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Fiction Writing Contests Worth Your Time in Fall 2020

This contest submissions season covers deadlines from September 1, 2020 through November 30, 2020. 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.

 


September 2020

American-Scandinavian Foundation – ASF Translation Awards – $0 fee [5]

Deadline: September 1, 2020

“The American-Scandinavian Foundation annually awards three translation prizes for outstanding translations of poetry, fiction, drama, or literary prose written by a Scandinavian author born after 1900.” Awards over $2,000 and include publication.

Reasons to submit:

 

Black Warrior Review – 2020 fiction contest – $15 fee [6]

Deadline: September 1, 2020

Annual contest in fiction (up to 7,000 words) or flash (up to 3 pieces).

“Fiction winner “receive[s] $1000 and publication in BWR 47.2, our Spring 2021 issue. The first runner-up … receive[s] monetary compensation, acknowledgment in the print issue, and online publication (if desired). We may consider any submission for general publication.” 

Reasons to submit:

 

Black Warrior Review – 2020 flash fiction contest – $6 fee [6]

Deadline: September 1, 2020

Annual contest in flash fiction (up to 3 pieces).

“The winner in Flash receives $500 and publication in BWR 47.2, our Spring 2021 issue. The first runner-up receives monetary compensation, acknowledgment in the print issue, and online publication (if desired). We may consider any submission for general publication.”

Reasons to submit:

 

JuxtaProse Literary Magazine – JuxtaProse Fiction Prize – $18 fee [8]

Deadline: September 1, 2020

“$1,000 and publication in JuxtaProse Literary Magazine will be awarded to the winning piece. Up to three additional pieces, each by a different author, may be awarded “Honorable Mention” status, for which they will receive $100 and publication. All entries will be considered for publication, regardless of whether they receive honorable mention status. Manuscripts must not have been previously published in any form — including any form of online publication — in order to be eligible. … Entries should contain a single story that is between 500 and 7,000 words.”

Reasons to submit:

 

Key West Literary Seminar – Emerging Writer Awards – $12 fee [10]

Deadline: September 15, 2020

“Writers of any age who live in the United States and have not yet published a book with a major publisher are eligible to apply. …fiction writers may apply for either the Johnson Award (for a short story) or the Russo Award (for a novel-in-progress). Due to the postponement of the 2021 Seminar, winners will receive full tuition support for our January 2022 Seminar and Writers’ Workshop Program, round-trip airfare, lodging, a $500 honorarium, and the opportunity to appear on stage during the Seminar.”

Reasons to submit:

 

Gulf Coast – 2020 Barthelme Prize for Short Prose – $20 fee [11]

Deadline: September 15, 2020

“A prize of $1,000 and publication in Gulf Coast is given annually for a piece of short prose …. Honorable mentions will each receive $250. All entries will be considered for publication. … up to 500 words. Each entry can include up to three pieces. The fee for each entry is $20, which includes a yearlong subscription to Gulf Coast.” Judged by Jenny Offill.

Reasons to submit:

 

University of Iowa Press – Iowa Short Fiction Award – $0 fee [13]

Deadline: September 30, 2020

“Any writer who has not previously published a volume of prose fiction is eligible to enter the competition. … The manuscript must be a collection of short stories in English of at least 150 word-processed, double-spaced pages. … Stories previously published in periodicals are eligible for inclusion. There is no reading fee … Award-winning manuscripts will be published by the University of Iowa Press under the Press’s standard contract.”

Reasons to submit:

 

Sunspot Literary Journal – 2020 Inception Contest – $5 fee [14]

Deadline: September 30, 2020

“Openings contain a spark that promises to continue to burn. For Sunspot Lit’s 2020 Inception contest, send your best opening. There are no restrictions on theme, category, or the length of the piece or collection from which the beginning comes. Word limit is 250 for prose … Prize: $250 cash, publication for the winner, publication offered to runners-up and finalists. … Select finalists will have the chance to be published. ”

Reasons to submit:

 

Ghost Story – Supernatural Fiction Award – $20 fee [16]

Deadline: September 30, 2020

Fun fact: A previous winner of this contest is a Writer Unboxed reader who found it in this very roundup!

“Ghost stories are welcome, of course—but your submission may involve any paranormal or supernatural theme, as well as magic realism. 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. … Our competition typically draws around 200 submissions from all around the world. … Twice each year TGS awards $1,000 and both online and print publication to the winner of our short story competition. … Two other writers receive Honorable Mention awards that include publication and cash prizes of $250.”

Reasons to submit:

 


October 2020

The Missouri Review – Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize – $25-30 fee [18]

Deadline: October 1, 2020

$5000 prize. “Winners receive publication, invitation to a reception and reading in their honor, and a cash prize. … up to 8,500 words … Each entrant receives a one-year subscription to the Missouri Review in digital format (normal price $24) … Winners will be announced in early 2021.” 

