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Fiction Writing Contests Worth Your Time in Winter 2022-2023


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This contest submissions season covers deadlines from December 1, 2022 through February 28, 2023. Thanks to Literistic, Poets & Writers, Submittable Discover, and New Pages for many of these contests. 

Much like editors are looking for reasons to reject work, I want to focus on opportunities worth my time. Thus, my list of writing contests below includes reasons to submit to that particular writing contest. May you find a promising opportunity among this list and spend less time searching for where to send your exceptional work.


December 2022

Breakwater Review – The Breakwater Fiction Contest – $10 fee

Deadline: Dec 1, 2022

“We are seeking submissions for pieces that breathe freshness to the form. We are interested in previously unpublished prose ranging from 1,000-4,000 words, each with a $10 entry fee. We accept simultaneous submissions, but please notify Breakwater if submission is accepted elsewhere. … prize: $1000 and publication in our next forthcoming issue … 2023 FINALIST JUDGE: Camille Bordas … Winner and Finalists will be published in Issue 33.”

Reasons to submit:

Virginia Commonwealth University – Cabell First Novelist Award – $0 fee

Deadline: Dec 30, 2022

“The VCU Cabell First Novelist Award honors an outstanding debut novel published in the preceding calendar year. … Winning novelists have written books that may be funny or sad, sarcastic or heartrending, but each is powerful enough in its own way to have moved initial readers and final judges toward the conclusion that, among a field of roughly a hundred submissions annually, its writer has achieved something notable and enduring. … VCU Libraries then organizes the annual event, generally held at James Branch Cabell Library, in which the winning author and two others involved in the writing and publishing worlds, typically the author’s agent and editor, appear at a public reading and Q&A session focusing on the creation, publication, and promotion of a first novel. Travel to and lodging in Richmond for the author and the additional speakers are provided, and the author receives a cash prize.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Friendly to emerging writers
  • Friendly to novelists
  • Rebirth—accepts published work
  • Wanderluster—prize includes lodging or travel

Press 53 – Award for Short Fiction – $30 fee

Deadline: Dec 31, 2022

“The Press 53 Award for Short Fiction is awarded annually to an outstanding, unpublished short story collection. This competition is open to any writer age 18 or older, regardless of his or her publication history, provided the manuscript is written in English and the author lives in the United States or one of its territories.  … The winner of this contest will receive publication by Press 53, a $1,000 cash advance and 53 copies (38 softcover / 15 hardcover) of the book; all prizes will be awarded upon publication.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Friendly to emerging writers
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Prestige—#176 in Pushcart ranking

Boulevard – Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers – $16 fee

Deadline: Dec 31, 2022

“$1,500 and publication in Boulevard awarded to the winning story by a writer who has not yet published a book of fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction with a nationally distributed press. … We accept works up to 8,000 words.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Eligibility restriction—less competition
  • Friendly to emerging writers
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Prestige—#39 in Pushcart ranking
  • Read on—entry fee includes one-year subscription

Michigan Quarterly Review – 2022 Jesmyn Ward Fiction Prize – $25

Deadline: Dec 31, 2022

“The Jesmyn Ward Prize will be awarded annually by the Michigan Quarterly Review to one short story submitted for consideration. … Please submit one unpublished short story of 1,500-7,000 words. Simultaneous submissions are welcome … We ask entrants not to include their names or contact information within the document they upload to Submittable, its title, or its file name. … The 2022 Judge will be Desiree Cooper. The winning story will be published in the Summer issue of the following year. The prize will be in the amount of $2,000 and publication. All submissions will be considered for publication in MQR.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Prestige—#57 in Pushcart ranking


January 2023

Epiphany – 2023 Breakout! Prize – $20 fee

Deadline: Jan 1, 2023

“Winners receive a $1000 cash prize and publication. The 5th Annual Breakout! Writers Prize brings visibility to the creators of our future by honoring and supporting outstanding college and graduate student writers. … All applicants will receive a complimentary digital subscription to Epiphany. … Candidates must have been enrolled in an accredited university, at least part-time, for the academic years 2021 or 2022. The prize is open to both graduate and undergraduate students. Students need not be enrolled in MFA programs or creative writing programs.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Eligibility restriction—less competition
  • Friendly to emerging writers
  • Prestige—#69 in Pushcart ranking
  • Prestigious judge—Safiya Sinclair
  • Read on—entry fee includes one-year digital subscription

Mississippi Review – Fiction Prize – $15-16 fee

Deadline: Jan 1, 2023

$1,000 prize. “Our annual contest awards prizes of $1,000 in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Winners and finalists will make up next summer’s print issue of the national literary magazine Mississippi Review. Contest is open to all writers in English except current or former students or employees of The University of Southern Mississippi. Fiction and nonfiction entries should be 1000-8000 words; … Each entrant will receive a copy of the prize issue. All submissions will be read anonymously. Please remove or redact any contact information from your submission.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Prestige—#54 in Pushcart ranking
  • Read on—entry fee includes copy of prize issue

Bayou Magazine – James Knudsen Prize for Fiction – $20 fee

Deadline: Jan 1, 2023

“Winner will receive $1,000 and a year’s subscription to Bayou Magazine. Finalists will be named on our website. All submissions will be considered for publication.” Submit up to 7,500 words, including novel excerpts that work as a standalone story.

