5 Fun Writing Contests You Can Enter (And Win)

Creative writing competitions are everywhere. The list is endless since more and more are added every year.  However, not everyone is a Hemmingway or Tolstoy.

That’s where these competitions come in. They’re fun and anyone can enter. And some of the best entries have come from some of the unlikeliest of places. So let loose your creative ideas and free your wild imagination as we take a look at these fun writing contests.

1. Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

This is the perfect contest for bad writers. Being bad is actually the point of the competition. In one sentence, write the worst opening to a novel you can think of. There’s no entrance fee and there’s no limit to the amount of times you can enter.

This contest was started in 1982 by a professor at San Jose State University. It “honors” the nineteenth century writer Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. He is known for writing one of the worst openings to a novel in his book Paul Clifford. His opening is familiar to any Peanuts fan.

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

Make your opening worse than this and you have a shot of winning.

2. National Novel Writing Month

It’s said that everyone has a novel inside of them just waiting to come out. This competition gives you that chance to get it out. Every November the non-profit organization The Office of Letters and Light hold this competition (also known as NaNoWriMo) where people start and finish a novel.

It’s 30 days to reach 50,000 words. That’s 1667 words every day for 30 days. That is a very demanding schedule, but the competition has exploded in participants since 1999. When it first began, it had only 21 people. Last year it had 170,000.

Because of the number of words that need to completed each day, the organizers realize that editing and plot are going to suffer. In fact, the competition uses the slogan, “No plot, no problem”.

Participants can use any genre and in any language. You don’t even need an ending as long as it reaches 50,000 words. To put it in perspective, The Great Gatsby is about 50,000 words.

No official prizes are awarded. If you reach the 50,000 words, you are declared a winner. If you want, you can submit your novel to receive a printable certificate, an icon you can display on the web and get included on a list of winners.

3. Three Day Novel Contest

If one month is too long to dedicate to writing, you can try just three days in this competition. Mercifully, there’s no word limits; however, you’re expected in this competition to have an ending. You’re also allowed to have a general outline before you start writing, but you’re not allowed to write anything until the traditional start date of Labor Day.

The competition started in a bar in Vancouver, Canada. Writers gathered there bragged about their abilities. This bragging lead to the three day competition that lives on today.

There is an entry fee of $50, but it is open to anyone in the world in any genre or subject. More than one person can even work on the novel since the registration fee is per novel not per person. The novels are written using the honor system; however, a witness is asked to sign confirming your adherence to the rules.

Unlike the month long novel contest, there is a first place winner who has their novel published. Second and third place winners get cash prizes. The rest receive certificates of participation.

4. Why Mom Deserves a Diamond Contest

The only contest on this list specifically designed for children – and also the only writing contest (or any contest I can think of) where the winner’s mom actually gets a diamond. It’s the largest mothers writing contest in the country.

It started in 1993 when founder Michael C. Watson, owner of a jewelry store, decided to honor mothers across the country. He asked children to write essays explaining why their mother deserves a diamond. The first year saw 250 entrants. Today there are 250,000 entrants. In 17 years of the contest, 48 diamonds have been awarded. In addition, other precious stones are awarded to runners up.

Entering is easy. Children need to write a poem saying why their mom deserves a diamond in 25 words or less. The poems are then judged on creativity, originality and sincerity.

5. Script Frenzy

This competition is similar to the National Novel Writing Month. In fact, it is run by the same organization. This time, participants are asked to put themselves into a “screnzy” (nickname of the event) and write a screenplay, stage play, TV series, graphic novel or anything else that requires a script.

The rules are just about the same as the National Novel Writing Month.

People are given one month to write 100 pages of a script (or multiple scripts depending on what they’re writing). However, they’re allowed to collaborate with others to reach their goal. In this competition, people often communicate with each other through Facebook and Twitter to participate in “page wars” (a timed challenge to write a certain amount of pages).

Every person who finishes their script is declared a winner and receives a certificate and web icon they can display.

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  1. I’m actually going to do the National Novel Writing Month in November! I found out about it last year, but it had already started and I knew I would need the full month to reach the goal. I’ve got an idea of what I want to say, but not how to get there. Haha.

  2. @Miranda

    I knew about National Novel Writing Month last year too, but I didn’t remember in time to do it. This year I will remember, but I’ll be grad school and I don’t want to add all that writing to my studies. I hope it goes well for you.

  3. I’m with Miranda and am going to try to to participate in the National Novel Writing Month, but running the marathon in the middle of the month may throw me off. If anything, it’ll force me to just stuff on paper, which is the point anyway. I didn’t know about script frenzy though, and I have a friend that is a screen writer and may be interested in participating in this to get a bit of a “push.”

  4. Great selection! I wish I could enter…. I need to work a little more on my writing before I make any serious move.

    Are you participating in any of them?

  5. @Eurotrip Tips

    I really want to do the National Novel Writing Month which is coming up in November. However, I won’t have time since I will be in Grad School.

    I’ll probably do the Bulwer-Lytton Contest again. Entries for that are one sentence and accepted all year long. I can find time for that.

  6. Steve,
    Great list! I’m totally motivated now to pursue a few of these, including the National Novel Writing Month. maybe my husband and I will write it together as a bonding experience. Can’t wait to read your entry for the Bulwer-Lytton Contest

  7. Ok, so the bad writing contest would be so ridiculously funny. I might have to let my fiance know. He’s exceptionally flawed when it comes to writing creatively.

  8. Hi Steve, there’s another similar venture to Novel Writing Month but for travel writing. I think you have to query a travel editor every day, or write something which you could later send as a query. Not for the faint hearted then, but equally great at motivating those who both travel and write to push themselves and maybe get some commissions?

  9. @Jools Stone

    I didn’t know that National travel writing month was out there. Thanks for letting sharing it. Apparently it goes all through October so it’s coming up in a few weeks.

    Can you imagine if you did National travel writing month and National Novel Writing Month (which is in November) back to back? I think my hands would fall off with all the typing.


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