Monday, November 27, 2023

66 Writing Contests in December 2023 - No entry fees

This December there are more than five dozen free writing contests for short fiction, novels, poetry, CNF, nonfiction, and plays. Prizes range from $40,000 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 has passed, you can prepare for next year.

Good luck! 

(Image: Pickpik)


Otherwise AwardGenre: Work that is changing the way we think about gender through speculative narrative. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 1, 2023. (Deadline unclear)

ScriptlabGenre: TV script or short screenplay. Prize: Up to $500. Deadline: December 1, 2023.

The Sillerman First Book Prize for African PoetryRestrictions: Open to African poets who have not yet published a collection of poetry. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $1,000 and book publication through the University of Nebraska Press and Amalion Press in Senegal. Deadline: December 1, 2023.

The Watchword PrizeGenre: Poetry on theme: Surveillance. Prize: $2000. Deadline: December 1, 2023.

Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian WritingRestrictions: Open to published writers who are writing from the region. Genres: All. Prize: $1000. Deadline: December 1, 2023. 

The Association of Jewish Libraries Jewish Fiction Award. Genre: All works of fiction with significant Jewish thematic content written in English–novels, short story and flash fiction collections–by a single author published and available for purchase in the United States during 2022 are eligible for the award. Jewish thematic content means an extended grappling with Jewish themes throughout the book, including Judaism, Jewish history and culture, Jewish identity, etc. Prize: The award will include a $1,000 cash prize as well as support to attend the AJL conference to receive the award. Deadline: December 1, 2023.

Tony Quagliano Poetry Fund, International Poetry AwardRestrictions: Open to poets who have a published body of work over a period of years. Poems must be in English. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: December 1, 2023. (Biennial award

The David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction is offered annually to the best book in American historical fiction that is both excellent fiction and excellent history. Prize: $1,000. Deadline: December 1, 2023.

Love Letters to London Writing CompetitionGenre: Poetry and "open." The theme this year is Love Letters to London of the Future. What does your London of the future look like – what are your passions, hopes Prize: £150 - £500. Deadline: December 1, 2023. Open to all agesSome reprints accepted.

Watchword PrizeGenre: Poetry. Theme: Surveillance ("any aspect of the phenomenon of watching and being watched, in both the intimate and public spheres of our lives"). Prize: $2,000 prize, online publication, and a public reading. Deadline: December 1, 2023.

The Pushcart Prize honors the best "poetry, short fiction, essays or literary whatnot" published in small presses and literary magazines. Magazine and small press editors may nominate up to six works. Pushcart Press publishes yearly anthologies of the winning submissions. Prize: Publication and enormous prestige. Deadline: December 1, 2023.

The Schneider Family Book Award is sponsored by the American Library Association. The award honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. Prize: Three annual awards each consisting of $5000 and a framed plaque, will be given annually in each of the following categories: birth through grade school (age 0-10), middle school (age 11-13) and teens (age 13-18). (Age groupings are approximations).  Genre: May be fiction, biography, or other form of nonfiction. Deadline: December 1, 2023.

Poetry Center at Smith College PrizeRestrictions: Open to sophomore or junior high school girls in New England. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 1, 2023.

RSL Christopher Bland PrizeRestrictions: Writers must be a citizen of, or resident in, the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland. Books must have been published for the first time in the UK or RoI within the 2023 calendar year. Books must be entered by trade publishers or agents based in the UK or RoI; each publisher, imprint of a publisher, or agent may enter two books only. Genre: Debut novel or non-fiction book first published by a writer aged 50 or over. Prize: £10,000. Deadline: December 1, 2023. 

The Sillerman First Book Prize for African PoetryRestrictions: Open to African poets who have not yet published a collection of poetry. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $1,000 and book publication through the University of Nebraska Press and Amalion Press in Senegal. Deadline: December 1, 2023.

Furious FictionGenre: Flash fiction, 500 words max. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 3, 2023. Opens December 1.

Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political WritingGenre: Book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking on contemporary Canadian political life. Book must be published in Canada. Prize: CAN $25,000.  Deadline: December 6, 2023. (For books published between October 4, 2023 and December 5, 2023)

J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress AwardGenre: Nonfiction book. Applicants for the award must already have a contract with a U.S.-based publisher to write a nonfiction book. Award: $25,000. Deadline: December 7, 2023.

