The following is a list of free writing contests with cash prizes. All of the contests are currently open to submissions. The earliest deadline is October 11th, 2016.
Included is a very wide variety of contests. With awards for essays, short stories, poetry, and novels, there is something here for everyone.
The contest prizes range from a couple hundred dollars to $50,000. All of the contests are completely free to enter.
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- Glamour Magazine is currently hosting an essay contest. The theme: “Every woman has a moment in life that changes everything. What’s that moment for you?” Essays should be no more than 3,500 words. The deadline is November 1st. Learn more here.
- Lyric Magazine’s College Poetry Contest is a $500 poetry content for college students in the US or Canada. Poems must be original, unpublished poems, written in a traditional form. The deadline is December 1st. Learn more here.
- The Ohioana Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant offers $1,000 to writers who were born in Ohio or who have lived there for at least 5 years. Entries consist of at least 4 pieces of prose. The deadline is January 31,2017. Learn more here.
- The H.S. Poetry Prize is an annual $500 award for Sophomore and Junior high school girls in New England. Entry is free. One poem per student. The deadline is December 1st. Learn more here.
- About the Schneider Family Book Award is an annual award honoring children’s books that “embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.” There are 3 $5,000 prizes, depending on the age group the book is for. Books must already be published. The entry deadline is December 1st. Learn more here.
- Writers & Illustrators of the Future has a regular writing contest with prizes of $1,00, $750 and, $500, plus an annual grand prize of $5,000. They accept submissions of science fiction, fantasy, and dark fantasy. The word limit is 17,000 words. It is not open to professionally published writers. Learn more here.
- The Betty Trask Prize and The Betty Trask Awards are open to citizens of the British Commonwealth (UK, Australia, Canada, etc.) The contest is for a published or unpublished first novel by an author under 35 years of age. The total prize money starts at 20,000 British Pounds. Learn more here.
- The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is open to residents of the British Commonwealth, including the UK, Canada, Australia, and any commonwealth member country. (Not the US.) The prize is £2,500 each, and one overall winner, with a prize of £5,000. The deadline is November 1st. Learn more here.
- The Burt Award for Caribbean Literature is an annual Award given to three English-language literary works for young adults written by Caribbean authors. First place prize is $10,000 CAD. Learn more here.
- The Amy Lowell Traveling Poet Scholarship offers $54,000 to the winning writer. Upon acceptance of the prize, the writer is required to travel outside the United States for the entire year. The entry deadline is October 15th. Learn more here.
- The James Hurst Fiction Prize is open to residents of North Carolina. They offer a $500 prize for a max 5,000 word short story, and a $250 prize for a max 1,200 word short story. The deadline is October 11th. Learn more here.
- New York Encounter is sponsoring a poetry contest on the theme “Reality as Never Betrayed Me.” The theme is inspired by Pope Benedict’s claim that “the intelligence of faith has to become the intelligence of reality.” The prizes are $300, $200, and $100. The deadline is November 1st, 2016. Learn more here.
- Drake University is hosting a $500 essay contest on the topic of “change and changes.” Essays are limited to 3,500 words. The winner will be brought to Drake University to read from the winning essay. Learn more here.
- The PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers awards $2,000 to 12 fiction writers who have published their first short story during a given calendar year. Entries must be sent by the editor of the publication you were published in. That means, if you’ve been published this year, you should be bugging your publisher about entering this contest for someone, even if it isn’t you. The deadline for entry is November 11th. Learn more here.
- St. Martin’s Minotaur / Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition. This is an annual mystery novel contest with a $10,000 prize. Entries must be longer than 220 typewritten pages, or 60,000 words. This contest is NOT open to novelists who have previously published a novel, unless that novel was self published. Learn more here.
- The William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grants Program for Unpublished Writers awards a $2,500 grant to one writer each for, to help complete a manuscript in the “malice domestic” genre, loosely described as mystery stories of the Agatha Christie type. The deadline for entry is May 1st. Learn more here.
- The Vermont Writers’ Prize offers a $1,500 prize for the best story, essay, or poem that celebrates the state of Vermont. The deadline for entry is November 1st. Learn more here.
I’ve been searching for writing contests for kids for my daughter and her friend. Many kids, like mine, want to write for an audience; they’d love to be published. This round-up of opportunities might just help give young writers their first chance.
Let me also suggest that you temper your kids enthusiasm with a bit of reality. It’s a tricky thing because you don’t want to be a killjoy but you also want your children to understand that good, award-winning writing is hard work and takes dedication. So even when faced with rejection, or not winning, kids need to persevere and keep writing. (Feel free to share stories authors such as Madeline L’Engle, J.K. Rowlings, and Dr. Seuss who were rejected for publishing A LOT.)
