Thursday, March 25, 2021

59 Writing Contests in April 2021 - No entry fees

This April there are more than four dozen writing contests calling for every genre and form, from poetry, to creative nonfiction, to completed novels. Prizes range from $100,000 to publication. None charge entry fees.

Some of these contests have age and geographical restrictions, so read the instructions carefully.

If you want to get a jump on next month's contests go to Free Contests. Most of these contests are offered annually, so even if the deadline is past, you can prepare for next year.

Good luck! 

(Image credit: Pxhere)


Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. Genre: This contest seeks today's best humor poems, published and unpublished. Please enter one poem only, 250 lines max. Prize: $3,500 in prizes, including a top prize of $2,000, and publication on Winning Writers. Deadline: April 1, 2021.

Writing for PeaceRestrictions: Open to writers ages 13-19. Genre: Poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. "Writing for Peace challenges young writers to expand their empathy skills by researching an unfamiliar culture and writing from the point-of-view of a character within that new world, while exploring social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes." Prize: $200.  Deadline: April 1, 2021.

Alpine Fellowship Writing PrizeGenre: Pieces of any genre up to 2500 words on the theme of “On Wilderness and Civilization.” Prize: The winner receives a £10,000 cash prize and is presented with the award by the poet John Burnside. A £3,000 cash prize will go to the second place, and £2,000 to the third place runner up. The winner and two runners up are invited to attend the Fjällnäs symposium.   Deadline: April 1, 2021.

The Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers. Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians awards fellowships for writers to spend time in McCullers' childhood home in Columbus, Georgia. The fellowships are intended to afford the writers in residence uninterrupted time to dedicate to their work, free from the distractions of daily life and other professional responsibilities. Award: Stipend of $5000 to cover costs of transportation, food and other incidentals. Fellowship recipients will be required to introduce or advance their work through reading or workshop/forum presentations. The Fellow will work with the McCullers Center Director to plan a presentation near the end of the residency. Deadline: April 1, 2021. 

Wick Poetry Center Undergraduate Poetry CompetitionRestrictions: The competition is open to any undergraduate currently enrolled at Kent State University. Genre: Poem, maximum 100 lines long. Prize: One-time $1,500 scholarship to Kent State University. Second and third prize: $1,000 and $500 one-time scholarships. Deadline: April 1, 2021. 

The Great American Think-OffGenre: Essay on the theme: “Which is more important:
to win or to play by the rules?” Entrants should take a strong stand agreeing or disagreeing with this topic, basing their arguments on personal experience and observations rather than philosophical abstraction. Essay should be no more than 750 words. Prize: One of four $500 cash prizes. Deadline: April 1, 2021.

Reedsy: Fool Me Once. Genre: Short story. "From trickster gods to office pranks, humans have long been fascinated by mischief and mayhem. There’s just something about breaking free of the rules of polite society and causing a bit of chaos that appeals deeply to our psyche." Prize: $50. Deadline: April 2, 2021.

Cymera-Scotland’s Futures Forum-Shoreline of Infinity Prize for Speculative Short FictionRestrictions: Open to unpublished writers living in Scotland. Genre: Speculative short stories. "What could life in a world, any world, after a global life-changing event be like? How will we be living, young, adult, mature – what are the possibilities?" Prize: Awards are in 2 categories: 14 to 17 year old and 18+. The winning writers in each age-range category will be awarded £75. Deadline: April 4, 2021.

Poetry Nook. Genre: Poem. Prize: $20. Deadline: April 4, 2021.

The American Prospect Writing Fellows Program. The American Prospect’s Writing Fellows Program offers journalists the opportunity to spend two years developing their skills with the magazine at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. (or working remotely, in pandemic times). Each fellow benefits from an intensive mentoring program with the experts on our editorial team, and is expected to contribute regularly. Two fellowships are available starting Summer 2021, running through Summer 2023. Deadline: April 5, 2021.

“You Will Be Found” Essay ChallengeRestrictions: Open to residents of the United States and its territories. Genre: Essay. "We invite 11th-grade and 12th-grade students to write a college-application style essay (no longer than 650-words) that describes how you have managed to ensure those around you were a little less alone in recent months – or, alternatively, a moment where you yourself have found comfort in connection." Prize: $10,000 college scholarship. Deadline: April 5, 2021.