Reasons to submit:

 

Zoetrope: All-Story – Short Fiction Competition – $30 fee [19]

Deadline: October 1, 2020

“First prize: $1,000 / Second prize: $500 / Third prize: $250 … We accept all genres of literary fiction. Entries must be: unpublished; strictly 5,000 words or fewer … Results will be announced at the website December 15 and in the Spring 2021 edition of Zoetrope: All-Story; and the winning story will be published as a special online supplement to that Spring 2021 edition. … The three prizewinners and seven honorable mentions will be considered for representation by William Morris Endeavor; ICM; the Wylie Agency; Aragi, Inc.; Regal Literary; Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency; Markson Thoma Literary Agency; Inkwell Management; Sterling Lord Literistic; Aitken Alexander Associates; Barer Literary; the Gernert Company; Janklow & Nesbit Associates; and the Georges Borchardt Literary Agency.”

Reasons to submit:

 

New Letters – Editor’s Choice Award – $20 fee [20]

Deadline: October 19, 2020

“We’re looking for work that experiments, that crosses the traditional boundaries of genre and form. Enter your hybrid work—your lyric essays, prose poems, short-shorts, collages, micro-memoirs . . . whatever you’re doing that’s experimental, that defies easy categorization. Max word count is 8,000. … Entries must cross the traditional boundaries of genre and form. … The winner will be announced in early March 2021. The winner will be published in New Letters and receive a $1,000 cash prize.”

Reasons to submit:

 

A Public Space – 2020 A Public Space Fellowships – $0 fee [21]

Deadline: October 15, 2020

“The aim of these fellowships is to seek out and support writers who embrace risk in their work and their own singular vision. … Three fellowships will be awarded, which will include:

  1. six months of editorial support from A Public Space editors to prepare a piece for publication in the magazine;
  2. a $1,000 honorarium;
  3. the opportunity to meet with members of the publishing community, including agents, editors, and published writers;
  4. the opportunity to participate in a public reading and conversation in New York City with A Public Space editors and contributors.

… Only writers who have not yet published or been contracted to write a book-length work are eligible. International applicants are encouraged to apply, but we are only able to consider submissions in English. There is no residency requirement for the Fellowships.”

Reasons to submit:

 

University of Louisville – The Calvino Prize – $25 fee [22]

Deadline: October 15, 2020

“The Calvino Prize is an annual fiction competition sponsored by the Creative Writing Program in the English Department of the University of Louisville. They will be awarded to outstanding pieces of fiction in the fabulist experimentalist style of Italo Calvino. Please note that these prizes are meant to encourage experimental writing, in the mode of Calvino, and are not meant to encourage merely imitative work. The first place entry will be published in Miracle Monocle journal at the University of Louisville. Further, the winner will be invited to read the winning entry, all expenses paid (within the continental US), at the Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900 held at the University of Louisville every February. The 10 finalists will be posted on the website.” Submit up to 25 pages.

Reasons to submit:

 


November 2020

Fiction Collective 2 – Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize – $25 fee [23]

Deadline: November 1, 2020

“The Fiction Collective 2 (FC2) Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize is open  to writers of, from, or in the US writing in English with at least three  books of fiction published. Submissions may include a collection of short stories, one or more novellas, or a novel of any length. There is no length requirement. Works that have previously appeared in magazines  or in anthologies may be included. … The Prize includes $15,000 and publication by FC2, an imprint of the University of Alabama Press. … Submit a previously unpublished manuscript of any length through our electronic submissions manager. … The manuscript must be anonymous.”

Reasons to submit:

 

Malahat Review – Open Season Award (Fiction) – $40-$45 fee [24]

Deadline: November 1, 2020

“The Malahat Review invites entries for its annual Open Season Awards in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction with prizes totalling $CAN 6,000. The contest is open to Canadian and international writers anywhere in the world, with a final deadline of 11:59pm (PST) on 1 November 2020. All entries are judged anonymously. The winner in each category will receive a prize of $CAN 2,000 and be published in the magazine’s spring 2021 issue.” Submit up to 2500 words.

Reasons to submit:

 

PEN America – 2021 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers – $0 fee [25]

Deadline: November 15, 2020

“The PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers recognizes twelve emerging writers each year for their debut short story published in a literary magazine, journal, or cultural website, and aims to support the launch of their careers as fiction writers.

Each of the twelve winning writers receives a cash prize of $2,000 and the independent book publisher Catapult will publish the twelve winning stories in an annual anthology entitled Best Debut Short Stories: The PEN America Dau Prize, which will acknowledge the literary magazines and websites where the stories were originally published.”

Reasons to submit:

 

The New Guard Literary Review – Machigonne Fiction Contest – $22 fee [26]

Deadline: November 21, 2020

“The winner of the contest receives $1,500 and publication for an exceptional work of fiction in any genre. Submit up to 5,000 words: anything from flash to the long story. We do not accept novel excerpts. … Contest winners and all finalists get one free copy of The New Guard, and each submission will be carefully considered for publication.”

Reasons to submit:

 


 

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

Happy submitting!

 

About Arthur Klepchukov [27]

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 [28]

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