Most writing competitions charge an entry fee, and as long it's reasonable, that's understandable - there are, of course, costs involved in running them. Still, some are expensive to enter, or the costs can build up if you are entering a few. However, there are occasional free competitions available – often funded by commercial organisations. So, here are a few free-to-enter short story competitions I’ve come across recently – and one that also asks for poetry entries.
Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Competition – deadline 13th February 2017. Stories must be 2,000 words maximum, on any theme, and there are no age or nationality requirements. However you do have to register with their website. Details at https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/competitions
Readers Digest 100 Word Story Competition – deadline 20th February 2017. There are three age categories including two for under 18s, and of course, adult. Stories must be exactly 100 words, and the competition is open only to residents of the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland. Details at
The Hennessy New Irish Writing Award – rolling monthly deadline. This is both a submission for publication (in The Irish Times) and an entry to a competition. All those selected for publication are entered in the associated Hennessy Award. It is only open to writers born or resident in Ireland. Short stories must be a maximum of 2,200 words and there is also a poetry category. Details at http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/hennessy-niw/how-to-enter-hennessy-new-irish-writing-1.2076881
And finally, opening soon:
The Francis MacManus Short Story Competition 2017 – deadline 31st March 2017. Details at http://www.rte.ie/radio1/francis-macmanus-short-story/ Guidelines will be available from mid-January, but based on past competition rules, the stories need to be a maximum of 1,800 - 2,000 words. In past years, the shortlisted stories have been broadcast on RTE 1 radio, and it has only been open to writers born or resident in Ireland.