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Friendly to novelists
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Read on—entry fee includes contest issue

North Carolina Writers’ Network – Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize – $10-$20 fee

Deadline: Jan 2, 2023

“The competition is open to any African-American/Black writer whose primary residence is in North Carolina. Entries … must be unpublished*, no more than 3,000 words, and concerned with the lives and experiences of African-American/Black North Carolinians. Entries may be excerpts from longer works, but must be self-contained. The winner receives $1,000 and possible publication of the winning entry in The Carolina Quarterly.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Eligibility restriction—less competition
  • Friendly to novelists
  • Regional restriction—less competition

The DISQUIET Literary Prize–$15 fee

Deadline: Jan 2, 2023

Fiction winner will be published in Granta.com. “One grand prize winner will receive a full scholarship, accommodations,  and travel stipend to attend the tenth annual DISQUIET International Literary Program in Lisbon (June 25-July 7, 2023). Genre winners will receive a tuition waiver for DISQUIET 2023 in addition to publication. Winners who are unable to attend the progam in Lisbon may elect to receive a $1000 cash prize in lieu of the tuition waiver.” … Submit “ONE short story or novel excerpt, maximum 25 (double-spaced) pages per entry.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Eligibility restriction—less competition
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Friendly to emerging writers
  • Friendly to novelists
  • Oh, wordy!—generous word count limit
  • Wanderluster—prize includes lodging or travel

Voyage YA – Best Chapters Contest – $20 fee

Deadline: Jan 15, 2023

“Submissions must be a chapter of a Young Adult novel (full novel does not need to be completed), and from the point-of-view of a young adult, meaning through the lens of a teen protagonist … We want the chapter that makes us ache for the rest of the book, that makes us desperate to spend more time in the world of your creation! … The 1st Place winner will receive $1,000 and an hour-long consultation with a literary agent

19 Finalists will receive written feedback on five pages of their novel from a literary agent.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Eligibility restriction—less competition
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Friendly to emerging writers
  • Friendly to novelists
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes


February 2023

American Short Fiction – American Short(er) Fiction Contest – $18

Deadline: Feb 1, 2023

“The American Short(er) Story Contest recognizes extraordinary short fiction under 1,000 words. This year we are honored to have Karen Russell as our guest judge. … You are allowed to include up to three stories per entry. … The 1st-place winner will receive a $1,000 prize and publication. All entries will be considered for publication. … International submissions in English are eligible. The entry fee covers up to three 1,000-word fiction submissions. All entries must be single, self-contained works of fiction, under 1,000 words. Please DO NOT include any identifying information (name, address, email) on the manuscript itself. … Winners will be announced in April.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Eligibility restriction—less competition
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Prestige—#17 in Pushcart ranking

Stonecrop – Storyfort Micro Fiction Contest 2023 – $5

Deadline: Feb 17, 2023

“College of Western Idaho’s literary magazine, Stonecrop, is proud to collaborate with Storyfort, a branch of Treefort Music Fest held in downtown Boise, Idaho, to host this writing contest. All are invited to participate. … The top three winners receive prizes and get their stories published in the spring issue of Stonecrop. … Stories must begin with one of the following first lines from recent and upcoming Treefort artists … Each entry must be between 300 and 500 words in length. … All submissions are anonymous. … All winning submissions will be published in Stonecrop magazine’s Issue 06, spring 2023. All winners are invited to read winning submissions on the final day of Storyfort 2023.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes
  • Wanderluster—prize includes lodging or travel

Lunch Ticket – The Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation & Multilingual Texts – $0 fee

Deadline: Feb 28, 2023

“Translators and authors of multilingual texts are encouraged to submit their work for The Gabo Prize. The winner, selected by a guest judge, will receive $200, and the winning piece will be published alongside two semi-finalists in the upcoming issue of Lunch Ticket. … All submissions for the award will be considered for publication in other sections of Lunch Ticket.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Eligibility restriction—less competition
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • No hunting for winners—can read past winners online
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes

Fish Publishing – Flash Fiction Prize – €14 fee

Deadline: Feb 28, 2023

“The Fish Flash Fiction Prize is an opportunity to attempt one of the most interesting and rewarding tasks – to create, in a tiny fragment, a completely resolved and compelling story in 300 words or less. … Ten stories will be published in the Fish Anthology 2023. (First, second, third and seven honourable mentions) … First [prize] – €1,000 … Second [prize] – Online Writing Course + €300 … Third [prize] – €300 … The ten published authors will each receive five copies of the Anthology and will be invited to read at the launch during the West Cork Literary Festival in July ’23.”

Reasons to submit:

  • Blind submissions are fine submissions!
  • Eligibility restriction—less competition
  • Flag-bearer—open to international submissions
  • Share the wealth—multiple prizes


Have I missed a great writing contest? Please leave a comment and let me know where you found it.

Happy submitting!

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