Opportunities and Competitions

How to find short story (and other) writing competitions

Words by Jenni Curry, ACTWC Blogger in Residence


We all know that a great way to build your profile as an author is to get published. But before you will be ready to publish a book, you will likely need to publish a few other things.

For nonfiction writers, this means the publication of articles in relevant media. For fiction writers, this often means entering short story competitions, and having your work published as a result.

But how do you find short story (and other) writing competitions? Try these options:

  1. A great place to start is the ACT Writers Centre weekly e-news, which lists upcoming opportunities and competitions. Overtime you will notice that many of these occur regularly, either monthly or yearly.
  2. If you want to spread your work further, try looking at other Australian Writers Centre websites. Each Centre is set up to support both emerging and established writers and they often work collaboratively.
  3. Looking further afield, Aerogramme Studio is a wonderful resource for emerging writers. The site regularly lists national and international writing competitions of varying genres and with different requirements. Many of these competitions offer a respectable prize for the winner, but remember, this will attract more entries.
  4. Subscribing to online literary magazines and platforms will also alert you to new opportunities as they arise. Find sites that you enjoy, and try to get your work on the same site; the other readers will likely be your target audience.
  5. You might hear about a competition or opportunity that doesn’t work for you right now, but is something to keep in mind for the following year. For these projects, I tend to print out the entry requirements as they rarely change, and make sure I am as prepared as possible for the following year.

At the beginning of the year, I made a list of all the writing competitions I could find for 2015. While I haven’t entered them all (there are too many and I need a life away from my laptop), having a list of multiple opportunities means that I can plan. For example, the 15th May was the deadline for three separate competitions with word counts of 3,500 words, 6,000 words and 7,000 words. While it was not possible for me to enter each of these, I knew I could write to my heart’s content and enter the competition which best matched the work I was producing.

By planning ahead in this way, you can find competitions which match your work, instead of writing to fit a certain genre and word count. It also means you can have weeks or months to polish a piece, rather than trying to write and edit a winning entry in two days (as I know we have all done before).

So, if you are looking to get a few wins under your belt, or would like to test a new writing style, have a look for some upcoming writing competitions. Playing with a short story may be a small distraction from your major piece, but it may just inspire you.

Jenni CurryJenni Curry has a Masters in Creative Writing and is a 2014 HARDCOPY alumni. She writes fiction novels and short stories, many of which have been seen in Australian and UK anthologies including Time to Write and How Higher Education Feels. She finds fiction simpler than reality and continues to search for the perfect world to live in.

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