Fancy yourself a published writer? These competitions could be for you.
Got a bestseller inside you but can’t seem to get started? Writing competitions are a great motivational tool.
With numerous awards for every type of writing, from novels, to short stories to poetry running throughout the year, it can feel daunting to sift through them all. Which writing competition is right for you? Which ones are open when? Where do you even start?
Our advice? Pick up your pen. It may sound obvious, but allow yourself to scribble down ideas. By letting your mind run free, you will be surprised at what happens when you give yourself complete creative freedom.
Then, pick a prize – and go for it. Here’s our round-up of the best writing competitions out there now. Good luck, and happy writing!
The Bridport Prize
“The story I wrote for the competition was the first time I felt I found that elusive thing – my ‘voice’. Without the Bridport Prize I would probably not have found my agent and quite possibly wouldn’t have written my book Behind the Scenes at the Museum so I have a lot to be thankful to it for.”
So says renowned novelist Kate Atkinson – could this be you next? First prize for the Bridport’s novel writing competition is £1,500, plus mentoring by The Literary Consultancy, consultation with literary agent AM Heath and publisher Tinder Press. You will also be published in the Bridport Prize anthology, not to mention an invitation to the glitzy awards ceremony.
And it’s not just the novel award. Bridport also runs competitions for poetry, flash fiction and short stories.
How to enter: Upload 5,000 to 8,000 words of your novel plus a 300 word synopsis onto the Bridport Prize’s website.
Entry fee: £20
Bristol Short Story Prize
An international short story competition opened to published and unpublished writers anywhere in the world. In addition to the main prize, all shortlisted writers are published in an anthology distributed by Tangent Books. 1st prize is £1,000, 2nd prize is £500, 3rd prize is £250. 17 further prizes of £100 will be presented to the remaining shortlisted writers
How to enter: The maximum length of submissions is 4,000 words (does not include title) and there is no minimum length. Stories can be on any theme or subject and are welcome in any style including graphic, verse or genre-based.
Entry fee: £9 per story
Finland, Lapland, young woman sitting at the window at a lake writing into diary
National Poetry Competition
One of the biggest single poem competitions in the world, the National Poetry Competition is open to anyone aged 17 or older. The competition is for previously unpublished poems of up to 40 lines in length.
As well as the top prize, there are nine other small prizes for second place, third place, and commended entries. First Prize awards £5000, second prize £2000, third £1000, plus seven commendations of £200 each.
How to enter: Online or by post, along with a completed entry form.
Entry fee: £7
The First Novel Prize
Have you written a novel that is self-published or yet to be published? If yes, this is the prize for you. The First Novel Prize aims to discover a powerful new voice in fiction writing. There are first, second and third prizes up for grabs. Novels must be in adult genres, and be over 50,000 words.
How to enter: You can apply by post or online. Ensure your details are on the title page of your manuscript, followed by the synopsis and the novel within the same document.
Entry Fee: £25
The Creative Future Writers’ Award is an annual award for talented writers from a wealth of backgrounds. It’s the UK’s only national writing competition for all under-represented writers, and includes any style or genre (except children’s or erotica).
Winners are selected by a panel of industry experts and are given the opportunity to develop their work through training, mentoring, assessment and coaching.
How to enter: You can submit one piece of writing in one category (poetry or fiction) or one in each category – poetry or fiction. Applications can be submitted by post, in person or online.
Entry fee: Free
Have you started or completed an as yet unpublished novel with a cracking first chapter? Is your opening guaranteed to grab attention? Judged by Headline publishing and with a £500 prize (runner up £200), this annual competition could be the boost you need to get going!
How to enter: Submit an opening chapter up to 3,000 words, plus a one page synopsis outlining the balance of the story.
Entry fee: £10
Bath Novel Writing Prize
An international prize for emerging novelists writing for adults or young adults. First prize wins £3000. The shortlist prize is manuscript feedback and literary agent introductions, while the writer of the most promising longlisted manuscript will receive an online place worth £1,800
How to enter: Submit the first 5,000 words of your novel in progress, plus a one page synopsis. Entries accepted online and by post. All genres welcome.
The Good Housekeeping Novel Competition
Well, we had to mention it, didn’t we? We’ve teamed up with Orion Books and top literary agent Amanda Preston of LBA Literary Agency to give you the opportunity to have your novel published. This year, we are looking for entries in the women’s fiction genre.
First prize is a publishing deal with worth £5,000, plus representation from Amanda Preston, as well as being featured in GH. Five shortlisted writers will attend a masterclass with Victoria Oundjian, Commissioning Editor at Orion Books, and will be given the chance to be represented by Amanda Preston, plus lunch with the Good Housekeeping team. So what are you waiting for? Get writing!
How to enter: Everything you need to know is here.