30 Writing Contests in April 2020 — No entry fees

This April there are more than two dozen contests calling for every genre and form, from poetry, to creative nonfiction, to completed novels. Prizes range from $100,000 to publication. None charge entry fees.

Some of these contests have age and geographical restrictions, so read the instructions carefully.

If you want to get a jump on next month’s contests go to Free Contests. Most of these contests are offered annually, so even if the deadline is past, you can prepare for next year.

Good luck!


Alpine Fellowship. Genre: Pieces of any genre up to 2500 words on the theme of “Forgiveness and Retribution.” Prize: The first place winner receives £3000 and an invitation to enter the symposium in Venice (two runners-up also receive the invitation). Deadline: April 1, 2020.

The Great American Think-Off. Genre: Essay on the theme: “Which is more important: to win or to play by the rules?” Entrants should take a strong stand agreeing or disagreeing with this topic, basing their arguments on personal experience and observations rather than philosophical abstraction. Essay should be no more than 750 words. Prize: One of four $500 cash prizes. Deadline: April 1, 2020.

The Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers. Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians awards fellowships for writers to spend time in McCullers’ childhood home in Columbus, Georgia. The fellowships are intended to afford the writers in residence uninterrupted time to dedicate to their work, free from the distractions of daily life and other professional responsibilities. Award: Stipend of $5000 to cover costs of transportation, food and other incidentals. Fellowship recipients will be required to introduce or advance their work through reading or workshop/forum presentations. The Fellow will work with the McCullers Center Director to plan a presentation near the end of the residency. Deadline: April 1, 2020.

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. Now in its 18th year, this contest seeks today’s best humor poems, published and unpublished. Please enter one poem only, 250 lines max. Prize: $2,250 in prizes, including a top prize of $1,000, and publication on Winning Writers. Deadline: April 1, 2020.

Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction. Restrictions: The writer must be Canadian, and an entry must be the writer’s first or second published book of any type or genre and must have a Canadian locale and/or significance. Genre: Print books and ebooks of creative non-fiction published in the previous calendar year. Prize: C$10,000.00. Deadline: April 1, 2020. (Check this deadline)

The Waterston Desert Writing Prize. Genre: Literary nonfiction, desert theme. Prize: $1,500. Deadline: April 1, 2020.

Wick Poetry Center High School Poetry Competition. Restrictions: Open to Ohio high school seniors. Genre: Poetry: 3 poems, maximum 100 lines per poem, and one-page essay describing your interest in poetry. Prize: One-time $1,500 scholarship to Kent State University. Second and third prize: $1,000 and $500 one-time scholarships. Deadline: April 1, 2020.

William Saroyan Writing Contest. Restrictions: Open to students in 1st grade through college. Genre: Short story, 2 pages. Prize: $50 — $100. Deadline: April 1, 2020.

Eliza So Finish-Your-Book Fellowship. Restrictions: This fellowship is for Native Americans. Genre: A novel, collection of stories, or memoir in progress (100 pages minimum) or poetry collection in progress (30 pages minimum). Prize: The 2020 Eliza So Fellowship will include lodging in Missoula, along with a $1,000 stipend for food and travel. Fellows will stay in a private house on the Clark Fork river trail, just blocks from downtown, grocery shopping, farmers markets, parks, restaurants, coffee shops, and more. Deadline: April 5, 2020.

“You Will Be Found” Essay Challenge. Genre: Essay. “Write a college-application style essay (no longer than 650-words) that describes how “You Will Be Found” resonates with and inspires you. Did it prompt you to challenge your thinking or actions in some way? Was it a catalyst for personal growth? Explain the song’s significance to you and the impact on your life. Essays should be specific, have a clear narrative arc, and adhere to the theme of the challenge.” Prize: $1,500 college scholarship a and free Gotham writing class. Deadline: April 6, 2020.

Parsec Short Story Contest. Restrictions: Open to non-professional writers. Genre: Speculative fiction. The theme for the 2018 contest is: Forging. This can be conveyed in the setting, plot, characters, dialogue…the only limit is your imagination. The theme must be integral to the story in some way and not just mentioned in passing. Prize: $200 and publication. Deadline: April 15, 2020.

Gary Fincke Creative Writing Prize. Restrictions: Open to undergraduates. Genre: Poetry and prose. Prize: $100. Deadline: April 15, 2020.

Scotiabank Giller Prize. Restrictions: Open to books published in Canada in English. Books must be published in Canada in English between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020 to be eligible for the 2019 Prize. Must be nominated by publisher. Genre: Fiction. Full-length novel or collection of short stories published in English, either originally, or in translation. Prize: $100,000 to the winner and $10,000 to each of the finalists. Deadline: April 17, 2020.

Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors. Created by the Missouri Humanities Council, the Warrior Arts Alliance, and Southeast Missouri State University Press, this series of anthologies preserves and shares military service perspectives of our soldiers and veterans of all conflicts and of their families. It is not only an outlet for artistic expression but also a document of the unique aspects of wartime in our nation’s history. Genres: Poetry, Short Fiction, Essay, Photography, Interview with a Warrior. Prize: $250 and publication. Deadline: April 17, 2020 (postmarked).

