17 Free Writing Contests With Cash Prizes (Up to $25,000)

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These are contests, residencies and grants for writers of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays. Prizes range from £200 to $25,000; none charge an entry fee. — S. Kalekar

Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Awards
Two awards are given for non-fiction works in progress which deal with a topic of American political or social concern, to aid their completion. Writers must already have a contract with a US publisher.
Value: $25,000
Deadline: 10 December 2018
Open for: Unspecified
Details here.

Berton House Writers Retreat
This is for Canadian residents or citizens who have had at least one book (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, young readers, playwriting) published. Writers will be selected to live and work in Dawson City, Yukon, in the childhood home of Canadian writer Pierre Berton. Housing and travel costs are covered.
Value: $6,000
Deadline: 11 December 2018
Open for: Canadian writers
Details here.

Brunel International African Poetry Prize
This is for poets born in Africa, or who are nationals of an African country, or whose parents are African, and who have not yet had a full-length poetry book published. Writers need to submit 10 poems exactly. These poems, though, may have already been published.
Value: £3,000
Deadline: 12 December 2018
Open for: African poets (see above)
Details here.

International Young Theatre Playwriting Contest
This prize is for bold and powerful plays for young audiences, written in any official European language. Performance time for Category A is 60-120 minutes and for Category B, 30-60 minutes. They accept plays co-authored by more than one writer. Writers can send up to three entries.
Value: €2,400 for Category A, €1,000 for Category B + other prizes
Deadline: 15 December 2018
Open for: All playwrights
Details here.

T.S. Eliot Foundation and Poetry Society of America: The Four Quartets Prize
This is for a unified and complete sequence of poems published in America in a print or online journal, chapbook, or book in 2018. Poems in the sequence may have been published in different journals provided that they were published in 2018 and that brought together, they form a complete sequence. The minimum requirement is 14 pages of published poems unified by subject, form, and style. Entire books composed of a unified sequence, however long, are also welcome. Submissions will have to be mailed.
Value: $1,000 for three finalists, an additional $20,000 for the winner
Deadline: 22 December 2018
Open for: Unspecified
Details here.

Holland Park Press: Brexit in Poetry Competition
They want a poem on the theme of Brexit, of up to 50 lines. The actual word Brexit does not have to appear, but the poem needs to be inspired by Brexit. They want a poem that throws a new light on being in or out of the EU, a poem which expresses something that hasn’t been voiced before, but which stays away from clichés.
Value: £200
Deadline: 31 December 2018
Open for: All poets
Details here.

The Society of Classical Poets 2019 Poetry Competition
This is for poetry on one or more of these topics: the negative effects of communism and socialism on the West, human rights in China, and the beauty of classical arts (see guidelines). Poets can send up to three poems, and rhyme and meter are recommended.
Value: $1,000; $100 High School Prize; $100 Translation Prize
Deadline: 31 December 2018
Open for: Unspecified
Details here.

U.S. Naval Institute General Prize Essay Contest
This prize is for an essay of up to 3,000 words to “advance the professional, literary and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to national defence.” The contest is open to all persons eligible for membership (including those already members) in the Naval Institute.
Value: $6,000, $3,000, $2,000
Deadline: 31 December 2018
Open for: Those eligible for membership in the Naval Institute
Details here.

Blue Mountain Arts: Poetry Card Contest
This is for a poem for the greeting card company. Poems can be rhyming or non-rhyming, though they find non-rhyming poetry reads better. Poets can enter the contest as often as they like.
Value: $350, $200, $100
Deadline: 31 December 2018
Open for: All poets
Details here.

Futurescapes Contest: Cities of Promise
They want stories of up to 8,000 words on the above theme, set in a near-future city where significant strides have been made toward addressing the complex intersection of homelessness, mental health, and drug and sex trafficking. They want stories that explore the nuance of technology, science, politics, and/or policy, without forgetting about plot and character, show both the positives and negatives of this possible future, and can provide a road-map for cities, states, and nations to follow. They offer a list of articles on the website (see ‘Contest Reads’ at the bottom of the page) that they recommend writers read before starting on their stories. The first entry by a writer is free, the rest have an entry fee. Professional writers are not eligible to enter.
Value: $2,000, five prizes of $500 each
Deadline: 31 December 2018
Open for: All except professional writers (see guidelines)
Details here.

Academy of American Poets: On Teaching Poem Prize
This is a prize for US writers, for an unpublished poem about K12 teaching and/or teachers. Poems must be no more than 40 lines.
Value: $1,000, $500
Deadline: 1 January 2019
Open for: US writers
Details here.

Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies: Steinbeck Fellowships
These are fellowships to help writers complete a book project. Up to six Steinbeck Fellows are selected each year from disciplines including fiction, creative non-fiction, biography, drama, and Steinbeck studies.
Value: $15,000, residency at San José State University
Deadline: 2 January 2019
Open for: Unspecified
Details here.

Minotaur Books: The Tony Hillerman Prize for Best First Mystery Set in the Southwest
This is for US and Canadian writers, for a first novel (manuscript) of mystery – in which a serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the story, and the emphasis is on the solution rather than the details of the crime – of approximately 60,000 words. The story’s primary setting must be one or more of the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and/or Utah. Minotaur is an imprint of St Martin’s Press, which is part of Macmillan.
Value: $10,000 advance against royalties
Deadline: 2 January 2019
Open for: US and Canadian writers
Details here.

St. Martin’s Minotaur/ Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition
This is an international contest for crime novel manuscripts, for writers who have never been the author of any published novel in any genre. The writing should be no less than 220 pages, or approximately 60,000 words. Minotaur is an imprint of St Martin’s Press, which is part of Macmillan.
Value: $10,000 advance against royalties
Deadline: 11 January 2019
Open for: Unpublished writers (see guidelines)
Details here.

Speculative Literature Foundation Working Class Writers Grant
Submissions are accepted from 1 December for this speculative literature grant for working class, blue-collar, poor, and homeless writers who have been historically underrepresented in speculative fiction. They have helpful, comprehensive guidelines about who could qualify as coming from a working class background for this international grant.
Value: $1,000
Deadline: 28 February 2019
Open for: Writers from a working class background (see guidelines)
Details here.

Wellstone Center in the Redwoods Writing Fellowship
This short fellowship is in California, for emerging writers of fiction or creative non-fiction. Preference will be give to writers with at least one book published with a major publisher.
Value: Residency
Deadline: Rolling
Open for: All writers
Details here.

The Society of Authors: Contingency Funds
These grants are for contingencies, to help professional writers who need a boost. The grants can be for a variety of things, including a failing computer or writing careers affected by illness or a domestic situation. Specific grants are available for poets and women journalists. The grants are managed in confidence.
Value: Unspecified
Deadline: Rolling
Open for: Professional writers
Details here.


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