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Articles About Contests
Written by Grace Tierney   
2005-06-28

Free Writing Contests for when your Wallet is Empty

by Grace Tierney

‘I find the contest, you write the entry.’

The old excuse of “I can’t enter a writing contest, the fees are too high” simply won’t wash with me from now on. You have been warned! Yes, fees can be high, although I could argue that your writing does merit investment now and then. But fortunately there are plenty of no-fee contests available. I’ve listed nearly 50 of them below and a quick Web search for “no fee writing contest” will reward the curious writer amply.

The prizes for free writing contests can range from free T-shirts right up to 20,000 US dollars and publication; just as they do for fee-contests. Don’t assume the prize will always be small—often the free ones are sponsored by educational trusts, large publishers, and governmental organisations and those bodies can have plenty of money to share with writers; thank goodness. Plus even winning a free T-shirt is quite a buzz for a beginning writer and enables him or her to call themselves a “prize-winning author” on promotional materials.

If you’d like to find even more free writing contests then I’d highly recommend the e-book “The no-fee contest book” by well-respected writer, C. Hope Clark (http://www.fundsforwriters.com/ebooks.htm). Amazon also lists Erika Drefus “101 Fee-Free Contests, Competitions, and other opportunities for Resourceful Writers” (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1591134447/
qid=1119533552/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-7339971-0930417
?v=glance&s=books
), published December 2003.

Now stop complaining about being a broke writer, write an entry; and submit it to a free contest. It costs you nothing except writing time, which I hope you’re spending regularly anyhow.

Don’t forget to scroll down for my regular contest round-up for the coming month.

Happy Writing!

+O+O+

Unless otherwise noted, contests are annual and open to all writers.

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Weekly Haiku Contest
haiku
http://books.guardian.co.uk/games/haiku/0,5917,124810,00.html
weekly

+O+O+

ThatComedian.com Photo Caption Contest
photo caption / humor
http://www.thatcomedian.com/Photocaptioncontest.htm
monthly

+O+O+

The Writer2Writer Contest
flash fiction - opening to a novel or short fiction based on photograph prompt
http://www.writer2writer.com/contest.htm
regular deadlines

+O+O+

Jerry Jazz Musician Fiction Contest
short fiction
http://www.jerryjazzmusician.com/mainHTML.cfm?
page=fictioncontest.html

three times per year

+O+O+

TooWrite non-fiction writing competition
non-fiction/personal essay
www.toowrite.com
quarterly

+O+O+

Richard J. Margolis Award
non-fiction essay
http://www.margolis.com/award/index.html
July 1

+O+O+

Sex with Style Contest
erotic flash fiction
http://www.triskelionpublishing.com/contest.html
July 1

+O+O+

Robert Penn Warren Centennial Prize
best essay on any aspect of Warren's work
http://shenandoah.wlu.edu/Penn%20Warren%20Prize.html
August 15
(see below in August round up for other free contests – Pockets and Dark Krypt)

+O+O+

Helen Schaible Shakesperian/Petrarchan Sonnet Contest
poetry
http://www.illinoispoets.org
September 1

+O+O+

Stickman Review Short story contest
Short literary fiction
www.stickmanreview.com
September 1

+O+O+

Preservation Foundation Contests For Unpublished Writers
General Non-fiction and travel Non-fiction
http://www.storyhouse.org/
September 30

+O+O+

Erle Stanley Gardner Writing Short Story Mystery Contest
mystery short fiction by children and adults
http://www.temeculacalifornia.com/Erle_Stanley_Gardner/
Writing_Contest_Rules/writing_contest_rules.html

October 15

+O+O+

FundsForWriters Annual Essay Contest
Entry fee is free or five US dollars – check the Web site, she has reasons!
essay / non-fiction about writing life
http://www.fundsforwriters.com/annualcontest.htm
October 31

+O+O+

Grizzly Bookz Flash Fiction Contest
flash fiction
http://www.grizzlybookz.com/contests.html
November 15

+O+O+

Mildred and Albert Panowski Playwriting Award
Play
http://www.nmu.edu/theatre/award2.html
November 19

+O+O+

Random House Contest - Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers
{You must be between the ages of 20 and 29 as of September 1, 2006}
Non-fiction essays about, but not limited to, the following subjects; family, career, sex, society, and self
http://www.randomhouse.com/rhpg/20by20contest/index.html
November 24

