2021 Annual Short Story Competition

For Emerging Writers in South Africa

The annual SA Writers College Short Story Competition is held to acknowledge excellence in creative writing in the short story form.

The competition is open to any writer residing in South Africa who is unpublished, or has been published fewer than four times.


You Only Live Once


  • First Prize: R10 000.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories
  • Second Prize: R 5 000.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories
  • Third Prize: R 2 500.00
The top three winners will receive editorial comments on their submitted works.

The Basics of Creative Writing Course

A rigorous training for both beginners and seasoned writers


You Only Live Once

Closing date:

Now closed

Longlist Announced:

22 May 2021

Winners Announced:

12 June 2021

Submissions and enquiries can be sent to Nichola Meyer:


  • We aim to support beginner writers. We only accept stories from writers who have never been published, or who have been published fewer than four times in any genre. This includes fiction and non-fiction, in any publication (for payment or otherwise). Journalists, copywriters or web writers must please not enter. People who made a living from writing at any point in their life (e.g. decades earlier) are also not eligible for entry. We make an exception for unpaid articles for community or work newsletters or blogs where the circulation is under 1000.
  • All submissions and enquiries can be sent to Nichola Meyer:
  • The competition is open to anyone living in South Africa aged 16 and over.
  • Entrants must submit a story of maximum word count: 2000 words. Any entries exceeding the word count by 50 words will not be considered.
  • Writers can interpret and represent the theme in any way they choose. Each story must include the phrase ‘You Only Live Once’ somewhere in the story. Writers must produce their own title.
  • Only one story per entrant is allowed.
  • We only accept entries written in English.
  • The competition closes at midnight on 30 April 2021. The longlist will be published by 22 May, and the winners announced and displayed on our website on Friday 12 June 2021.
  • Prizewinners will be notified via email as well as on our web site; please ensure you supply a valid email address with your entry.
  • Prize money will be paid via electronic transfer.
  • Stories must not have been previously published. Entrants must own the copyright to the story submitted.
  • Writers retain copyright, but give permission for their work to be published on our website and in an anthology.
  • The judges’ decision is final; no disputes will be entered into.
  • If your entry has not been acknowledged within three working days, please contact us as your email may have got lost in transit.
  • SA Writers College reserves the right to extend the competition deadline or cancel the competition should the entries not be of publishable quality or up to the required standard.


The Short Story Writing for Magazines Course

All the basics of short story writing in one course


  • Only e-mail submissions are acceptable. Stories must be copied and pasted into the body of the email, AND sent as a Word document attachment. Mark your entry clearly with the subject line: SAWC Annual Short Story Competition.
  • Each story must have a unique title. Do not use the theme as your title.
  • Your email must state the title of your story, as well as your name. E.g. ‘Once Upon a Time’ – by John Smith
  • Your email must include the declaration: ‘I declare that I have been published in a mainstream print or online publication fewer than four times.’
  • State your word count in your email.
  • Do not include your name on any page of your story. All entries will be judged blind.
  • Use a font such as Arial or Times New Roman, size 12 or more. Use 1.5 or double spacing between lines. We prefer a clear line between paragraphs rather than indenting.
  • Make sure your story has been edited and polished according to tips and guidelines provided on our college site under “Writing Resources”, or on our webzine. Read these:

The Literary Short and Flash Fiction Course

Learn how to write winning short stories



Fiona Ingram

Fiona Ingram [BA Hons (Natal), MA (Wits)] is a multi-award winning author of adult and children’s fiction. She has written eight historical romances (published by USA publisher Bublish), including Married at MidnightThe Wayward Miss Wainwright and Lord Blackwood’s Valentine Ball.
Her interest in myths and legends, ancient history and travel led to her writing the multi-award winning The Secret of the Sacred Scarab. This is the first instalment of her children’s adventure series, Chronicles of the Stone. Fiona has now completed Book Four in the series. Through her novels, she takes youngsters all over the world on amazing adventures. 

She is also an animal rights advocate and writes animal rescue stories.

Creative Writing Course tutor at The Writers College Andrew Salmon

Andrew Salomon

Andrew Salomon is an award-winning author. His debut novel Tokoloshe Song was shortlisted for the Terry Pratchett First Novel Award.

Additionally, his short fiction has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. He has also received the PEN Literary Award for African Fiction and the Short.Sharp.Stories Award.

Andrew is the author of the young adult thrillers The Chrysalis and Wonderbear. His latest novel is the dark fantasy thriller The Equilibrist. He completed an MA at the Institute for Archaeology at University College London. Some of his most memorable experiences have been at rock painting and engraving sites in subterranean caves and shelters across the world. These often find their way into his fiction.

