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Fiction Writing Contests Worth Your Time in Spring 2020

Since my Winter contest roundup, I got another (non-contest) short story published, which had a quite a journey to finding a home. How long did it take for my very first Submittable acceptance to be published? [1] You’d be surprised.

This contest submissions season covers deadlines from March through May 2020. Spring is an active submission time for many literary journals and contests associated with universities, before they break for summer. Thanks to Literistic [2], Poets & Writers [3], Submittable Discover [4], and New Pages [5] for many of these contests.

Much like editors are looking for reasons to reject work, I want to focus on opportunities worth my time. Thus, my list of writing contests below includes reasons to submit to that particular writing contest. May you find a promising opportunity among this list and spend less time searching for where to send your exceptional work.

March 2020

Hunger Mountain – May Day Mountain Chapbook Series – $10 fee [6]

Deadline: March 1, 2020

“The winning author will receive $100 in prize money plus fifty 5×7, handmade letterpress copies of their manuscript, designed & illustrated by May Day Studio of Montpelier, Vermont. … 30-50 pages of fiction, short stories.”

Reasons to submit:

 

Room – Fiction Contest – $42 fee [8]

Deadline: March 8, 2020

“Room’s contests are open to women (transgender and cisgender), trans men, Two-Spirit, and nonbinary people. Each entry must be original, unpublished, not submitted or accepted elsewhere for publication or previously to Room, and not entered simultaneously in any other contest.” Prizes range from $50 to $1,000. Up to 3,500 words. 

Reasons to submit:

 

BBC National Short Story Award 2020 – $0 fee [10]

Deadline: March 9, 2020

Fiction contest from “The British Broadcasting Corporation with Cambridge University.” Award of £15,000 for the winner. £600 for four (4) further shortlisted stories.” Up to 8,000 words, including previously published work.

Reasons to submit:

 

The Non/Fiction Collection Prize – $23 fee [11]

Deadline: March 15, 2020

“The Non/Fiction Collection Prize is awarded annually to a book-length collection of short stories, essays, or a combination of the two. The prize (which in previous iterations was known as the Sandstone Prize and The Ohio State University Prize in Short Fiction) carries a cash award of $1500 and publication with The Ohio State University Press under its standard contract. … If it is a hardship to meet the submission fee, please contact our editor to discuss options for a fee waiver at prize@thejournalmag.org”

Reasons to submit:

 

Missouri Review – Miller Audio Prize – $16+ fee [12]

Deadline: March 15, 2020

Annual audio contest. “All entries must be 15 minutes or shorter. Submit a short story … . Entries may be solely author-read or contain other voices, sounds, or music.”

Reasons to submit:

Prairie Schooner – Raz-Shumaker Book Prize – $25 fee [14]

Deadline: March 15, 2020

“The Prairie Schooner Raz-Shumaker Book Prize Series welcomes manuscripts from all living writers, including non-US citizens, writing in English. Both unpublished and published writers are welcome to submit manuscripts. We will not consider manuscripts that have previously been published, which includes self-publication. Winners will receive $3000 and publication through the University of Nebraska Press.”

Reasons to submit:

 

Geist – Postcard Story Contest – $20 fee [15]

Deadline: March 15, 2020

“Send us a story and a postcard—the relationship can be as strong or as tangential as you like, so long as there is a clear connection between the story and the image.” Three prizes range from $150-$500 and all include print & online publication. Up to 500 words.

Reasons to submit:

 

Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing – $0 fee [17]

Deadline: March 31, 2020

“In novels, short stories, memoirs, and works of journalism, immigrants have shown us what resilience and dedication we’re capable of, and have expanded our sense of what it means to be global citizens. In these times of intense xenophobia, it is more important than ever that these boundary-crossing stories reach the broadest possible audience. … Fiction submissions can take the form of a novel or a book-length collection of short stories. … Candidates must be first-generation residents of their country. … Fiction candidates must not have previously published a book of fiction in English.” Winner receives $10,000 and publication by Restless Books. At least 45,000 words.

Reasons to submit:

 

Narrative – Winter 2020 Story Contest – $27 fee [18]

Deadline: March 31, 2020

“Entries must be previously unpublished, no longer than 15,000 words, and must not have been previously chosen as a winner, finalist, or honorable mention in another contest. … As always, we are looking for works with a strong narrative drive, with characters we can respond to as human beings, and with effects of language, situation, and insight that are intense and total. We look for works that have the ambition of enlarging our view of ourselves and the world. … Awards: First Prize is $2,500, Second Prize is $1,000, Third Prize is $500, and ten finalists will receive $100 each. All entries will be considered for publication.”

Reasons to submit:

Arts & Letters – 2020 Prize for Fiction – $20 fee [20]

Deadline: March 31, 2020

“$1,000 prize and publication in next year’s Fall or Spring issue. … We accept one winning story up to 25 pages (other submissions will be considered for publication at our normal rates). … We prefer, for the prizes, that your work not be simultaneously submitted.”

Reasons to submit:

 


April 2020

Gulf Coast – 2020 Gulf Coast Prize in Fiction – $23 fee [21]

Deadline: April 15, 2020

“Gulf Coast is now accepting entries for the 2019 Gulf Coast Prize in Fiction. The contest awards $1,500 and publication in Gulf Coast to the winner. Two honorable mentions will be awarded $250. All entries will be considered for publication, and the entry fee includes a one-year subscription to Gulf Coast. The judge for this year’s contest is Daniel Peña.”

