Free Writing Competitions in 2018

The new list is out; check it now!
200+ Writing Contests to Join in 2023

Let’s face it – there’s some pretty stiff competition out there in the big, wide world of writing and publishing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a success of it! One of the best ways of getting yourself some attention, especially if you’re an up-and-coming writer hungry to start getting your work published, is enter a competition.

And fear not! It doesn’t have to get expensive! Although there are plenty of writing competitions out there with entrance fees (they can also be called “Reading Fees”), you do have the option of entering competitions that don’t have entrance fees. Some of these competitions and contests are also backed by reputable names, such as the BBC, who will then publish them to an incredibly wide audience.

Just as we’ve entered a new year, think of this as a golden opportunity to start your writing career. So, take your pick of the 21 competitions outlined below that don’t require a financial commitment on your part to enter.

Scroll to the bottom, or click on any of the images to visit the competitions’ respective websites.

Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition

Aimed at writers of over-18 years, your manuscript needs to be book-length, with the final prize being $10,000 against future royalties and a publication contract with Minotaur Books.

Deadline: 12 January 2018

Genre: Crime

For more info:

6th Hektoen International Grand Prix Essay Competition

Aimed at Non-Fiction writers in the art, history, literature, education, personal narratives or music related to medicine.

Deadline: 14 January 2018

Genre: Health Humanities

For more info:

Inkitt Novel Competition

Think you’re onto a great novel? Every month, Inkitt holds a competition aimed at Fiction writers with the ultimate prize including a $6,000 investment into your book launch!

Deadline: 30 January 2018

Genre: Fiction

For more info:

Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize

If a $12,000 advance sounds just up your street, then consider this prize. If you’re a US resident and have at least one published book under your belt, you can submit a currently-in-progress manuscript.

Deadline: January 2018

Genre: Fiction

For more info:

The Caine Prize for African Writing

Aimed at writers from Africa (that is, all of Africa) who have written their manuscript in English. Just make sure your manuscript is between 3,000 and 10,000 words long.

Deadline: 31 January 2018

Genre: Short Story, Fiction

For more info:

International Radio Playwriting Competition

Interested in writing plays? This more unusual competition will end up as a radio play and is hosted by the BBC World Service and the British Council.

Deadline: 31 January 2018

Genre: Playwriting

For more info:

Nelson Algren Short Story Award

With backing from the Chicago Tribune and the top prize of $3,500, you need to present a fiction story of under 8,000 words. Up to two stories submitted is allowed.

Deadline: 7 February 2018

Genre: Short Story

For more info:

Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Competition

Aimed at published and aspiring writers, you can win yourself a writing retreat if your 2,000 word short story is successful. You’ll also see your story published.

Deadline: 13 February 2018

Genre: Short Story, Fiction

For more info:

Words and Brushes

This may not be the biggest prize out there, but it is unique in scope – choose an artwork from the gallery provided and submit a short story inspired by it.

Deadline: 15 February

Genre: Short Story

For more info:

Past-Year Memoir Contest

Living in the age of Twitter, this contest asks entrants to write a memoir of 17 words only that reflects on 2017. Should be a challenge!

Deadline: 19 February 2018

Genre: Memoir, Short Story

For more info:

Arizona State University Everything Change Climate Fiction Contest

For fiction writers exploring the effects of climate change on our world. Manuscripts should be no more than 5,000 words and in English.

Deadline: 28 February 2018

Genre: Fiction

For more info:

White Review’s Short Story Prize

Aimed at UK residents (and you can enter for free if you meet the criteria), you can win yourself a £2,500 prize. Entries must be between 2,000 and 7,000 words.

Deadline: 1 March 2018

Genre: Fiction

For more info:

2018 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

Do you combine a sense of humor and poetry? Submit your poem of no more than 250 lines to this award for a chance at the $1,000 First Prize.

Deadline: 1 April 2018

Genre: Poetry

For more info:

Discover Great New Writers Awards

Backed by Barnes and Noble, this award is aimed at up-and-coming authors who have fewer than 3 books actually published (so, great if you’re just starting out).

Deadline: 3 May 2018

Genre: Multiple genres

For more info:

Drue Heinz Literature Prize

With publication at the end by the University of Pittsburgh Press, no less, you can also win $15,000. Word count needs to be between 150 and 300 typed pages.

Deadline: 30 June 2018

Genre: Short Story/Novella

For more info:

Masters Review Fall Fiction Contest

Aimed at emerging authors who are as yet unpublished, the First Prize is a whopping $2,000. Stories should be a maximum of 7,000 words.

Deadline: 30 November 2018

Genre: Gothic/Fiction

For more info:


Need to get out of your writer’s block? Then the weekly “challenges” given by this mini award are a great way to get those creative juices flowing. You’ll get weekly prompts to challenge your brain!

Deadline: Weekly

Genre: Fiction

For more info:

Write the World

Aimed at authors between the ages of 13 and 18, you gain peer-review critiques of your work as well as a $100 prize for the winner. You get prompts on the genre each month.

Deadline: Monthly

Genre: Monthly Prompts

For more info:

Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

For those who have already published, this award focuses on the diversity of human culture and racism. Quite a broad topic in this day and age.

Genre: Fiction, Non-Fiction

For more info:

Museum of Words Flash Fiction Contest

A slightly more unusual competition aimed at stories written in Spanish, English, Arabic and Hebrew, this award is presented annually in Madrid (Spain). No details on the 2018 competition released as yet, but keep an eye on for more info.

It may seem a scary prospect entering competitions where there may well be a lot of competition. And even if you don’t win the first time around, as Apple founder Steve Jobs apparently said “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time”.

Fortunately for you, these competitions may be just the ticket you need for literary success without breaking your budget. Good luck!

Check out these 2019 events.

Writing Contests You Want to Enter in 2019

International Book Fairs 2019

Writers Conferences 2019

Leave a Reply