Also, it’s important that kids read through the past winners or published pieces so they get an idea of what the contest or publication is looking for.
Revision, of course, is essential. You can help by giving kids specific feedback on technique — printable revision tips here. Make sure your story has a story arc. And, proofread a million times to be sure you’re not sending in something with errors!
Check my NanNoWriMo for Kids post for more writing and revision tips.
Writing Contests for Kids
Scholastic’s Kids are Authors
ages: K – 8
Details: This unique writing contests asks kids to collaborate in groups of three or more and the entries must be between 21 – 29 pages, illustrations included. (Text + illustration = 1 page.) The deadline is March 15, 2016 and is the last time for this contest. See all the rules and info here.
PBS Kids Go! Writer’s Contest
ages: K – 3rd grade
Details: This isn’t the easiest contest to enter since it depends on local PBS stations and local stations also pick the winners. Word count depends on your grade but is about 100 – 200 words. Rules here.
ages: 8 – 12
Details: Check the website for deadlines for their spring and fall writing contests. Cash prizes. $15 fee.
ages: K – 6 grade
Details: Monthly winners in ongoing writing contest. Check the website for details.
ages: not stated
Details: Check the website for new contests.
ages: grades 3 – 5, grades 6 – 8, grades 9 – 12
Details: Science fiction or fantasy story on any topic. The only limits are your imagination and the short list of rules. No entry fee. There are small cash awards for the winners in each category. The submissions will be evaluated by a panel of teachers (retired and current).
Neuroscience Kids Poetry Contest
ages: K – 12
Details: Due Feb. 1!
Building Stories Contest / The Henry Ford
ages: 3rd – 12th grades
Details: Each year has a unique writing prompt. That 2016 prompt is to write about Rosa Parks.
Write the World
ages: not stated
Details: This is a online writing community for kids. Contests are posted from time to time here.
Mrs. P’s Be a Famous Writer
ages: K-4th grades
Details: Submissions open from September to mid-November each year with a yearly prompt.
ages: 5 – 12
This online literary magazine holds writing and drawing competitions throughout the year about a specific theme.
Use the illustration provided to write a story.
Young Writers Explore Learning (UK ONLY)
ages: 14 and under
Details: A UK based contest judged by author Lauren Child with specific prompts.
Magazines and Online Publications for Kids’ Writing
Creative Kids Magazine
ages: 8 – 16
Details: Cartoons, songs, plays, stories and more are accepted for submission. If you’re choose, your work will appear in the magazine.
ages: not stated
Details: This magazine publishes kid writing but also will publish: drawings, poems, jokes, riddles, tongue twisters, stories, science questions, and book reviews.
ages: 9 – 14
Details: Fiction, poetry, and nonfiction welcome in this literary magazine. Guidelines for submissions here.
ages: 13 and YOUNGER
Details: This magazine receives a lot of submissions so read through what actually gets published for a better chance. It accepts stories, book reviews, and poems. $3 fee.
ages: 7 to 17
Details: This publication has a multicultural focus. Send in essays, interviews, poems, plays, or short stories. $5 fee. Winners published in their autumn issue.
ages: not stated
Details: This is an Irish publication but accepts entries from anywhere in the world.
Guardian Angel Kids
ages: up to age 14
Details: Themes for submissions here. If your work is accepted (articles, fiction, poetry) then the magazine will own in and will pay you for your work. Just be sure that if your writing is accepted, you don’t post it anywhere else since you will not own it anymore.
ages: 10 – 18
Details: This publication is searching for compelling poetry, short stories, flash fiction, and creative non-fiction that paint images with language.
ages: 0 – 14, 14+
Details: This girls magazine is looking for artwork and fiction stories.
Amazing Kids! Magazine
ages: 5 to 18
Details: A magazine written by kids and teens looking for stories, articles, adventures, and more. Submission guidelines here.
Details: This is an online writing community meant to encourage teen writers to write and share their work. You can post your work and get feedback as well as give feedback to other writers. Contests are posted throughout the year.
Details: This magazine loves SF/fantasy and historical fiction as well as narrative nonfiction about teen topics.
Details: This is an online writing community with a wealth of opportunities for young writers.
More publication opportunities for young writers are listed on this website but this list isn’t always current.
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by Melissa Taylor14 CommentsFiled Under: Education, Elementary, Imagination Soup, Writing, Writing FunTagged With: contests, Writing