Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness..a time to curl up before the fire with a good book. Or maybe even to write one.

To flex your writing muscles, here are some suggestions for October.

To begin with, why not submit your work to on-line magazine Penny Shorts, which is seeking short stories between 1,000 and 10,000 words. They like ‘thought-provoking, surreal, ridiculous, tragic, tear-jerking, painful, philosophical, horrifying or gruesome stories’ and are particularly drawn to twist-in-the-tale endings. Multiple submissions are accepted. Response time is ‘within 4 weeks’ and ‘there is payment for all writers’. Details from:

The Wenlock Olympian Society and the Much Wenlock & District U3A have launched the Wenlock Olympian Flash Fiction Competition 2020/2021 for original, unpublished fiction up to 1,000 words in any genre on the following themes: Five Rings; Winning; Gold is Only a Colour. Prizes are £150, £50 and £25, plus Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. The entry fee is £5, £8 for two and £12 for three. Closing Date: 31 October. Details:

The ovarian cancer charity Ovacome’s first writing competition is for short stories on the timely theme of ‘overcoming’. Enter original, unpublished short stories up to 2,000 words. The ‘overcoming’ theme can be interpreted broadly and stories do not need to be related to either health or ovarian cancer. The competition intends to raise awareness of ovarian cancer, and money for its support services. The winner will get £250 and further prizes will be announced. Entry is £5 per story. Closing date: 31 October. Details:

Writing Magazine feature a Picture Book Prize 2020, with comprehensive advice on how to win the prize given in their November edition. First prize is a consultation with top agent Julia Churchill, a year’s subscription to the magazine, and £200 prize money. Second prize is a picture book critique by Amy Sparkes, via Writing Magazine courses, a year’s subscription to the magazine and £50 prize money. Third prize is a year’s subscription to the magazine. Deadline is 31 October. Details:

Observer/Jonathan Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize for graphic short stories. Prizes: £1,000 plus publication; £250. FREE ENTRY. Closing date: 11 October. Details of what is required:

Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize for stories up to 500 words – no minimum word count. Prizes: £300, £200, £100, £15 for shortlisted. Entry fee: £8. Closing date: 25 October. Details:

Retreat West 1,000 word Short Story Prize. First Prize, a professional recording of you winning story, worth £150. Second Prize, a year’s Retreat West Gold Author MJembership, value £100. Third prize, a year’s Retreat West Bronze Flash Membership, value £50. Entry £10. Closing date 4 October. Details:

Cinnamon Press Literature Award for 10 poems, 2 stories or 10,000 words of a novel. Prize: publishing contract. Entry fee: £16. Closing date: 30 October. Details:

McKitterick Prize 2021  for the best first novel, published or unpublished, by an author aged over 40. Prizes: £4,000. FREE ENTRY. Closing date: 31 October. Details:

Flash 500 Novel Opening Chapter & Synopsis Competition for the opening of a novel, up to 3,000 words, plus a synopsis. Prizes: £500, £200. Entry fee: £10. Closing Date: 31 October. Details:

The current situation means that competitions can be cancelled or altered at short notice, so please remember to check the details extremely carefully before entering.

Good luck!