Gordon Burn PrizeRestrictions: Open to permanent US or UK residents. Genre: Fiction or nonfiction book first published in the US or UK between July 1 of the preceding year and July 1 of the deadline year. Prize: 5,000 pounds and 3-month writing retreat at Gordon Burn's cottage in Berwickshire.  Deadline: April 7, 2021.

Spectator. Genre: Poem. Tony Harrison wrote a poem entitled ‘A Kumquat for John Keats’. You are invited to substitute your own choice of poet and fruit and submit a poem of that title. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to Prize: £30. Deadline: April 7, 2021.

Killing It: The Killer Reads Competition. Genre: Crime novel. Submit the first 10,000 words of your crime, thriller or suspense novel (your book needs to be complete or near-complete to enter). Prize: "Editorial reports from HarperFiction (UK) crime editors on their full manuscripts, covering pace, characterisation, pitch, and more. Editorial mentoring (up to three one-hour sessions) with a HarperFiction crime editor." Deadline: April 7, 2021.

The Buffalo Books Fiction Prize. Genre: Novels — from 40,000 to 80,000 words — that are set in or explore the Midwest, the Great Plains, and/or the alleged flyover portions of the West. Prize: $500 and publication. Deadline: April 7, 2021.

Sunken Garden Poetry Festival's Fresh Voices CompetitionRestrictions: New England high school students. Prize: Reading at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival and publication. Deadline: April 9, 2021.

Poetry NookGenre: Poem. Prize: $20. Deadline: April 11, 2021.

Grist: Imagine 2200Genre: Short stories. "What we’re seeking: short stories that envision the next 180 years of equitable climate progress. Our mission is to make the story of a better world so irresistible, you want it right now." Prize: First, second, and third-prize winners will be awarded $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 respectively, and nine additional finalists will each receive a $300 honorarium. Deadline: April 12, 2021.

Descant. Each year, descant offers four awards:. etc
  • the $500 Frank O’Connor Award for fiction (for the best short story in a issue)
  • the $250 Gary Wilson Award (for an outstanding story in an issue)
  • the $500 Betsy Colquitt Award for poetry (for the best poem or series of poems by a single author in an issue)
  • the $250 Baskerville Publishers Award (for an outstanding poem or poems by a single author in an issue
There is no application process or reading fee. All published submissions are eligible for prize consideration. Simply submit your work. Deadline: April 15, 2021.

QTBIPOC 2021 Poetry Manuscript ContestRestrictions: Open to QTBIPOC-identified feminist innovative writers/poets. Genre: Poetry collection. Prize: The prize winner will receive publication along with a $1,000.00 cash award to help aid in book promotion, travel, event attendance, etc. Deadline: April 15, 2021.

Apparition Lit. Genre: Flash fiction on theme of Stephanie St. Clair. Prize: $30. Deadline: April 15, 2021.

Jersey Pines InkGenre: Fantasy flash fiction. 500 words max. Prize: $5. Deadline: April 15, 2021.

Parsec Short Story ContestRestrictions: Open to non-professional writers. Genre: Speculative fiction. The theme for the contest is: Still Waters, Deep Thoughts. This can be conveyed in the setting, plot, characters, dialogue…the only limit is your imagination. The theme must be integral to the story in some way and not just mentioned in passing. Prize: $200 and publication. Deadline: April 15, 2020.

Scotiabank Giller PrizeRestrictions: Open to books published in Canada in English. Books must be published in Canada in English between March 1, 2021, and April 30, 2021 to be eligible for the 2019 Prize. Must  be nominated by publisher. Genre: Fiction. Full-length novel or collection of short stories published in English, either originally, or in translation. Prize: $100,000 to the winner and $10,000 to each of the finalists. Deadline: April 16, 2021.

Austen Riggs Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health MediaGenre: Nonfiction. "The Austen Riggs Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media recognizes a select group of media professionals, including journalists, writers, and others who create exemplary work that contributes to a deeper understanding of and greater public awareness about mental health issues. To be eligible, work must have been written in English, intended for the layperson, and must have been first published/released after April 1, 2020." Prize: $3000. Deadline: April 16, 2021.

