Writing Contests

Free Mystery Writers Writing Contest

Writing contests can be a great way to both – 1) hone your writing skills AND 2) make a little extra money. Personally, I only ever enter free writing contests. As a struggling writer I just can’t go around paying a lot of entry fees – I need to eat and pay rent and enjoy going to the movies and Applebees Happy Hour every once in awhile.

This free writing contest is called The Black Orchid Novella Award. Sponsored by the Wolfe Pack and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. It is for mystery/crime story novella writers and seems pretty legit – with a winning prize of $1,ooo and publication in the magazine. If you write this kind of genre and are up for the challenge – GO FOR IT! Below are listed some of the rules and guidelines.


General Procedures:

  • Entries must be 15,000 to 20,000 words in length, and submitted by the deadline.
  • Entries must be postmarked by May 31 of the submission year.
  • The winner will be announced at The Wolfe Pack’s Annual Black Orchid Banquet in New York City, the first Saturday of December.
  • The Black Orchid Novella Award is a blind contest. In order to be considered, your manuscript must follow the standards set out below exactly. Your manuscript must:
    • Be typed and printed in Times Roman, 12 pt., double spaced, single side only, with 1 inch margins. All pages must be numbered.
    • Be a copy—please keep the original—manuscripts will not be returned
    • Contain two cover sheets:
      • Top cover sheet should list your name, address, phone number, novella title, word count, and number of pages
      • The bottom cover sheet should list only the title of the manuscript, the word count, and the number of pages.
    • Include a header on every page containing the title and page number only. Do not put your name or contact information on the manuscript except on one of the two cover sheets as described above.
    • Clip the pages together. Do not bind them. Do not put them in a binder of any kind.
    • If you’d like, you’re welcome to include a self-addressed, stamped postcard. The postcard will be mailed to you to indicate our receipt of your novella.
    • Submissions should be sent to:
      Jane K. Cleland, Chair
      P.O. 3233
      New York, NY 10163-3233


Rules and Qualifications:

  • Each entry must be an original unpublished work of fiction that conforms to the tradition of the Nero Wolfe series.
  • The mystery should be “traditional” in flavor.
  • The crime must be solved using the deductive abilities of the sleuth. No coincidences.
  • The killer must be known to the victim. No random psycho shootings.
  • The characters (male or female) must have an engaging relationship.
  • There needs to be some wit.
  • The timing could be retro or current.
  • There should be no explicit sex or violence.
  • The detective could be a professional or amateur.
  • The setting could be NYC or Boston or wherever.
  • We’re not looking for anything derivative of the Nero Wolfe character, milieu, etc.

3 thoughts on “Free Mystery Writers Writing Contest

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