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Fiction Writing Contests Worth Your Time in Summer 2020

This contest submissions season covers deadlines from June 1, 2020 through August 31, 2020. Summer is a slower time for any literary journal or contest associated with a university, but there are still opportunities between beach waves and new drafts. Thanks to Literistic [1], Poets & Writers [2], Submittable Discover [3], and New Pages [4] 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.

June 2020

American Short Fiction – Halifax Ranch Prize – $20 fee [5]

Deadline: June 1, 2020

“The winner will receive a $2,500 prize and publication in an upcoming issue of American Short Fiction. Please submit your $20 entry fee and your work through Submittable. International submissions in English are eligible. … All submitters will receive a complimentary copy of the prize issue. All entries must be single, self-contained works of fiction, between 2,000-6,500 words. Please DO NOT include any identifying information on the manuscript itself. … Winners will be announced in September.”

Reasons to submit:

Salamander Magazine – 2020 Fiction Prize – $15 fee [7]

Deadline: June 1, 2020

“First Prize: $1,000 and Publication; Second Prize: $500 and Publication; All entries will be considered for publication. All entries will be considered anonymously. Send no more than one story per entry. Each story must not exceed 30 double-spaced pages in 12 point font. … Contest reading fee includes a one-year subscription.”

Reasons to submit:

Literary Taxidermy – 2020 Competition – $10 fee [8]

Deadline: June 4, 2020

“[P]roduce an original story of up to 2500 words in any genre. The catch: We provide your opening and closing lines chosen from a classic work of literature. You provide the rest. … The first contest draws its opening and closing lines from Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; the second, from Beloved by Toni Morrison. … The author of the winning story in each contest will receive a USD $500 cash prize and a complimentary copy of the forthcoming 2020 Literary Taxidermy Anthology; runners-up will receive a USD $50 cash prize; and both the winner and runners-up will be published in the forthcoming 2020 Literary Taxidermy Anthology.”

Reasons to submit:

Bath Flash Fiction Award – £9 fee [9]

Deadline: June 7, 2020

“300 word limit. £1000 prize for the winner, £300 second and £100 third. Two commendations £30 each. 50 longlisted entrants offered publication in our end of year print and digital anthology. Those accepting receive a free copy.”

Reasons to submit:

Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award – $0 fee [10]

Deadline: June 8, 2020

“The Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award is an annual grant of $2,000 for an emerging writer of color. This grant is intended to support the recipient in crime fiction writing and career development activities. … An unpublished writer is preferred, however publication of several pieces of short fiction and/or up to two self-published or traditionally published books will not disqualify an applicant. … [Submit] An unpublished work of crime fiction. This may be a short story or first chapter(s) of a manuscript in-progress, 2,500 to 5,000 words.”

Reasons to submit:

Willow Springs Books – Spokane Prize for Short Fiction – $28 fee [12]

Deadline: June 15, 2020

“The winner receives $2,000 plus publication. … Open To: All United States authors, regardless of publication history. … Submit A book-length manuscript. Manuscripts should be no less than 98 pages (with no maximum page count) and include at least 3 short stories. Manuscripts should be organized with page numbers and a table of contents. Stories may have been previously published in journals, anthologies, or limited edition volumes. However, selected story collections (stories previously published in books) will not be considered. Please do not send novels.”

Reasons to submit:

New American Press – 2020 New American Fiction Prize – $25 fee [13]

Deadline: June 15, 2020

“Winner receives a publication contract, including a $1,500 advance, 25 author’s copies, and promotional support. … All full-length fiction manuscripts are welcome, including novels, novellas, collections of stories and/or novellas, novels in verse, linked collections, as well as full-length collections of flash fiction and short-shorts. Full-length fiction manuscripts tend to be at least 100 pages. There is no maximum length. … We read manuscripts blind, so please exclude identifying information from the manuscript itself. … Simultaneous submissions are accepted and encouraged. Please contact us immediately if your manuscript is accepted for publication elsewhere.”

Reasons to submit:

University of Pittsburgh Press – Drue Heinz Literature Prize – $0 fee [14]

Deadline: June 30, 2020

“The award is open to writers who have published a novel or a book-length collection of fiction with a reputable book publisher, or a minimum of three short stories or novellas in magazines or journals of national distribution. Digital-only publication and self-publication do not count toward this requirement. The award is open to writers in English, whether or not they are citizens of the United States. … Eligible submissions include an unpublished manuscript of short stories; two or more novellas (a novella may comprise a maximum of 130 double-spaced typed pages); or a combination of one or more novellas and short stories. Novellas are only accepted as part of a larger collection. Manuscripts may be no fewer than 150 and no more than 300 pages. Prior publication of your manuscript as a whole in any format (including electronic) makes it ineligible. Stories or novellas previously published in magazines or journals or in book form as part of an anthology are eligible.”

Reasons to submit:


July 2020

Bellevue Literary Review – Goldenberg Prize for Fiction – $20 fee [15]

Deadline: July 1, 2020

“The annual BLR Prizes award outstanding writing related to themes of health, healing, illness, the mind, and the body. … First prize is $1,000 (in each genre) and publication in the Spring 2021 issue of BLR. Honorable mention winners will receive $250 and publication in the Spring 2021 issue of BLR. … The Bellevue Literary Review seeks character-driven fiction with  original voices and strong settings. We do not publish genre fiction (romance, sci-fi,  horror).  Our word max is 5,000, though most of our published stories tend to be in the range of 2,000-4,000 words. We have only occasionally published flash  fiction.  While we are always interested in creative explorations in style, we do  lean toward classic short stories.”

