Story Prize 20


At Online Writing Tips, we’ve been privileged to read thousands of your short stories in the process of awarding the annual OWT Short-Fiction Prize for the past four years. We regret, however, that we’ll be taking a break in 2020 with the prize returning in 2021. The prize is run by D.D. Johnston – with help from friends – and he and his partner  are thrilled to be expecting their first child this summer. Given the pressures already associated with the covid-19 pandemic, he doesn’t feel he can commit to reading hundreds of stories this year. Rest assured, however, that the prize will return for 2021.

Please stay safe, keep your spirits up, and look out for details of the 2021 Online Writing Tips Short Fiction Prize.

Submission Guidelines

2021 deadlines to be announced.

Please submit one short story of 1000-4000 words. We are looking for new fiction and therefore we cannot consider previously published work. We can accept only one entry per author. Submissions should be presented in standard manuscript format, double spaced, and in a 12 point font.

International entrants are welcome.

There is no theme. We simply want the stories that move us. We want fiction that makes us laugh or cry—or both. To get an idea of what we’re looking for, have a read of previous winners; here is the winner from 2016, the winner from 2017, the winner from 2018, and the winner from 2019.

We regret that we are unable to offer feedback on submissions or enter into correspondence regarding the judges’ decisions.

The Prize

The winner of the Online Writing Tips Short Fiction Prize will be awarded £100, and the publication of their story at

2nd place: £50

3rd place: £25

All prize money will be paid via PayPal.

Submissions should be e-mailed as word document attachments to before 2021 DEADLINE TBC. Please write “OWT Short Fiction Prize: Title of your piece” in the subject line. Feel free to introduce yourself in the body of the e-mail.

Keep an eye out to see if you make the shortlist. The shortlist and winners will be announced on this blog during the summer of 2021.


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  3. Hi Stuart and Syl. Good query and please accept my apologies if this answer is long and somewhat vague. We’re looking for literary excellence, and that means something slightly different from the thing that the most people are going to like. In this sense I suppose we’re elitists: even if more people prefer an alcopop to a 1985 30-year-old Macallan single malt, we nevertheless think there’s some validity to the claim that the single malt may be, in some way, a better drink than a Bacardi Breezer. Even if thousands of times more people listen to Justin Bieber than to Shostakovich, we nevertheless think there’s some validity to the claim that Shostakovich’s 5th symphony may be, in some way, a better piece of music than Justin Bieber’s ‘Eenie Meenie’. Similarly, we think that even if millions more people read The Hunger Games than read David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, we nevertheless think there’s some validity to the claim that Infinite Jest is, in some way, ‘better’ (whatever that means). The complicated bit is that this elitism has absolutely nothing to do with genre. ‘Literary fiction’ is often formulaic and boring. There are loads of writers who might be seen as ‘genre’ writers who would totally rock our competition – David Peace, Elmore Leonard, J.G. Ballard, Ursula Le Guin, and hundreds of others. So we are absolutely open to stories that are fantastical or are about crimes. We just want those stories to be as good as Shostakovich’s 5th symphony. And if that answer doesn’t clear things up, remember that the comp is free to enter, so what the heck, right? 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

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  9. Hello, you state that the submission can’t be previously published. Could you please clarify? Many writers do publish their stories in their website or blog, and how about self-published work?


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