Prism: Pacific Spirit Poetry PrizeGenre: Poetry. Prize: $1,500 grand prize, $600 runner-up, $400 2nd runner-up. Deadline: December 7, 2023. No entry fee for BIPOC and low income writers.

Women's Prize for FictionGenre: Published novel by a woman. Entrants must be writing in English and must be published in the UK between 1 December 2023 and 31 March 2024. All subject matters and women of any age, from any nationality or country of residence are eligible. Prize: £30,000.00. Deadline: December 8, 2023.

Friends of American Writers. Restrictions: The author must be a resident (or previously have been a resident for approximately five years) of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin; or the locale of the book must be in a region identified above. The author must not have published more than three books under his/her own pen name. Genres: Books can be fiction or creative non-fiction and published in 2023. Self-published and e-Books are not eligible. Prize: $500 - $2000. Deadline: December 10, 2023.

NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowships are awarded in fifteen different disciplines over a three-year period. Prize: $8,000 cash awards are made to individual originating artists living and working in the state of New York for unrestricted use. These fellowships are not project grants but are intended to fund an artist’s vision or voice, regardless of the level of his or her artistic development. Deadline: December 13, 2023.

Apparition LitGenre: Flash fiction up to 1000 words on theme. Prize: $30. Deadline: December 14, 2023. See themes.

Subnivean New Writers Award: CNY High School Writing Scholarship CompetitionRestrictions: Open to high-school-aged writers in Oswego County, Onondaga County, Oneida County, Herkimer County, Madison County, Cayuga County and Cortland County. Genre: Short stories and poetry. Prize: $100 bookstore gift certificate, $1,000 scholarship to attend SUNY Oswego as a creative writing or English major. Deadline: December 15, 2023.

Witcraft Monthly Humour CompetitionGenre: Humor with the emphasis on wit, word play, absurdity and inspired nonsense. Prize: First prize A$50, second prize A$20, third prize A$10, payable via Paypal only. Deadline: December 15, 2023.

Ezra Jack Keats Children's Book AwardGenre: Published or self-published picture books that portray the universal qualities of childhood, a strong and supportive family, and the multicultural nature of our world. Prize: $3,000. Deadline: December 15, 2023.

Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America Best First Crime Novel CompetitionRestrictions: The Competition is open to any writer, regardless of nationality, aged 18 or older, who has never been the author of any published novel (except that authors of self-published works only may enter, as long as the manuscript submitted is not the self-published work) and is not under contract with a publisher for publication of a novel. Genre: Murder or another serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the story. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: December 15, 2023.

The Arts South Australia Wakefield Press Unpublished Manuscript AwardRestrictions: The competition is open to South Australian writers. Genre: Book-length manuscripts of non-fiction, fiction and poetry. Prize: $10,000 and publication by Wakefield Press. Deadline: December 15, 2023.

Kim Wall Memorial Fund 2024. Restrictions: Open to "journalists whose work embodies the spirit of Kim’s reporting. The grant will fund women or non-binary reporters covering subculture, broadly defined, and what Kim liked to call “the undercurrents of rebellion.” Kim wanted more women to be out in the world, brushing up against life, and the Kim Wall Memorial Fund honors this legacy.” Genre: Journalism. Prize: $5,000 grants. Deadline: December 17, 2023.

ReadWrite Strategies. Genre: Funny anecdotes about the workplace. Prize: 1st place will receive $500 and a print copy, 2nd place will receive $200 and a print copy; and 3rd, 4th, and 5th place will each receive $100 and a print copy. Deadline: December 18, 2023.

Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) provides direct support to individual Bronx artists who create literary, media, visual, and performing works of art. Prize: 25 BRIO grants of $3,000 each are awarded to Bronx artists. BRIO award winners complete a one-time public service activity. Deadline: December 18, 2023.

The Helen Anne Bell Poetry Bequest AwardRestrictions: Open to Australian women. Genre: Collection of poems by an Australian woman poet. Prize: $40,000. Deadline: December 18, 2023. Biennial award.

