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Fiction Writing Contests Worth Your Time in Winter 2020

This contest submissions season covers deadlines from December 1, 2020 through February 28, 2021. Thanks to Literistic [1], Poets & Writers [2], Submittable Discover [3], and New Pages [4] for many of these contests. This season includes less opportunities than usual as 2020 has slowed, rescheduled, or cancelled numerous publishing efforts that I’m aware of.

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.


December 2020

Breakwater Review – The Breakwater Fiction Contest – $10 fee [5]

Deadline: Dec 1, 2020

“We are seeking submissions for pieces that breathe freshness to the form. We are interested in previously unpublished prose ranging from 1,000 – 4,000 words, each with a $10 entry fee. We accept simultaneous submissions, but please notify Breakwater if submission is accepted elsewhere. … prize: $1000 and publication in our next forthcoming issue … 2021 FINALIST JUDGE: Porochista Khakpour … Winner and Finalists Published in our next forthcoming issue.”

Reasons to submit:

 

Langum Foundation – David J. Langum Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction – $0 fee [6]

Deadline: Dec 1, 2020

“A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a book of historical fiction published during the previous year. Publishers or authors may submit two copies of a book (or galleys) published in 2020 by December 1. Self-published books are ineligible. There is no entry fee.”

Reasons to submit:

 

Voyage – The Voyage YA Short Story Award – $20 fee [7]

Deadline: Dec 1, 2020

“Here at Voyage, we’re huge fans of short form fiction. What we don’t see enough of, is short fiction in the YA category. So, we’re hosting a contest! Can you tell us a good YA story in 5,000 words or less? Send us your best YA contemporary, romance, fantasy, science fiction, genre-bender, and more! We read widely in YA, and we’re simply looking for a well-told story. 

The 1st Place winner will receive $3000 and an hour-long consultation with Literary Agent Saritza Hernandez of Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

2nd Place will receive $300 and publication, and 3rd place $200 and publication.

Finalists will also receive written feedback from Literary Agent Saritza Hernandez. Bonus: Every entrant will receive access to a pre-recorded mini workshop on writing a synopsis with Editor and Literary Agent Kaitlyn Johnson at Belcastro Agency!”

Reasons to submit:

 

Virginia Commonwealth University – Cabell First Novelist Award – $0 fee [8]

Deadline: Dec 30, 2020

“The VCU Cabell First Novelist Award honors an outstanding debut novel published in the preceding calendar year. … Winning novelists have written books that may be funny or sad, sarcastic or heartrending, but each is powerful enough in its own way to have moved initial readers and final judges toward the conclusion that, among a field of roughly a hundred submissions annually, its writer has achieved something notable and enduring. … VCU Libraries then organizes the annual event, generally held at James Branch Cabell Library, in which the winning author and two others involved in the writing and publishing worlds, typically the author’s agent and editor, appear at a public reading and Q&A session focusing on the creation, publication, and promotion of a first novel. Travel to and lodging in Richmond for the author and the additional speakers are provided, and the author receives a cash prize.”

Reasons to submit:

 

Press 53 – Award for Short Fiction – $30 fee [9]

Deadline: Dec 31, 2020

“The Press 53 Award for Short Fiction is awarded annually to an outstanding, unpublished short story collection. This contest is open to any writer, regardless of his or her publication history, provided the manuscript is written in English and the author lives in the United States or one of its territories. The winner of this contest will receive publication by Press 53, a $1,000 cash advance and fifty copies of the book; all prizes will be awarded upon publication.”

Reasons to submit:

 

Boulevard – Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers – $16 fee [11]

Deadline: Dec 31, 2020

“$1,500 and publication in Boulevard awarded to the winning story by a writer who has not yet published a book of fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction with a nationally distributed press. … We accept works up to 8,000 words.”

Reasons to submit:

 

River Styx – 2021 Microfiction Contest – $15-20 fee [12]

Deadline: Dec 31, 2020

“$1,000 First Prize … 500 words maximum per story, up to three stories per entry fee. … Choose your entry fee: $15 or $20. $20 entry fee includes a one-year subscription. $15 entry fee includes a copy of the issue in which the winning stories will appear. Include name and address on the cover letter only. First, second, and third place winners will be published. All stories will be considered for publication.”

Reasons to submit:

 


January 2021

Bayou Magazine – James Knudsen Prize for Fiction – $20 fee [13]

Deadline: Jan 1, 2021

“Winner will receive $1,000 and a year’s subscription to Bayou Magazine. Finalists will be named on our website. All submissions will be considered for publication.” Sumit up to 7,500 words, including novel excerpts that work as a standalone story.

Reasons to submit:

 

Mississippi Review – 2021 Fiction Prize – $16 fee [14]

Deadline: Jan 1, 2021

$1,000 prize. “Winners and finalists will make up next summer’s print issue of the national literary magazine Mississippi Review. Contest is open to all writers in English except current or former students or employees of The University of Southern Mississippi. Fiction and nonfiction entries should be 1000-8000 words; … Each entrant will receive a copy of the prize issue. All submissions will be read anonymously. Please remove or redact any contact information from your submission.”

Reasons to submit:

 

North Carolina Writers’ Network – Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize – $10-$20 fee [15]

Deadline: Jan 2, 2021

“The competition is open to any African-American writer whose primary residence is in North Carolina. Entries … must be unpublished*, no more than 3,000 words, and concerned with the lives and experiences of North Carolina African-Americans. Entries may be excerpts from longer works, but must be self-contained. The winner receives $1,000 and possible publication of the winning entry in The Carolina Quarterly.”

Reasons to submit:

 

The DISQUIET Literary Prize – $15 fee [16]

Deadline: Jan 15, 2021

“Submissions open October 15 for the DISQUIET Prize for writing in any genre, by a writer who has not yet published more than one book with a major press. Results are expected in early March. Three winners will be published in Granta.com (fiction), NinthLetter.com (non-fiction) or The Common (poetry). One grand prize winner will receive a full scholarship, accommodations, and travel stipend to attend the tenth annual DISQUIET International Literary Program in Lisbon. In the event the 2021 Lisbon program can’t be held due to coronavirus restrictions, genre and grand prize winners can choose to delay the prize trip to a future year or accept a substitute cash prize of $1,000 each.”

Reasons to submit:

 

Literal Latté – K. Margaret Grossman Fiction Awards – $10 fee [17]

Deadline: Jan 15, 2021

“Send unpublished stories, 10,000 words max. All subjects and styles welcome. … All entries considered for publication.” First Prize: $1000, Second Prize: $300, Third Prize: $200.

Reasons to submit:

 


February 2021

American Short Fiction – 2021 American Short(er) Fiction Prize – $17 fee [18]

Deadline: Feb 1, 2021

“The prize recognizes extraordinary short fiction under 1,000 words. The first-place winner will receive a $1,000 prize and publication [in a future issue of ASF]. Previous winners of the Short(er) Fiction Prize have gone on to be anthologized in places such as The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses. All entries will be considered for publication. … You are allowed to include up to three stories per entry.

Reasons to submit:

 

Lunch Ticket – The Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation & Multilingual Texts – $0 fee [19]

Deadline: Feb 28, 2021

“Translators and authors of multilingual texts are encouraged to submit their work for The Gabo Prize. The winner, selected by a guest judge, will receive $200, and the winning piece will be published alongside two semi-finalists in the upcoming issue of Lunch Ticket.”

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 [20]

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 [21]

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