Short Story Competition 2021

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The BFS Short Story Competition 2021 will open on 01/04/2021.

Anyone can enter, regardless of how many times they have been previously published. The competition is open to entries from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021.

The competition will be judged by a panel consisting of: Cat Hellisen and Dev Agarwal, with Shona Kinsella. The lead judge will be Shona Kinsella, BFS committee member and Short Story Competition Co-ordinator. 


  • 1st prize: £100, a year’s membership of the BFS, and publication in BFS Horizons.
  • 2nd prize:£50, a year’s digital membership of the BFS, and publication in BFS Horizons.
  • 3rd prize: £20, a year’s digital membership, and publication in BFS Horizons.


  • Open to entries from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021
  • No entries will be accepted outside these dates.
  • Shona Kinsella will be the lead judge of the competition, joined by Cat Hellisen and Dev Agarwal.
  • Shona Kinsella will send an email acknowledgement to all entrants within a few days of receipt of their story.
  • The winners will be announced on the BFS website by the end of October 2021.
  • If a decision has been reached before the event, the winners may also be announced publicly at the British Fantasy Awards ceremony, due to be held as part of FantasyCon 2021, in Birmingham.
  • Winning stories will be published in an issue of the magazine BFS Horizons as close as possible to the announcement of the results.


  • Stories must be written in English.
  • Any kind of fantastical story is welcome. For example: fantasy, science fiction, horror, supernatural, fabulation, magic realism, slipstream, etc, or indeed any combination of those genres.
  • All current members of the British Fantasy Society are entitled to one free entry to the competition. This is a benefit of membership.
  • Current BFS committee post-holders are not allowed to enter the competition.
  • The competition is open to both members and non-members of the society, but non-members must pay a £5 entry fee.
  • This is a Short Story Competition. We are not looking for play scripts, screenplays, poetry, comics, graphic stories or illustrated work of any sort.
  • Stories must not exceed 5,000 words.
  • Stories must be your own original work. We are not looking for translations, Shared World, use of copyrighted characters or similar. Also, we are not looking for children’s stories or “Young Adult” fiction.
  • Please do not include anything in your story for which you do not hold the copyright. Examples include but are not limited to: quotations from song lyrics; quotations of other people’s poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Reference to work “in the public domain” is permissible.
  • Stories must be previously unpublished in any form. This means they must not have been published in books, magazines, newspapers, on websites, phone apps, or have been broadcast on TV, radio, podcasts, etc.
  • Stories must not be under consideration elsewhere.
  • Multiple entries are welcome, but only one free entry per BFS member
  • Unlike some other competitions, this one is not being judged anonymously. Therefore, please put your name and contact details on your manuscript.
  • You must be aged 18 or older in order to enter this competition.
  • The decision of the judges will be final. Should there be any problems with judging, the final decision will rest with Shona Kinsella as lead judge.
  • No correspondence will be entered into regarding the judges’ decision.
  • Should your story be successful we will request a six-month moratorium subsequent to publication in BFS Horizons.
  • Should your story be unsuccessful, you are free to send it elsewhere immediately after the announcement of the results on the BFS website.

Formatting the Stories

Documents should be formatted as follows:

  • Double-spaced text
  • Left and right hand margins of at least 2cm
  • 12pt font
  • First line of paragraphs indented
  • Pages numbered.
  • Section breaks should be indicated by a single hash mark (#) or asterisk (*)
  • Please put title and author name in the header or footer for each page.
  • Please include a word count.
  • Stories should be saved in a readable form (for example “Microsoft Word document” or “Rich Text Format”).
  • Please use a plain font (for example: Times New Roman, Courier New, Arial, Calibri, Garamond)

Failure to submit manuscripts in this manner may lead to disqualification.

Stories that exceed 5000 words will not be read but you may still be charged.

Entering the Competition

Entries should be submitted by email.

  • Head your email “BFS Short Story Competition”
  • Attach your story as a .rtf file .docx file or a .doc file.
  • In the body of the email give your name, title of the story, the word count and details of BFS membership or else PayPal transaction number.
  • If you are a current BFS Member, please give your membership number.
  • If you are not a BFS member, or if you are a BFS member entering a second story, there is a £5 fee per entry. Please pay this via PayPal.
  • If you are paying via PayPal, please quote your PayPal transaction number in your covering email.
  • We welcome submissions from outside the UK; PayPal will convert your currency.
  • Format the document according to the guidelines given above.
  • Send to: Email entries only.

Pay by Paypal

Story Title

Email entries only. To Shona Kinsella on

If there are any details not covered in these guidelines or if you have any other queries relating to the competition, please email Shona Kinsella on