Lifestyle & Culture

Writing competitions for all!

Got a passion for storytelling and want to show off your skills? Shea Evans has a list of some of the writing contests and competitions you could enter right now and the year to come.

As a budding young writer, one of the things I like to do is enter the occasional contest. Sharing your work can be a scary thing but confidence is key, and it’ll pay off eventually if you keep at it. Recently I was shortlisted for the Sydney Writer’s Room 2017 short story award, and I thought I’d compile a list of competitions that you might feel like having a go at.

#1: The Sydney Writer’s Room Short Story Award

I thought I’d better start with this one because it’s the one I’ve had the most success with. The Sydney Writer’s Room is a cosy little place in the Trades Hall building near Chinatown, it’s a quiet spot where a writer can hire a desk to hone their craft. If you like you can become a member of the room and share your work with others, or you can just enter their annual writing competition.

The cost to enter is $15 per story, and you can enter as many times as you like. First prize is $500 for the overall winner, with $250 going to the runner-up. There is a 2000 word limit in this competition, which opens for entries in July, and it carries an open theme.

#2: The Newcastle Writer’s Festival Short Story Award

This one is very important because it improves the cultural wellbeing of Newcastle every year, the more people that enter the better! The competition opened on the 24th of October, so quickly do your stretches and get into it. The closing date for entries is the 5th of February 2018, and the winner will be announced at the Newcastle Writers Festival next year. First prize is $3000, offered by our very own University of Newcastle, and second and third place receive $1700 and $1000 respectively. There are three highly commended awards and a couple of local awards, including an overnight stay in the Novotel overlooking Newcastle harbour. There is no theme or limit to the entries you may submit to this competition, but each entry costs $16.50. The word limit on this one is 2000 words, no minimum, and entrants must be Australian citizens.

#3: The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Award

Founded in the 80s by Mr Hubbard himself – yes, the Scientology guy – this one is specifically all about science fiction and fantasy. If that’s not your jam then skip to 4, but if it is your jam then definitely get around it. This competition runs almost perpetually, and prizes of $1000, $750, and $500 are awarded every three months to talented writers. There is no entry fee, but you can only submit one story per quarter-year, and the maximum word limit is 17,000 so be prepared to write at length. This is the premiere science fiction/fantasy contest for emerging writers all around the world, it is open only to those “not professionally published.” So pull out your best guns and give it your all!

#4: The Wollongong Writer’s Festival Short Story Award

Another great competition that more people should enter. There is a 2500 word limit on this one, so plenty of room to manoeuvre. It’s $15 per entry, and you can enter as many times as you like. Top prize is $1000, and a highly commended story receives $200. This competition is generally themed, so keep that in mind when writing your story. This year’s theme was ‘can words change the world?’ Entries usually close on the 15th of September, so get your pen out and ready for next year.

#5: The Port Stephens Literature Award

Another fine local contest. Prizes are $500, $300, and $100 for first, second, and third respectively. Four highly commended stories are also chosen, whose authors receive $25 each, and a $50 prize is given as a reader’s choice award. This competition has a 2000 word limit, and you can enter as many times as you like. It’s $10 for your first entry and $5 for further submissions, which is nice. This award is currently closed, so get writing now for when it reopens next year.

#6: Scarlett Stiletto Short Crime Fiction Award

This competition, held annually, is one of the richest in Australia – the 2017 award had a total of $8600 in prizes. First place takes home not only $1500 but also the highly sought after trophy, a scarlet stiletto mounted in Perspex. The awards for second and third place is $1000, and $500 respectively, but there are many more prizes to be won in this competition. Entry fee is $20, with a maximum of two entries per author. There is a 5000 maximum word limit for this competition, and no minimum.

This competition is open to women citizens/residents of Australia and the entries must feature a female hero or anti-hero.

#7: The Stringybark Malicious Mysteries Short Story Award

This Australian short story contest is currently open for entries until the 5th of November. First prize is $450 cash and $50 worth of books, second and third receive $250 and $150 respectively, plus $50 worth of books each. 27 highly commended stories will receive publication as well. There is a 1500 word limit for this competition, no minimum. It is $12 to enter one story and $30 to enter the maximum of three stories. This competition seeks “any tale with a mysterious element and perhaps a sting in the tail.”

#8: The Hal Porter Short Story Competition

This competition is currently accepting entries until December 15th, first prize is $1000 and there is no set theme or style. The Hal Porter is open to all Australian writers and can be entered an unlimited amount of times, entry fee is $10. The limit for this one is 2500 words, so get cracking!

#9: The Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition

Emphasis on the short here, word limit is 1500 words. This can make for a challenge in rounding your story off nicely, but it is worth it. First prize is $3000 in cash and includes a paid trip to the Writer’s Digest Conference in America. There are many other great prizes from 2nd to 25th place for this one, but expect competition to be very fierce. This competition closes for entries on November 15th each year and you can enter as many times as you like. Your first entry will cost you $25, and each entry after that will be $20. There is no theme for this one, and it is open to writers all around the world.

#10: The Hunter Writers Centre Newcastle Poetry Prize

This is both the most prestigious and lucrative poetry prize in Australia, with $22,000 in total prizes to be won. The grand prize is $15,000 and national recognition, so this is a must enter for all aspiring poets. Second place receives $5000, and third takes $1000, there is no entry limit but each entry will cost you $34. This competition is currently closed but will reopen soon for next year’s award so keep your eye out. There is a 200 line limit, and this includes titles and subheadings. Entrants must be Australian citizens, there is no theme or preferred style.

There are many more competitions out there that are worth entering, and searching for writing competitions online will greet you with a whole host of comprehensive lists. It can be difficult to find the time to write between uni, work, and the rest of your life, but the deadlines of competitions can be a great motivator. So hop to, write more today!

Feature image: Free Stock Photos via Flickr. No changes made.

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