Romantic Novelists' Association

February 2018: Competition Monthly

19 February 2018

This month I’m looking at ‘Competitions 101’ – in other words, one of the most basic elements of competition participation – following the rules.

Having helped judge several national competitions myself, I know first hand how often rules are ignored. They’re not created to make it difficult for entrants, but to make it fair for them, and also easier for the administrators and judges.

One of the most common stipulations in a competition is that the work mustn’t have been published elsewhere. Very occasionally it is okay. Often it can’t even be currently entered into another comp, or ‘simultaneously submitted’ as it’s referred to. If it is allowed, you’re asked to inform the organiser if your entry is placed elsewhere. It might be tempting to think, ‘they’ll never find out’. But if you win, they might!

Sometimes you’re encouraged by discounts to send more than one entry to a contest. At other times you’re only permitted one bite at the cherry. If it’s the latter and you submit more, your subsequent entries will be disqualified – and you won’t get your money back.

If the rules state not to put your name on your entry, then make sure it’s not on a header or footer you’ve overlooked. It’s easily done.

Occasionally a competition is only open to a certain group, most commonly to do with age, gender or ethnicity, or you need to live in a certain part of the UK. Quite a number of comps, though open to all, will have a local prize. If you live in the qualifying area, make sure you let the organisers know this.

Though literary prizes are generally open to published and unpublished writers alike, some ask only for entrants who are either one or the other. If you’re not clear on whether they’re referring to all writing or just novels (as often ‘unpublished’ doesn’t include short stories), send them an email or message to clarify.

More on rules next month. In the meantime, happy comping!




Rolling Competitions

Reflex Fiction Quarterly Flash Fiction Competition

Theme: Open. 180 – 360 words

Prize: £1,000 / £500 / £250

Closing date: Ongoing.

Entry: £7



Telegraph Travel Just Back Competition

Theme: Feature article on your travel experience. 500 words max

Prize: £200 in the currency of your choice and publication in The Telegraph

Closing date: Wednesday each week for publication 10 days later

Entry: Free



Writers’ Forum Fiction Competition (also poetry)

Theme: Open. 1,000 – 3,000 words

Prize: £300 / £150 / £100

Closing date: Rolling.

Entry: £6 / £3 for subscribers


(Writers’ Forum also have a flash fiction competition each month, but the duration for each is short and you’ll need to look for the current theme)


Closing Very Soon

Flash 500 Short Story Competition

Theme: Open. 1,000 – 3,000 words

Prize: £500 / £200 / £200

Closing date: 28 February 2018

Entry: £7



1000 Word Challenge

Theme: Must be set at a party.

Prize: £100 / £50 / £25

Closing date: 28 February 2018

Entry: £5



Closing Soon

The Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize

Theme: Two categories. Best published adventure novel and best unpublished MS by a debut author

Prize: £15,000 for published / £7,500 grant for research for unpublished for next story

Closing date: 12 March 2018

Entry: Free



Flash 500 Flash Fiction Competition

Theme: Open. 500 words max

Prize: £300 / £200 / £100

Closing date: 31 March 2018

Entry: £5



Australian Book Review Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize

Theme: Open. 2,000 – 5,000 words

Prize: $7,000 AUD / $2,000 / $1,000 / 3 commended entries will share $2,500 AUD

Closing date: 10 April 2018

Entry: $25 AUD non subscribers / $15 subscribers



Writing Magazine 750 Word Short Story Competition

Theme: Open

Prize: £200 & publication in magazine / £50 & publication online

Closing date: 15 April 2018

Entry: £6 / £4 subscribers



Bath Short Story Award

Theme: Open. 2,200 words max

Prize: £1,200 / £300 / £100 / £100 for best unpublished writer

Closing date: 23 April 2018

Entry: £8



Bath Novel Award

Theme: Any genre including YA. First 5,000 words plus 1 page synopsis

Prize: £2,500 / Shortlisted: MS feedback and literary agent introduction / Longlisted: online professional editing course

Closing date: 30 April 2018

Entry: £25



Tom Howard / John H Reid Fiction Contest (also Essay Prize)

Theme: Open. 6,000 words max

Prize: $2,000 US / $100 for honourable mentions

Closing date: 30 April 2018

Entry: $20



Swanwick / Writing Magazine Win a Place at Swanwick Competitions

Theme: Short story 1,000 words max / Children’s fiction 1,000 words max / Poem 40 lines max, all on theme of ‘Bonding’

Prize: Week at Swanwick 2018 Summer School for the winner in each category / 2nd prize of MS appraisal.

Closing date: 30 April 2018

Entry: £5



Looking Ahead

The Yeovil Literary Prize

Theme: Short story 2,000 words max / Poetry 40 lines max / Writing without restriction: open

Prize: Short story and poetry: £500 / £200 / £100. Writing without restriction: £200 / £100 / £50

Closing date: 31 May 2018

Entry: Short story and poetry: £7 / WWR: £5



The Yeovil Literary Prize Novel Competition

Theme: Open. Max of 15,000 words, including synopsis and opening chapters

Prize: £1,000 / £250 / £100

Closing date: 31 May 2018

Entry: £12





Francesca Capaldi Burgess has been placed or shortlisted in a number of competitions including Winchester Writers’ Conference, Twyford Writers, Chorley & District Writer’s Circle, Retreat West,, Meridian Writing, Flash a Famous Phrase, Wells Festival and Writing Magazine. She’s had stories and a serial published in magazines worldwide and in three anthologies, including Diamonds and Pearls and 100 Stories for Haiti plus a few articles and even a poem. She is a member of the RNA New Writers’ Scheme and the Society for Women Writers and Journalists. Francesca runs a writing blog along with RNA member Elaine Roberts called Write Minds.