Rider University Annual High School Writing ContestRestrictions: Open to high school students. Genres: Essays, poetry, fiction. Prizes: 1st-$100, 2nd-$50, 3rd-$25. Deadline: December 20, 2023.

Maureen Seaton Poetry Prize. Restrictions: Open to persons who reside, either full or part-time, in South Florida. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 21, 2023.

Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay ContestRestrictions: Registered undergraduate full-time Juniors or Seniors at accredited four-year colleges or universities in the United States. Genre: Essay Topic: What challenges awaken your conscience? Is it the conflicts in American society? An international crisis? Maybe a difficult choice you face or a hard decision you had to make? Engage us. Enlighten us. Explore the ethics of any problem, question, or issue, whether close to home or in the world at large. We are eager to learn from you. Prize: First Prize $10,000, 2nd Prize $5,000, 3rd Prize $3,000, two Honorable Mentions $1,000 each. Deadline: December 29, 2023. 

VCU Cabell First Novelist AwardGenre: First novel published in 2023. No self-published books.  Prize: $5,000. Deadline: December 30, 2023.

Shady Grove LiteraryGenre: Any style, genre, tone of flash fiction. Length: 300 words max. Prize: $100. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge. Genre: Poem inspired by artwork. (See site for image.) Prize: $100. Deadline: December 31, 2023. This is a monthly contest.

PEN Prison Writing ContestRestrictions: Anyone incarcerated in a federal, state, or county prison is eligible to enter. Genres: Poetry, fiction, drama, creative nonfiction. Prize: $25 - $250. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest is held four times a year. Restrictions: The Contest is open only to those who have not professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. Professional publication is deemed to be payment of at least six cents per word, and at least 5,000 copies, or 5,000 hits. Genre: Short stories or novelettes of science fiction or fantasy. Prizes: $1,000, $750, $500, Annual Grand Prize: $5,000. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary ExcellenceRestrictions: Emerging African American writers. Genres: Short story collection or novel published in the current year. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Lilith Magazine Fiction CompetitionGenre: Fiction. Short story of interest to Jewish women. Prize: $300. DeadlineDecember 31, 2023.

The Writers College: My Writing Journey CompetitionGenre: Essay  on the theme: The best writing tip I’ve ever received. 600 words. Prize: $200 (R2 000 or £100).  Deadline: December 31, 2023.

The AIIRA Writing ContestRestrictions: Open to all high school students. Genre: This season, we're asking you to think about a career you'd like to have in the future. How will AI affect your role in that job within the next decade? How will AI benefit your career, and what responsibilities will become redundant due to AI? You can submit an essay exploring this topic and write a fictional scene depicting how your intended career may look ten years from now. Prize: First Place: $500 USD; Second Place: $400 USD; Third Place: $250 USD. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Iridescence AwardRestrictions: Open to literary or visual artists of the Black, Indigenous, or People of Color Community. Genre: Fantasy, folk mythology, science fiction, and the paranormal. Short fiction, poetry. Prize: Up to $500. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Litup: Reese’s Book Club FellowshipsRestrictions: Open to "unagented and unpublished women and nonbinary writers who are also diverse." Prize: LitUp will provide five emerging writers with an all-expenses-paid retreat, a three-month mentorship with a published author, and marketing support from Reese’s Book Club. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recognizes outstanding works that contribute to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures. Awards are given for both fiction and nonfiction. Prize: $10,000. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Sources: A Journal of Jewish IdeasRestrictions: Open to Jewish students enrolled at 2- or 4-year colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. Genre: Essay. "We are currently accepting submissions of 1500-2000 word essays written by Jewish college students that describe an aspect of Jewish life on your campus and then explore what it means to you and what it might mean for other Jews. We are looking for a variety of perspectives, and we want to hear from you, no matter what your Jewish background is, where you go to school, or what you’re studying!" Prize: Up to four writers will receive $500 and publication in Sources. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Griffin Poetry PrizeGenre: Poetry. To be eligible for the prize, a book of poetry must be a published first-edition collection (i.e. not previously published in any country), written in English, or translated into English, by a poet/translator from any part of the world, including Canada. Entries must come from publishers only. Inquiries about entries must also come from publishers only. Prize: The winner will receive C$130,000 and the other shortlisted poets will each receive C$10,000. Deadline: December 31, 2023 for books published between July 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023.

