Writing Competitions & Opportunities: Autumn – Winter 2020

April 23, 2020 by anika

Wondering where to send that finished manuscript or short story? Need a deadline to write towards? We’ve collated an up-to-date list of writing competitions, opportunities and awards for writers. Entries are in order of closing date.

Affirm Press Mentorship Award

Closing date: 14 May

Held in partnership with Varuna Writers’ House, these publishing intensive mentorships provide a unique opportunity for three or four writers developing exceptional new work. The residency includes manuscript feedback and meetings with Affirm Press editorial staff, independent writing time in your own private writing studio at Varuna Writers’ House, plus accommodation and meals. For the 2020 Mentorship Award, Affirm Press is looking for YA manuscripts and middle-grade fiction (9+) with sci-fi and fantasy themes.

Sisters in Crime Davitt Awards

Closing date: 15 May

The deadline for the Sisters in Crime Australia’s 20th Davitt Awards for the best crime and mystery books by Australian women has been extended. To enter the Davitts, publishers should contact Carmel Shute, Sisters in Crime, National Co-convenor asap on [email protected] and get books to the judges before 15 May. Sisters in Crime Australia was set up 29 years ago and has chapters in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. It also hosts a popular annual short-story competition, the Scarlet Stiletto Award. The Davitt Awards are sponsored by Swinburne University of Technology.

The Stuart Hadow Prize

Closing date: 1 June

Run by the Fellowship of Australian Writers Western Australia (FAWWA), this annual short story contest has a first prize of $1000 and a week of unpaid residency at Mattie Furphy House in Swanbourne. Second prize receives $300 and third prize $100. It is open themed with a maximum of 3,000 words per previously unpublished story. FAWWA may publish winning entries in its publications.

Writing NSW Access for Regional Writers Grants


Travel grants of $300 help writers in regional NSW access professional development. Regional writers in any genre can use a grant to participate in an approved professional development event, such as a workshop or seminar, designed to further their writing skills or career as a writer.

Scribe Varuna Residency

Closing date: 18 June

These intensive publishing mentorships provide manuscript feedback and meetings with Scribe editorial staff, independent writing time in a private writing studio at Varuna, accommodation and meals. Scribe editors provide feedback at the beginning and end of the residency as well as having ongoing input. The 2020 program is looking for new works of narrative non-fiction on climate change, nature, and the environment in the anthropocene.

The Next Chapter

Closing date: early July

The Wheeler Centre’s Next Chapter program provides a year’s mentorship and $15,000 to develop work. Participants receive a three-night/four-day residency at Varuna, along with a year’s membership of the Varuna Alumni network. This program is for the stories that aren’t being told, the voices that aren’t being heard, and the ideas that need patience, care and work to introduce to the world.

See also: https://www.varuna.com.au/fellowships/nextchapter

Varuna Residential Fellowships

Closing date: 29 July

Varuna Residential Fellowships offer two to three weeks of full board and accommodation at Varuna, uninterrupted time to write in a private studio, and one-on-one input from a Varuna consultant. Submissions are welcome from writers working in all creative forms, including fiction, drama, poetry, children’s books, and narrative non-fiction.

Ray Koppe Young Writers Residency

Closing date: 30 July

The Australian Society of Authors awards a two-week residential fellowship to a writer under the age of 35 who is as yet unpublished. The fellowship is a two-week residency (including accommodation and all food), a one-hour consultation with a Varuna consultant, a year’s membership to the Australian Society of Authors, and travel subsidy if the recipient lives outside NSW.

ARA Historical Novel Prize

Closing date: 30 June

$30,000 prize money for an historical novel published between 1 January 2019 and 30 June 2020.  Submissions will be judged on excellence in writing, depth of research, and reader appeal.

Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing

Closing date: 31 July

Six awards for crime writers (with prize money from $150 – $500.) All genres of crime writing are eligible; from hard-boiled to comic, paranormal to rural, historical to contemporary, noir to cosy, by published or unpublished writers.

Joanne Burns Microlit Award

Closing date: 1 August

Cash prize of $300 and finalists will be offered publication in the annual Spineless Wonders’ microlit anthology.  Up to 200 words on the theme of PULPED FICTION in genres including Cri Fi, Sci Fi, Noir, Rom Com, Lit Fic, Western, Horror, Gothic, Fantasy, and Fairytale.

 Women’s Crime and Mystery Short Story Competition

Closing date: 31 August

$1500 (TBC) plus the Scarlet Stiletto trophy for the best short story (5,000 words), featuring a strong female protagonist, written by a woman. The competition looks to unearth and support new talent.

KSP Short Fiction Competition

Closing date: 25 September

$300 prize plus weekend residency at the KSP Writers’ Centre for open category and $100 first place prize for youth. Up to 2,500 words for adults and 1,000 for youth of original, unpublished writing with engaging characters and a compelling narrative in any fiction style or theme.

Writing NSW Fellowships

Closing date: late September

Two one-week Varuna residencies to members of Writing NSW for manuscripts, plays or poem collections. One of the fellowships is reserved for a writer under the age of 30. Open to works of fiction, creative non-fiction, a play, or a suite of poems that is ready for the next stage of development.


With thanks to our wonderful office volunteers, Colleen O’Brien and Carolyn Anderson, who helped collate this list.