December 2018’s best writing competitions


As we head toward the festive season, it’s a great time to celebrate your writing gift. 

We’ve brought together December’s best competitions and opportunities, open to writers of short stories, flash fiction, poetry and screenplays. 

You’ll find details of prizes, requirements, eligibility, entry fees (some are free) and deadlines so you can choose the best for you. 


Strokestown International Poetry Competition

Strokestown Poetry Festival is inviting entries into its international competition. The first prize is €2,000 as well as a week’s residence at an Anam Cara Writer’s and Artist’s Retreat.

As well as runner-up prizes, ten shortlisted poems will be published in the 2019 Strokestown Anthology and will be asked to read at the festival (a paid opportunity). The winner will be announced at the festival. Each poem costs €6 to enter. The deadline is 7th December. Details here.

Hamlin Garland Award for the Short Story

The Beloit Fiction Journal is open for entries into its short story contest. The journal publishes traditional and experimental narratives from new and established writers. Enter fiction of up to 7,000 words on any theme. This year’s judge is Bonnie Nadzam, author of Lions: A Novel

The winner will receive $2,000USD (and publication) which may be split between entries at the judge’s discretion. It costs $20 to enter and the deadline is 10th December. Details here.

Cove Park Literature Residencies

Cove Park is offering a minimum of three funded Literature Residencies for writers based in the UK and an additional place for a writer in Scotland. Places will last between one and three months and are open to writers established in the fields of adult fiction, memoir, poetry or biography.

You will need to have published at least one book to be eligible. Submit your application by 10th December. Details here.

(If you’re an emerging writer or are based in another country, don’t be disheartened, Cove Park offers residencies for writers from other backgrounds too – we’ll publish those opportunities when they come up.)

F(r)iction’s Winter Literary Contests

F(r)iction magazine is inviting submissions into its short story, flash fiction and poetry contests from writers around the world. The magazine’s editors favour stories that “celebrate the weird, take risks, and are driven by a strong, unique voice”. There’s a cash pot of $1,600USD on offer across all three contests with entry fees from $8 to $15. The deadline is 15th December. Details here.

TSS Flash Fiction Competition

The winter round of the TSS International Flash Fiction Competition is open. The top prize is £400. Winning and highly commended stories will also be published online. The entry fee is £5 but will be waived for any writers from marginalised and disadvantaged communities or anyone suffering from economic hardship. The deadline is 15th December. Details here.

BlueCat Screenplay Competition

The BlueCat Screenplay Competition, now in its 21st year, is accepting submissions for its latest competition as part of its commitment to discovering new writers. Enter scripts for features, short screenplays, hour pilots and half-hour pilots for a chance to win prizes of up to $10,000USD.

A written analysis will provided for all scripts submitted within a month of entry. Submit your script by 16th December. Entry fees vary between $45 and $60 depending on the contest entered. Details here.

ScreenCraft Family Screenplay Contest

The organisers of the ScreenCraft Family Screenplay Contest have producers and executives on board who are looking for high-quality films that will appeal to the whole family whether drama, comedy, animation or action-adventure.

The first prize is $2,000USD, and introduction to a Hollywood literary manager, circulation of your screenplay to an extensive network of entertainment industry professionals and development support. It costs $49 to enter and the deadline is 30th December. Details here.

Boulevard Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers

Boulevard magazine is open for entries of short stories from emerging writers who have not yet published a book of fiction, poetry or creative non fiction with a national press. Stories can be up to 8,000 words and must not have been published elsewhere. The top prize is $1,500USD and publication in the magazine. Entry costs $16. Submit your story by 31st December. Details here.

Lascaux Prize in Short Fiction

The Lascaux Prize in Short Fiction is open for submissions. Stories of up to 10,000 words in any genre or style are welcome. The winner will receive $1,000USD and publication in an anthology. There’s a $10 entry fee. The deadline is 31st December. Details here.

Magic Oxygen Literary Prize

This is a special competition, in its fifth year, committed to making a difference in our world. Enter short stories of up to 4,000 words or poems of up to 50 lines. There’s a £1,000 first prize for both categories. It costs £5 to enter by 31st December. A tree is planted in Boré, Kenya for every entry received and fees go towards building a classroom for the local community. Details here.

The Moth Poetry Prize

The Moth Poetry Prize is one of the biggest competitions in the world for a single, unpublished poem. It’s open to new and established poets from over 50 countries worldwide. The winners will be invited to a special prizegiving event at Poetry Ireland in Dublin in the spring of 2019. The top prize is €10,000.

The judge is poet and novelist, Jacob Polley, author of four acclaimed poetry collections published by Picador, the latest of which, Jackself, won the T. S. Eliot Prize. Entry costs €15 per poem and the deadline is 31st December. Details here 

FutureScapes Writing Contest

The theme of the latest FutureScapes Writing Contest is “Cities of Promise”. The judges are looking for stories of up to 8,000 words “set in a near-future city where significant strides have been made toward addressing the complex intersection of homelessness, mental health, and drug and sex trafficking.” The first prize is $2,000USD and your first submission is free. Enter by 31st December. Details here.

Nowhere Travel Writing Contest

Award-winning literary travel magazine Nowhere is seeking stories with a powerful sense of place for its latest contest. Enter 800 to 5,000 words of fiction, nonfiction, poetry or an essay. The winner will receive $1,000USD and will be published in the magazine alongside ten finalists. Entry costs $20 and the deadline is 31st December. Details here.


That’s it for this year but do join us on Facebook and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on the new opportunities we share every week day. 

If you have a great competition or opportunity for writers coming up, do get in touch with us here. We publish the best every month on Literary Lightbox and promote even more on social media.

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    By: Literary Lightbox

    Literary Lightbox, founded by Loretta Milan, publishes great writing inspiration, opportunities and news. We feature New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling authors, emerging and indie authors too.

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