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Better Read Writing Competition 

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Deadline now extended to October 31st 2020! 

In times like these, good fiction can be a salve, a consolation, or a catalyst for change. Writing, too, can be a source of solace or transformation: with it, we take the raw materials of life and wring them for meaning, allowing us to navigate the possibilities, and the perils, of the present. With such reflections in mind, and following on from the outstanding successes of the past two years, we are proud to announce the latest iteration of our annual writing competition! 


The aim of the competition is to provide a public platform for emerging writers, to nurture talent in our local community, and to encourage first-time authors to pursue their talents. A cornerstone of Australian independent bookselling for 24 years, Better Read Than Dead has consistently advocated for, and supported, creativity and excellence in Australian creative writing.



There is no theme for this year’s competition. We are accepting only short stories, and the piece must be no longer than 2000 words. The deadline has been extended. Entries are now due on the 31st October 2020.


The short story is one of the most difficult, and most rewarding, forms of creative writing to master. It is both an art unto itself, and a testing ground within which you can refine your craft – your understanding of form, pacing, plot, character, and expression. The short story is economical by default, so make every word tell. We are looking for stories that surprise us, that challenge us, that move us. Examples of some outstanding pieces of short fiction, handpicked by our booksellers, are listed under the ‘inspiration’ subheading below.


One lucky winner will receive a $750 cash prize.

Two runners-up will each receive a $250 cash prize.

The most outstanding entries will be collated into an anthology by Better Read Publishing, which will then be sold at the bookshop. Shortlisted contestants will receive a complimentary copy of the printed collection.



  • The Better Read Than Dead Writing Competition prize is awarded to an original work of fiction under 2000 words

  • Stories should be submitted in Word document without mention of the author or translator name within the document.

  • Stories must be submitted in the following format:

    • Size 12 font, Times New Roman

    • 1.5 Spacing

    • Numbered Pages


The terms and conditions for the 2020 Writing Competition are embedded as a PDF below:










‘Speech Sounds’ by Octavia E. Butler:

‘Bloodchild’ by Octavia E. Butler:

‘The Frog King’ by Garth Greenwell:

‘The Husband Stitch’ by Carmen Maria Machado:

‘Inventory’ by Carmen Maria Machado:

‘Girl’ by Jamaica Kincaid:

‘The School’ by Donald Barthelme:

'Brom' by Ottessa Moshfegh:

'Hot Days' by Joey Bui:

'Foreign Soil', a short story collection by Maxine Beneba Clarke:

'After Australia', an anthology edited by Michael Mohammed Ahmed:


Feel free to email us at with any further questions you may have. We look forward to reading your work!

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