Annual Writing Contest

2024 Annual Writing Contest

The 2024 SouthWest Writers Writing Contest opens on Saturday, June 1, 2024. This year’s contest includes 23 writing categories and two art categories with cash prizes in all and the opportunity to be included in the SouthWest Writers Contest Anthology to be published later this year.

SouthWest Writers encourages aspiring and experienced writers of all cultures and backgrounds to enter. We welcome a diversity of creative expressions and points of view. Writers do not have to be a member of SouthWest Writers or live in the Southwest to enter.

NOTE: At least 5 entries are required in a category for the top three prizes to be awarded. Two prizes will be allowed if there are only 4 entries and only one prize will be given if there are 3 entries.

Timeline & Awards

The contest will accept submissions from June 1 through midnight on July 7, 2024. No entries will be accepted outside of these deadlines, no matter the reason. Writers are encouraged to not wait until the last minute to submit. Computers have been known to crash at inopportune times.

Awards

The awards in each category and/or subcategory are as follows:

  • $50 First Place
  • $25 Second Place
  • $15 Third Place
  • Honorable Mentions

Categories

Section A:  Art/Photography

SouthWest Writers embraces all genres and types of literature and writing including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. We would like to see art that reflects the mosaic of the written word.

Please note that the artist/photographer must acknowledge at the time of entering the contest that if their entry is selected, SouthWest Writers has the right to publish it in its 2024 contest anthology.

•  A1:  Interior Pages Artwork.

Must be black-and-white photographs or a black-and-white photo of the author’s line drawings or artwork. Submit a .jpg or .pdf image with at least a 300 dpi density. Chosen submissions will be used throughout the SouthWest Writers anthology of winning entries and must contain subject matter related to one or more contest categories. Art and photos must be in vertical format to fit the 6”x9” page dimensions.

All artwork and photos used in the interior pages of the anthology will be printed in black-and-white. All submissions selected for the anthology will be awarded a cash prize of $25. They will not receive a standard 1st/2nd/3rd place rating. (This category will be voted on by the SWW membership.)

•  A2:  Cover Artwork.

The submission winning this category will be used on the front cover of the book. It must be in color and related to the theme of “Mosaic Voices,” the title of the anthology. It must have a vertical format suitable for a 6”x9” book size. Artwork must be submitted as a .jpg or .pdf with at least a 300 dpi density. This category will have only one winner who will receive $50.
 

All writing categories below are for unpublished works except for B1 Opening Pages of a Published Novel and C1 Opening Pages of a Published Memoir.

Section B:  Fiction

•  B1:  Opening Pages of a Published Novel.

See above for the definition of a published book. The book must have been published between 2021 and 2024. The entry may include up to 3,000 words, but should end in a logical place. The entry should show only the book title and/or chapter title on the submission.

•  B2:  Opening Pages of an Unpublished Novel.

There are four subcategories which will be eligible for prizes. Entries may include up to 3,000 words, but should end in a logical place (ex. End of chapter or scene).

  1. General Fiction
  2. Mystery/Crime/Thriller
  3. Romance
  4. SciFi/Fantasy/Horror

•  B3:  Flash Fiction.

Flash Fiction entries should be 500 words or less, any genre.

•  B4:  Short Story.

Short fiction of less than 3,000 words that tells a story.

  1. General Fiction
  2. Romance
  3. Humor
  4. Mystery/Crime/Thriller
  5. SciFi/Fantasy/Horror
  6. Inspirational

 

Section C:  Nonfiction

•  C1:  Opening Pages of a Published Memoir.

See above for the definition of a published book. The book must have been published between 2021 and 2024. The entry may include up to 3,000 words, but should end in a logical place. The entry should show only the book title and/or chapter title on the submission. Memoir should reflect your personal experience. However, in order to maintain anonymity, please use a name other than your own in the submission.

•  C2:  Opening Pages of an Unpublished Memoir.

