Free writing contests

Most contests charge hefty fees to enter. For this month’s list we looked for free contests that are open to unpublished writers worldwide. Here’s what we came up with. Nothing for you here? Check out our other lists for more great places to submit.

Note: We have no affiliation with the listed contests. Please follow the links for more information.

Apparition Lit Flash Fiction Contest – this monthly contest for speculative fiction accepts submissions of up to 1,000 words on a theme. For 2020, they have posted a different work of art as the theme for each month (you can see the pieces on their website). The deadline for the next contest is 15 January 2020 and the theme is Spiral Woman by Louise Bourgeois. Winners receive a semi-professional payment for publication.

Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award – The National Space Society and Baen Books applaud the role that science fiction plays in advancing real science and have teamed up to sponsor this short fiction contest in memory of Jim Baen. Open to short stories of up to 8000 words that show the near future (no more than about 50-60 years out) of manned space exploration. Winners receive a professional payment, free entry into the 2020 International Space Development Conference, a year’s membership in the National Space Society and a prize package containing various Baen Books and National Space Society merchandise. Next deadline: 1 February 2020

Bloody Valentine’s Challenge – Sponsored by Tales from the Moonlit Path, a horror, dark fiction, and speculative fiction magazine, this contest is looking for stories of up to 2,000 words on the theme of love gone wrong. Winners receive $50 and all entries will be considered for publication in the magazine (by submitting you give them the right to publish without additional approval so be careful with simultaneous submissions). Deadline: 1 February 2020.

Black Orchid Novella Award –  This annual award is for mystery novellas of between 15,000 to 20,000 words in the tradition of the Nero Wolfe series by Rex Stout. The prize is $1,000 and publication in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Next deadline: 31 May 2020.


16 May 2020

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