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Short Fiction/University of Essex International Short Story Prize 2022

Writing.ie | Magazine | Writing Competitions
Short Story

By Writing.ie

Competition deadline: 30th June 2022

Short Fiction is excited to announce the return of its internationally-renowned short story competition, organised in partnership with the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies (LiFTS) at the University of Essex. As in 2021, the competition will feature a special Wild Writing category for nature, environmental or climate crisis fiction.

This year’s competition features a stellar line up of judges. The main prize will be judged by Caleb Azumah Nelson, winner of the Costa First Novel Award 2021 for Open Water, and top agent Seren Adams of United Agents. The Wild Writing Prize winner will be chosen by the Booker Prize shortlisted and Edge Hill Prize winning Daisy Johnson, author of Fen, Everything Under and Sisters, alongside James Canton, author of The Oak Papers and Director of Wild Writing at LiFTS. 

This year’s main prize winner will receive £750, while the runner-up will be awarded £250 and the third placed story will earn £100. The Wild Writing Prize winner will receive £500, and the runner-up will be given £100.

The Short Fiction/University of Essex International Short Story Prize will open for entries on 4 April 2022, and will close on 30 June 2022. The shortlist will be announced in August and the winners in September.

Short Fiction journal has been publishing the best in literary short stories from around the world in print and online since 2006, and is one of the UK’s most highly regarded online literary journals. Last year’s Short Fiction/University of Essex International Short Story Prize received entries from over 40 countries around the world, and we hope to attract an even wider range of stories in 2022.

The Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies (LiFTS) at the University of Essex is an interdisciplinary department with expertise in English literature, drama, creative writing, journalism, film and screen media. The department offers several undergraduate and postgraduate creative writing courses including an MA in Wild Writing: Literature, Landscape and the Environment.

Prize judges:

Caleb Azumah Nelson (Main Prize judge)

Caleb Azumah Nelson is a British-Ghanaian writer and photographer, and lives in South East London. His writing has been published in Litro and he was recently shortlisted for the Palm Photo Prize and won the People’s Choice prize. He was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2020 for his story ‘Pray’. He was selected by the Observer as one of the ’10 Best Debut Novelists of 2021′, and his debut novel Open Water was published by Viking (UK) in February 2021 and by Grove Atlantic (US) in spring 2021. It was chosen by the Booksellers Association as its Fiction Book of the Month for February 2021 and has since been longlisted for the Desmond Elliot prize and the Gordon Burn prize, shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of the Year 2021, and won the Costa First Novel Award 2021. In February 2022 it was selected as Waterstones Paperback of the Month.

Daisy Johnson (Wild Writing Prize judge)

Daisy Johnson is the author of Fen, Everything Under and Sisters. In 2018 she became the youngest person ever to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her short story collection Fen was the winner of the Edge Hill Prize. In 2022 she was a finalist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction Futures initiative. She lives in Oxford by the river with her partner and child.

Seren Adams (Main Prize judge)

Seren Adams worked at Granta and Foyles before joining United Agents in 2015. Her list focuses on literary fiction and narrative non-fiction, and she has a particular passion for precise prose and unconventional storytelling.

James Canton (Wild Writing Prize judge)

James Canton is a writer and lecturer who has written widely in creative non-fiction forms and taught on the MA in Wild Writing at the University of Essex since its inception in 2009, exploring the fascinating ties between the literature and landscape of East Anglia. His first book From Cairo to Baghdad (2011) explored the writings of British Travellers to Arabia from 1882 to 2003. Out of Essex: Re-Imagining a Literary Landscape (2013) is inspired by rural wanderings in the county. Ancient Wonderings: Journeys into Prehistoric Britain was published by William Collins in 2017 and tells some remarkable tales of life in ancient Britain. His latest book The Oak Papers was published with Canongate in July 2020.

Entry Rules:

1. Dates: The Prize is open for entries from 4 April 2022. The deadline for receipt of entries is 30 June 2022 (23:59 BST).

2. Language: All entries must be in English.

3. Geographical restrictions: There are no geographical restrictions on entry: while the Prize is UK-based, all writers – within and outside the UK – are welcome to enter.

4. Length: The maximum length of submissions is 5,000 words, not including the title. There is no minimum length. 

5. Genre/theme: For the main prize, there are no restrictions on genre, style, theme, or subject, but entries should be prose fiction – not poetry or memoir. Entries to the Wild Writing Prize should be prose fiction on the theme or themes of nature, environment and/or climate crisis.

6. Entry fee: There is an entry fee for each story submitted (though see Free entries, below). To encourage early submissions, the fee for entries submitted in April and May will be £8 – the discounted fee will apply until 31 May 2022 (23:59 GMT). In the final month, June, the entry fee will be £10. Payment is made through the Submittable portal for the Prizes. At the time of entry, writers can opt to pay a supplement of £1 to subsidise a free entry for a writer in more difficult circumstances.

7. Free entries: Forty (40) free entries are available to writers for whom the fee would be a barrier to entry. Twenty (20) of these are reserved for writers resident in the UK. To request one, please email shortfictionjournal@gmail.com and let us know your country of residence. The free entries are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and you do not need to give us detailed information about your circumstances. Free entries will be judged blind, the same as paid entries.

8. Blind judging: Entries will be read and judged anonymously; entrants’ names and contact details should only appear on the entry form and not anywhere on their stories/manuscripts. The stories/manuscripts must be free of all personal information about the author. This includes age and address.

9. Entry format: Entries should be in a standard 12pt font and double-spaced, unless the form of the story demands otherwise. Entry is online-only, via Submittable. Entries sent to our normal submissions email address will be discarded.

10. Multiple entries: Writers may enter as many stories as they like; each separate story requires a separate entry fee.

11. Simultaneous submissions: Simultaneous submissions are welcome, but please withdraw your entry via Submittable as soon as possible if the story is accepted for publication elsewhere, in print or online (including self-published, e-book, magazines, journals, audio, websites, blogs, social network sites), or broadcast.

12. Age restriction: Entrants must be 18 years old or over on the closing date.

13. Corrections: No corrections or alterations can be made after receipt of an entry.

14. New work only: Entries must be entirely the work of the entrant and must never have been previously published, in print or online (including self-published, e-book, magazines, journals, audio, websites, blogs, social network sites), or won a prize in another writing competition. Any entry found to have been plagiarised will be disqualified.

15. Judging process: Each entry will be read by at least two members of a diverse panel of experienced short story readers from Short Fiction. A shortlist, announced in early August 2022, will then be forwarded to the judges – Caleb Azumah Nelson and Seren Adams for the main prize and Daisy Johnson and James Canton for the Wild Writing Prize – who will select the winner and runner-up for a final announcement in early September 2022. The panel’s and Judges’ decisions are final and no individual correspondence will be entered into. 

16. Prizes: £750 will be awarded to the main prize winner; the runner-up will receive £250; a third prize of £100 will also be awarded. The winner of the Wild Writing Prize will be awarded £500 and the runner-up will receive £100.

17. Publication: The winners of both Prizes, and the runner-up and third prize winner in the main prize, will be published online at Short Fiction journal. Acceptance of any prize implies agreement for the relevant story to be published online.

18. Results: Entrants will not be contacted individually about the competition results unless they are selected for the shortlist.

19. Rules acceptance: Entry implies an acceptance of these rules. Entries that fail to comply with the entry rules and requirements may be disqualified.

See here to enter.

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