Writing Contest: 15 Free Legitimate Online Writing Contest

You’re a skillful writer, and you desire to show the world what you got, well, there are several online writing contests that you can partake in and win a prize that comes with it. If you want to know these websites, you are at the right place. I will show you the legit ones today.

Online writing contests are a fun way to improve your writing skill. Yes, the cash prize is a bonus—what’s nicer about these events is the recognition you get for writing something exceptional.

One thing about these online contests is that they are full of fun. However, If cash is your main goal, I believe it would be worthwhile to focus that energy and time on freelance writing jobs. I have several articles on how to make money writing online.

But I don’t think you’re looking for freelance jobs because if you were, there’d be no reason to be here, right? So, I reckon you read on and get the information you seek.

Are writing Contests Legit?

When it comes to online writing contests, some of them do charge a small entry fee. Still, most times when you’re being asked to pay a fee, it may probably be a scam—so do stay away from online writing contests that ask you to pay a stipulated fee.

You think of it, you’re participating in a contest, and the said host will own full rights to your work, so why would they ask for a fee?

Besides that, numerous online writing contests encourage creativity in every area with real rewards and career-advancing opportunities.

How to win in writing?

Well, this question can be rephrased to ‘What do I write in an online writing contest?’ well, here are some of my tips, please take note;

1. You’re Human

Why is one story chosen over another story? I can bluntly tell you no one knows.  Yes, no one, not even the judge (although they may have good reasons). It’s pretty impossible to search the actions of the judges of an online writing contest. Most of the things that people write are purely subjective.

This is to say, if a judge criticizes your work, you don’t need to feel bad in any way. This is because the judge is only judging from his beliefs or ideological taste. This is to say winning does come down and only down to luck or the judge’s mood for that day.

Also, read Content Writing Jobs: 15 Places to Search for Writing Gigs

So, the question that’s asked is, what should you do? The only thing you need to do is submit your article, pray it wins, and then proceed to write your next story—it’s as simple as that.

2. Interesting Characters are necessary

The one thing that thrills people more has contrast. I mean things like good versus evil, light versus darkness, etc. For example, you can use things like a normal person having a bad habit that they are trying to resolve, and many more.

When it comes to contrasts, you have to know it’s fascinating. Does your main character have contrast? And if you wish to win that online writing contest, then your character must have the element.

3. Thrilling Endings

Everyone loves surprise endings. Yes, everyone, including your judges. Of course, a thrilling ending can be predicted right from the start, but there’s a way the writer twists events to distract you, and you never expect it.

4. Repeat the Twists

What you need to do here is repeat an action. For example, if the said character is eating at a fancy restaurant with her husband in the first scene, then add some twist to it that he is eating alone in the last scene.

In essence, when you repeat a twist, it gives your ending that nice look that surely captures the interest of just anyone.

A full list of Online Writing contests


online writing contest

This is a boutique publishing firm known to offer promotional packages and cash prizes to winning authors. All you need to do here is submit a manuscript of at least 10,000 words or more in a fiction genre—poetry and fanfic are also included.

Inkitt online writing contests run each month. They give authors or writers the chance to win cash prizes of up to 300 dollars, promotional packages, and exclusive book badges while showing their books to Inkitt followers, which are more than a million users.

All winners are determined by Inkitt’s special algorithm, which is based on a conclusive reader engagement.

2. Graywolf Press Nonfiction

This is one popular small press in the creative writing world. In addition, Graywolf Press is known to hosts various online writing contests for both known and unknown authors. Graywolf also offers small fiction and nonfiction prizes, with most genres rotating by the year.

Also, read Freelance Writing Job: 8 Top Magazines that Pay Writers $100+

In the year 2020, it was nonfiction year, while fiction is up in 2021.

And the awards offered include 12000 dollars in the previous years and full publishing with Graywolf. In addition, for Graywolf Press nonfiction, there’s no entry fee.

3. The Press 53-word story Online writing contest

Press 53 is free, fun, and the winner gets published in the prime number magazine and is said to receive a free book from Press 53! The Entry fee is free, and it’s open for all writers.

When it comes to the submission deadline, it’s on the 15th day of each month. The prize is offered when you participate in publishing your literary piece in Prime Number Magazine, along with your picture and a 53-word bio, plus, as I said, a free book from press 53!

4. Short Fiction Prize

Stony Brook Southampton is said to accept all submissions of short fiction. It must be 7500 or less.

Southampton Arts is an active community of readers and writers within SUNY Stony Brook, bringing graduate programs in creative writing, film, podcasting, and children’s literature.

Presently, an artist’s professional practice demands a well-rounded, sole, imaginative businessman; these are ones with the skill to draw on a range of genres, media, and technologies. The entry fee is free, and the prerequisites for contest entry are for only full-time undergraduates in the U.S, Canadian universities, and all eligible colleges. The submission deadline is June 1st, 2021, and all submissions are open on March 1st, 2021.

The cash prize is 1000 dollars and a literary scholarship to the 2021 Southampton Writers’ conference.

