Six Writer’s Digest Short Story Competitions

I just received a notice from Writer’s Digest, announcing six short story competitions in six different genres:

In each genre, the first prize is $1000, plus $100 worth of Writer’s Digest books, and the 2012 Novel & Short Story Market.  Second prize is $500, $100 worth of books and the Novel & Short Story Market.  Honorable Mentions receive the Novel & Short Story Market.  The three top entries in each genre will be published in “a Writer’s Digest outlet.”

Stories must be previously unpublished and not accepted by any other publication at the time of submission.  WD retains “one time publication rights” for the “outlet” mentioned above, their website or magazine, I imagine, though they are not specific.  Entries are $20 each, and the maximum length for all genres is 4000 words.  The genre competitions have different deadlines:

Science Fiction/Fantasy – Sept. 15, 2011
Thriller                                – Sept. 15, 2011
Young Adult                       – Oct. 1, 2011
Romance                             – Oct. 15, 2011
Crime                                    – Oct. 22, 2011
Horror                                  – Oct. 31, 2011

Short story competitions pick up in the fall, so here is a chance to explore something off your beaten track.  It was a dark and story night, y’all!

Writer’s Digest Monthly Short-Short Story Contest

In addition to a number of annual contests, Writer’s Digest hosts a monthly short-short fiction challenge.  They provide a prompt, often just an opening sentence.  Interested writers submit a story of 750 words or less.  The WD judges select five finalists, and the winner is chosen by votes of registered members of the Writer’s Digest forum.  You need to register for the forum, but once you do, you can read the current finalists as well as the stories of past winners, which is an education in itself. There is no money involved but winnning entries are posted in the print magazine and on

I had the notion that I could never write this kind of story until last fall, when I really needed a mini-vacation from my major project.  It was mid-October so my thoughts turned to ghosts, and over the next few months I wrote several very short stories.  Now I find them rewarding, like quick sketches, like a way to test ideas or try out another genre.  A chance to visit Mars, or Paris, or Hoboken.

Save the link.  One day it may be just the change or breath of fresh air you’ve been wanting.

Summer Writing Contests

It seems like the “contest scene” picks up steam during the second half of the year.  I know there are round-the-calendar listings, but I tend to jot the URL’s on postIt notes and lose them, so I mostly wait for the listings to come to me.  Here’s one from the Gotham Writer’s workshop: (contest listings near the bottom of the newsletter).

Of note is the Zoetrope All-Story Short Fiction contest:  5000 word limit, all genres, $15 entry fee, multiple entries fine, prizes of $1000, $500, $250, and the top ten entries will be considered for representation by several literary agencies.  The deadline is Oct. 3, 2011.

There is also a contest for train stories between 2,000 and 20,000 words long.  There are two contests for non-fiction, one for screenplays.  In celebration of the 1950’s Sci-Fi Magazine, Galaxy there’s a contest for novellas between 15,000 and 20,000 words in length to be published in ebook format.

Unfortunately, some of the deadlines have passed, and others are only good through July 4, but there will certainly be more opportunities, especially for writers who like short fiction.  I’ve read several articles saying that while some of the print magazines that featured short fiction have folded, others are popping up in online form.  Let’s hope so.  This is something to watch.

80th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition

This contest has been around longer than most of us have been alive (which is no guarantee of anything, but still…).  It offers six cash awards in each of ten categories, and one grand prize of $3000.  Deadline is May 2, but the rules indicate a “late entry date” of May 20 that will cost a $5 fee added to the $25 entry cost.  Enter online or by snail mail.  Categories are:

  • Inspirational Writing (spiritual/religious)
  • Memoir/Personal Essay
  • Magazine Feature Article
  • Genre Short Story (Mystery, Romance, etc.)
  • Mainstream/Literary Short Story
  • Rhyming Poetry
  • Non-rhyming Poetry
  • Stage Play
  • Television/Movie Script
  • Children’s/Young Adult Fiction

In addition to cash prizes in each category, there are other nice perks.  Subscriptions to writer’s digest and discounts for online seminars.  A local friend got one of the certificates given to the 11th – 100th place winners in each group, and it was a truly nice recognition that his submission had merit and an encouragement to keep at it.

So, nothing ventured…

Another Short Short Story Competition

Here is another short-short story contest, this one with no restrictions other than word count.  It is sponsored by the Sacramento Branch of the California Writer’s club, but listed as open to all writers.

750 word maximum,

March 31 deadline.

$10 entry fee.

Prizes of $100, $50, and $25.  Winners will be announced in the June Sacramento Branch newsletter and subsequently published there.    Here are the details:

750 Word Short Short Story Contest

Could you write a 750 word story with bars and restaurants as the theme?  How about for $1000 and the chance to have your story broadcast on the Selected Shorts public radio series?   Those are the prizes in the 2011 Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Contest.

The entry fee is $25, the deadline March 1, and this year’s judge will be Jennifer Egan:  “a National Book Award finalist and the author of The Invisible Circus, Look at MeThe Keep, as well as a short story collection, Emerald City. Her new book, A Visit from the Goon Squad, was published in June and her short story Safari was selected by Richard Russo for Best American Short Stories 2010″

The following link has all the details and a FAQ that explains a bit about the contest and the Selected Shorts organization:

Let’s see:

It was a dark and stormy night.  “Of all the gin-joints in all the world,” he muttered…

Only 733 words to go!

Hint Fiction Contest Winners – and Two More Competitions

I almost missed the email, but here is a link to the winner and some of the runner-up entries from the Gotham Writer’s Workshop 25 word story contest that I mentioned here earlier.

In addition to enjoying the stories, scroll down to the bottom of the page for links to two more competitions.   There is a 30 word (that is 30 words exactly) story contest that is underway – entry deadline is Nov. 30.   There is also a “YA Discovery Novel Contest” with a deadline of Nov. 30.  For $15 you can submit the first 250 words of a YA novel for prizes including an invitation to submit the full manuscript to a YA agent in New York, a free writing workshop, and critiques by editors at Candlewick, Scholastic, Harlequin, MacMillan, Viking, Roaring Brook Press, and Sourcebooks, who will judge the finalists.

Why not give it a shot?

Short Short Story Competition

This one is from Writer’s Digest, for stories of 1500 words or less, due Dec. 1.

First Place: $3,000 and a trip to the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City
Second Place: $1,500
Third Place: $500
Fourth Through Tenth Place: $100
Eleventh Through Twenty-Fifth Place: $50 gift certificate for Writer’s Digest Books

I do not see any genre categories for this. 1500 words is about six pages. Hmmm. I’m not a short story writer, but this might be a chance to exercise some unused muscles…