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The best writing contests to enter in 2023

By February 1, 2023 April 13th, 2023 No Comments

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The New Year brings opportunities to flex our writing muscles and try something new. With our motivations and intentions on a high, now is the best time to enter writing competitions in 2023. If you’re ready to show the world your writing talent, there are many writing contests with free entry and some with minimal entry fee open around the world. Here’s a list of writing competitions currently open until to December 31, 2023.   

Short Story Competitions

The Masters Review Winter Short Story Award for New Writers

The Masters Review Short Story Award for New Writers is a bi-annual contest that recognizes the best fiction from emerging writers.

Genre: Short Story, Fiction

Theme: Any

Open to: All Emerging, Unpublished Writers

Deadline: January 31, 2023 

Word Limit: 6,000 words

Entry Fee: $20

Prize: First Prize $3,000 + publication online, Second Prize $300, Third Prize $200

All winners receive publication and agency review.

The Writing District Prize 2023

The Writing District Prize is judged by W T Paterson, a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee.

Genre: Short Story

Theme: Open

Country: USA (Open Internationally)

Closing date: May 31st, 2023 at 4pm (EST)

Results announced: July 31st

1st prize: $1000 and publication on website

2 Runners-up: $100 each

Entry fee: $15

Word count: 3000 words maximum.

2023 Bristol Short Story Prize

This is an annual international writing competition open to all published and unpublished UK and non-UK based writers.

Genre: Short Story

Theme: Any

Open to: Published and Unpublished writers over the age of 16.

Deadline: April 26, 2023

Word Limit: Short story no more than 4,000 words

Entry Fee: £9

Prize: First Prize £1,000, Second Prize £500, Third Prize £300. Each of the 17 remaining shortlisted writers will receive £100. Twenty stories will be published in the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology, Volume 16.

The Reedsy Prompts Contest 

Every Friday, Reedsy releases a weekly newsletter with a theme and five writing prompts. Writers have one week to submit a short story based around the prompts.

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Different themes each week.

Open to: No restrictions stated

Deadline: Weekly* December 31, 2023

Word limit: Submissions between 1,000 – 3,000 words

Entry Fee: $5

Prize: $250 to the weekly winner with the story published on the Reedsy Blog within seven days.

2023 The Minds Shine Bright Writing Competition

The arts business Minds Shine Bright runs two fiction writing competitions per year. This is their current competition. It’s open to short stories, poems, short scripts and flash fiction.

Genre: Not stated

Theme: Confidence – the theme must be included in each entry

Open to: No restrictions stated

Deadline: February 28, 2023

Word limit: Flash Fiction 1000 words, Short Story 1,000 to 5,000 words, Short Script 5,000 words, Poetry up to 260 lines

Entry fee: $5 for each entry (maximum two entries per entrant)


  •                         The Overall winner receives $1600
  •                         $800 for each of the four category winners
  •                         $175 for each commended entry
  •                         Minds Shine Bright will also publish the winners and commended entries in an e-book.  

Scottish Arts Club Short Story Competition

This writing competition is organized by the Scottish Arts Club in Edinburgh, Scotland. It has come a long way from its beginnings in 2014.

Genre: Short Story, Fiction

Theme: Any topic in unpublished format

Open to: Published and unpublished writers over the age of 16

Deadline: February 28, 2023

Word Limit: 2,000 words

Entry Fee: £10 per story, free entry for writers living in Scotland whose immediate family receives any form of income support.

Prize: First prize: £3,000 (open to writers worldwide)

Second prize: £500 (open to writers worldwide)

Third prize: £250 (open to writers worldwide)

Isobel Lodge Award: £750 (open to unpublished writers living in Scotland)

Write Mango Award: £300 (open to writers worldwide)

Publication is offered to authors of the top 20 stories in the club’s next anthology.

writing contests 2023

Creative Writing Competitions

Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2023

Celebrating its 15th year of supporting outstanding writers, it was launched after the publication of Aesthetica Magazine as a way of supporting then next generation of literary talent.

Genre: Fiction and Poetry

Theme: Any theme, however, we are particularly interested in works that reflect upon our everchanging world

Open to: Established and Emerging writers celebrating innovative poetry and short fiction

Deadline: August 31, 2023

Word Limit: Fiction 2,000 words, Poetry no more than 40 lines

Entry Fee: £12 for Poetry, £18 for short stories

Prize: Poetry winner £2,500, Short Fiction winner £2,500 prize money

  • Publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual
  • A Five-Day Course from Arvon (Poetry & Fiction Winners)
  • One year print subscription to Granta (Poetry & Fiction Winners)
  • One year digital subscription to Mslexia (Poetry & Fiction Winners)
  • Full membership to The Poetry Society (Poetry Winner)
  • A Course from  the Poetry School (Poetry Winner)
  • One year print subscription to Poetry London (Poetry Winner)
  • Consultation with Redhammer Management (Fiction Winner)

