30 Top Writing Contests for 2021

2021 Top Writing Contests


Writing Competitions not only allow writers to win prizes, but they also have several other benefits for writers. In fact, I would go as far as to say that writing contests are invaluable to stoke your writing career.

They Provide an Author with a deadline.

They provide writers with a deadline to know they have to meet or miss out on the competition and potential prizes. This can serve to increase productivity. With normal writing, an author is accountable to nobody, and it is all too easy to slow down and become lethargic.

Writing Contests Give You feedback.

Most writing contests do not provide detailed feedback to each author, but some may (for a small fee) provide some basic feedback. There are even a couple that may provide a little feedback for free. If you win or even get a runner-up position, then that is a pretty good sign that your book may well be a winner on the market.

It Helps to Get Your Name Known

The judges and organizers of these competitions are most likely going to be professionals in the publishing industry. You have no idea who may take a look at your manuscript during the competition. If you are on the shortlist to win then this will certainly draw attention to your work. Even if it does not immediately help, it may work later when you write a subsequent book.


Writing Contests provide motivation. When you enter a book, story, or poem, you know that someone somewhere is reading your work, which can be a lifesaver when you are struggling to carry on. Whether you win or not, the writing contest is one more milestone in your writing career.

2021 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize

The Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize is an annual competition run by the Australian Book Review. Entries 2000 – 3000 words in English

  • The entry fee AU$15 to AU$25.
  • First Prize – AU$6,000
  • Second Prize – AU$4,000
  • Third Prize – AU$2,500
  • Entry Deadline – 2021-05-03

2021 Bristol Short Story Prize

Open to all authors over 16 who may be published or unpublished.

  • The entry fee is £9.
  • The first prize is £1,000
  • The second prize is £500
  • The third prize is £250
  • The entry deadline expires: 2021-05-05

2021 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine

A prize writing contest for a medical-related poem which must be unpublished. Three categories.

  • Open Category £7 per entry
  • Health professional category £7 per entry;
  • The young Poets category is free entry.
  • Open Category Prizes are £1,000 – £500 – £250
  • Health professional Category Prizes are £1,000 – £500 – £250
  • Young poets Category £500
  • The Entry Deadline is 2021-02-14

2021 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

Submit one humor poem that must be written in English and under 250 lines.

  • The entry fee is zero – free to enter.
  • The first prize is $2,000
  • The Second Prize is $500
  • Ten runners up win $100 each.
  • The entry deadline expires on 2021-04-01

29th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Two writing contests. Essay competition and a short story competition. Both up to 6,000 words, open to anyone.

  • The entry fee is $20
  • Both the winning story and the winning essay each receive $3,000
  • Ten runners up each receive $200
  • The entry deadline is 2021-04-30

Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2021

An International Writing Contest with no age limit. Two categories: Poetry and Short Fiction

  • The poetry Entry fee is £12
  • The Fiction entry fee is £18
  • Both Poetry and Fiction winners each receive £2,600
  • The entry deadline is 2021-08-31

Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize for Poetry 2021

An award for a book of poetry in English. language

  • The fee for entry is $25
  • The winning poem gets published by the UP Press as part of the Pitt Poetry.
  • The winning author will receive $5,000
  • Entry Deadline: 2021-04-30

AWP Award Series 2021

Original works for adult readers in English

  • Entry fee for members $29, The Entry fee for non-members $30
  • Donal Hall Poetry – $5,500 prize
  • Grace Paley Short Story – $5,500 prize
  • AWP Nob Fiction Prize – $2,500
  • AWP Novel – $2,500 prize
  • The entry deadline is 2021-02-28

Bath Short Story Award 2021

these short stories, on any topic, must be original and written in English.

  • The entry fee is £9
  • First Prize – £1,200
  • Second Prize – £300
  • Third Prize – £100
  • Entry Deadline – 2021-04-19

F(r)iction’s Spring 2021 Writing Contests

The competition is open to writers over the age of 13: four categories – short story, flash fiction, Poetry, Creative Non-Fiction.

The entry fee is between $10 and $15

  • The prize for Short Story: $1,000
  • The prize for Flash Fiction: $300
  • The prize for Poetry: $300
  • Prize for Creative Nonfiction: $1,000
  • Entry Deadline – 2021-04-29

First Pages Prize 2021

Writers over the age of 18 and having no agent. First five-page excerpt of a larger work of fiction.

  • The entry fee is $20
  • The winner gets $2,000 and consultation with an agent
  • 2nd Prize is $1,250
  • 3rd Prize is $750
  • 4th prize is $500
  • The Entry Deadline is 2021-02-21

Fish Flash Fiction Prize

Fish Publishing Flash Fiction Award is open to anyone who writes in English. The maximum word count is 300.

  • The Entry Fee is €14 (€8 for further entries).
  • The First Prize is €1,000.
  • Top 10 stories to be published in the 2021 anthology
  • The entry deadline is 2021-02-28

Imagine 2200: Climate fiction for future ancestors.

A new climate fiction related short-story competition envisages the next 180 years of climate progress, between 3,000 to 5,000 words.

  • Free to Enter
  • First Prize – $3,000
  • Second Prize – $2,000
  • Third Prize – $1,000
  • The entry deadline is 2021-04-12

Nature and Place Poetry Competition 2021

A writing contest open to all entrants over the age of 18. Poems dealing with any aspect of place or nature.

  • Your first entry costs £7
  • further entries cost £4
  • 1st Prize – £1,000
  • 2nd Prize – £500
  • 3rd Prize – £250
  • The final deadline for entries: 2021-03-01

Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest 2021

A contest for all fiction, non-fiction, or poetry writers who have yet to publish a book (includes self-publishing).

