Free Fantasy Writing Contests

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Established and sponsored by L. Ron Hubbard in 1983, the “Writers Award Contest” was a budding competition aimed at discovering, and eventually publishing, deserving amateur and aspiring writers. The field of speculative fiction and fantasy, was chosen not only for Mr. Hubbard’s love of and success within the genre—but for the freedom of imagination and expression it provided as what he described as the “herald of possibility.”

At the time of its inception, the very idea of a contest of this scope and of a book filled with first-time fiction by beginning writers was seen in many literary venues as “untried” and “challenging, ” but at the same time as something both desirable and “long needed.” Expert opinions contended it couldn’t be done.

Algis Budrys was the first Coordinating Judge of the Writers’ Contest and Editor of the L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future anthology, two positions—among others—he would go on to hold for many years. To garner their professional expertise in the judging of the entries, he initially brought together such stellar names as Gregory Benford, C.L. Moore, Robert Silverberg, Theodore Sturgeon, Jack Williamson and Roger Zelazny. Other notable names that have contributed to the judging since then include: Kevin J. Anderson, Doug Beason, Ben Bova, Ramsey Campbell, Orson Scott Card, Hal Clement, Stephen Goldin, Brian Herbert, Frank Herbert, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Eric Kotani, Anne McCaffrey, Larry Niven, Andre Norton, Frederik Pohl, Jerry Pournelle, Tim Powers, Charles Sheffield, John Varley, K.D. Wentworth and Gene Wolfe.

The eligible entrant was any novice writer who had not professionally published more than three short stories or more than one novelette, or who had not yet professionally published a novel. The rules were simple. The quarterly prizes were handsome: 1st Place-$1000, 2nd Place-$750, 3rd Place-$500. There was no entry fee and the entrant retained all rights to his story.

The guiding principles and high standards of competition, defined by Mr. Hubbard at the Contest’s inception, have been stringently observed since the first quarter began on October 1, 1983. The very nature of the competition established both the Contest and resultant anthology as the premiere showcase for beginning writers in the speculative fiction genre. No less important is the encouragement and acknowledgment of aspiring writers everywhere.

Significant ideas never remain static. And so it is with the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. Word of the Contest spread from writer to writer, instructor to student, father to son, reporter to reader, friend to friend, professional to amateur. Based on the success of the first year—which ended on September 30, 1984—the Contest was renewed for another year and became the Writers of the Future Contest.

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