May 2018’s best writing competitions


Spring is in full swing and it’s great to be able to write outside surrounded by blossoms and flourishing trees.

Whether you love writing novels, short stories, poetry or screenplays, we’ve brought together May’s top writing competitions and opportunities, open to writers based in the UK and internationally, to give your work the chance to get noticed.

We’ve summarised details of prizes, requirements, entry fees (some are free) and deadlines so you can decide which are the best opportunities for you. Good luck!

Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest

This Emerging Writer’s Contest is open to writers of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry who have not yet published or self-published a book. The winner in each genre will be awarded $2,000USD. The 2018 contest judges are Carmen Maria Machado (Fiction), Roxane Gay (Nonfiction), and Roger Reeves (Poetry). Entry is free for Ploughshares subscribers and $24 for non-subscribers. The deadline is 15th May. Details here.

Raymond Carver Short Story Contest

Now in its 18th year, the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest is one of the most prestigious literary fiction contests. Open to writers around the world, the contest attracts prominent guest judges and has a prize fund of $2,500USD across five categories. Short stories must be no more than 10,000 words and cost $15 each to enter. The top stories will also be published in Carve Magazine’s autumn issue and winning stories will be read by three literary agents: Nat Sobel from Sobel-Weber Associates, Erin Harris from Folio Literary Management, and Catherine Cho from Curtis Brown UK. The deadline is 15th May. Details here.

New creative funding opportunities from the Arts Council

The Arts Council has opened a new, £14 million fund for independent creatives, including writers, to develop their craft. You can apply for a grant between £2,000 and £10,000 to support you with an ambitious and innovative writing project (or any arts project). Funding could help you, for example, carry out research, develop new work, explore fresh ideas, get training you need, access mentorship and travel internationally as part of your project. Round 1 is open for applications. The deadline is 16th May. Details here.

The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction

SmokeLong Quarterly is hosting its first flash fiction competition to celebrate its 15th anniversary issue. Enter a story of up to 1,000 words and you could be in with a chance of winning $1,500USD, publication and nomination for several other awards. Runners-up will receive $15 and publication. The deadline is 20th May. Entries cost $13 but don’t miss out on some opportunities to enter free which SmokeLong will be publishing on Twitter and Facebook. Details here.

The Nick Darke Award for playwrights

The 2018 Nick Darke Writers’ Award is now open for submissions of stage plays from UK and international writers aged 16 and over. The award is funded by Falmouth University’s Academy of Music and Theatre Arts as well as its School of Writing and Journalism. It’s designed to celebrate the best writing for stage, screen and radio. The winner will receive a £6,000 award. Enter by 21st May. Details here.

The Yeovil Literary Prize

The Yeovil Community Arts Association is inviting entries for the 2018 Yeovil Literary Prize from all corners of the wrold. There are four categories covering novels, short stories, poetry and one with few restrictions designed to open the gates to creativity and unleash writers’ imaginations. All genres are welcome. The top prizes are £1,000 for the best novel, £500 for the winning short story and poetry as well as £200 for the winner of the ‘Writing Without Restrictions’ category. Entries are open until 31st May and fees are from £5 – £12. Details here.

Wundor Short Fiction Contest

Designed to champion interesting and unusual fiction in all of its forms, the Wundor Short Fiction Contest is open until 31st May. Flash fiction, short stories and novellas of up to 45,000 words are being accepted. The three top entries will have an extract published on the Wundor website and the winner will receive £500. It costs £10 to enter. Details here.

First Novel Prize 2018 

Have you written a novel that hasn’t been published yet or have you published your novel yourself? Then the First Novel Prize could be for you. It’s open to previously unpublished or independently published novelists. Your novel has to be over 50,000 words. There is no maximum word limit and you can have written in any genre for adults. The first prize is £1,000. Entries cost £25 and you can submit yours any time up until 31st May. Details here.

