Some Short Story Competitions

Penguin and The Telegraph have announced a free short story competition for 16-18 year old UK residents. Closing date: 14th April 2011.

I don’t suppose many of you are in that age category (correct me if I’m wrong!) but if you’re an English teacher (Shona? Lorna? Are you receiving me?!) it would make a great class project.

You might even get the chance to rub shoulders with the judge – thriller writer John Le Carre – who will come to the winner’s school or college to present the prize! Now that would be a real coup and you could get the local press involved! If that’s whetted your appetite, see here for more details.

Having failed miserably to enter the Mslexia short story competition – and plenty of others so far this year – I’m determined to ‘do better’ in March (must try harder! I’m beginning to sound like an English teacher myself!), so I’ve found a couple of short story competitions, closing at the end of the month, that I’m going to aim for – and you might like to as well:

The Bristol Prize This is quite a prestigious short story competition (they had 1500 entries in 2010), which is reflected in the rather hefty entrance fee (£7) and the rather tasty first prize (£1000 + £150 Waterstones gift card).

There are lots of other prizes too and the 20 top stories will be published in an anthology. If you’re serious about entering this one, it might be worth trying to get your mitts on one of the anthologies (but they’re not cheap!) from previous years, so you can get an idea of the kinds of stories they are looking for.

The competition is open to anyone, worldwide and you can enter as many times as you like, provided you pay £7 each time. Oh, and the stories must be written in English! (Darn, it. Am I ever going to find a home for that historical romance in Swahili?)

Full details are on the website, along with an interview and pictures of last year’s winner, Valerie O’Riordan. Unfortunately, they don’t print her story which was only 350 words long!! (And that just goes to show you shouldn’t feel obliged to use the maximum number of words – which is 3000 for this year’s competition!). It’s driving me mad, because in all the reviews I can find, her story is described as ‘powerful’, ‘disturbing’, ‘remarkable’ and ‘gut-wrenching’ BUT it’s nowhere to be found on the web. Looks like I’m going to have to buy last year’s anthology in order to read it!

Exeter Writers Short Story Competition 2010/11 A smaller entry fee (£4) and smaller prizes – but the standard will still be high! Click here for more details.

The organisers have kindly published last year’s winners on the site. The story that won first prize, The Silent Isle by Rowena Macdonald, is great (although, if I’m being honest, I think it takes a few paragraphs to get into its stride). I remember reading it months ago and it really made an impression on me.

There you go – what are you waiting for? Dig out your best stories, polish them up a bit and send them off before 31st March! Good luck!

(PS: It’s a lovely sunny day here today and I’ve got spring flowers in the tub next to my front door. I just popped outside to take that photo!)

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3 Responses to Some Short Story Competitions

  1. Patricia says:

    Good luck with you stories! It’s always worth the effort, just for the kick of it.

  2. Susan Jones says:

    Hi Helen,
    Thanks for that. Might have a go at the Exeter one. Flowers look fabulous, lovely colours. Cheer you up don’t they? Good luck with your entries.

  3. I’m going to try harder with competitions too. Isn’t it annoying when you see results announced and remember you’d intended to enter, but didn’t get round to it?

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