+O+O+

True Life Story Contest
creative non-fiction
http://www.truelifestorycontest.com/
November 30

+O+O+

Columbus State University International Playwriting Competition
Play
http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm54.showMessage?
topicID=9.topic

December 1

+O+O+

Felix Morley Journalism Competition
journalism by younger writers
http://www.theihs.org/subcategory.php/41.html
December 1

+O+O+

Fantasist Enterprises
Short fantasy fiction
http://fantasistent.com/CONTESTS/Contests.html
December 5

+O+O+

Niederngasse Poetry Contest
Poetry
http://www.niederngasse.com/Departments/Poetry_Contest/
open_page.html

December 15

+O+O+

Dead of Winter Writing Contest
short fiction
http://www.toasted-cheese.com/contest.htm
December 21

+O+O+

Spinsters Ink Books Scholarship
essay or poetry
http://www.spinsters-ink.com/ScholarFrameSet.html
December 31

+O+O+

SPS Studios Biannual Poetry Card Contest
greeting card poetry
http://www.sps.com/k/poetry/contest.htm
December 31

+O+O+

Firebrand Fiction / SF Reader Fiction contest
short fiction in horror, slipstream, fantasy, science fiction, steampunk, or alternate history or any other sub-genre
http://www.sfreader.com/story_contest.asp
December 31

+O+O+

Story Starter Junior
short fiction contest for young writers ages 10-14, and 15-18
http://www.writetightnow.com/Contests.html
December 31

+O+O+

Thomas Merton Poetry Of The Sacred Contest
Poetry
http://www.mertonfoundation.org
December 31

+O+O+

Maisonneuve Magazine - Saints and Sinners Competition
flash fiction or creative non-fiction
http://maisonneuve.org/page.php?pagename=competitions
January 19

+O+O+

Heyward Broun Award
non-fiction published or broadcast in print media, web sites, magazines, radio, TV
http://www.newsguild.org/awards/display.php?storyID=906
January 28

+O+O+

The Olympia Poetry Network Lohmann Poetry Prize
poetry
http://www.thurston.com/~yake/opn.lohmann.htm
January 31

+O+O+

Margie Culbertson Humor Writing Contest
short humor
http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Gallery/4111/menu.html
February 1

+O+O+

Desdmona Shivering Short Story Contest
short erotic fiction
http://www.desdmona.com/contestsubmit.php?RoomID=31
February 1

+O+O+

Erma Bombeck Writing Competition
personal essays in the categories of humor or human interest writing
http://www.wcpl.lib.oh.us/adults/erma.html
February 18

+O+O+

VoicesNet Anthology Poetry competition
poetry
http://www.voicesnet.com/our_publications.htm
March 1

+O+O+

Theatre Southwest's Festival of Originals
Play
www.theatresouthwest.org
March 15

+O+O+

Halagu's Web Poetry Contest
political poetry
http://www.hulagusweb.com/frm_contest_poem.htm
March 15

+O+O+

Cafe Poetica's Writing Contest
Poetry
http://www.poemtrain.com/contesta.htm
March 30

+O+O+

Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2005 Children's Story Competition
short fiction for children reflecting the theme 'families'
http://www.acblack.com/childrensstorycompetition/
March 31

+O+O+

The All Destiny Short Story Contest
short fiction - science-fiction/fantasy, supernatural or horror
http://www.alldestiny.com/comp2004.htm
March 31

+O+O+

Mattia Family Poetry Contest
poetry
http://www.mattia.ca/contest3.html
March 31

+O+O+

Wergle Flomp Poetry Contest
Poetry
http://www.winningwriters.com/contestflomp.htm?tpm0309
April 1

+O+O+

Parsec Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Story Contest
short fiction
http://trfn.clpgh.org/parsec/conflu/contest.html
April 15

+O+O+

Bulwer-lytton Fiction Contest
bad-fiction, can do multiple entries, they will be judged within category e.g. Western, romance, thriller, see the website
www.bulwer-lytton.com
April 15

+O+O+

Ultra-Short Competition
poetry and flash fiction
http://www.umm.maine.edu/binnacle/short.asp
April 15

+O+O+

Balticon 38 Poetry Contest
Poetry
http://www.balticon.org/program.html
April 15

+O+O+

Dirt Press Hendrickson Memorial Prize
Poetry
http://www.dirtpress.com
May 1

+O+O+

Caffeine Society Short Story Contest
short fiction
http://caffeinesociety.com/cafestories.html
May 1

+O+O+

Coming Soon to the Writing Contest Department

Forthcoming features will focus on humor writing, short story contests, travel writing, writing for children, speculative fiction, contests with unusual prizes, mystery writing contests, and romantic writing contests.

