National Competitions

by Clare Girvan

Scroll down to find the competition listing

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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Sorry for the delay, folks - I've had a bereavement and haven't been able to give my mind to it.

 AUGUST
Luke Bitmead
Words - 3-4 chapters.  Good springboard
Prize - £2,500 and contract
Fee - none
Close - 1st August
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Costa
Words - 4,000
Prize - £3,500 - wow
Fee - none - wow again
Close - 5th August
Notification - 18th November
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Writing Mag
Words - 1,000
Prize - £200
Fee - £5
Close - 14th August
Notification - 14th October
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Postcard 
Words - 60-90 minutes
Prize - performance
Fee - none
Close - 21st August
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Bench Theatre
Words - 15-45
Prize - performance
Fee - none
Close - 31st August
Notification - 15th November
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Hysteria
Words - 2,000 or 250
Prize - £150
Fee - £5 or £3
Close - 31st August
Notification - October
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Exeter Flash
Words - 250
Prize - £100
fee - £4
Close - 31st August
Notification - end of September
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Christopher Fielden
Words - 4,000.
Prize - £200  This is fun.  If you win, Mr Fielden will drive your book to Hull and back on his Harley Davidson FLTSTF Fatboy 1584cc Twin, and film the journey.  Even better, he will take you as well, if you can stand the 454 mile round trip. Hmm.
Fee - £5
Close - 31st August
Notification - September
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Castle Keep
Words - 10 minutes
Prize - performance
Fee - £5
Close - 31st August
Notification - autumn
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Saveas Writers
Words - 2,000 - 'The City'
Prize - £100
Fee - £4
Close - 31st August
Notification - 31st October
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Holland Park
Words - 2,000 in first person
Prize - £200
Fee - none
Close - 31st August
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SEPTEMBER 
Theatrefest 
Prize - performance
Fee - £5
Close - 4th September
Notification - December (check)
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Theatre Cloud
Words – 5 minutes

Prize – performance

Fee – none

Close7th September
Notification - January

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Bush 
Words – full length, contemporary

Prize – performance

Fee – none
Close – 11th September
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Words – 1,000-5,000

Prize -- £300
Fee - £5
Close13th September
Notification – December
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Words - 2,000
Prize - £100
Fee - £3
Close - 24th September
Notification - 30th November
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Flash 500 
Words – 500
Prize – £300
Fee - £5
Close – 30th September
Notification – 10th November
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Words – 30-40, complete or extract. 6 actors
Prize – performance
Fee - none
Close – 30th September
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Soundwork
Words – 15 minutes
Prize – performance
Fee – none
Close – 30th September
Notification – November
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Bedford 
Words – 3,000

Prize - £200

Fee - £5
Close – 30th September
Notification – 14th December
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Henshaw - henshawpress.co.uk
Words – 2,000

Prize - £100
Fee - £5
Close – 30th September
Notification – 31st October
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OCTOBER
Bare Fiction
Words - 500 F/F, 3,000 S/S
Prize - £500
Fee - £6 F/F, £8 S/S
Close - 31st October
Notification - spring
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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 
I don't do poetry, but Michael has plenty of poetry competitions

cg - 31st July 2015