Sunlight Press Flash Fiction Contest. Genre: Flash fiction, 1000 words max. Prize: $125 and publication. Deadline: April 17, 2020.

The Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize. Genre: Book-length translation of Asian poetry into English. Both translators and publishers are invited to submit titles. Book must have been published in previous year. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: April 20, 2020.

American Literary Translators Association Italian Prose in Translation Award. Genre: Translation of a recent work of Italian prose (fiction or literary non-fiction). Both translators and publishers are invited to submit titles. Book must have been published in previous year. Prize: $5,000. Deadline: April 20, 2020.

Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction Grant. Restrictions: Open to US citizens and residents only. Genre: Creative nonfiction. Whiting welcomes submissions for works of history, cultural or political reportage, biography, memoir, the sciences, philosophy, criticism, food or travel writing, and personal essays, among other categories. Writers must be completing a book of creative nonfiction that is currently under contract with a publisher. Prize: $40,000. Deadline: April 20, 2020.

Is Royalty Relevant? Poetry Competition. Genre: Poetry. “We invite you to write a poem about a member or members of royal families from countries around the world. You can write about any aspect of royalty: their role, actions, dress sense, sense of duty, scandals, economic relevance, artistic or sporting interests, their dogs and other pets or even their handbag (what’s in it?). You can be a royalist or staunch republican, that’s all fine, as long as, we are moved, excited, amused, annoyed or inspired by your poem.” Prize: 200 pounds and online publication. Deadline: April 27, 2020.

The John Byrne Award. Restrictions: Open to residents of Scotland. Genre: A piece of creative work on a chosen theme or value (written work must be no more than 15,000 words in length). Prize: £7500. Deadline: April 30, 2020.

E-waste Scholarship. Restrictions: You must be a high school freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior or a current or entering college or graduate school student of any level. Home schooled students are also eligible. There is no age limit. You must also be a U.S. citizen or legal resident. Genre: 500- to 1,000-word essay about e-waste. Prize: $1000 scholarship. Deadline: April 30, 2020.

SA Writer’s College Short Story Award. Restrictions: Open to unpublished writers in South Africa. Genre: Short stories. Prizes: 1st — R 10 000; 2nd — R 5 000; 3rd — R 2 000. Deadline: April 30, 2020.

Toronto Book Awards. Genres: All genres accepted. Restrictions: Submission “must evoke the city itself, that is, contain some clear Toronto content (this may be reflected in the themes, settings, subjects, etc.). Authors do not necessarily have to reside in Toronto. Ebooks, textbooks and self-published works are not eligible. Prize: A total of $15,000 CD will be awarded. Each shortlisted author (usually 4–6) receives C$1,000 and the winning author is awarded the remainder. Deadline: April 30, 2020.

Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships. Restrictions: Applicants must reside in the U.S. or be U.S. citizens. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and no older than 31 years of age as of April 30, 2020. Genre: Poetry. Prize: $25,800. Deadline: April 30, 2020.

Irene Adler Prize for Women Writers. Restrictions: Open to Canadian women. Genre: Creative nonfiction. Prize: $1,000 scholarship. Deadline: April 30, 2020.

Friends of Falun Gong, Poetry Contest. Genre: Poem Submit one or two poems of no more than 50 lines each. Poems must encompass at least one of the following themes: Advocate for Falun Gong practitioner’s fundamental human rights. Expose the crimes against Falun Gong perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party. Share in the beauty, peacefulness and good nature of Falun Gong. Prizes: $500, $250, $100. Deadline: April 30, 2020.

Al Blanchard Crime Award. Restrictions: New England residents only. Genre: Crime short story. Prize: $100. Deadline: April 30, 2020.

Daisy Utemorrah Award for Indigenous Authors. Restrictions: Open to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writer currently residing in Australia. Genre: Junior/YA full-length fiction manuscript intended for readers aged 8–18. Length: 40,000 and 100,000 words. Prize: AU$15,000 and possible publication. Deadline: April 30, 2020.

Claudia Ann Seaman Awards For Young Writers. Restrictions: High school students. Genre: Stories and poems. Prize: $200. Deadline: April 30, 2020.

Preservation Foundation Essay Contest for Unpublished Writers. Restrictions: The contest is open to writers whose creative writing has never produced revenues of over $750 in any single year. Genre: General Nonfiction. Stories must be between 1000–10,000 words in length. Prize: First prize in each category will be $200. Runners-up will receive $100. Finalists will receive $50. Deadline: April 30, 2020.

Like this article? For more articles about the publishing world, useful tips on how to get an agent, agents who are looking for clients, how to market and promote your work, building your online platform, how to get reviews, self-publishing, as well as publishers accepting manuscripts directly from writers (no agent required) visit Publishing and Other Forms of Insanity.



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