I’m always looking for new contest types to research so if you’re looking for a particular type of contest for your writing, just drop me a line. I’d also love to hear from you if you win a contest you read about here or if you have a contest to suggest for inclusion. Please note that I will only include contests which are open to writers anywhere in the world as our readers are geographically dispersed.

Contest Deadlines from August 1 to 31

August 1
HIV/AIDS Writing Competition
Poetry, fiction, non-fiction, theater plays - two categories - adult and younger writers
http://www.unfinishedworks.org

+O+O+

August 1
eClips Contests
flash fiction and short fiction
http://eclips.us/home1.html

+O+O+

August 1
Bellevue Literary Review Prizes
writing related to themes of health, healing, illness, the mind, and the body in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction forms
http://www.blreview.org/

+O+O+

August 1
Bards and Sages Contest
writing contest for sci-fi, horror, and fantasy. Categories include poetry, flash fiction, short story, and novella
http://www.geocities.com/bardsandsages/contest
http://www.lulu.com/bardsandsages

+O+O+

August 1
Dog Hero Non-fiction contest
non-fiction dog stories
http://www.doghero.com

+O+O+

August 1
Memoirs Ink Writing Contest
personal essays, memoirs, or creative non-fiction stories based on personal experience
http://www.memoirsink.com/

+O+O+

August 1

+O+O+

August 2
American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest
Screenplay
http://www.zoetrope.com/contests

+O+O+

August 5
Byline Contests
First Chapter of an unpublished novel - mainstream or genre; adult or YA audience.
http://www.bylinemag.com/contests.asp

+O+O+

August 8
The Gival Press Short Story Award
short fiction
http://givalpress.com/

+O+O+

August 15
Robert Penn Warren Centennial Prize
best essay on any aspect of Warren's work
http://shenandoah.wlu.edu/Penn%20Warren%20Prize.html

+O+O+

August 15
Middle English Literary Group 2005 Short Fiction Writing Contest
short fiction
http://home.earthlink.net/~middleenglish/

+O+O+

August 15
Pockets Fiction Writing Contest
short fiction
http://www.upperroom.org/pockets/contest_winner.asp

+O+O+

August 25
DarkKrypt Halloween Short Story Contest
short fiction, horror
http://www.darkkrypt.com/darkkrypthalloween2003.htm

+O+O+

August 30
Writers Journal Poetry Contest
Poetry
http://www.writersjournal.com/poetry.htm

+O+O+

August 31
Tigers Eye Journal Contest
Poetry
http://tigerseyejournal.com/contest_guidelines.htm

+O+O+

August 31
Focus on Writers California Writers Contest
Short fiction, First Chapter of Novel, poetry, Non-fiction Article/First Chapter of Non-fiction Book, Book/Article for Children - fiction/Non-fiction, First Chapter of Book for Young Adults - Fiction/Non-fiction
http://www.saclibrary.org/about_lib/focus_flyer_2.html

+O+O+

August 31
Hollywood is Burning Screenplay Competition
Screenplay
http://www.hollywoodisburning.com/competitionhome.html

+O+O+

August 31
Writing-Contests.us Poetry Contest
Poetry
http://www.writing-contests.us/poetry.html

+O+O+

August 31
Writing-Contests.us Book Review Contest
book review of a book published in 2003, 2004 or 2005 which is important to you
http://www.writing-contests.us/bookreview.html

+O+O+

August 31
Tallahassee Writers Short Story Contest
short fiction
http://www.twaonline.org/contests.htm

+O+O+

August 31
The Daniel Singer Prize
Essay
http://www.danielsinger.org/

Grace Tierney is a freelance writer who lives in Ireland. When she’s not researching writing contests, she enjoys gluttony, reading, gardening, and travel. Her short stories have been published internationally in magazines, books, and online media. Her non-fiction has been published in Ireland, the UK, America, and Australia. She is a staff writer with Writer Online, Netsurfer Digest, and The Good Book Guide. Contact Grace via www.gracetierney.com

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