Reasons to submit:

 

New Ohio Review – 2020 Fiction Contest – $22 fee [23]

Deadline: April 15, 2020

“$1,500 Prize and publication in New Ohio Review 28. You may submit one story per submission … no longer than 20 pages. Submissions for this contest are blind. … Stories that are not selected will still be considered for publication. Entry fee comes with 1-year subscription (issues 29 and 30).” Judged by Lauren Groff.

Reasons to submit:

 

Pen Parentis – Writing Fellowship for New Parents – $15 fee [24]

Deadline: April 17, 2020

“One talented writer who is the parent of at least one child under 10 years old will receive $1000 to further their writing career, a year of mentorship, and will be offered the opportunity to read their winning story at the Pen Parentis Literary Salon in New York City on Tuesday, November 10, 2020. Their winning story will also be published in Dreamers Creative Writing Magazine (both online and in print) as well as included in the annual Dreamers Writing Anthology. Submissions call for a new, never-published fiction story—any genre, on any subject—of up to 710 words”

Reasons to submit:

 

American Literary Translators Association – Italian Prose in Translation Award – $0 fee [25]

Deadline: April 20, 2020

“The Italian Prose in Translation Award (IPTA) … recognizes the importance of contemporary Italian prose (fiction and literary non-fiction) and promotes the translation of Italian works into English. This $5,000 prize will be awarded annually to a translator of a recent work of Italian prose (fiction or literary non-fiction). The winning translators and books are featured at the annual ALTA conference. Submissions will be judged according to the literary significance of the original and the success of the translation in recreating the literary artistry of the original. While the IPTA is primarily intended to recognize the translation of contemporary works, re-translations or first-time translations of important older works will also be seriously considered.”

Reasons to submit:

 

CRAFT – Short Fiction Prize – $20 fee [26]

Deadline: April 30, 2020

Submit up to 5,000 words. Open to international submissions, but only in English. “We review literary fiction, but are open to a variety of genres and styles—our only requirement is that you show excellence in your craft: bend genres, experiment with structure, write your heart out.” Winner and two runner ups will be awarded $2,000, $500, and $300, respectively, and online publication.

Reasons to submit:

 

The Ghost Story – Supernatural Fiction Award – $20 fee [27]

Deadline: April 30, 2020

“Twice each year TGS will award $1,000 and publication to the winner of our short story competition. Two other writers will receive Honorable Mentions that include publication and a $250 cash award. … Ghost stories are welcome, of course—but your submission may involve any paranormal or supernatural theme. What we’re looking for is fine writing, fresh perspectives, and maybe a few surprises in the field of supernatural fiction. Story length should run between 1,500 and 10,000 words.”

 

Fun fact: a previous winner was a Writer Unboxed reader from a post just like this one :)

Reasons to submit:

 


May 2020

Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction – $0 fee [28]

Deadline: May 1, 2020

“A prize of $10,000 is given annually for a novel published during the previous year that is set in the South and reflects Willie Morris’s “hope for belonging, for belief in a people’s better nature, for steadfastness against all that is hollow or crass or rootless or destructive.” The winner will also receive an all-expenses paid trip to Oxford, Mississippi, in fall 2020 for an award ceremony. Submit a novel of at least 50,000 words published in 2019 by May 1. There is no entry fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines.”

Reasons to submit:

 

Carve Magazine – The Raymond Carver Short Story Contest – $17 fee [30]

Deadline: May 15, 2020

“Now in its 20th year, the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest is one of the most renowned fiction contests in the world. … offering $3000 across five prizes… prizewinners are published in our annual fall issue in October.” Up to 10,000 words.

Reasons to submit:

 

New Letters – Robert Day Award for Fiction – $24 fee [32]

Deadline: May 18, 2020

$2,500 + Publication. “Fiction entries are not to exceed 8,000 words. … First entry includes a one-year subscription to New Letters. Entries from outside the United States receive all contest privileges except the subscription.”

Reasons to submit:

 

CutBank – Chapbook Contest – Prose – $20 fee [33]

Deadline: May 31, 2020

“Publication, $1000 cash prize, and 25 contributor copies. This competition is open to original English language manuscripts [25-40 pages] … While previously published stand-alone pieces or excerpts may be included in a manuscript, the manuscript as a whole must be an unpublished work. Translations and previously self-published collections are ineligible.”

“What We’re Looking For: Startling, compelling, and beautiful original work. We’re looking for a fresh, powerful manuscript. Maybe it will overtake us quietly; gracefully defy genres; satisfyingly subvert our expectations; punch us in the mouth page in and page out. We’re interested in both prose and poetry – and particularly work that straddles the lines between genres. Manuscripts should be cohesive and coherent; in other words, your manuscript should resonate and make sense as a book.” 

Reasons to submit:

 

Opossum – Fiction Opossum Prize – $20 fee [34]

Deadline: May 31, 2020

“All submissions must be under 7000 words and engage the world of music in some way. This need not be explicit, as we are interested in work that does so in subtle and surprising ways too!” Prizes range from $200-$1000. “All winners receive publication in the 2020 issue of Opossum (release date October, 2020) and ten copies of the issue/7″ record.”

Reasons to submit:

 

Have I missed a great writing contest? Please leave a comment and let me know where you found it.

 

Happy submitting!

 

 

If you enjoyed a sentimental youth, read my latest short story, “The Price of Chivalry” in From Whispers to Roars [35].

About Arthur Klepchukov [36]

Arthur Klepchukov was born between Black Seas, Virginian Beaches, and San Franciscan waves. He adores trains, swing sets, and music that tears him outta time. Read Art’s words in Glimmer Train, The Best American Mystery Stories 2019, The Common, Necessary Fiction, and more at ArsenalOfWords.com [37]

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