September 2018’s best writing competitions


Whether novels, short stories, non-fiction or poems are your thing, September is a great time to get your best writing out there. We’ve brought together this month’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!

Writing residency in Brussels

The National Centre for Writing is offering a writing residency in Brussels in 2019. The opportunity is open to writers of novels, short stories, poetry, literary non fiction, children’s or young adult literature in England. It’s free to apply by 3rd September. Details here.

Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards

Writer’s Digest is inviting international entries into its 6th Annual Self-Published eBook Awards with a total of $13,000USD in cash prizes on offer. There are a broad range of genre categories covering contemporary fiction, romance, fantasy, science fiction, mysteries/thrillers, young adult fiction, memoirs and non fiction. The entry fees are a little steep, though, at $125 for the first entry and $95 for additional ones. The deadline is 4th September. Details here.

Harvill Secker and Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Competition

Harvill Secker and Bloody Scotland have joined forces to launch a competition to find a debut crime writer from a BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic) background. The winner get a publishing deal with a £5,000 advance with the Harvill Secker imprint, mentoring, an Arvon creative writing course/retreat and will also have the chance to appear on a panel at the Bloody Scotland festival in 2019. Enter for free by 9th September. Details here.

Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition

This competition is back for its ninth year and welcoming full-length screenplays, TV pilots and short scripts from writers around the world. There’s a total of $2,000USD in cash prizes on offer as well as other great bonuses such as industry readings and meetings, career consultations and screenplay analyses. It costs $60 to enter screenplays and TV pilots, $50 to enter a short script or resubmit if you enter by the main deadline of 12th September. There are extended deadlines available in October and November but the entry fees are higher. Details here.

Adventures in Fiction New Voices Competition

Have you got a winning idea for a novel? The Adventures in Fiction New Voices Competition will offer a prize worth £550, which includes a mentoring package and a novel-writing masterclass, to the most promising novel synopsis and first page written by a first-time writer. Entry costs £10 and the deadline is 14th September. Details here.

C21 Media Drama Series Script Competition

The judges of this competition are on the hunt for six outstanding pilot episode scripts that will appeal to an international audience. The shortlisted scripts will be presented to key commissioners from digital platforms including Amazon, Netflix and Hulu as well as broadcasters including ABC, BBC and C4 at Content London. The winning writer will receive a $10,000USD script option and a week in the writers’ room of a major drama series. Entries are free and open to writers worldwide until 14th September. Details here.

Women’s Poetry and Pamphlet Competition

The Poetry Book Society has teamed up with Mslexia magazine to launch two prestigious women’s poetry competitions. The Women’s Poetry Competition will be judged by UK Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, and will award the winner £2,000, publication, mentoring and a Cove Park writing retreat. It’s £10 to enter. The Women’s Pamphlet Competition offers an opportunity to have your manuscript published by leading independent poetry publisher, Seren. It’s £20 to enter. Both competitions are open until 14th September. Details here.

Manchester Writing Prizes

Manchester Metropolitan University has two great writing competitions open internationally until 14th September. Enter short stories of up to 2,500 words into The Manchester Fiction Prize or a portfolio of three to five poems into The Manchester Poetry Prize for a chance to win the top award of £10,000 in each category. Details here.

TSS International Flash Fiction Competition

The autumn 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 September. Details here.

Tron Theatre Mayfesto resident writer opportunity

A writer will be selected alongside an artist and a director as a resident at Tron Theatre’s mini-festival of provocative theatre, Mayfesto. To apply, you’ll need to submit an unproduced play by 17th September. It’s free. One talented writer will receive a first draft commission of £4,000 and will work with the resident director to deliver two draft performances of the script as part of Mayfesto 2019. Details here.

RSL Giles St Aubyn Awards for Non-Fiction

The Royal Society of Literature’s annual awards for first-time writers of non fiction are funded by a generous bequest from author and RSL Fellow, Giles St Aubyn. Two prizes – one of £10,000, one of £5,000 – will be awarded to two writers to support them with completing their first commissioned works of non fiction. This year’s judges are Iain Sinclair, Laura Bates, Aida Edemariam and Fiona St Aubyn. To be eligible, you must be a resident of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland and have a publishing contract. The deadline is 19th September. Details here.

BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Competition

Each year, the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Competition calls for submissions of film, television drama, children’s media and television comedy scripts. Finalists will have their work read by execs, agents and producers. To enter, submit a ten-page extract of a feature or short film script along with a package of specified information. Submissions for film are open until 26th September (or 19th September if you’d like to apply for a bursary to cover the £42 entry fee). Entries for TV drama, TV comedy, young adult and children’s media are open between February and June 2019. Details here.

Grindstone International Novel Prize

This international novel prize is offering a top prize of £1,000. The shortlist will be judged by Emma Finn of the C+W Literary Agency. Enter 3,000 words from the opening of your novel by 28th September. It costs £20 to take part. Details here.

Dzanc Books Writing Prizes

Novels, shorts stories and non fiction are being welcomed by Dzanc Books in three competitions that are running until 30th September. The top prizes are $5,000USD for the best novel, $2,500 for a short story and $1,500 for non fiction. Submissions cost $25. Details here.

Channel 4 screenwriting opportunity

Opportunities to be paid a fee to participate in the Channel 4 screenwriting course and complete two drafts of a one-hour script will be awarded to twelve writers who have not yet had a broadcast credit. It’s free to apply. Submit a sample of a film or TV screenplay, stage play or radio script along with your CV by 28th September. Details here.

The Short Story Project Competition

The Short Story Project is offering a range of prizes up to $5,000USD for twenty short stories up to 2,500 words. The top five writers will also be featured by the project. Entries cost $17 and are open until 30th September. Details here.

The Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize

The prestigious, Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize is open for submissions of literary stories until 30th September. The winning author will receive £1,000 or one year’s editorial support for a writing project. Entry costs £10 and authors on low-incomes can apply to have the fee waived. Details here.

The Masters Review Flash Fiction Contest

This international, short story competition has a top prize of $3,000USD and publication on The Masters Review website. It’s open to unpublished stories by emerging authors. Entry costs $20 for up to two stories and the deadline is 30th September. 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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