Bridport Prize International Creative Writing Competition

This contest is organized by the Bridport Arts Centre in Bridport, England with five categories: poetry, short story, flash fiction, novel and memoir (opens in June 2023)

Genre: poetry, short story, flash fiction, and novel

Theme: Any unpublished work, must not have won or been placed in another writing competition

Open to: Anyone over the age of 16

Deadline: May 31, 2023 

Word Limit: Poetry 42 lines, Short story 5,000 words, Flash Fiction 250 words, Novel 8,000 words and a synopsis,

Entry Fee: £14 per short story, £11 per flash fiction, bursaries available for underrepresented writers

Prize: Short Story First place: £5,000 Second place: £1000, Third place: £500 Highly commended 10 x £100

Flash Fiction First Place: £1000, Second place: £500, Third place: £250, highly commended 10 x £100

Poetry First prize: £5,000, Second prize £1,000, £500

Novel Winner, £1500 plus package Up to a year’s mentoring from The Literary Consultancy through their Chapter & Verse scheme (worth £2,640) and a detailed critique from the novel judge, Runner-up £750 plus package, includes full manuscript appraisal and Industry Day place from The Literary Consultancy. 

The Unsealed

Write an inspiring letter your future self or write a letter to yourself from your future self. You can talk about achieving your dreams, persevering through obstacles or starting a family. Write anything you like, as long as it inspires.

Genre: Non-Fiction

Theme:  The letter must be a true story about your life, without mentioning anyone’s name except your own

Open to: You must be over 18 and a member of The Unsealed Community. One entry per person.

Deadline: 11:59pm, 3 April 2023 Eastern Time

Word limit: From 500 to 800 words

Entry fee: $5 USD

Prize: First Place $400 USD, Bonus Prize $100 USD

The Elegant Literature Award for New Writers

Every month $3000 is awarded to the best story. It is one of the largest awards competitions open to unpublished writers and closed to professional writers. Each month, the contest is based on a short fiction prompt. One new author receives the grand prize. Authors of best stories selected each month are published and paid above professional rates in the magazine.

Genre: Fantasy, Contemporary, Crime Romance, all Genres welcome

Theme:  Changes each month

Open to: Any new or unpublished author from around the world, except Quebec aged 13 or older, must be a member of and in a membership tier that allows contest entry

Deadline: At the end of each month

Word limit: From 500 to 2000 words

Entry fee: Free, but must be a member of the magazine, can enter as many times as you wish

Prize: $3,000 USD. Plus, the winner and 9 selected stories from all submissions will be chosen for publication. These will be purchased at a rate of 10cents/word.

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

The 31st annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction and Essay Contest for published and unpublished work with $9,000 in prizes.

Genre: Fiction and Essay

Theme:  none

Open to: All countries eligible except Syria, Iran, North Korea, Crimea, Russia or Belarus (due to government restrictions).

Deadline: April 30, 2023

Word limit: 6000 words 

Entry fee: $22 per entry

Prize: $3,000 First Prize for Story (short work of fiction), $3,000 for Essay (short work of non-fiction).  Plus, top two winners will each receive two-year gift certificates from Duotrope (a $100 value), 10 honourable mentions receive $300 each (any category), top 12 entries are published online.

Globe Soup 7 Day Story Writing Challenges

The 7 Day Story Writing Challenges take place throughout the year, running for exactly 7 days. Before a challenge begins, all those registered are randomly divided into 12 groups. Each group corresponds to a different genre. When the challenge begins, you will receive an email with your randomly assigned genre and the secret theme challenge. You must write a short story suited to the assigned genre and theme.

Genre: Various Genres from Crime to Horror, Romance, Humour, Fantasy, Thriller. The genre options change with each challenge.

Theme:  Secret, revealed in an email before contest begins

Open to: All countries eligible except Syria, Iran, North Korea, Crimea, Russia or Belarus (due to government restrictions).

Deadline: Seven Days throughout the Year

Word limit: 2,000 words

Entry fee: Free

Prize: £500

Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition

Get a chance for your work to be seen by editors and agents in the 91st Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition. Almost 500 winners will be chosen.

Genre: Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Short Story

Theme:  none

Open to: Must be aged 18 and years or over the age of majority in the jurisdiction in which they reside, open to US and Non-US residents except from Syria, Iran, North Korea, or Sudan.

