Emerging Writers Contest

The Dream Foundry Contest for Emerging Writers is an annual no submission fees contest with cash prizes! Every year our contest coordinator selects ten finalists from a pool of submissions from writers around the world. In addition to their cash prizes, winners get featured at Flights of Foundry, an annual convention where professionals from all over the industry come to discuss all things related to the speculative arts.

You can see a list of our past finalists and winners on our Winners Page.

First Place: $1000

Second Place: $500

Third Place: $200

Submissions are open from 1 April, 2024 through 27 May, 2024. That includes all time zones.


This contest is for writers who are relatively new to paid or incoming-earning publication of speculative short fiction in English. To be eligible for this contest, all five rules below must be true of you:

  • You have published a total of less than 4,000 words of paid or income-earning speculative fiction in English.
  • You have earned a total of less than USD 320 from those words.
  • You have never been nominated for any award listed here as a major award in speculative fiction.
  • You are not a previous winner of the Dream Foundry writing contest.
  • No AI, machine learning, or large language model tools were used in the story except for checking spelling and grammar.
Please note that you are on the honour system for judging your own eligibility. However, we may disqualify any entrants in order to uphold the spirit of this contest’s goals; such determinations of eligibility are decided by the Dream Foundry and are not open to debate or argument.


C. L. Polk

A light-skinned person with dark curly hair and a sides have, wearing a black leather coat with zippers up the sleeves. Their hands brace the lower half of their face, fingers splayed and crossing over their mouth in a post evocative of surprise or excitement.

C. L. Polk (they/them) wrote the Hugo-nominated Kingston Cycle, including the World Fantasy Award winning Witchmark, The Midnight Bargain, and the Nebula-winning Even Though I Knew The End.

Before writing fantasy novels, they worked as a film extra, a costermonger, and also identified lepidoptera by eye. Mx. Polk lives in Calgary, on the territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Tsuut’ina, the Îyâxe Nakoda Nations, and the Métis Nation (Region 3).

Mx. Polk is represented by Caitlin McDonald of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Valerie Valdes

A light-skinned woman with long straight dark hair and square glasses with a dark frame. Camera angle is from above and she is looking up toward the camera, hands on her hips. She's wearing a loose black short-sleeved shirt.Valerie Valdes is co-editor of the award-winning Escape Pod science fiction podcast, as well as the author of the Chilling Effect trilogy and space fantasy novel Where Peace Is Lost. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in Uncanny MagazineNightmare Magazine and several anthologies. She lives in an elaborate meme palace in Georgia with her husband, children and cats.


Julia Rios (they/them) is a queer, Latinx writer, editor, podcaster, and narrator whose fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have appeared in Latin American Literature Today, Lightspeed, and Goblin Fruit, among other places. Their editing work has won multiple awards including the Hugo Award. Julia is a co-host of This is Why We’re Like This, a podcast about the movies we watch in childhood that shape our lives, for better or for worse. They’ve narrated stories for Escape Pod, Podcastle, Pseudopod, and Cast of Wonders. They’re @omgjulia on Twitter.

Submission Guidelines

Submit one complete and finalized story of up to 10,000 words via our submission manager. Links to the submission manager will appear when submissions open.

All entries are final. No revisions are accepted.

No multiple submissions (do not send more than one story.)

Your submission must be previously unpublished at the time of submission, but simultaneous submissions (submitting the story to us while also submitting elsewhere) is allowed.

Entries can be from any country.

All entries must be original prose works in English. Plagiarism, poetry, song lyrics, or stories that utilize characters or settings from another person’s works will not be considered.

The manuscript should be in standard manuscript format and should be titled and numbered on every page, but the author’s name MUST BE DELETED from the manuscript file to facilitate fair judging.

Please Don't Send

We are looking for short speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, weird fiction, etc.) Please don’t send us stories that have no speculative element (mainstream, contemporary, romance, westerns, historical fiction etc.)
Sexual and adult themed stories are allowed. Please don’t send us erotica or gratuitous depictions of violence, sexual assault, or abuse.

Don’t send novels or non-standalone novel excerpts, screenplays, poetry, non-fiction or works written for children.


Send all questions to writing.contest@dreamfoundry.org


The submission window for the 2024 contest has closed. Congratulations to everyone who submitted!