Writing Contests

Contests are a great way to sharpen your submission skills, stretch your imagination, and get your work out in the world. That’s why the Institute runs adult and kidlit writing contests throughout the year. Each contest culminates in a Winners Workshop where we announce the winners and critique the winning entries to help all entrants improve their skills. Plus, each contest has cash prizes for the top five entries.

Check out our current and upcoming contests below.

ICL Fractured Fairy Tale Short Story

Ready to reimagine your favorite fairy tale? This contest is for you!


  • Short story inspired by a fairy tale but with a twist!
  • Must have a beginning, middle, and end.
  • 900 words or less
  • Click here for more details

IFW Essay to My Younger Self

What do you know now that you wished you knew then? Think about the advice you’d give your younger self, maybe around a specific event or maybe general encouragement with the benefit of hindsight. Write an essay around those thoughts and submit it for this contest.


  • Written in first person point of view
  • Target audience: Adults
  • This contest opens in Spring 2023

ICL Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book

Are you working on a nonfiction picture book manuscript that reads like a story? Polish it up and get ready to submit it to our Narrative Nonfiction Picture Book Contest this summer!


Looking to improve your contest entry?

by ICL Instructor Nancy Coffelt

by ICL Contributor Jan Fields

with Katie Davis and Nancy Coffelt

Our Most Recent Contest Winners
Past Contests and Winners

Check out our past contest themes and winners!

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