Romantic Novelists' Association

January 2020: Competition Monthly

20 January 2020

Simultaneous Submissions, Entering Previous Winners and Re-entering Unsuccessful Stories

The importance of reading competition rules has been mentioned several times on this post, and one of the things to look out for is whether the competition allows simultaneous submissions. That is, sending your entry to more than one competition at a time. Some contests disallow it. Others, like the Short Fiction / Essex Prize featured this month, state that Simultaneous submissions are welcome,  but request that you please withdraw your entry… as soon as possible if the story is accepted for publication elsewhere, in print or online.

You also need to look at whether your entry has already been published or won a prize in another contest. Again, each competition has its own rules about this. The Evesham competition also insists that your entry must never have been previously published, in print or online (including self-published, magazines, journals, websites, blogs, social network sites), or broadcast or won a prize in another writing competition.

Many organisations don’t want to see a story submitted that’s previously been entered into their contests. The BBC competition, for instance, states that, Stories which were previously entered into any of the following are ineligible, then lists several BBC contests.

A fourth consideration is whether you are eligible, as some competitions are looking for entries from only either published or unpublished writers. Some welcome either, though The Wilbur Smith Competition has two separate competitions for each.

Sometimes the rules seem endless but are worth reading through to make sure your entry isn’t disqualified, especially as most competitions won’t give you your money back!


Good luck in your new writing year.


Click November 2019 and December 2019 for posts detailing further competitions closing in February and March.






Rolling Competitions


Writer’s Forum Short Story Contest

Theme: Open, 1000 – 3,000 words

Prize: £300 / £150 / £100

Closing date: Rolling

Entry: £6 / Subscribers £3




Closing soon


London Independent Short Story and Flash Fiction Prizes

Theme: Open, 1,000 words max short story, 300 words max flash fiction

Prize: £100 for each

Closing date: 9 February 2020

Entry: £10 for short story, £7 for flash fiction



Writing Magazine Dialogue Only Short Story Competition

Theme: 1,500 – 1,700 words

Prize: £200 / £50

Closing date: 15 February 2020

Entry: £6 / £4 subscribers




March Competitions


Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prizes

Theme: Adventure writing: Best published novel / Best unpublished novel

Prize: Best published: £15,000 / Best unpublished: publishing deal with Bonnier Books UK

Closing date: 2 March 2020

Entry: Free from published novel / £20 for unpublished

Details Published and Details Unpublished


BBC National Short Story Award

Theme: Open, 8,000 words max. Must have prior record of publication in creative writing in the UK.

Prize: £15,000 / 4 x £600 plus all five broadcast by Radio 4

Closing date: 9 March 2020

Entry: Free



Writing Magazine Odd Couple Short Story Competition

Theme: About or involving an odd couple, 1,500 – 1,700 words

Prize: £200 / £50

Closing date: 15 March 2020

Entry: £6 / £4 for subscribers



Fiction Factory Short Story Competition

Theme: Open (excluding children’s and YA), 3,000 words max

Prize: £150 / £50 / £25

Closing date: 15 March 2020

Entry: £6



Evesham Festival of Words Short Story Competition

Theme: Open, 2,500 words max

Prize: £150 / £50 / £30

Closing date: 20 March 2020

Entry: £5



The Writers Bureau Short Story Competition

Theme: Open, 2,000 words max

Prize: £300 / £200 / £100 / £50 plus Writer’s Bureau course of choice for all winners

Closing date: 31 March 2020

Entry: £5 / £4 if member of The Association of Freelance Writers



The Short Fiction / Essex Prize

Theme: Open, 5,000 words max

Prize: £500 / £250 plus publication for both online

Closing date: 31 March 2020

Entry: £7 / £9 if submit in March




April Competitions


New Deal Writing Competition

Theme: Based on the painting ‘Down and Out’, 10,000 words max

Prize: $200 / $100 / $50

Closing date: 10 April 2020

Entry: $5



The Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest

Theme: Write an atrocious opening sentence to a hypothetical bad novel.

Prize: Unspecified, but can by up to $250.

Closing date: April 15th 2020

Entry: Free



Tom Howard / John H Reid Fiction Contest

Theme: Open, 6,000 words max, published or unpublished

Prize: $3,000 / $200 for all Honourable Mentions

Closing date: 30th April 2020

Entry: $20



Swanwick Short Story Competition

Theme: ‘Vision’: short story 1,000 max / children’s fiction 1,000 words max (plus poetry)

Prize: Inclusive stay at Swanwick Summer School 8th – 14th August / Writing Magazine manuscript appraisal / Copy of Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook

Closing date: 30 April 2020

Entry: £6







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, Writing Magazine and The People’s Friend serial competition. She’s had stories and a serial published in magazines worldwide and her third pocket novel is due out in April. Her first historical saga, published by Hera Books, will be out in May. Apart from the RNA, she’s also a member of the Society for Women Writers and Journalists. Francesca runs a writing blog with RNA member Elaine Roberts called Write Minds.