  • The entry fee is $24 (this will include a 12-month subscription to Ploughshares.
  • The winning story, essay, or poem will be published in Ploughshare.
  • Each winning author will receive $2,000
  • Entry Deadline: 2021-05-15

Puchi Award 2021

Books from any genre that have never been published. They must be finished works.

  • Entry to the competition is free.
  • The winning entry will receive €8,000 and get published by Fulgencio Pimentel.
  • The entry deadline is 2021-02-18

Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2021

Anyone who has yet to publish a book-length work of fiction, life-writing, or poetry is welcome to enter. This does not include self-published works. There are three categories, all judged separately. These categories are Fiction, Poetry, and Life writing.

  • The Single Entry Fee is £10 (you can enter twice for £16)
  • Winners of each of the three categories will receive £1,000.
  • The Entry deadline is 2021-05-31

Scottish Arts Club Short Story Award

Another Writing Contest for writers over 16. Short stories may be on any subject

  • The entry fee for the competition is £10
  • The first prize is: £1,000
  • The second prize is: £500
  • The third prize is £250
  • the entry deadline is 2021-02-28

Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize 2021

Entries of 750 words or less on any theme by entrants of all ages. International entries welcome

  • The entry fee is $25 for each story.
  • The winning story wins a 10-week free course with Gotham Writers.
  • The winning story wins $1,000
  • Entry Deadline: 2021-03-05

The 2021 HG Wells Short Story Competition

The 2021 theme is Mask. The competition is for those over 21 years of age, with a second competition for those under 21.

  • The Over 21 competition entry fee for s $10 ($5 for students with ID) for each story
  • The Under 21 competition is free to enter.
  • The winning over 21 story wins $500
  • The winning under 21 story wins $1,000
  • Entry Deadline: 2021-07-12

The 2021 International Book & Pamphlet Competition

Entrants should provide 20 pages of poetry written for adults in the English language.

  • The entry fee for each entry to this writing competition is £28
  • First stage winners get to share the total £2,000 cash prize. They can choose to enter the second stage by providing a further 30 pages of poetry.
  • Second stage winner gets a book published/
  • First stage winners also get a pamphlet published.
  • The entry deadline is 2021-03-01

The 2021 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction

This short story writing contest is open to both American and International writers.

  • The entry fee is $17 per story.
  • No restrictions on themes
  • Short stories must be at least ten pages long but less than fifty pages.
  • Final Entry Deadline – 2021-03-14

The 2021 Yeovil Literary Prize

Open to all those over the age of 16. Competition in four categories.

  • The entry fees range from £5 to £14,50.
  • Prize Novel – £1,250
  • Prize Short Story – £600
  • Prize Poetry – £600
  • Prize No restrictions – £250
  • The entry deadline is 2021-04-30

The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize 2021

open to all those who are aged over 18

  • Free Entry to the competition
  • 1st Prize -£10,000
  • 2ns Prize – £3,000
  • 3rd Prize – £2,000
  • Entry deadline – 2021-04-01

The Bath Novel Award 2021

A global Writing Contest for unpublished and self-published novels.

  • The entry fee is £28 per novel.
  • The winner receives £3,000
  • The entry deadline is 2021-05-31

The Bridport Prize 2021

another writing contest for global entrants. They must be over 16 years of age.

  • Entry fees range from £9 to £20.
  • There are four categories.
  • Prize money totals over £19,000.
  • The entry deadline is 2021-05-31

The Caterpillar Poetry Prize 2021

This writing contest is for a single poem that is written for children and unpublished.

  • The entry fee for this writing contest is €14 per poem.
  • Poems aimed at children aged 7 to 11.
  • One single prize of €1,000
  • The entry deadline is 2021-03-31

The Moth International Short Story Prize 2021

A writing competition open to anyone over the age of 18. A short stir under 5,000 words

  • The Fee for Entry is €15 for each story.
  • First Prize – €3,000
  • Second Prize – Week-long writing retreat in France and €250 for travel
  • Third Prize – €1,000
  • The Entry deadline is 2012-06-30

The Plough Prize 2021

The Plough Poetry Prize is an open competition (international) for a poem on any subject with a maximum of 40 lines.

  • The Fee for Entry is £5 for each poem.
  • First Prize – £1,000
  • Second Prize – £500
  • Third Prize – £250
  • The Entry deadline is 2012-03-31

The Writing Quarter Competition

Enter Sci-Fi and Fantasy stories aimed at adults with a minimum length of 1700 words.

Prizes are awarded every quarter – Prizes of $1000, $750, $500

One of the quarterly winners will win overall and get a prize of $5,000 more.

Check the website for the next quarterly deadline

Final Thoughts

These thirty competitions are just the most well-known writing contests for English language writers. You may well find that local Arts-Festivals have writing competitions with fewer entrants and lower prizes, however the topics you write about could be completely random like Colorado Design a Kitchen Remodel, where you are asked to write about Kitchen Remodeling in Colorado.. Try asking at your local library. Even the smallest, most local competition is worth entering, as they will help drive forward your writing career and encourage you to keep writing.

Writing competitions for children can also benefit your kids. Children find competitions to be a challenge, and entering a competition may well inspire them to write when otherwise they would not enjoy doing so. They can spur your children on and maybe awaken a love of writing that had not been visible before.

Writing competitions are also a great way of finding new authors to read, ones who had not come to your attention before. Many successful authors have been found through competitions in the past. Your new favorite author may be the next one that is discovered in a writing contest.