The Bridport Prize

The prestigious, Bridport Prize is still open for entries with a £18,000 prize fund. The organisers are dedicated to finding and encouraging the most promising new writers from across the world. Enter flash fiction, short stories, novels and poetry by 31st May. In addition to the cash prizes, all winners will be published in the Bridport Prize Anthology. The Winner of the Peggy Chapman Andrews First Novel Award will also receive mentoring from The Literary Consultancy. Details here.

Ljubljana City of Literature Writers Residency Programme

Ljubljana, a UNESCO City of Literature since 2015, is offering two, one-month residencies for writers at the newly restored Švicarija/Swisshouse Creative Centre. It’s aimed at writers in other countries, who have published at least one book, who have a palpable, factual relation with any of the other UNESCO Cities of Literature. Details of the connection need to be outlined in the application which must be submitted by 31st May. Details here.

Hastings LitFest and Crooked Cat Books Crime Novel Competition

Have you written a crime novel that you’d love to have published? Enter it into this competition by 31st May for an opportunity to be published by Crooked Cat Books, awarded a trophy and £150. Details here.

Get featured in the Harvard Review

Writers at all stages in their careers are invited to apply to be featured in the Harvard Review. The publication is accepting short fiction, poetry, essays and book reviews. The deadline for submissions is 1st June. Details here.

Young Writer of the Year Award

Are you a writer aged between 18 and 35? If you’re based in Britain or Ireland and have traditionally- or self-published a book between 3rdJune 2017 and 8thJune 2018, enter the Young Writer of the Year Award. Run by The Sunday Times and literary agents, Peters Fraser + Dunlop in association with the University of Warwick, the prize provides vital support and champions young writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The winner will receive £5,000 and each of the runners-up will get £500. Entries must be in by 8th June. Details here.

Dorset Fiction Award

The bi-annual Dorset Fiction Award is open until 9th June. You can submit short stories of up to 1,000 words in any genre and on any topic from anywhere in the world. The winner will receive £500 and will be featured in the Dorset Fiction Award Anthology along with the runners up. It costs £7 to enter. Details here.

BAFTA Scholarship

If you’re based in the UK and are looking to study a post-graduate course in film, games or TV, you could get financial assistance and mentoring as part of a BAFTA scholarship. Check if the course you’re interested in is eligible and apply here before 11th June.

Win a £30,000 publishing deal with Bonnier Zaffre

Richard and Judy – who run the biggest book club in Britain which is renowned for giving talented authors a chance to shine – have launched a competition to find a new author with the potential to become a bestseller. The competition, which is supported by WHSmith, is open to unpublished authors who have not yet sent their work to literary agents or other publishers. Editors and agents will be involved in the judging process. The winner will received a £30,000 publishing deal with Bonnier Zaffre and advice from literary agent, Furniss Lawton. For your chance to be considered, submit up to 10,000 words of original fiction along with a synopsis by 14th June. Details here.

Creative Future Literary Awards

The Creative Future Literary Awards is a prominent writing competition with a high-profile ceremony which celebrates under-represented writers. Prizes will be awarded for both short stories and poetry, including £7,500 in cash as well as professional writing development opportunities. The theme is ‘Chemistry’ and there is no entry fee. Submit your work by 18th June. Details here.

The Impress Prize

The 2018 Impress Prize has just opened for submissions of fiction and non-fiction from all writers who have not been traditionally published. You have to submit a book proposal and a sample chapter of up to 6,000 words. The winner will be awarded a print and ebook publishing contract with Impress Books as well as a £500 advance. It costs £25 to enter and the deadline is 29th June. Details here.

Kindle Direct Publishing Prize

There is a £20,000 prize on offer for the best book published through Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon between 1st May and 31st August. It’s a prize dedicated to self-published authors. Books can be in any genre but can’t have been published elsewhere. The winner will receive £20,000 and will be recognised at an awards ceremony in London. Details here.

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

  • author's avatar

    By: Loretta Milan

    Loretta Milan is the founder of Literary Lightbox. She works as a professional writer and also has a novel in construction. She is a graduate of the Faber Academy and Curtis Brown Creative’s three-month novel writing programme. Her writing is fuelled by too much tea.

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