SA Writers College Tutor for Literary Short Stories - Keletso Mopai

Keletso Mopai

Keletso Mopai is a South African storyteller and qualified geologist. She is among the 2020 Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans. Her work has been published by highly regarded journals such as CatapultJoburg NoirAke Review, The Johannesburg Review of Books, Lolwe, The Temz Review, Omenana Magazine, Brittle Paper,  Sunday TimesThe Kalahari ReviewThe Ebedi ReviewDRUMPraxis MagazineAfrican Writer, and among others. Her debut collection of short stories titled If You Keep Digging was published in 2019 by BlackBird Books; the book made the Brittle Paper Top Debut Books of 2019. Mopai’s short stories have made finalists for The Writivism Short Story Prize, The Nommo Awards for Speculative Fiction, The Africa Book Club Competition, and The Brittle Paper Award for Fiction. She has participated in writing workshops such as the Short Story Day Africa Flow Workshop and the Writivism Mentorship Program. She was an invited speaker at the 2019 Open Book Festival, the Abantu Book Festival, Time of The Writer Literary Festival, South African Cities Network’s Urban Festival, and the South African Book Fair. Keletso studied geology and chemistry, and has a Bachelor of Science honours degree in Geology.

Taki Scordis

Taki Skordis

Taki Scordis is the winner of the 2020 short story competition and has been shortlisted 3 times. He has written 4 novels, has an MA in Creative Writing (Wits) and is currently completing his PhD in English studies (UP). He currently works in the English department at Unisa.

Download our Free Anthologies

You can download our free anthologies by clicking on the covers below. We showcase the winning stories from the past ten years (2008-2017).


We will publish Vol.3 in 2022

The Write a Novel Course

Write your novel with one-to-one guidance from an award-winning author.

Past Winners of the SA Writers College Short Story Competition

We would like to acknowledge the past winners of our Short Story Competitions.


First Place: ‘The Moot Mulatto’ by Taki Scordis

Runner-up: ‘Misstep’ by Stephen Harrison

Third place: ‘Unfinished Business’ by Jessica Spyker


First Place: ‘Tulbagh By Gaslight’ by S.F. Ratcliffe

Runner-up: ‘Sit Down; You’re Brown’ by Javi Reddy

Third place: ‘Record Cards’ by Merle Grace


First Place: ‘There’s an App for That’ by Simon F. Ratcliffe

Runner-up: ‘Hero’s Brush With Mutiny’ by Amelia Warren

Third place: ‘Mother Knows’ by Hendri Rhodes


First Place: ‘Frankie’ by Heinrich van der Walt

Runner-up: ‘The Teen Factor’ by Janice Gardiner-Atkinson

Third place: ‘King of the Road’ by Carina Maré


First Place: ‘My Mother Takes One Look at Me and Gives Me Away’ by Bruce McKenzie

Runner-up: ‘And the Meek’ by Matthew Child

Third place: ‘The High Road Less Travelled’ by Les Hellmann


First Place: ‘An Anniversary, Shaded’ by Duncan Aird

Runner-up: ‘Rembrandt’ by Ian Sutherland

Third place: ‘The Exchange’ by Natanja Greeff


First Place (Literary Fiction): ‘That Night’ by Melita Vurden

First Place (Popular Fiction): ‘The First Time’ by Mike Forde

Runner-up (Literary Fiction): ‘Death and Sandwiches’ by Gina Kukard

Runner-up (Popular Fiction): ‘On the Way Home’ by Natisha Parsons


First Place: ‘Food for Thought’ by Carla Lever

Runner-up: ‘Wholesale’ by Liam Kruger

Third place: ‘Sleeping Dogs’ by Eleanor Talbot


First Place: ‘Go’ by Aname van Zyl

Runner-up: ‘Tune in Again Next Week’ by Carla Lever 

Third place: ‘A Gambling Man’ by B. L. Calder


First Place: ‘The Tokoloshe’ by Hannah Green

Runner-up: ‘Watching Sunsets we Never See’ by Shelley Blignaut

Joint Third place: ‘Final Disposition’ by Jessica Liebenberg


First Place: ‘Line of Sight’ by Arthur Bacchus

Runner-up: ‘Board and Lodging’ by William Oosthuizen

Third place: ‘The Colours of Choice’ by Ann Kern


First Place: ‘Martin Mandel’s Parabola’ by Ashley Symes

Runner-up: ‘Pieces of Peony-Painted Teacups’ by Shelley Blignaut

Third place: ‘A New Life’ by Grant Griffiths


First Place: ‘Waitin’ For Fuzzy’ by Ross Ian Fleming

Runner-up: ‘Writer’s Block’ by Widaad Munga

Third place: ‘The Yellow Coat’  by Katja Abbott