15 Free Writing Contests With Cash Prizes Up to $50,000

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These are contests, grants and fellowships for writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translators, journalists, playwrights, and for student writers. Prizes range from £75 to $50,000. — S. Kalekar


Parsec Ink Short Story Competition

This is a contest for a science fiction, fantasy or horror short story (up to 3,500 words) on the theme Flawed Reflections. Entrants must be non-professional writers. Their website says, “Submission to the contest implies consent for publication”.

Value: $200, $100, $50
Deadline: 14 April 2018
Open for: Non-professional writers (see guidelines)
Details here.

Stories of the Nature of Cities 2099: Prize for Urban Flash Fiction

This is a prize for very short stories about cities, people and nature. Their website says, “What are the stories of people and nature in cities in 2099? What will cities be like to live in? Are they lush and green, verdant and biodiverse? What will cities look like; be made of? How will they be designed and powered? Will they be tall, short, dense, under ground or under water? What of public spaces? Social organization? Mobility? Government? Sustainability and food? Wildlife? Climate change and resilience? Poverty, consumption, wealth, and justice? How will we interact and relate to one another and the natural world? What sort of stories can we tell about our communities and the spaces that will shape them?” Works must be fiction (up to 1,000 words), be set in a city of any size in 2099, and include as significant plot elements both nature and people. Stories can be in any style or genre.

Value: $3,000, $1,500, $500
Deadline: 15 April 2018
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Saroyan Writing Contest 2018: Mistakes

This is an essay contest for students. Write an essay on the theme, Mistakes: about a time in your life when you made a mistake. Did this change you in some way? Students with special needs are encouraged to participate. See guidelines if for specific requirements if this contest is used as a class project. There are five categories of participants, in grades 1 through 12.

Value: $100, $75, $50
Deadline: 15 April 2018
Open for: Students
Details here and here.

The American Literary Translators Association Awards

There are various awards for published translated works, most of which do not charge a submission fee, and there is the Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation for an unpublished translated poetry manuscript ($1,000), open to all poets regardless of nationality. Also see their Travel Fellowships for unpublished or minimally published translators (four to six fellowships of $1,000 each), including the Jansen Fellowship, which is preferentially awarded to an emerging translator of color or a translator working from an underrepresented Diaspora or stateless language.

Value: Various
Deadline: 16 April 2018
Open for: Various
Details in the links above.

University of Southampton: Green Stories Competition

They want short stories (up to 3,500 words) that touch upon ideas around building a sustainable society. All genres will be considered – rom-com, literary fiction, science fiction, mystery, etc. – but stories must engage with the idea of sustainable practices and/or societies. They will consider all stories, but encourage writers to imagine a more positive settings and practices.
Value: £200; £50; and one prize of £50 for an entry by a student
Deadline: 19 April 2018
Open for: All writers
Details here.

The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture: Hiett Prize in the Humanities

This prize is aimed at identifying candidates in the early stages of their careers devoted to the humanities and whose work shows extraordinary promise to have a significant impact on contemporary culture. Applications include a letter of recommendation and a plan for Future Scholarship and/or Project in the Humanities. Past winners have included writers of columns, nonfiction, poetry and memoir, and journalists.

Value: $50,000
Deadline: 20 April 2018
Open for: Those resident in the US
Details here and here.

Tell a Tale: Gothic Fiction

This is for those who reside in the UK. Write a 500-word tale of terror inspired by the following quotation from the play Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: “It might be possible, of course, that far from being one, we may possess two selves.” They want writers to think about the fears we have today and how they could be expressed in a dark but fun and emotional tale. The story should grip the reader in the way that gothic novels of the late 19th century captured the imaginations of their Victorian readers and there should be an intellectual thread running through the story. Writers are to submit their work by registering to theatrecloud and uploading their work via the online form.

Value: £300
Deadline: 21 April 2018
Open for: Those who reside in the UK
Details here.

Interzone: The James White Award

This is a short story award for non-professional writers; the aim is to highlight new writers. Write a short science fiction story of 1,000-6,000 words on any theme.

Value: £200
Deadline: 27 April 2018
Open for: Non-professional authors
Details here.

Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships

These fellowships are for young poets in the US. Application includes up to 10 pages of poetry.

Value: Five fellowships of $25,800 each
Deadline: 30 April 2018
Open for: US residents or citizens aged 21-31
Details here.

The Irene Adler Prize

This is a scholarship for a woman pursuing a degree in journalism, creative writing, or literature at a recognized post-secondary institution in the US or Canada based on a 500-word essay. Applicants are to pick one of these three topics:
“Which female writer has influenced you the most?”
“What is the biggest improvement in women’s lives that you’d like to see in the next five years?”
“What is your most important writing project for 2018?”

Value: $1,000
Deadline: 30 April 2018
Open for: Women doing a degree in journalism, creative writing, or literature in the US or Canada
Details here.

Humane Education Network: A Voice for Animals

This is an essay contest for students worldwide in two categories: for 14-15-year-olds (see details about the special prize in this category), and for 16-18-year-olds. The essay themes include mistreatment of one animal species, or the preservation of one endangered species, among others (see guidelines). Participants must currently be attending middle or high school, or be home-schooled, and less than 19 years of age on January 22, 2018. The contest is also open for those for whom English is a second language. Entries can be essays (1,400-1,500 words), essays with photos, or videos.

Value: $500 and below (various categories)
Deadline: 30 April 2018
Open for: Eligible students worldwide
Details here.

Ayn Rand Institute: Anthem Essay Contest for Students

This is an international essay contest for students in 8th, 9th and 10th grades. Submit an essay of 600-1,200 words on one of three specific topics centred around Ayn Rand’s novel, Anthem (see guidelines). Also see The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged contests on their website, with later deadlines.

Value: $2,000, $500, $200, $50, $30; see special regional prizes for students in Chigagoland and Wyoming.
Deadline: 1 May 2018
Open for: All students in 8th, 9th and 10th grades
Details here.

Remastered Words Contest

This organization creates audio dramatizations of short story submissions and an audio recording. Submit a story (up to 5,000 words) in any fantasy sub-genre.

Value: £75, £50, £25 plus royalties
Deadline: 1 May 2018
Open for: All writers
Details here.

Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant

This is for works of nonfiction under contract with a US publisher; authors must be US residents or citizens. Writers in the process of completing a book-length work of nonfiction for a general, not an academic, readership, can apply. Works of history, cultural or political reportage, biography, memoir, the sciences, philosophy, criticism, food or travel writing, and personal essays, among other categories, are eligible. See guidelines for further eligibility requirements.

Value: Up to eight grants of $40,000 each
Deadline: 2 May 2018
Open for: US contracted writers of nonfiction
Details here.

The Nick Darke Award

This is an international award for playwrights. The application includes one full-length stage play script of minimum 45 minutes (no maximum), and a synopsis.

Value: £6,000
Deadline: 21 May 2018
Open for: All playwrights
Details here and here.


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