Annual Writing Contest

The Submission Window is Closed

2021 Annual Writing Contest

First-, second-, and third-place winners will be awarded in 12 categories of fiction and nonfiction prose and 8 categories of 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 The entries must be original, unpublished (see definition below*), and in English.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 31, 2021 (Mountain Time)
Fees: $10 per entry
Submission: Online only


First-place winners receive $50, second-place $25, and third-place $10. All winners will receive award certificates and have the option to be published in SWW’s annual contest anthology.

To preserve the competitiveness of the contest, there must be at least five entries per category to make three awards, four entries to make two, and at least three entries to award a single prize. If any particular category doesn’t receive enough entries to make awards, entrants in that category will be given the option to have their entry transferred to a sister category or be given a refund.

The top three award winners in each category will be announced — in no particular order — in the August Sage newsletter. Awards will be presented during SWW’s annual business meeting on Saturday, October 2, 2021. Copies of the winner’s anthology will be available for purchase at that time. 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 2, 2021.


  • Each entry must be an original work that has not been published (see definition below*) either electronically or in print anywhere, or submitted previously to an SWW writing contest. Please, no politically charged material!
  • All entries must use Times New Roman 12 pt (title may be 14 pt). Prose must be double-spaced. Poetry may be single- or double-spaced.
  • Prose up to 3,500 words.
  • Poetry up to 250 lines. When submitting formed poetry (haiku, limerick, sonnet, etc.), please indicate which type at the top of your submission.
  • The name of the author cannot appear on the submission.
  • Submissions which exceed word/line count limit or contain an author’s name will be automatically disqualified, with no refunds given.


  • Submissions accepted via the SWW website starting February 1, 2021 and ending at midnight on May 31, 2021.
  • Cost is $10 per entry. 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.
  • Submit only as a .doc or .docx file. No other file formats are allowed.
  • No limit on the number of submissions per person. The same piece can be entered in more than one category but will cost $10 for each category. The online submission form accepts 5 entries at a time. Submit the form as often as necessary to accommodate the number of entries.


This year there are 12 categories for prose and 8 categories for poetry:

Fiction or Nonfiction:

Fantasy/Futuristic/Sci Fi
Social Consciousness
Free Verse or Formed:

Social Consciousness


In order to maximize your chances of success, the full judging criteria have been published on this page.

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. 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 exceeding the word limit or an 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.

*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.

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

For questions, please send an email to

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