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Top Free Contests for New Writers

Michael McPhersonFrom guest contributor Michael McPherson

Are you a talented writer who wants to get noticed? Then what better way to start your career than participating in writing contests? There are a lot of free online competitions for new writers from all over the world.

Below you can find a list with the best top free contests for new writers. We have included competitions for all literary genres, so everybody can have a chance at winning the big prize.

As a general rule, before submitting your work, you must read all the terms and conditions carefully. Also, respect every requirement: the format, the number of words, the language, the deadline and so on.

1. L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest

This is dedicated to new and amateur writers. The genres admitted are short stories or novelettes of science fiction or fantasy. This competition is really worth participating in, due to the big prizes: every three months winners get $1,000, $750 and $500; then, every year, the big prize is $5,000!

However, entrants must respect some rules. The most important one is no plagiarism! Avoid using poems, lyrics or quotations from other texts, songs, etc. Also, participants must not have previously published anything.

Electronically submitted texts must be double-spaced. The title and the page number must be included on every page. The name of the participant is not to be mentioned, as the Contest is judged anonymously, so that the author's name cannot influence the judging.

Learn more

2.The Seventh Annual Life Lessons Essay Contest

This competition is dedicated to writers who have written about their life experiences. The text should be about a special moment when you have clearly seen a certain thing. For example, when you have realized that your life's goal was to become a writer/doctor/archeologist/etc.

The prize is publication of the story and $3,000.

Your submission must not have more than 1,500 words, it should be double spaced and in a Microsoft Office format. Also, the stories must be non-fiction. All entrants must be 19 or older.

The award-winnerin the last contestwas Meloney Dunning with the text Letting Go. This is a heart-breaking story of a new mother who has lost her child shortly after the delivery.

More details about the contest

3. Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

This Humor Poetry contest accepts poems of any length, but entrants cannot submit more than one text.

The big prize is $1,000. Then the next 10 winners will receive $100 each. Additionally, all winning texts will be published on Winning Writers website and announced in the Winning Writers Newsletter.
Age and nationality donot matter. The only requirement is for the text to be in English or have an English translation which is submitted.

The most recent winner of the contest, Simon Hendrie, submitted a poem called What Will You Say When Your Child Asks: 'Why Didn't You Invest in Eastern Poland?' The poem started with a comical headline from a financial advertorial and continued with two characters: a sinister nine-year-old boy and his father.

See more here

4. Spark - a creative anthology

This contest accepts all kinds of texts: poetry, fiction, short stories and non-fiction.

Short stories should have no more than 12,000 words. The main requirement is that the story should be engaging and captivating.
Poetry of all sorts is welcomed - traditional, experimental, metrical or not. Poems should have between 3 and 100 lines. Entrants can submit a maximum of three poems at a time.

Fiction stories should be 500 to 750 words, but a maximum of 1,500 words is also accepted. The story must be compelling and intriguing.

The non-fiction category only accepts true stories, which of course must be well-written.The word limit is the same as for fiction.

Spark anthology does not have special requirements for genres. However, they don't accept erotic and violent texts, or vulgar language.
Winning texts will be published in Spark Anthology. The first place winner will be awarded $500, lifetime premium membership at Scribophile, one-year subscription to Duotrope, one-year print subscription to American Poetry Review or Poets & Writers magazine or The Writer magazine, and one-year print & digital subscription to Spark: A Creative Anthology. Tempting, isn't it?

See more

5. Amazon Novel Writing Contest

Any short story is accepted in this contest. The maximum word number is 10,000. Along with the text, entrants must submit a cover letter describing the title and the novel's concept.

Penguin is offering a $15,000 prize along with a publishing contract.

For more details

Most of these contests take place quarterly. The best way to be on top of things is to always follow their websites regularly or to subscribe to newsletters. Then, make sure you follow all the submission rules. Good luck!

Our guest contributor Michael McPherson is a graduate student from Boston University, freelance blogger and a regular contributor at You may follow him on Twitter: @McPhersy




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