Science Me A StoryGenre: Scientific stories for children (ages 6-12) of up to four pages by authors over age 18. Stories can be in English or Spanish. Prize: £150, £100 or £50. Deadline: April 18, 2021.

Poetry NookGenre: Poem. Prize: $20. Deadline: April 18, 2021.

The Lucien Stryk Asian Translation PrizeGenre: Book-length translation of Asian poetry into English. Both translators and publishers are invited to submit titles. Book must have been published in previous year. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: April 19, 2021.

American Literary Translators Association Italian Prose in Translation AwardGenre: Translation of a recent work of Italian prose (fiction or literary non-fiction). Both translators and publishers are invited to submit titles. Book must have been published in previous year. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: April 19, 2021. Genre: Flash fiction, 100 words max. Theme of: Doors. Prize: $25 Amazon gift card. Deadline: April 23, 2021. Note: You have to join in order to enter.

Poetry NookGenre: Poem. Prize: $20. Deadline: April 25, 2021.

Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction GrantRestrictions: Open to US citizens and residents only. Genre: Creative nonfiction. Whiting welcomes submissions for works of history, cultural or political reportage, biography, memoir, the sciences, philosophy, criticism, food or travel writing, and personal essays, among other categories. Writers must be completing a book of creative nonfiction that is currently under contract with a publisher. Prize: $40,000. Deadline: April 26, 2021. 

The Willie Morris Award for Southern FictionGenre: Novel published in 2020 (50,000 words minimum). Book has to be set in one of the original eleven states in the Confederacy. (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.) Prize: $2,500.00, and an expense paid trip to New York City. (The winner must come to NY to receive the award, attend a luncheon with the contest judges and a reception in his/her honor.) Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Principia Perspectives Writing ContestRestrictions: Open to middle school and high school students. GenreEssay on theme of Family. Prize: $200. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Preservation Foundation Essay Contest for Unpublished WritersRestrictions: The contest is open to writers whose creative writing has never produced revenues of over $750 in any single year. Genre: Animal Nonfiction. Prize: First prize is $200. Runners-up will receive $100. Finalists will receive $50. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Mike Resnick Memorial Award: Best Unpublished Science Fiction Short Story by a New AuthorRestrictions: Open to an author who has not had any work published (including short stories, novelettes, novellas, and novels in paper, digital or audio form) that has been paid a per-word rate of 6 cents a word or more or received a payment for any single work of fiction totaling more than $50. Genre: Science fiction short story, up to 7,499 words. Prize: $250.00 and publication.  DeadlineApril 30, 2021.

Willie Morris Award for Southern PoetryGenre: Poetry that evokes the South. Prize: $2,500 and expenses-paid trip to award ceremony in NYC. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Contest for Canadian YouthRestrictions: Open to Canadian citizens or residents attending junior high or high school. Genre: Poetry. Prize: C$400 in each of two age categories: Junior (grades 7-9) and Senior (grades 10-12). Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Queer Scifi Flash Fiction ContestGenre: Fantasy, paranormal or horror LGBTIQA stories of no more than 300 words on the theme of Ink. Prize: The top three winners will receive cash prizes of $75, $50, and $25 respectively. DeadlineApril 30, 2021.

Cave Canem Poetry PrizeRestrictions: Open to black poets of African descent who have had no more than one full-length book of poetry published by a professional press. Genre: Poetry book. Prize: $1000 and publication by Graywolf Press in fall 2022, 15 copies of the book, and a feature reading. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Toronto Book AwardsGenres: All genres accepted. Restrictions: Submission "must evoke the city itself, that is, contain some clear Toronto content (this may be reflected in the themes, settings, subjects, etc.). Authors do not necessarily have to reside in Toronto. Ebooks, textbooks and self-published works are not eligible. Prize: A total of $15,000 CD will be awarded. Each shortlisted author (usually 4-6) receives C$1,000 and the winning author is awarded the remainder. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

