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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SEPTEMBER
Urmson-Burnett - Salisbury Fringe
Words - 1 page monologue
Prize - performance
Fee - none
Close - 8th September
Notification - by October
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CIT f/f
Words - 500
Prize - publication
Fee - none
Close -15th September
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Erewash 
Words - 2,000
Prize - £100
Fee - £3
Close -18th September
Notification - 30th November
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Mslexia Memoir
Words - 50,000, submit first 5,000
Prize - £5,000
Fee - £25
Close - 22nd September
Notification - February
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Aber Valley
Words - 3,500 - 'Journeys'
Prize - £70
Fee - £1.50
Close - 22nd September
Notification - by October
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Scriptroom 8
Words - 45-70m minutes
Prize - broadcast
Fee - none
Close - 29th September
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Flash 500 Humour Verse
Words - 32 lines
Prize - £150
Fee - £3
Close - 30th September
Notification - 18th November
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Henshaw
Words - 2,000
Prize - £100
Fee - £5
Close - 30th September
Notification - end October
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Chorley
Words - 2,000
Prize - £100
Fee - £5
Close - 30th September
Notification - end of November
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Curry Mallet
Words - 2,500
Prize - £100
Fee - £5
Close - 30th September
Notification - November
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 Bedford 
Words - 3,000
Prize - £100
Fee - £5
Close - 30th September
Notification - 22nd December
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OCTOBER
Prolitzer 
Words - 2,500
Prize - £150
Fee - £4
Close - 1st October 
Notification - 15th December
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Progressive Playwrights
Words - 5-10 pages - 'Wealth'
Prize - performance
Fee - none
Close - 9th October
Notification - by 16th October
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Writers' Forum
Words - 3,000
Prize - £300
Fee - £6
Close - 15th October
Notification - 27th October
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Word Hut
Words - 1,000
Prize - £70
Fee - £4
Close - 19th October
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Anthony Burgess
Words - 1,500 - arts review
Prize - £2,500
Fee - £10
Close - 31st October
Notification - 1st February
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Fiction Desk
Words - 5,000
Prize - £500
Fee - £8
Close - 31st October
Notification - January
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Words With Jam
Words - 2,500, 1,000, 250
Prize - £300, £100, £50
Fee - £6 for all.
Close - 31st October
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London Magazine
Words - 4,000
Prize - £500
Fee - £10
Close - 31st October
Notification - early 2015, whatever that means.
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Flash 500
Words - 3,000, novel opening + 1 page synopsis
Prize - £500
Fee - £10
Close - 31st October
Notification - 12th December
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Bare Fiction
Words - 3,000
Prize - £500
Fee - £6
Close - 31st October
Notification - 31st January
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Rubery Book Award -
Words - 3,000
Prize - £600
Fee - £7.50
Close - 31st October
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NOVEMBER
New Welsh Writing
Words - 8,000-30,000, yes, really, on the theme of Nature and the Environment.
Prize - £1,000
Fee - none
Close - 1st November
A word of warning.  It's a nice prize, but if you don't win, you'll have done an awful lot of work for nothing, and goodness knows what you'll do with it thereafter.
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H E Bates
Words - 2,000
Prize - £150
Fee - £4
Close - 3rd November
Notification - by January
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Progressive Playwrights
Words - 5-10 pages - 'Forgiveness'
Prize - performance
Fee - none
Close - 12th November
Notification - by 20th November
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Atlantis
Words - 2,500
Prize - $300
Fee - $10
Close - 30th November
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Magic Oxygen Literary Competition
Words - 4,000 (story); 50 lines (poetry)
Prize - £1,000
Fee - £5
Close - 30th November
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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 - 3rd September 2014