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We are thrilled to announce the return of our 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. 

"There's something tricky about getting short/longlisted for prizes and not winning. It makes many writers feel like they're good but not good enough. So when I won the Short Fiction prize last year, it was a long awaited validation in many ways (the joy of being read by Irenosen Okojie!). It marked a point after which I took my writing more seriously, took my writer more seriously. I think my writing needed that - a soft nudge, a reassuring pat on the shoulder... simple gestures that sometimes get lost in this whole economy of writing... the endless waiting of writing." – Avrina Prabala-Joslin, 2021 Short Fiction/University of Essex International Short Story Main Prize Winner for She’s A Tank, A Battalion, A Banyan

"Discovering the existence of the Wild Writing Prize was exhilarating in itself. There are so few writing prizes dedicated to climate and nature fiction, so it felt validating, as a writer who specialises in this form, to see this category brought forth by Short Fiction Journal last year. Winning was completely exhilarating, not least because it meant that my story, Cephalopod, reached an audience. It's been just under a year since I won, and quite a busy one. I was shortlisted for The White Review Short Story Prize at the end of last summer, and am now halfway into my first year of a creative writing PhD. I'm currently looking for a publisher for a collection of short stories, of which Cephalopod is part." – Claire Carroll, 2021 Short Fiction/University of Essex Wild Writing Prize Winner for Cephalopod

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 2022 is now CLOSED. Huge thanks to everyone who entered! We will announce the shortlisted stories in August and the winners in September, and our next regular submissions window will open later in the summer. 

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, though please let us know your general situation (whether you're on a low income, unwaged, or a student, for example). Free entries will be judged blind, the same as paid entries. When requesting a free entry, please stipulate whether you're interested in entering the main Prize or the Wild Writing Prize. 

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 or identifying 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.