteemed competitions to enter. It is open to writers from all of the commonwealth countries. A winner is selected from each commonwealth region with an overall winner further selected from the regional winners.

If you want to launch your writing career and become known to a wider audience then entering and winning this contest is a good place to start.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: The overall winner gets £5,000, regional winners get £2,500

Deadline:  November

Writing Criteria: Original short stories

  1. John Steinbeck Short Story Award

The John Steinbeck Short Story Award is one of three writing contests organized by Reed Magazine. The winner of the contest doesn’t only get a mouth-watering cash prize, his or her winning story also gets to be published in the magazine.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $1,000 and publication

Deadline:  November 1

Writing Criteria: Fictional short stories not exceeding 5,000 words

  1. Barry Hannah Prize in Fiction

This is another reputable writing contest for fictional works that focus on absurd, mysterious, and magical themes. Apart from the prize money, the winner’s short story also gets published in the reputable Yalobusha Review.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $500 and publication

Deadline:  October 31

Writing Criteria: Fictional short stories not exceeding 5,000 words

  1. Arkansas International Emerging Writer’s Prize

This writing contest is open to all writers across the globe as long as they aren’t published yet or haven’t got a book deal signed.

Entry Fee: $20

Prize Money: Unknown

Deadline:  May 1st

Writing Criteria: Fictional short stories not exceeding 7,500 words

  1. Boulevard’s Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers

If you’re a writer that is yet to publish any works of fiction or other forms of literature, then you’re free to enter this contest. You stand a chance of winning a nice sum as well as finally getting published in a reputable magazine.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $1,500

Deadline:  31st of December

Writing Criteria: Short stories pieces not exceeding 8,000 words

  1. Bayou Magazine’s James Knudsen Prize for Fiction

This is another writing contest that only accepts unpublished works of fiction, be it short stories or novel excerpts. Both free publication and a nice prize money are at stake if you choose to enter this contest.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $1,000

Deadline:  31st of December

Writing Criteria: Short stories pieces not exceeding 7,500 words

  1. Crazyhorse’s Prize for Fiction

Crazyhorse’s Prize for Fiction is a writing contest that is open to all original works of fiction as long as it is up to 25 pages. It is an ideal contest if you always tend to write longer short stories.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $2,000 and year subscription of the magazine

Deadline:  31st of January

Writing Criteria: at least up to 25 pages

  1. Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize

This short story contest is organized by Selected Shorts. It offers lucrative prize money, but more importantly, an opportunity for your short story to be turned into a play and performed by a renowned acting group.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $1,000 and a performance of the short story at Symphony Space as well as a 10-week writing course

Deadline:  1st of March

Writing Criteria: not specified.

  1. White Review’s Short Story Prize

Only writers who are resident in the UK and Ireland are eligible to enter this contest. You must also not have a publishing deal yet if you want your entry to be considered.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $2,500

Deadline:  1st of March

Writing Criteria: Minimum word count, 2,000 words, maximum word count, 7,000words

  1. Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize

This competition is organized by the online journal, Hunger Mountain, which is based in Vermont. The winning story gets to be published just as the writer gets lucrative prize money.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $1,000

Deadline:  1st of March

Writing Criteria: a word count of up to 10,000 words

  1. BBC National Short Story Award

If you’re based in the UK, this is one writing contest you don’t want to miss out on. The winner of this contest doesn’t only get a nice prize money, he or she also gets to be globally recognized.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: £15,000

Deadline:  12th of March

Writing Criteria: word count may be up to or lower than 8,000 words

  1. Writer’s Digest Short Short Story

For writers based in the US and other parts of the globe, this is an ideal writing contest that is completely co-ordinated via the internet. It is the perfect contest if you’re only able to write very short stories that aren’t up to 2,000 words.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $3,000

Deadline:  December 17

Writing Criteria: 1,500 words or lower

  1. The Texas Observer’s Short Story Contest

It can be quite difficult to find reputable online writing contests; thankfully, this competition is one of the few that can be vouched for. It does require a small entry fee, though, if you want to participate.

Entry Fee: $25

Prize Money: $1,000 and publication in the Texas Observer’s magazine

Deadline:  August

Writing Criteria: 2,500 words or lower

  1. Peter Carey Short Story Award

For Australian residents looking to enter a writing contest, this is one to consider. It offers both lucrative prize money and of course, free publication to the winner.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: AUD$1,000

Deadline:  March 26

Writing Criteria: 2,000-3,000 words

  1. Masters Review Anthology Prize

Want your short story to feature in an anthology? Then this is a writing contest you must enter. It is a competition for young and emerging writers looking to catch their big breaks in the creative writing industry.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $5,000

Deadline:  March 31

Writing Criteria: word count must be lower than 8,000 words

  1. Craft Short Fiction Prize

The winning story of this contest gets to be published in Craft Magazine. Aside from that, the writer also gets paid lucrative prize money so this is definitely one contest you may want to consider entering.

Entry Fee: Free

Prize Money: $2,000

Deadline:  April 30

Writing Criteria: short stories that are at least up to 8,000 words

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