Eight Free Writing Contests With Cash Prizes

Written by A Guest Author | January 19, 2017

By S. Kalekar

This is a list of writing competitions with upcoming deadlines that award cash prizes – for short fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, and for various ages, genres and eligibility criteria. All are free to enter.

Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay Prize 2016

The essay should be dynamic, authoritative and lively, and could address any topic – from finance and current affairs to history and scientific discovery. It can be journalistic, a case study, wide-ranging or minutely focused.

Word limit: No more than 3,500 words
Deadline: 29 January 2017
Prizes: £1000, and a mentoring session with The Bodley Head and Financial Times; and £500 for two runners-up. Prizes also include books and subscriptions by the sponsors.
Eligibility: Writers worldwide aged 18-35
Details here: https://www.ft.com/content/68a2e552-a5c0-11e6-8b69-02899e8bd9d1

Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Literary Awards

They are looking for original short fiction in honor of the Chicago literary great after whom the award is named. Two entries per person and per email address.

Word limit: No longer than 8,000
Deadline: 31 January 2017
Prizes: $3,500; $1,000 for four finalists; $500 for five runners-up.
Eligibility: Legal US residents aged at least 18, or who have reached the age of majority in the state they’re living in, whichever is older.
Details here: https://algren.submittable.com/submit

Little Tokyo Historical Society’s short story contest

The story must be original, fictional, written in either Japanese or English. The setting of the story should be in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles – either past, present or future. All stories must have a title. They ask authors to specify if the submission is in the Youth, English language, or Japanese language category.

Word limit: 2,500 words or less for English; 5,000 ji or less for Japanese
Deadline: 31 January 2017
Prize: $500
Eligibility: Open to all.
Details here: http://www.littletokyohs.org/short-story-contest-2017-guideline.html

American Philosophical Association’s Philosophy through fiction contest

They want speculative fiction that explores one or more philosophical idea. Co-authoring is allowed; they encourage philosophers who are new at writing fiction. Submission must be accompanied by a brief “Food for Thought” section (maximum word count: 500, not part of the overall word count), where the author explains the philosophical ideas behind the piece.

Word limit: 1,000-7,500
Deadline: 1 February 2017
Prize: $500
Eligibility: Writers worldwide
Details here: http://blog.apaonline.org/2016/06/29/short-story-competition-philosophy-through-fiction/

Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry

This is for an unpublished, book-length manuscript of poetry by a poet living in the upper Midwest. The submitted manuscript must be unpublished, though individual poems may have been previously published.

Word limit: A full-length poetry manuscript
Deadline: 15 February 2017
Prize: $10,000
Eligibility: Residents of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, or Wisconsin.
Details here: http://milkweed.org/lindquist-vennum-prize-for-poetry

The 17th Christopher Tower Poetry Competition

This is the UK’s most valuable prize for young poets. The theme this year is Stone, and can be interpreted widely.

Word limit: No more than 48 lines in length
Deadline: 17 February 2017
Prizes: £3,000, £1,000, £500
Eligibility: UK students aged at least 16 and under 19, on 17 February 2017
Details here: http://www.towerpoetry.org.uk/competitions/how-to-enter-stone-2017-competition/

Outlet Publishing’s Young Writers’ Short Story Competition

They are looking for short stories in any genre, by young writers in the UK.

Word limit: 2,000-3,500
Deadline: 28 February 2017
Prizes: £150, £75, £25

Eligibility: UK residents aged 16-25
Details here: http://www.outletpublishinggroup.com/2016/06/06/its-competition-time/

America Media’s Generation Faith essay contest

Entries must be true personal essays by high-school and college students on the joys and challenges that come with living out, or struggling with, one’s faith in real life.

Word limit: 800-1,200
Deadline: 3 March 2017
Prize: $1,000
Eligibility: Those enrolled as full-time high-school or college students at the time of deadline
Details here: https://americamedia.submittable.com/submit/48329/2017-generation-faith-essay-contest