We’d all love to be shortlisted by the Bridport, but here are some other competitions worth considering, which should have fewer entries against which to compete. Working on a poem, short story or piece of flash fiction can provide a useful cure for writer’s block – or a break from the slog of editing a 100,000-word novel. Why not give one of them a go?
Daily Mail Random House First Novel Competition. The first prize in this competition for a novel for adult readers is a £20,000 advance. Entries must be original, previously unpublished fiction in any genre for adults except saga, sci-fi or fantasy. In addition, entrants must not previously have published a novel with a valid ISBN, or be represented by a literary agent. The prize is an advance against publication and literary representation by Luigi Bonomi of LBA Books Ltd. Manuscripts must be available by March 2019 and the entry deadline is 13 July 2018. Please note, you must enter by post, sending the first 3,000 words of a debut novel, plus a 600-word synopsis, printed in 12pt font and double-spacing on single sides of A4, to Daily Mail First Novel Competition, c/o Penguin Random House Group, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London. SW1V 2SA. Website details: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/first novel
The Brighton Prize wants short stories between 1,000 and 2,000 words, and flash fiction up to 350 words. Short story prizes are: £1,000, plus 2 x £100. Flash Fiction prizes: £500, plus 2 x £50. ‘We love stories that work on the stage as well as they do on the page.’ Deadline 7 July. Details: http://www.brightonprize.com
Ledbury Poetry Festival Competition is for poems of up to 40 lines. Prizes: £1,000 plus a week at Ty Newydd; £500; £250. Entry fee: £5, £3.50 for each subsequent. Deadline 12 July. Details: http://www.poetry-festival.co.uk
Wrekin Writers are inviting entries up to 1,200 words for the 2018 Doris Gooderson Short Story Competition. There is a first prize of £200, a second of £100 and a third of £50. Half of the competition profits are donated to Severn Hospice. The entry fee is £5, and the closing date 12 July. Details: https://wrekinwriters.wordpress.com
Wasifiri New Writing Prize. Poetry, up to five poems; fiction and life writing up to 3,000 words. Prizes: £300 in each category, plus publication in Wasifiri. This is run by The Open University in London, so well worth supporting. Entry fee: £6 for one category; £10 for two categories; £15 for three categories. Closing date 15 July. Details: http://www.wasafiri.org
The H G Wells Short Story Competition is for short stories on the theme of ‘peace’ of 1,500-5,000 words. There is a £250 prize in the adult category and £1,000 in the Margaret and Reg Turnhill Prize for writers under 21. Winning entries will be published in an anthology. Adult entry fee is £10, while under 21 entries are free. Closing date is 23 July. Details: https://hgwellscompetition.com/
HISSAC Flash Fiction and Short Story Competitions. Flash fiction: max 500 words. Story: max. 2000 words. Fee: £5; £12 for 3; £18 for 5; £25 for 7. Prizes: £250; £50; £25. Deadline: 31 July. Details: http://www.hissac.co.uk
The Olga Sinclair Award, promoted by Norwich Writers, is looking for short stories of up to 2,000 words on the theme of ‘markets’. There will be ten winners, with the top three receiving prizes of £400, £250, £100. All ten will be published in a non-profit-making anthology. Postal deadline is 16 July, online deadline 31 July. Details: https://norwichwriters.wordpress.com/the-olga-sinclair-open-short-story-competition/
Trapeze Books Write Your Own Love Story competition offers a £10,000 book contract plus mentoring from Trapeze author, Anna Stuart. One lucky runner-up will receive a place on a Curtis Brown on-line novel writing course worth £200. Send your first 5,000 words, plus biographical details and a brief synopsis by 30 July to firstname.lastname@example.org Full details and advice on what they’re looking for at: https://www.curtisbrowncreative.co.uk/sam-eades-on-write-your-own-love-story-a-new-competition/
Inktears Flash Fiction, up to 500 words. Prizes: £250; £50; £25 x 8, plus your story and biographical details published to the readership of the Inktears website (something well worth taking a look at).
To Hull and Back Humorous Writing Competition. Do you have a well-developed sense of humour? Christopher Fielden is looking for ‘funny stories’ up to 4,000 words and isoffering generous prizes: £1,000; £500; £250; 3 x £50; 14 x £25. Winners and those shortlisted will be published in an anthology, together with a writer’s profile, ‘a delightful picture of you, a short bio telling readers how amazing you are and details of your website, if you have one.’ Entry fee: £11 for one, £18 for two and £22 for three. Closing date is 31 July. Details: http://www.christopherfielden.com
Original unpublished short stories are invited to enter the Sean O’Faolain International Short Story Prize 2018. First prize is 2,000 euros, plus a week-long residency at Anam Cara Retreat in West Cork, Ireland. There is a second prize of 500 euros and four shortlisted entries will receive 120 euros each. If a winner attends the Cork International Short Story Festival to collect their prize, hotel accommodation, meals and drinks will be provided. The entry fee is 15 euros and the closing date for submissions 31 July. Website: http://www.munsterlit.ie/SOF%20Page.html
Cinnamon Press Annual Debut Fiction Prize. The first 10,000 words of an unpublished novel, novella or short story collection. Prize: A year’s mentoring worth £1,000, plus publishing contract, and 100 copies of your novel. Entry fee: £12. Deadline 31 July. Details: http://www.cinnamonpress.com
Stroud Book Festival International Writing Competition 2018. Poetry up to 40 lines, flash fiction up to 500 words; Katie Fford Award for Mainstream Fiction excerpt up to 3,000 words and 200 word synopsis. Prizes: £500; £250; £100; and 4-night writing retreat. £50 Katie Fford award. Entry fee: £5, £3 each additional. Closing date: 31 July. Details: https://stroudbookfestival.org.uk
Novel Writing Scholarship. Irish author Marian Keyes is funding the Marian Keyes Scholarship, offering a place on Curtis Brown Creative’s six-month on-line course. Writers from under-represented backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply. The course runs between 10 September and 4 March and is taught by Lisa O’Donnell. Writers should be either unmarried and not cohabiting, with an annual income of less than £25,000 and personal savings of less than £5,000, or married or cohabiting with a total household income of less than £35,000 and personal savings of less than £5,000. To apply, send 3,000 words of a work in progress and a one-page synopsis, and complete the online application form. Website: https://writ.rs/mariankeyesscholarship Deadline: 29 July.
Checking out all these competitions is fiddly, and sometimes I sadly get things wrong, so please remember to check all rules and guidelines before entering.
Something for everybody there, surely? Good luck!