The entry may include up to 3,000 words, but should end in a logical place. The entry should show only the book title and/or chapter title on the submission. Memoir should reflect your personal experience. However, in order to maintain anonymity, please use a name other than your own in the submission.

•  C3:  Essay/Article.

Short article/essay/memoir that would be suitable for a magazine or anthology. Prizes will be awarded in each category. Entry may be up to 3,000 words. In order to maintain anonymity, use a name other than your own in the submission.

  1. Memoir: Your life and experiences that shaped you or gave you a new perspective.
  2. Animals: Domestic or wild, we love real stories about our friends with feathers, fur, scales, or shells.
  3. Travel: Where have you traveled, or do you want to introduce someone to your corner of the world?
  4. Humor: Something funny that happened to you or someone close to you.

 

Section D:  Fiction for Children/Young Adults (new this year!)

Fiction written for children and not limited to genre. The terms refer to the reading level, worldview, thematic interests, and maturity of readers. Stories are limited to 3,000 words.

•  D1:  Young Reader/Middle Grade.

Appropriate for ages 8–12.

•  D2:  Young Adult.

Appropriate for ages 13–18.

 

Section E:  Poetry

Poetry focuses on the use of unique phrases and words to create moods and/or express feelings and ideas. Submission is one poem. Entries will be judged by the New Mexico State Poetry Society according to their contest standards.

•  E1:  Free Verse.

A 40-line limit. Line limit includes every line, both printed and blank space between stanzas. A one-line title and its following space is not counted in line limit. Lines cannot be longer than 55 characters including spaces. One Free Verse poem per entry.

•  E2:  Haiku.

Not titled, lower case, no punctuation. No more than 17 syllables. One Haiku per entry.

•  E3:  Limericks.

Five-line stanza with aabba end rhyme. May be titled. One Limerick per entry.

 

Contest Rules

NOTE: Entries received which do not conform to these stated requirements will be disqualified from judging. Submitter will not receive notice of the disqualification and no refund will be given. It is up to the submitter to read and understand the rules.

The general requirements of submissions are as follows, though individual categories may state exceptions or additional guidelines:

  • No entry may contain more than 3,000 words. Specific lengths for individual categories are listed below.
  • A submission may be entered in only one category. If a submission is entered in more than one category, it will be disqualified.
  • Submitters may enter multiple entries in one category as long as the appropriate entry fee is paid for each entry.
  • All submissions must be in English although words in other languages may be included to enhance the story.
  • The author’s name must not appear anywhere in the entry. This includes the file name, title, header, footer, or within the body of the story, article, or poem.
  • In all categories, SouthWest Writers does not allow pornography, politically charged commentary, or excessive violence. Acceptance of any entry is at the discretion of the SouthWest Writers Writing Contest Committee.
  • Entries cannot have won or placed in any SouthWest Writers contest.
  • All entries must be submitted online through the SouthWest Writers website. No paper entries will be accepted.
  • No endnotes, graphs, or artwork should be included with the prose/poetry entries.
  • Entries must be unpublished (see definition below*), except as noted in specific categories described above.

As this is a contest to encourage writers, industry standards in formatting will be followed:

    • The submission must be formatted as a Microsoft Word .doc or .docx with the exception that art/photos should be formatted in .jpg or .pdf with a minimum of 300 dpi.
    • Body of text — 12pt Times New Roman.
    • Titles — 14pt Times New Roman.
    • Double line spacing for all prose and nonfiction with no extra line spacing between paragraphs.
    • Poetry categories may be single or double line spaced.
    • First lines of paragraphs should be indented except for Poetry.
    • *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.

Judging

All entries will be reviewed first by a gatekeeper who will ensure the submission satisfies the Contest and Category Rules as stated above. The author’s name must not appear on any page of the submitted entry. If the entry does not meet those rules, it will not be sent on for subsequent judging. If the same piece is entered in more than one category, it will be disqualified from winning in any category. Entries that do not meet the requirements will be disqualified. Entry fees will not be refunded.