Reasons to submit:

The Royal Society of Literature – V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize – £0-8 fee [16]

Deadline: July 3, 2020

“We are delighted to announce that the V.S. Pritchett Short Story Prize, for best unpublished short story, is open for its twenty-first year. The winner will receive £1,000 and the winning entry will be published in Prospect online and in the RSL Review. Stories must be written in English and be between 2,000 and 4,000 words. Entrants must be resident in the UK, Republic of Ireland or Commonwealth (see list of countries here [17]) and likely to be available for a prize-giving event in autumn 2020.”

Reasons to submit:

Nowhere Magazine – Spring 2020 Travel Writing Contest – $15 fee [18]

Deadline: July 15, 2020

“Award-winning literary travel magazine Nowhere is accepting submissions for our annual Spring Travel Writing Prize. We are looking for novice and veteran writers of any stripe to send us stories that possess a powerful sense of people, place and time. Every submission will be read blind, so anyone can win! … Previously published work is eligible. Please indicate this, with proper attribution details, in your cover letter.” Submit 800-5,000 words.

Reasons to submit:

Crazyhorse – Crazyshorts! Short-Short Fiction Contest – $15 fee [19]

Deadline: July 31, 2020

Annual contest expected to repeat this July. $1,000 and publication for first place. “Submit 1-3 stories of up to 500 words each. … All entries will be considered for publication. Before you submit, please remove your name and any other identifying information from your manuscript. Simultaneous submissions are okay, as long as you contact us should the work be accepted elsewhere. The $15 entry fee includes a one-year subscription to Crazyhorse.”

Reasons to submit:

2020 F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Story Contest – $0 fee [20]

Deadline: July 31 2020

“Residents of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, are eligible. … no restrictions on subject matter.” Submit up to 4,000 words. “First prize is $500 and an invitation to speak briefly about the story at the 24th annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival on October 3, 2020. … Two runner-up prizes of $100 each.”

Reasons to submit:


August 2020

PEN America – 2021 Emerging Voices Fellowship – TBA fee [21]

Deadline: August 1, 2020

“The Emerging Voices Fellowship is a literary mentorship based in Los Angeles that has been providing underrepresented, marginalized writers with the tools they need to launch a professional literary career, since 1996. Examples of these communities include, but are not limited to, women, immigrants, people of color, older people, and those who are members of the LGBTQI+ communities. Through curated one-on-one mentorship, and introductions to editors, agents, and publishers, in addition to editing, marketing, and web development workshops, the fellowship nurtures creative community, provides a professional skillset, and demystifies the path to publication, with the ultimate goal of diversifying the publishing and media industries. … The 2021 application is open from April 1 to August 1, 2020 with interviews and the final award announcement made in November. The fellowship cycle is seven months, with events taking place in Los Angeles from January to July of 2021.” Submit up to 20 pages.

Reasons to submit:

Third Wednesday – George Dila Memorial Flash Fiction Contest – $6 fee [22]

Deadline: August 15, 2020

Full disclosure: Third Wednesday was my first publication (as a result of submitting to this contest [23]).

“Three Winning Stories will be awarded $100 each! The editors of Third Wednesday are pleased to honor the memory of George Dila, friend of Third Wednesday and the editor who originally brought fiction to 3W. … From May 1st to August 15th, 2020 we will accept entries of previously unpublished fiction under 1000 words in length (including title). Three winning stories will receive cash prizes of $100 each and a print copy of the contest issue. … Do not include any identifying information within files or file names. Our judge will read all submissions blindly.”

Reasons to submit:

Coalition of Texans with Disabilities – Pen 2 Paper – $5 fee [24]

Deadline: August 14, 2020

“Pen 2 Paper, CTD’s annual disability-focused creative writing contest, is open! … We have a new prize structure: $200 for 1st, $100 for 2nd, and $50 for 3rd places in each division. … P2P is the ONLY disability-focused creative writing competition in Texas (correct us if we’re wrong!). … While P2P is based in Texas, people from other states or countries are welcome to enter. Each year, entries are evaluated by a panel of volunteer judges, and prizes are awarded to the top entries in each category. Winners and finalists will be posted on P2P’s website and given opportunities to share their work in public settings.” Up to 5,000 words that “must incorporate disability as a theme OR include a major character with a disability.”

Reasons to submit:

The Masters Review – Short Story Award for New Writers – $20 fee [26]

Deadline: August 30, 2020

“Working with five agencies, our winner and honorable mentions earn agency review as well as publication. The winning story earns $3000. Second and third place runners up receive $300 and $200, respectively. Check out our Summer Award information and last year’s Summer and Winter winners, including Joe Bond, who earned representation from Sarah Fuentes of Fletcher & Company as a result of this contest.” Under 6,000 words by an emerging writer anywhere in the world. Judged blind.

Reasons to submit:


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

Learn to Submit today [27] with my submission resources gleaned after 400+ submissions and publications ranging from six-word stories to fiction in markets with national distribution.


Happy submitting!

About Arthur Klepchukov [28]

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 [29]