2021 Sijo CompetitionGenre: A Sijo poem. Prize: Adult division: First ($1,000), Second ($750), Third ($500); Pre-college division: First ($500), Second ($400), Third ($300) Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Irene Adler Prize for Women WritersRestrictions: Open to Canadian women. Genre: Creative nonfiction. Prize: $1,000 scholarship. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Al Blanchard Crime AwardRestrictions: New England residents only. Genre: Crime short story.  Prize: $100. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Daisy Utemorrah Award for Indigenous AuthorsRestrictions: Open to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writer currently residing in Australia. Genre:  Junior/YA full-length fiction manuscript intended for readers aged 8-18. Length: 40,000 and 100,000 words. Prize: A$15,000 and possible publication.  Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Author of TomorrowRestrictions: Open to children and youth up to age 21. Genre: Adventure writing. Prize: 11 and Under | 500 words | Prize: £100 plus £150 book tokens for your school; 12-15 years | 1,500 - 5,000 words | Prize: £100 plus £150 book tokens for your school; 16-21 years | 1,500 - 5,000 words. Prize: £1,000. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Rune Bear Quarterly. Genre: Drabble: 100 words on the theme “Patch Notes Version 2.0.” Prize: $10. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

A Voice for Animals Teen Essay ContestRestrictions: Open to students between the ages of 14-18. Genre: Essays on an animal rights topic.  In the 16-18 year olds category, essays must be 800-1,000 words long and be accompanied by a photograph; in the 14-15 year olds category, essays should be between 1,400-1,500 words. One climate change prize (both age categories compete) will be awarded for an essay on how climate change affects a particular animal species. Prize: $500. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Claudia Ann Seaman Awards For Young WritersRestrictions: High school students. Genre: Stories and poems. Prize: $200. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

E-waste ScholarshipRestrictions: You must be a high school freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior or a current or entering college or graduate school student of any level. Home schooled students are also eligible. There is no age limit. You must also be a U.S. citizen or legal resident. Genre: 500- to 1,000-word essay about e-waste. Prize: $1000 scholarship. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

4thWrite Short Story PrizeRestrictions: Open to  Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers. Genre: Short story. Prize: £1,000, a one-day publishing workshop at 4th Estate and publication of their story on the Guardian website. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Erbacce-prize for Poetry (UK) Genre: Poetry collection. Prize: Winner will be given a publishing contract with erbacce press who will publish a perfect-bound collection of the winner's book. "We will pay all costs including the legal registering of the book and supplying copies to the major libraries. The book will be sold through our sales/shop pages and the poet will be paid 20% royalties." Deadline: April 30, 2021.

SA Writer’s College Short Story AwardRestrictions: Open to unpublished writers in South Africa. Genre: Short stories. Theme: You Only Live Once. Prizes: 1st – R 10 000; 2nd – R 5 000; 3rd – R 2 000. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Storytwigs micro-writing competitionRestrictions: Open to citizens/residents of United States or Canada. You must be 18 years or older to enter. Genre: Short prose 100 words or fewer on prompt of String. Prize: From $10 to $100. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry FellowshipsRestrictions: Applicants must reside in the U.S. or be U.S. citizens. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and no older than 31 years of age as of April 30, 2021Genre: Poetry. Prize: $25,800.  Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Preservation Foundation Essay Contest for Unpublished WritersRestrictions: The contest is open to writers whose creative writing has never produced revenues of over $750 in any single year. Genre: Animal Nonfiction. Stories must be between 1000--10,000 words in length. Prize: First prize in each category will be $200. Runners-up will receive $100. Finalists will receive $50. Deadline: April 30, 2021. See themes.

The John Byrne AwardRestrictions: Open to residents of Scotland. Genre: A piece of creative work on a chosen theme or value (written work must be no more than 15,000 words in length). Prize:  £7500. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Words Without Borders Poems in Translation ContestGenre: Contemporary international poetry translated from other languages into English. Prize: $150 each for winning poets and translators.  Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry PrizeRestrictions: Open to black poets of African descent who have had no more than one full-length book of poetry published by a professional press. Genre: Poetry book. Prize: $1000. Deadline: April 30, 2021.

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