National Competitions

by Clare Girvan

Introductory remarks.

'No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money' - Dr Johnson

My personal belief is that if your story is good enough to publish, it's good enough to be paid for. There are competitions that will put your story in an anthology if you are a runner-up, but only 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizewinners will be paid. If you are happy with that, fine, but bear in mind that once a story has been published, very few competitions will want it thereafter and it hasn't earned its keep.

The only exception is play writing competitions, which I go in for a lot. As a rule, they don't pay or give a notification date, but they don't usually charge a fee or seem too bothered if you've touted your play around a bit.  There is, however, one current competition which demands that you pay a submission fee of £30, followed by, if your play is chosen, a further £315 for production expenses and you must provide your own company and technicians.  All I will say about that is that there are plenty more competitions to choose from.  Under normal circumstances, the prize is usually a performance of some sort (and sometimes beyond, depending on the organisation) and it goes on your cv, which the occasional competition wants to see.  But beware - sometimes your play will disappear without a trace, and no amount of effort on your part will retrieve it.  I don't know why this happens. Maybe it's just mine.

This is a very subjective list, and I have not included absolutely every competition that comes out. The poetry listings are few - there are so many poetry competitions! - and occasionally I will miss out a short story competition because I don't think it's worth going in for (one, for instance, would only give you a certificate and an engraved Thing for the mantelpiece. You can do better than that).  I tend to avoid competitions that publish runners-up in their anthology without the benefit of even a small prize, which I think is mean (see 'How to Run a Writing Competition' on my website)., and I've also excluded competitions that charge a fee out of all proportion to the prize. Reluctantly, I have included those that charge £5 for only a £100 prize, because some people might not mind as much as I do. Smaller fee or bigger prize, I say.  Exeter Writers has found that good advertising will bring in enough revenue to make a competition pay, even when the fee is quite modest.  Try other listings if you can't find what you want - see lists at end.

Prize money and word count are maximum. Websites given where I can find them, or Google.

Let me know if you encounter "link rot" (i.e. sites gone dead) or any typos in the links.

Opinions expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of Exeter Writers.

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Ongoing competitions

Threepenny Review
Words - 4,000
Prize - $400 and publication
Fee - none
Close - any time, but nothing during autumn
Notification - 2 months from submission
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Global
Words - 2,000
Prize - £100, £250 annual
Fee - £5
Close - 30th every month
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Scribble
Words - 3,000
Prize - £75
Fee - £3
Close - ongoing
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JANUARY
Constance Cox
Words -75-100 minutes, seven roles - theme '80'
Prize - £280
Fee - £7
Close - 24th January
Notification - mid-April
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Chudleigh Phoenix
Words - 1,500
Prize - £200
Fee - £5
Close - 31st January
Notification - 15th April
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Nottingham
Words - 2,000 - 'Water'
Prize - £300
Fee - £5
Close - 31st January
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James White
Words - 6,000
Prize - £200
Fee - none
Close - 31st January
Notification - April
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Vivat
Words - 100
Prize - £500
Fee - none
Close - 31st January
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Sussex Playwrights and Venture
Words - 10 minutes
Prize - performance
Fee - £5
Close - 31st January
Notification - July
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FEBRUARY
Bridgwater
Words - 2,200
Prize - £500
Fee - £7
Close - 1st February
Notification - 25th April
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Plymouth
Words - 2,000
Prize - £250
Fee - £5
Close - 1st February
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Writers and Artists
Words - 2,000
Prize - £500 and Arvon
Fee - none
Close - 15th February
Notification - March
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Ghostdog
Words - 10 minutes - 'Lover'
Prize - performance
Fee - none
Close - 22nd February
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Fiction Desk
Words - 1-5,000 - 'Ghost Story'
Prize - £500
Fee - £8
Close - 28th February
Notification - April
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People's College
Words - 2,500
Prize - E1,000 (note euros)
Fee - E10
Close - 28th February 
Notification - April
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Grace Dieu
Words - 2,000
Prize - £500
Close - 28th February
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Exeter Writers
Words - 3,000
Prize - £500
Fee - £6
Close - 28th February
Notification - June
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Fish Flash
Words - 300
Prize - E1,000 (note euros)
Fee - E14
Close - 28th February
Notification - 10th April
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MARCH
Neil Gunn
Words - 2,500 (from given quotes)
Prize - £500
Fee - £7
Close - 2nd March
Notification - mid-May
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Words for the Wounded
Words - 400
Prize - £400 (shared)
Fee - £4.50
Close - 11th March
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Mslexia Short Story
Words - 2,200
Prize - £2,000
Fee - £10
Close - 16th March
Notification - May
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Ghostdog
Words - 10 minutes - 'Mind Games'
Prize - performance
Fee - none
Close - 19th March
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A Word in Your EarWords - 15 minutes - 'Quilt of Stories'
Prize - performance
Fee - none
Close - 23rd March
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Short Fiction
Words - 6,000
Prize - £500
Fee - £10
Close - 31st March
Notification - August
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Langport
Words - 1,750
Prize - £150
Fee - 5.50
Close - 31st March
Notification - Langport Festival
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APRIL
Words10 mins – ‘Survival’
Prize – performance
Fee – none
Close – 16th April
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Bath  
Words – 2.200
Prize - £1,000
Fee - £8
Close – 27th April
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Exeter Short Story  
Words – 10,000
Prize - £500
Fee - £8
Close 30th April
Notification – July
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Tom Howard
Words – 6,000 can be published
Prize - $1,500
Fee - $16
Close – 30th April
Notification – 15th October
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Senior Travel
Words – 750
Prize - £100
Fee – none
Close – 30th April
Notification – 30th May
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Rubery Book
Words - can't find it.  Probably in there somewhere
Prize - £1,000
Fee - £35
Close - 30th April
Notification - 30th July approx
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Bristol
Words – 4,000
Prize - £1,000
Fee - £8
Close – 30th April
Notification – 22nd July
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MAY
Words - 1,500
Prize - £100
Fee - £3.50
Close - 30th May
Notification - 30th July
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BridportThe big one. 
Words - 5,000
Prize - £5000
Fee - £9
Close - 30th May
Notification - October
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Yeovil
Words - 2,000
Prize - £500
Fee - £6 
Close - 30th May. 
Notification - They never say.  It would be helpful
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JUNE
Words - 1 hour 
Prize - Fame and fortune.  Really.  This is the Bridport of play writing competitions and winners do well out of it.
Fee - none
Close - 5th June
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 Try also http://www.londoncomedywriters.com/opportunities/main.html  and Michael Shenton's excellent and entertaining website which covers just about every other competition going. www.prizemagic.co.uk/html/writing_comps.htm 
Plenty of poetry competitions

cg - 16th January 2015