The Lyric College Poetry ContestRestrictions: Open to undergraduates enrolled full time in an American or Canadian college or university. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $500. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Neil Postman Award for Metaphor. Sponsored by Rattle. Genre: Poetry. All published submissions during the year are considered for the prize. Follow their regular submission guidelines. Prize: $2,000. Deadline: December 31, 2023. Read more about the award HERE.

The Caribbean Writer PrizesGenre: Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essays or one act plays which explore the ideas resonating within the region and its diaspora, written by a US or UK Virgin Islands resident accepted for publication by The Caribbean Writer during the deadline year. 2023. See themePrize: $300 - $600. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Elizabeth Alexander Creative Writing AwardGenre: Poetry, fiction, nonfiction. Prize: $500 and publication in Meridians Journal: feminism, race, transnationalism. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

William Carlos Williams Poetry CompetitionRestrictions: Open to students enrolled in programs leading to the Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathy degree. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $300. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

The Four Quartets PrizeGenre: unified and complete sequence of poems published in America in a print or online journal, chapbook. Poems in the sequence may have been published in different journals provided that they were brought together and they form a complete sequence. Prize: Three finalists will receive $1,000 each. The winner will receive an additional $20,000. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Hooks Institute National Book AwardGenre: Nonfiction book that best furthers understanding of the American Civil Rights Movement and its legacy. Prize: $1000. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Dolors Alberola Poetry PrizeGenre: Full-Length poetry collection. Prize: Winner receives translation to another European language; publication of the collection (bilingual edition); 50 copies; and royalties. Finalists receive publication of the collection (Spanish edition), 10 copies of the book, and royalties on Publisher’s edition and subsidiary rights. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

The W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction honors the best fiction set in a period when the United States was at war. It recognizes the service of American veterans and military personnel and encourages the writing and publishing of outstanding war-related fiction. Genre: Military fiction. Prize: $5000. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Glencairn Glass Crime Short Story CompetitionGenre: Crime short story set in Scotland. Prize: First prize – £1000, Runner Up – £500. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Tartts Fiction AwardRestrictions: Open to Americans. Genre: Short story collection. Prize: Winning short story collection will be published by Livingston Press at the University of West Alabama, in simultaneous library binding and trade paper editions. Winning entry will receive $1000, plus their standard royalty contract, which includes 60 copies of the book. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

#GWstorieseverywhereGenre: Micro fiction or essay on theme of Instability. Your story must be no longer than 25 words, with a max of 280 characters, including spaces and the hashtag. Prize: Free Gotham class. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

The Drabble Harvest ContestGenre: Drabble on theme of "Alien Fetishes." A "drabble" is defined as a short story containing exactly precisely no more and no fewer than 100 words. It has a title, which can be from 1 to 15 words-- but no more than 15. Prize: $5. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Black Caucus of the American Library Association. BCALA presents four awards to an African American writer published in the United States during the previous year: one for adult fiction, one for nonfiction, one for a first novelist and one for poetry. These awards acknowledge outstanding achievement in the presentation of the cultural, historical and sociopolitical aspects of the Black Diaspora. Prize: Four $500.00 awards. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Wales Young Poets Award 2023. Restrictions: Open to young poets aged 10 - 17. Genre: Poetry in English and Welsh. Prize: £15 - £50 worth of National Book Tokens, writing goodie bag and publication. Deadline: December 31, 2023.

Lex:lead Essay CompetitionRestrictions: Candidates must show citizenship in an eligible country and be enrolled in studies with at least one law class in an eligible country at the time of the award. Genre: Essay: How effective have laws protecting the rights of children been to reduce poverty and support economic development?  How could they be improved? Prize: $500 scholarship. Deadline: December 31, 2023 (Must have registered by October 31, 2023)

Substack runs a monthly short story competition. Their mission is to "revive the art of the short story, support artists, and produce something wonderful." Genre: Short story. Length: 6000- 10,000 words. Prize: $100 plus 50% of subscription revenue to be sent by Paypal, Zelle, or check. Deadline: December 31, 2023. Reprints are ok so long as you still have the rights to distribute.

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