free writing contests 2019, prompts

Free Writing Contests 2019 and Writing Prompts

June 24, 2019, 3:31 p.m.
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Summer’s starting, and what better way to spend time at the beach than writing? Here’s ten free (yes, free) writing contests to send your wonderful stories-- and various categories of writing prompts to get that creativity flowing. If you want feedback on your works in progress, regardless of whether you want to enter a contest, post it on Prolitfic. Prolitfic is one of the workshopping story writing websites, an original fiction alternative to Wattpad. Happy writing!

Free Writing Contests 2019:

53 Word Story Contest

Prime Number Magazine opens this contest monthly. Entry deadline is the 21st day of every month. Winner gets published in the magazine, and gets a free book!

Drue Heinz Literature Award
This award is only open to authors who have published a book-length collection of fiction or at least three short stories or novellas in commercial magazines or literary journals, and is judged anonymously by nationally-recognized authors. Deadline is June 30th, so get writing-- the prize is a lovely $15,000.

ServiceScape Short Story Award
The ServiceScape freelancing website has opened up their annual short story contest for any genre of short story, as long as the maximum word count is 5,000 (the average length of an upload on the Prolitfic site, wink wink). Winners not only receive $1,000, but also have their short stories featured on the ServiceScape blog, which reaches thousands of readers per month. Deadline November 29.

The Iowa Short Fiction Award & John Simmons Short Fiction Award
The University of Iowa Press is looking for collections of short stories of at least 150-pages by unpublished writers. Winners get their collection published by the University of Iowa Press. Deadline is September 30.

L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest
Open to aspiring science fiction and fantasy writers. Prizes of $1000, $750 and $500 are awarded every three months.The writer of the grand-prize-winning story, chosen from the quarterly winners, receives the L. Ron Hubbard Golden Pen Award and an additional $5000 cash prize. 3rd Quarter deadline is June 30th.

Flash Fiction Writing Contest
Can you write a story taking place in a tavern late into the night in 500 words or less? If you can, you’ll get a chance at the $100 cash prize. All entrants also receive feedback on their creative writing submissions. Deadline July 16th.

Dialogue Only Writing Contest
Fanstory has a plethora of writing contests, so we’ll just add one more! Here’s a contest with a special type of restriction-- creative writing submissions must only include dialogue, and nothing else. Winner receives $100 cash prize, and all entrants receive feedback on their stories. Deadline July 5th.

Great Story Project
An international competition for fiction and nonfiction. Heritage Future believes a great story is never defined by its length and welcome all genres and themes with compelling characters and evocative moments. They’re looking for our generation’s Hemingway, Oates, or Steinbeck.

Their team of readers will consider each submission for content, craft, and voice and select ten finalists to be reviewed by their judge. One book will be selected for publication. Open from June 1st through July 31st.

Biopage Mini-Essay Writing Contest
It seems this competition is also geared towards nonfiction, but the parameters are broad; you just need to write, well, anything! Just as long as the essay is about you and under 1,000 words. First place winner receives $1,000. The three runner-ups win $200 each. Deadline is July 31st.

Prolitfic June Writing Competition
Of course, there’s also Prolitfic’s own creative writing competition! We accept simultaneous submissions so you can submit the same story to multiple contests. This contest’s theme is “Identity.” Deadline June 30th, 11:59 PM.

Fiction Writing Prompts:
1. “Passengers, this isn’t your captain speaking.”
2. Even in a never-sleeping, neon-tinted city, 3 A.M. is a relatively quiet hour. Yet it’s 3 A.M., and a person sits alone in a downtown diner, looking anxiously at the window.
3. Who we are and who we need to be to survive are two different things.
4. Use the first line of a nursery rhyme as the starting point of your story.
5. “That is a terrible, stupid idea. Let’s do it and see what happens.”
6. Sometimes, things don’t break. Sometimes, things fall apart. Write a story about a situation that fell apart all on its own, and not because of an outside force.

Fantasy Writing Prompts:
1. Maybe there’s a reason the damsel in distress is in chains. Maybe she was never in distress at all.
2. Write a myth explaining stars.
3. Why fantasy? Write a story exploring why people feel the need to escape into and use fantasy stories in the first place.
4. A man suddenly grows wings.
5. What happens after the happily ever after?
6. You don’t believe mermaids are real, but your mom just walked into the ocean and hasn’t come out.

Science Fiction Writing Prompts:
1. They say space is the final frontier. So...is this it?
2. The line between dystopia and utopia is paper-thin.
3. Robots are trying to become more human. Why?
4. A woman discovers she is a test subject of a new prison rehabilitation program; instead of sending inmates to death row, the government is wiping them of their memories and regressing them back to babies to see if they commit the same crimes again.
5. Aliens made contact with Earth a long time ago, and weren’t interested in what they found. Alternatively: Aliens made contact with Earth a long time ago, and were interested in what they found.
6. Bogged down by guilt and frustration, a superhero visits a therapist. The therapist thinks the superhero is visiting because he discovered the therapist is actually the supervillain.

Horror Writing Prompts:
1. How awful does a child’s life have to be for the monster under their bed to be a comfort?
2. Your dog won’t stop barking at that spot in your backyard.
3. The realtor is relieved her client didn’t mind the home’s...abnormal history. She doesn’t know that he chose the house precisely because of its dark past.
4. We’ve heard of and/or read Southern Gothic. But what about Midwest Gothic? Northeastern? Southwestern?
5. Things don’t have to be extraordinary to be horrible. Sometimes the normal can turn out to be as horrifying as haunted houses.
6. There’s nothing as heartwarming as children’s laughter. Unless you’re alone. And it’s dark. And no kids are nearby.

We hope you have fun testing your ideas through up-and-coming story writing websites like Prolitfic. You can look beyond the WattPad fanfiction to find a home for your original work!