WNBA Writing Contest 2017 & Wacky Writing Contests

Fantastic news, fellow writers! The 2018 WNBA Writing Contest is officially open – and this year, there’s a brand new category. Submit your fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction/memoir, and (for the first time!) young adult fiction for the chance to win a $250 cash prize and a feature in the Bookwoman, the official publication of the WNBA. All entries are due by March 1st, 2018. For submission guidelines, check out our website and submission pageNot quite ready to enter the WNBA contest? Not to worry! Check out these weird and wacky writing competitions for some inspiration.


Charles Schulz’s character Snoopy types of an example of a cliched opening line for a novel
Courtesy of The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

If you’re looking for how not to start your fiction submissions, then the Bulwer-Lytton contest is your go-to resource. This infamous contest challenges writers from across the world to write the worst possible opening line to a novel. Old cliches like “It’s a dark and stormy night” won’t get far in this weird and whimsical contest: submissions for this wacky contest are designed to be as clunky, awkward, and hilarious as possible. Check out last year’s winners here.

The winner of the 2017 Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year
Courtesy of Old Pond Publishing

The Diagram/The Bookseller’s Prize for the Oddest Book Title of the Year

Unsuspecting and questionably-named books beware! This award nominates five books a year whose titles are – well, a little awkward. Audiences members vote on their favorites, and the winner receives some good-natured teasing and, according to the contest description, “the adulation of millions.” Visit their website for guidelines on how to vote.

Dennis Dutton, creator of the controversial Dutton Bad Writing Award
Courtesy of TED: Ideas Worth Spreading

The Dennis Dutton Bad Writing Award

Academics still shudder at the mention of the Dutton Bad Writing Award. Sponsored by Philosophy and Literature, this short-lived contest targeted clunky, dense, and difficult to parse scholarly language. One of the award’s most controversial winners – called “stylistically lamentable” – was famed feminist scholar Judith Butler. See the 90-word sentence that earned her the award here.

Chalk by Doug Diaczuk, winner of the 2017 3-Day Novel Contest
Courtesy of Goodreads

3-Day Novel Contest

If you’ve mastered NaNoWriMo’s challenge to write a novel in a month, why not face an even stricter deadline? In this annual test of endurance and discipline, entrants from around the world struggle to produce a pro-grade novel in just three days. Winners are published by the contest’s imprint, 3-Day Books. For more information on this daredevil challenge and to see past winners, visit their website.

Trees and Other Poems by Alfred Joyce Kilmer, inspiration for Columbia University’s annual bad poetry contest
Courtesy of The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

Alfred Joyce Kilmer Memorial Bad Poetry Contest

Look out, poets! Sponsored by Columbia University’s Philolexian literary society, this brutal contest has made fun of alumnus and “bad poet” Alfred Joyce Kilmer every year since 1986. Entrants compose truly terrible poetry and present it before a live panel of Columbia University judges. Read the poem that inspired the contest – Kilmer’s “Trees” – and learn more about the event here.

As you prepare your submissions to the 2018 WNBA Writing Contest, keep these wacky and wonderful competitions in the back of your mind. For more information on the WNBA contest, check out our panel of brilliant judges and a list of last year’s winning entries here!

About Allison Keene

Allison Keene is an Editorial Assistant at Springer Nature Publishing and a lifelong book nerd. She primarily reads the classics, literary fiction, and young adult fiction, but any book with a strong female lead is her cup of tea. Follow @keeneallison on Twitter.

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