Instead of hitting the gym this January, why not give your pen or computer keyboard a workout? Writing competition deadlines are a great aid to focusing your attention. You may even finally finish that piece of work that’s been hanging around for far too long – or get inspired to write something completely new (and CompletelyNovel!)
The contests below include poetry, short stories, extremely short stories, and novels of different genres – there’s something for everyone.
Details: This competition is for micro stories of fewer than 100 words.
There is a different ‘prompt’ for each of the (usually) weekly rounds. For the first competition of the year, the theme is ‘an empty wine bottle’.
Deadline: 22nd January 2016 (6pm GMT)
Details: This competition is for unpublished adventure novels of over 50,000 words. Send the manuscript with a letter explaining why the story qualifies as an adventure story, along with a synopsis and a CV. The competition does not count self-published e-books as ‘published’, so these can also be submitted to the competition.
Deadline: 25th January 2016
Prize: The opportunity to complete a creative writing residency at a prestigious university, plus career guidance from Wilbur Smith’s literary agents.
Details: Enter your stories of up to 5,000 words or poems of up to 40 lines. Entries will be considered for publication in one of five books to be published by Grist in 2016 (titles: ‘I’, ‘You’, ‘He’, ‘She’, ‘It’).
Deadline: 31st January 2016
Prize: £500, £250, £125. Winners will have their work showcased at a literary event. Last year’s winners had their books launched at the Huddersfield Literature Festival.
Details: This is a competition for short memoirs of 4,000 words. 10 selected entries will be published in the Fish Anthology. The winner and the other nine authors will each receive five copies of the Anthology and will be invited to read at the launch during the West Cork Literary Festival in July.
Deadline: 31st January 2016
Details: This competition is open to women over 21 who have not had a full-length novel published (and the good news is, if you have self-published a full length novel you can still enter). It’s for novels which combine literary merit with ‘unputdownability’, and one of the judges is author Dame Margaret Drabble. The novels can be literary or genre fiction, for adults, YA or children. Submit up to 50 pages of the start of the novel, plus a synopsis of up to 10 pages.
Deadline: 5th February 2016
Prize: £1,500. The shortlisted entrants will receive a consultation with one of the judges, literary agent Nelle Andrew. They will also be invited to the prize-giving dinner at the College.
Details: This competition is for stories of up to 2,000 words on the theme of ‘ageing’. You have to register for this contest before submitting your entry. See the competition website for more details.
Fee: Free entry
Deadline: 7th February 2016
Prize: £500 plus a place on a residential Arvon writing course of your choice. The winning story will be published on the website.
Details: Open to published and unpublished writers, this competition is for stories of up to 3,500 words, complying with Margery Allingham’s definition of a mystery: a crime, a mystery, an enquiry and a conclusion, the conclusion providing reader satisfaction.
Deadline: 1st March 2016 (4pm)
Prize: £1,000, plus full passes to Crimefest 2017.
Details: This international contest from literary magazine ‘Brittle Star’, is for poems of up to 60 lines and stories of up to 2,000 words. Poet George Szirtes will be judging the poetry and Man-Booker shortlisted author Alison Moore will judge the stories.
Fee: £4.50 for the first poem, £3.50 thereafter.
Deadline: 1st March 2016
Prize: £250, £50, £25. Winners will be published in the magazine and invited to a prize-giving event in London.
Details: Submit up to 5,000 words plus a one-page synopsis of a work in progress. This can be either a novel or a short story collection, but stories must be in the crime or thriller genre.
Deadline: 31st March 2016
Prize: A one-week writing retreat at West Dean College near Chichester, plus detailed editorial feedback from the judges and six months’ mentoring from an author published by Myriad Editions.
Details: This contest from Winning Writers in the USA is for published or unpublished humorous poems of up to 250 lines.
Fee: Free to enter
Deadline: 1st April 2016.
Prize: 1st – $1,000. 2nd – $250. Runners-up (10) – $100.
As ever, the very best of luck to you, and do let us know how you get on. We’re sure 2016 is going to be a winning year!