Hey writers! Have you written a story that you think is the absolute cat’s pyjamas? Maybe it has vibrant, detailed worldbuilding or transcendent turns of phrase. Now, you want to stand on the nearest rooftop and shout its glory to the world.

The next step in your writing journey might be to enter your work into a contest. There are a ton of prizes out there for writers of all skill levels, in all mediums. Whether you write long form, short form, or poetry, there’s a prestigious platform for that. 

Here are some of the opportunities you might consider to showcase your story. Each of these contests, as of 2024, runs on a recurring basis and is open to submissions worldwide.

Science fiction and fantasy writing contests

These contests specifically showcase works of speculative fiction.

The Dream Foundry Contest for Emerging Writers

This contest is designed to support emerging fantasy and sci-fi writers. You can only enter if you’ve received little to no income from your speculative fiction writing and haven’t yet been nominated for any major award. They’re looking for short stories of up to 10,000 words. It’s free to enter, and the first place winner receives $1,000. 

The Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award

This is a contest for short stories of magical realism and the supernatural. They can be about ghosts, but they don’t have to be. They’re looking for stories between 1,500 and 10,000 words, and the top prize is $1,500. 

The Writers of the Future Award

Another contest with no entry fees, this competition welcomes speculative short stories and novelettes of up to 17,000 words. Similar to Dream Foundry, this competition is limited to emerging writers only with minimal publication income. There’s a quarterly first prize of $1,000, and an annual cumulative grand prize of $5,000. 

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association Contest 

If you write speculative poetry, this is the contest for you. They have three contest categories depending on the length of your poem, and the winner of each category receives $150. 

The New England Science Fiction Association Short Story Contest

This contest is another that’s restricted to emerging writers at the start of their careers. They’re looking for short stories with strong science fiction or fantasy elements of up to 7,500 words. There is no entry fee, but there’s also no cash prize; instead, the winner receives a prize pack of some books and entry to industry events. 

The Baen Fantasy Adventure Award

This award is for writing in any fantasy genre. They’re looking for short stories of up to 8,000 words. The winner receives an unspecified prize fund (“industry standard”) along with $500 worth of free fantasy books.

The Kurt Vonnegut Speculative Fiction Prize

This contest is looking for short stories of up to 10,000 words in all speculative genres. The winner receives $1,000. 

The Parsec Short Story Contest

This is another free contest for emerging science fiction and fantasy writers. Entry is limited to those who haven’t earned above an income threshold for their fiction. They’re looking for stories of up to 3,500 words on a revolving annual theme, and the first place winner receives $200. 

ScreenCraft Sci-Fi & Fantasy Screenplay Competition

Particularly geared at emerging screenwriters, this is one of the pricier contests on this list with an impressive payout. The grand prize winner receives $1,000 along with a prize package designed to further develop and showcase their work. Entries can be up to 120 pages.

General writing contests that welcome science fiction and fantasy

These contests welcome writing of all genres, including speculative fiction.

F(r)iction Writing Contests

A magazine that’s long celebrated speculative writing, F(r)iction holds contests for short stories, poetry, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction throughout the year. The biggest prize is $1,000 for a short story of up to 7,500 words.

The Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award

For emerging novelists, this contest is looking for the first 5,000 words of a debut novel in any genre for a chance at the £1,000 top prize.

The Gutsy Great Novelist Chapter One Prize

This contest is looking for the opening chapter of an unpublished novel in any genre. The first place winner receives $1,000.

The HG Wells Short Story Competition

This contest welcomes short stories of any genre, on a revolving annual theme, between 1,500 and 5,000 words. They offer a prize of £1,000 for the first place winner aged 21 and under, and £500 for the first place winner aged 22 and up.

The Exeter Novel Prize

This prize is looking for the first 10,000 words of an unpublished novel. It’s restricted to writers without agency representation, although writers can have previously published books independently. The top prize is £1,000.

The First Pages Prize

This contest is open to writers of fiction and creative nonfiction in any genre, and is looking for the first five pages of a work from unagented writers. The first place winner in each category receives $2,000 along with developmental mentoring and agency consultation.

The Cheshire Novel Prize

This prize is open to unagented writers in any genre. They’re looking for the first 5,000 words of a novel at initial submission, the first 20,000 words from longlisted entrants, and a completed manuscript from shortlisted entrants. The first place winner receives £1,500, and all longlisted writers are invited to an agency showcase. Unlike other contents, this one also provides individual feedback to every entrant.

The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction

One of the most prominent awards for short-short stories, this prize runs every two years and accepts stories of up to 1,000 words. The grand prize winner receives $2,500.

The Stockholm Writers Festival First Five Pages Prize

This contest is looking for the first five pages of an unpublished novel in any genre. It’s limited to writers without current agency representation (though writers can have had agency representation in the past). The first place winner receives $1,000 AND a stay in Stockholm for their writers festival.

The Caledonia Novel Award

This contest is for emerging, unagented and unpublished writers with a completed novel of at least 50,000 words. The first place writer is awarded £1,500.  

The Uncharted Magazine Novel Excerpt Contest

This novel prize welcomes writers of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, mystery, thriller, and historical fiction. They’re looking for 5,000 words of a work in progress — unlike other novel contests, it doesn’t necessarily need to be from the opening section. Three prize winners will each receive $1,000. 

Fija Callaghan is an author, poet, and unapologetic daydreamer. Her work has been shortlisted and longlisted for a number of short story prizes, and you can find her writing in publications like Gingerbread HouseCrow & Cross KeysCorvid Queen, and Mythic Magazine. When not writing or helping other writers get the best out of their work, she can be found haunting her local bookshops or watching the tide come in.

Do you write fantasy or science fiction?

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