Also, read 25 Amazing Freelance Writing From Home Jobs to Explore

The people that should enter the contest are undergraduates of short story fiction writers who wish to compete for both a chance to participate in a writers’ conference and cash.

5. Student Scholarship Essay Contest at the Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute scholarship is said to be open to various aspirants who are keenly motivated to write an essay. The Fraser Institute in Canada hosts the scholarship. The program it’s designated for high school students, and the cash prize for the online writing contest is 3000 dollars to 9000 dollars.

6. Accenti Writing Contest

online writing contest

Th Accenti contest is open to various writing works of literature such as prose works of fiction and creative nonfiction of about 2000 words in the maximum.

The contest is said to award four winners from the list of submitted articles. In addition, the topmost winning article is posted on the Accenti website all together with the writer’s name at the end of the contest.

7. New Voices Award

Hosted by Lee and Low Books, an award-winning children’s book publisher, this award is also given for previously unpublished children’s picture book manuscripts of not more than 1,500 words written by a writer of color or native writers residing in the United States.

The winner of the New Voices award said to receive a cash prize of 2000 dollars and a standard publication contract. Not forgetting an additional honor award the winner will receive which is a cash prize of at least 1000 dollars. And you are also liable to submit at least two manuscripts.

For the deadline, submissions for 2021 would be accepted from May 1st to July 31st.

8. PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

The PEN/Faulkner was created to honor the best work of fiction published by an author in a single calendar year. This award has been given to Anna Patchett, Phillip Roth, John Updike.

All types of novellas, novels, and collections of short stories are all eligible. And the winner is said to receive a cash prize of up to 15000 dollars in the past and an invitation to read at the award ceremony in Washington DC. Not to forget, there are no submission fees or applications forms to deal with in any way; all you need to do is send a PDF of each book, and it can be as many as you like to this site awards@penfaulkner.org.

The deadline for 2021 submissions is already closed. And in 2022, submissions would be accepted from July 1st to October 31st.

9. The Bristol Short Story Prize

All published and unpublished authors worldwide that are sixteen and eligible can submit applications and their manuscripts for the Bristol Short Story contest. The stories must not be more than 4000 words in any genre or style and must be written in English. You can enter online or by mail.

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For the 1st cash prize, the winner goes home with 1,400 dollars, the second cash prize is 700 dollars, and for the third cash prize, the winner goes home with 350 dollars. The entry fee is 13 dollars.

10. University of New Orleans Press Lab Prize

The University of New Orleans’ publishing house aims to provide ‘innovative publicity as well as a broad distribution for an unpublished novel or short story collection.

There are no word limits or restrictions on subjects, and it’s open to authors worldwide. The winner is also said to go home with 10,000 dollars, and his literary piece will also be published on the platform. The entry fee is 28 dollars.

11. Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award

The National Space Society and the Baen Books are said to applaud the role science fiction plays in advancing real science and have all teamed up to sponsor a fictional short story online writing contest in the memory of Jim Baen. The entry fee here is free, and the prerequisites for entry are all open to all authors who aren’t employees of Baen books or had won previously.

The Jim Bean Contest pays 8 cents per word, and your story will be published as the featured story on the Baen book’s main website. And you also go home with an engraved award and a free entry into the 2020 international space development conference. Not to forget a full-year membership in the national space society and a prize package with various Baen Books and National Space Society merchandise.

12. Young Lions Fiction Award

It was created in the year 2001. The New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award is a 10,000 dollars’ prize awarded each spring to a writer at the age of 35 or younger for a novel or collection of short stories.

Each year, five young fiction writers are selected as finalists by a reading committee of Young Lions members, librarians, writers, and editors. The entry fee is free, and the prerequisites for contest entry are 35 years and below as I said previously.

13. Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards

The Writersdigest contest is for poet writers. They are on the lookout for poems of all styles-rhyming, haiku, free verse, and more for the Annual Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards! This is said to be the only online writing contest made exclusively for poets. So, all you need to do is enter any poem – 32 lines or less for a chance to win 1000 dollars in cash. The entry fee is 25 dollars.

14. The Gabo Prize in Translation and Multilingual Texts

The Gabo Prize is funded by translators, writers, and the Antioch University of Los Angeles MFA alumni. They all launched the prize to support the work of peer translators.

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All you need to do is submit your works of translation which are less than 3,500 words long. However, make sure it’s current, fresh, and displays underrepresented authors, cultures, and languages. The cash price is 200 dollars, and the entry fee is free.

15. The Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award

online writing contest

The Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award competition for full-length short stories, basically on a supernatural theme, does open twice each year. And they are known to offer 1500 dollars and an online and print publication to the winner of the short story competition. The entry fee is said to be 20 dollars.


So, regardless of where you are on your writing journey, you can still benefit from entering online writing contests. The right contest can tell you a few things you have to know about your literary style, how to measure against the competition, and the stuff you still need to learn in the long run.

And the last word given in this article by me is, good luck!

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Hi, I'm Benedict. The founder of Bennyselfpublishing Academy. A platform designed to teach people how to write and publish their books online and offline from the comfort of their homes. When I am not writing, I am outside playing football or watching my favorite team Chelsea play.

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