Guest post by Christopher Fielden
There are hundreds of short story competitions for aspiring writers to enter across the globe. Some offer small prizes, some large, and some monster prizes, which might make you think someone has made a typo when preparing the competition details.
The ones with the monster prizes tend to attract thousands of entries, so the likelihood of winning them or having your work published through them is slim. But if you do win, suddenly you have credibility and renown, so it has to be worth having a go, right? Hell yeah! I would just recommend that you also enter the smaller, more frequent competitions too, as there are fewer entries and therefore you have a better chance of success.
That said, below is a countdown of the biggest prizes currently offered in short story competitions.
5th Biggest Prize – Writers of the Future
First Prize of $5,000
This is an American competition which offers quarterly prizes and an annual prize to the overall winner. The maximum word count for entries is a whopping 17,000, which is the highest I have ever encountered in a short story competition. The competition favors stories of sci-fi or fantasy genre.
4th Biggest Prize – The Bridport Prize
First prize of £5,000
Widely regarded as one of the most prestigious awards in writing, this short story competition attracts thousands of entries every year. The maximum word count for entries is 5,000. They will accept any genre and you can familiarize yourself with the judges favoured styles by purchasing the previous years winning and short listed stories in an anthology.
3rd Biggest Prize – Manchester Writing Competition
First Prize of £10,000
This short story competition is run by Manchester University. In 2012 they are only concentrating on poetry, so you can’t enter a short story until 2013. The maximum word count is 3,000.
2nd Biggest Prize – BBC Short Story Award
First Prize of £15,000
You have to be a published writer to enter this competition (being self published does not count). Due to this rule, many professional writers enter the competition so the standard of the stories are extremely high. Needless to say, if you do win, it looks VERY impressive on your writing CV! Maximum word count is 8,000.
THE Biggest Prize – Sunday Times EFG Private Band Short Story Award
First Prize of £30,000
Like the BBC competition, you have to have been previously published to enter, but it has to have been in the UK or Ireland. Winning stories are published by the Times. Again, not bad for the CV! Maximum word count is 6,000.
Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award
First Prize 35,000 Euros
This competition actually boasts to be the biggest prize in short story writing in the world, but it is for a collection of short stories, not a singular short story, which is why I have not placed it in the top five.