Deadline: June 5, 2023 with an early bird deadline of May 5, 2023  

Word limit: Memoirs/Personal Essay, Non-Fiction Essay or Article and Children’s/Young Adult 2000 words, Mainstream/Literary short story, genre short story and humor, 4,000 words, Inspiration Writing 2,500 words, Rhyming Poem and Non-Rhyming Poem, 40 lines maximum

Entry fee: $25 Poetry, $35 Manuscript, Early bird rates$20 for poetry, $30 for manuscript

Prize: Grand Prize $5000 cash, an interview with them in Writer’s Digest (Nov/Dec 2023) issue, and, paid trip to Writer’s Digest Annual Conference, special trophy, a slot at Pitch slam at conference receiving one-on-one attention from editors and agents, and publication of winning piece on, First place in each category will receive $1000 in cash, publication of winning piece on, Second Place in each category $500, Third Place in each category  $250, Fourth place $100, Fifth place $50

writing competitions 2023

Poetry Competitions

The Heartland Review Press 2023 Poetry Chapbook Contest

Submit no more than 30 pages of your best poetry. Any theme, any style. The Heartland Review Press wishes to award that best writing that contributes the most to the craft of poetry.

Genre: Poetry.

Theme: Any theme, any style.

Open to: Entrants must be citizens of Australia or have permanent residency in Australia.

Deadline: May 1, 2023

Word limit: Poems must be no more than 80 lines of text

Entry fee: $20

Prize: Top Prize $500, plus 10 copies

Werle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

On its 22nd year, the contest seeks to find the best humour poems for published or unpublished work with a total of $3500 in prizes.

Genre: Humour, Poetry

Theme: Any theme, any style.

Open to: Authors from all countries eligible except Syria, Iran, North Korea, Crimea, Russia, and Belarus (due to government restrictions).

Deadline: April 1, 2023

Word limit: 250 lines

Entry fee: none

Prize: Top Prize $2000, plus 2-year gift certificate Duotrope worth $100; Second Prize $500 and Honourable Mentions Ten awards of $100 each, Top 12 entries published online

Anthology Poetry Award

Established to recognise and encourage excellence in the craft of poetry writing and to provide a platform for publication open to original and previously unpublished English language poems.

Genre: Poetry

Theme: No restriction to theme or style

Open to: Poets of all nationalities, living anywhere in the world.

Deadline: October 31, 2023, with very Early Bird deadline of February 28, 2023, Early Bird Deadline of June 30, 2023

Word limit: 40 lines

Entry fee: £18

Prize: Top Prize £1000 and chance to see their work in future issue of Anthology, plus one year subscription to Anthology, Second Prize £250 Third Prize £150

The Nervous Ghost Press Book Prize

The Nervous Ghost Press Book Prize is awarded to two authors every year for outstanding work of literature in poetry and prose.

Genre: Poetry and Prose

Theme: None stated

Open to: All writers in the US. All work must be unpublished, original and written by the author.

Deadline: March 31, 2023

Word limit: Poetry between 48-128 pages, Prose between 50,000 and 100,000 words

Entry fee: None

Prize:  For Poetry: $1000, Publication, CA Reading Tour, Author Copies, For Prose: For Poetry: $1000, Publication, CA Reading Tour, Author Copies

Creative Writing Ink Poetry Prize 2023

Poems of any genre may be entered in the Creative Writing Ink Poetry Prize for 2023.

Country: Ireland (international entries welcomed)

Closing date: May 31st, 2023 at 4pm (GMT)

Results announced: July 31st 1st prize: €1000, a free creative writing course of the winners choice and publication on the website.

Entry fee: €6 for first entry, €5 for each subsequent entry.

Word count: 42 lines maximum.

Open theme/subject/genre

The Alpine Fellowship Poetry Prize 2023

Genre: Poetry

Theme: Flourishing

Open to: Open to anyone aged 18 and above

Deadline: March 1, 2023

Word limit: 500 words

Entry fee: not specified

Prize: The winner of the Poetry Prize will receive a cash prize, all runners up will receive travel expense to be used to attend the 2023 symposium to be held in Sweden on August 10 to 13, 2023

• 1st prize: £3,000 cash grant

• 2nd prize: £1,000 travel expense

• 3rd prize:£1,000 travel expense

The Plough Prize 2023

On its Twentieth year, the Plough Prize is an international open competition of poems, of up to 40 lines on any subject.

Genre: Poetry

Theme: Any subject.

Open to: Anyone, except employees and trustees of The Plough Arts Centre. Poems must not have been published or awarded prior to March 31, 2023.

Deadline: March 31, 2023

Word limit: 40 lines

Entry fee: £5 online entry, £6 postal entry

Prize: First Prize £1000, Second Prize £500, Third Prize £250

Why should you think about joining a writing competition this year? Flexing your writing muscles can be the motivation you need to keep writing. It can get your creativity juices flowing. It can revive your interest in your unfinished passion projects or just push you to explore new themes or genres. You may even win the top prize, get exposure for your writing and even secure new projects. Best of all, there’s a huge satisfaction in completing a high-quality piece of writing you are proud of.

About the writer

Maida Pineda is an author of two books and a freelance food and travel writer of twenty-four years. She has a Master of Arts degree in Gastronomy. She has lived in 5 countries, and seven cities. Melbourne, Australia is currently her home with her dog, Spark. She wishes to join and win a writing competition in 2023.

You can find more about Maida in her website, or connect with her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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