Annual Writing Contest

The submission window is closed. Judges are evaluating the entries, and finalists will be notified via email by August 1, 2020. Good luck!

2020 Annual Writing Contest
SEEING the WORLD in 20/20

First-, second-, and third-place winners will be awarded in 22 categories of prose and poetry. The entries must be original, unpublished (see definition below*), and in English. You do not have to be a member of SouthWest Writers to enter.

Deadline: Midnight May 15, 2020 (Mountain Time).
Entry fees: $10 for each entry.
Submission: Online submissions only. Acceptable files: .doc, .docx, or .pdf


First place winners will receive $50 and a medal. Second place will receive $25 and a medal. 3rd place will receive a medal. Top 3 winners in each category have the option of being published in the next SWW Winners Anthology.

The top three award winners in each category will be notified via email by August 1, 2020, but the specifics of the awards will remain secret until they are presented at our Annual Meeting on October 3, 2020. If a winner cannot be present to receive the award, it will be sent by regular mail. Winners’ names will be posted on the SWW website and in the SouthWest Sage newsletter after October 3, 2020.


  • Each entry must be an original work that has not been published either electronically or in print anywhere, or submitted previously to an SWW writing contest.
  • All entries—whether prose or poetry—must be submitted in Times New Roman, 12 pt with double spacing.
  • Prose can be up to 3,500 words, including the title.
  • Poetry cannot be any longer than 250 lines, including the title.
  • The name of the author cannot appear on the submission.


  • Submissions accepted via the SWW website starting March 10, 2020 and ending May 15, 2020.
  • Entry Cost is $10 per entry and you do not have to be a member of SouthWest Writers to enter.
  • All entries must be submitted electronically via the SWW website. NO mailed entries will be accepted.
  • No limit on number of submissions per person. The same piece can be entered in more than one category but will cost $10 for each category submitted to. The online submission form takes 5 entries at a time. Submit the form as often as necessary to accommodate the number of entries.


This year there are 11 entry topic categories for both prose and poetry for a total of 22 categories:

Prose or Poetry:
6 Categories
Social Consciousness
Historical Fiction
Sci Fi/Futuristic/Fantasy
Prose or Poetry:
5 Categories


Each entry will be assigned a number. Corresponding author names will be kept secure to ensure unbiased judging.

Entries will receive at least two evaluations by published authors and/or professional editors. Total points will determine the winning entries. In case of a tie, the SWW contest committee will arbitrate to pick a winner. SouthWest Writers reserves the right to disqualify any entry if contest rules are not followed, such as word limit exceeded or author’s name appearing in the manuscript.

Evaluators may enter the contest, but not enter any piece into a category they are reviewing.

By entering the contest, you agree that matters relating to the contest, which are not specifically covered by these rules, will be decided solely at the discretion of contest officials. You will accept as final and be bound by all judges’ decisions. You understand and agree that your manuscript will be evaluated subjectively, and SWW cannot accept liability for consequences arising from any opinion expressed. You agree to hold harmless and indemnify SWW, its agents, employees, and volunteers for any and all losses, costs, or expenses incurred from any dispute arising from your participation in the contest.

For Judging Criteria, click here.


Read the following before completing the entry form:

  1. Please include the title of your entry as part of the file name. Example: If the title of your entry is Red Dawn, the uploaded file should be RedDawn.doc or RedDawn.docx or RedDawn.pdf
  2. Make sure your name is not included anywhere in your submission (not even headers or footers). The entry will be assigned a number to ensure unbiased judging.
  3. You will be asked: If your submission is a first-place winner, do you give SouthWest Writers permission to use it in an upcoming anthology without compensation? By answering “Yes” the author grants SouthWest Writers first publication rights.

*Published vs. Unpublished: “Published” is defined as offering for distribution or actually distributing copies of a work to the public whether or not it was offered for sale. SouthWest Writers has determined this includes, but is not limited to, the following venues: newsletters, eBooks, blogs/websites, magazines, traditionally published (HarperCollins, etc.), or self-published books which have been released for sale to the general public. Material is considered unpublished if it was not intended for public distribution or if only a few copies were created and distribution was limited.

For questions, please send an email to

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