Short Story Competition

The Short Story Competition is for writers of short stories aged 18 and over. In 2019, we received over 200 entries. Many of the stories explored important social issues such as dementia care or mental health, while others were packed with twists, turns and surprising final reveals. If you want to read more about the prize winners of the Short Story Competition 2019, click here.

What surprises, narrative invention and beautiful crafted voices will the 2020 competition bring?


How to Enter

The Short Story Competition is currently closed for entries.

The competition will open again in Spring 2020.



1st Prize     £200

The winning author, plus runners up and commended will be invited to read at the Ilkley Literature Festival in October 2020.


The winner will be selected by a panel of judges, with the final decision being made by a head judge (a professional fiction writer) and will be judged on literary merit, originality and readability.

In brief

  • Entries can be on any subject
  • Short stories should between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length


  • The entry fee is £5 per story
  • You can send as many entries as you like
  • Fees are payable online or by cheque made out to ‘Ilkley Literature Festival Ltd.


Terms & Conditions


The competition is open to anyone, including non-UK applicants (Ilkley Literature Festival is unable to offer any financial assistance for winners to attend the prizegiving), aged 18 years and over. Non-UK Residents are welcome to enter the competition but entries from overseas can only be submitted online.

Please note, there is a separate short story competition for young people aged 12-18.

Entries must be entirely the work of the entrant and must never have been published, self-published, published on any website or online forum, broadcast nor won or been placed in any other competition (as at January 2020).

Entries submitted posthumously will not be eligible.


Worldwide copyright of each entry remains with the author, but by entering the competition the entrant agrees that Ilkley Literature Festival will have the unrestricted right to publish the winning poems and stories, (including those of the runners up), on the Festival website or as ‘posters’, postcards and/or celebratory pamphlets for display and distribution during the Festival and the entrant waives his/her rights in relation to such publication to the extent that he/she is able to do so.


The judges’ decision is final and no individual correspondence can be entered into. Judges are unable to comment on individual entries. Judging will be fair and unbiased. Experienced readers will assist the named judges in selecting the shortlists. The organisers reserve the right to change the panel of judges without notice and not to award prizes if, in the opinion of the judges, such action is justified.


Prize winners will be notified in September 2020 and will be invited to receive their prize and read their work at the October festival.

The list of prize winners will be displayed on the website after the 2020 October festival.

Please Note

Entry implies acceptance of all the above rules. Failure to comply with the entry requirements will result in disqualification.