Judges will be looking for writing that emphasizes creative and intelligent use of the English language to craft a story or work that shows the best in a category.

There can be more than three finalists in each category, but only up to three cash prize winners in each category (First, Second, and Third places plus Honorable Mentions). All finalists will have the option of having their work included in the 2024 SouthWest Writers contest anthology. The number of winners in each category is determined by the Writing Contest Committee according to established criteria.

Writers may enter more than one piece in individual categories, but no single piece may be entered in more than one category. Each submission piece has an entry fee.

Each category must have a minimum of three entries. Winners will be announced and prizes awarded at the SouthWest Writers Annual Meeting on October 12, 2024.

Judges may or may not provide written critiques. Any comments made by the judges will be passed to contestants upon request after the awards have been announced.

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 that SouthWest Writers cannot accept liability for consequences arising from any opinion expressed. You agree to hold harmless and indemnify SouthWest Writers, its agents, employees, and volunteers for any and all losses, costs, or expenses incurred from any dispute arising from your participation in the contest.

Publication

SouthWest Writers gives its winning entries/authors visibility by publishing an anthology after each contest. Authors are encouraged but not required to allow SouthWest Writers to publish their work in the anthology. This question will be asked on the entry form. Giving or denying permission for publication will not affect the entry’s score.

If a winning author sells first rights to another entity prior to publication, it is their responsibility to inform SouthWest Writers before August 1, 2024. SouthWest Writers will not be able to remove the entry from the anthology after that time.

All authors are encouraged, but not required, to add a headshot (if they have it) and a 50-word biography for inclusion in the contest anthology should they win or place in a category.

Online Submission

Read the following before completing the entry form:

  1. There is no limit on the number of submissions per person, but only five entries are allowed per form. Submit the form as often as necessary to accommodate the number of entries. The same piece CANNOT be entered in more than one category.
  2. Please include the title of your entry as part of the file name. Examples: For prose and poetry (except Haiku), if the title of your entry is Red Dawn, the uploaded file should be RedDawn.doc or RedDawn.docx. For Haiku, use the first line of the poem as the file name with .doc or .docx as the file extension. For artwork, the uploaded file should be RedDawn.jpg or RedDawn.pdf. For entries in the Opening Pages of a Novel/Memoir categories, use the title of the Book as the file name and include it above the title of the chapter in the document being entered.
  3. Make sure your name does not appear anywhere in your submission. This includes the file name, title, header, footer, or within the body of the story, article, or poem. The entry will be assigned a number to ensure unbiased judging.
  4. You will be asked, “If your submission is a winner, do you give SouthWest Writers permission to use it in an upcoming anthology without compensation?”
  5. For the Opening Pages of a Previously Published Novel/Memoir categories, you will also be asked, “If your submission is a winner, do you give SouthWest Writers permission to re-publish it in an upcoming anthology?”
  6. All authors are encouraged, but not required, to add a headshot (if they have it) and a 50-word biography for inclusion in the 2024 contest anthology should they win or place in a category.  This is not required, but encouraged.
  7. Before hitting Submit, make sure the entry follows the guidelines for its specific category; otherwise, it will be disqualified and no fees refunded.

For questions, email contest@swwriters.com.

Entry Fees for Prose and Free Verse

Early Bird Entry
June 1 – 8:  $20 per entry

Regular Entry
June 9 – 30:  $25 per entry

Late Entry
July 1 – 7:  $45 per entry

Entry Fees for Limerick and Haiku

Early Bird Entry
June 1 – 8:  $5 per entry

Regular Entry
June 9 – 30:  $10 per entry

Late Entry
July 1 – 7:  $15 per entry

A link to the online entry form will be available here when the contest opens on June 1, 2024.

We look forward to reading your work and wish you the best of luck!


Sign Up for Elerts  Stay Connected

SWW YouTube Videos

Search Posts

WhoFish

More information about SWW Programs can be found on WhoFish.