The Virginia Writers Club holds three contests annually: the Golden Nib, the Young Writers Golden Nib, and our latest endeavor, the Summer Shorts contest. 

Please see below for notes and rules for each. 


The Golden Nib is the Virginia Writers Club annual writing competition in three categories: fiction, non-fiction, and poetry with cash prizes for first, second, and third place finishers. Contestants must be members in good-standing of a VWC chapter as well as a member of the state organization. Each chapter submits one representative in each category to the state finals, where first, second, and third place winners are announced at the annual meeting (usually held in November).

In 2005, the Virginia Writers Club, Inc. created a two-tier writing contest. Entries would be submitted and judged at the VWC Chapter-level first, and then each Chapter would forward its first-place winning entries for judging at the (second tier) State VWC level. Entrants who live within the jurisdiction of a VWC Chapter must enter the first tier of the competition through that Chapter. For those living in an area where no Chapter exists, they must submit their entries to the Chapter closest to them.

Entries will be accepted on any subject the author or poet chooses in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry.

  1. Manuscripts must be the original, unpublished work of the entrant, and must not have won a prize at any level in any other competition. The VWC State competition will now allow entries published in your personal blogs. Writing published in blogs other than your own or on social network sites or in an online publication are ineligible and should not be submitted.
  2. Entrants may submit only one entry per category of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
  3. Fiction and non-fiction entries must be not longer than 3,500 words. Poetry entries must be not longer than 50 lines.
  4. Format:
    • a. Detachable cover sheet including author’s name, address, telephone number, email address (if available), category (fiction, non-fiction, poetry) and title.
    • b. All other pages must show contest category, title and page number in the header. If the author’s name appears on any page of the manuscript other than the cover sheet, the entry will be disqualified.
    • c. Prose (fiction and non-fiction) manuscripts must be printed in a plain and eligible font, such as Times New Roman in 12-to 14- pitch. Manuscripts must be printed on 8 ½ by 11-inch white paper, double-spaced, with one-inch margins top, bottom and left, and a ragged right margin.
    • d. Poetry manuscripts must be printed in a plain, legible font, such as Times New Roman in 12- to 13-pitch, Manuscripts must be printed on 8 ½ by one-inch margins top and bottom.
  5. Submissions must include an original and one copy of the manuscript.
  6. Submissions not in accord with format and other rules will be disqualified.
  7. State winning entries in each category will be published in Portable Data File (*.pdf) format, on the VWC Web site. All other rights remain the property of the author.
  8. Manuscripts for the second-tier contest will not be returned.

Winning Chapter entries need to be submitted by the first week of September to:

Christine Valenti, VWC Contest
10103 New Scotland Dr., Fredericksburg, VA 22408
For more information, contact ChristineRoseValenti AT hotmail.com or call: 540-645-0549

SUBMIT ENTRIES TO YOUR LOCAL VWC CHAPTER BY THEIR SPECIFIED DEADLINE Each Chapter has its own guidelines, deadline and membership requirements for entering the Chapter-level contest. All Chapters must adhere to the state contest rules. Some Chapters require membership in their Chapter, some don’t.

All entries in the second-tier State VWC contest must be a first-place Chapter-level entry and the entrant must be a State VWC member. If winner at the Chapter-level is not a member of the State VWC, a membership application and payment of dues must accompany the entry.

Contact your local VWC Chapter to find out what the deadline is for Chapter Contest Submissions! NOTE: Entries sent by writers directly to VWC for State contest will not be accepted.

Each Chapter president is responsible for forwarding only the first-place entries from the Chapter competition (in each of the three categories), written by a member of the VWC ore a writer who completes and application to join the VWC and submits a check for annual dues of $30 to accompany the entry.

There are ten VWC Chapters in the state. Only first-place winners from the Chapters will be eligible for the state contest. That means only 30 entries will be forwarded for the State competition -- ten entries total per category (fiction, nonfiction, poetry) -- by the State Deadline of Sept. 3. Winners of State VWC Contest will be announced and awards presented at the State VWC Annual Meeting on NOVEMBER 2. Awards for each category: First Place-$100; Second Place-$50; Third Place-$25.




The Virginia Writers Club’s Spring Shorts Contest has been renamed the Summer Short Shorts Contest and is now held a bit later in the year than the previous Spring Shorts contest. Please read the guidelines listed below for more information.

Note: Only members of the statewide Virginia Writers Club who have paid their membership dues for the current year may enter the contest.



Fiction - A short story not to exceed 1,200 words
Non-fiction - A personal essay not to exceed 1,200 words
Poetry - Any form not to exceed 30 lines


  • Only members of the statewide Virginia Writers Club who have paid their membership dues may enter the contest.
  • Entries, sent electronically, will be accepted from May 1 through June 30.
  • A writer may submit only one entry per category.
  • Entry must be the original unpublished work of the writer.
  • Winners will be announced at the August VWC Symposium in Charlottessville, followed by a posting of winners on the VWC website.


  • Entries must be in Times New Roman 12 sent as an e-mail attachment. Illustrations will not be accepted or considered.
  • Prose must be double-spaced with a ragged right margin; poetry must be single-spaced with a flush left margin.
  • No information identifiable to the author should be included in the body of the entry.
  • The e-mail message to which the work is attached must include the title of the piece and category, the author's name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. *** An author's biography of no more than 50 words should be included in the e-mail message.

The e-mail should be sent to contest coordinator Gary Kessler at gdkess@mindspring.com. An acknowledgment of receipt will be sent; if you don’t receive one, recheck.

AWARDS: $25 - 1st Place; $15 - 2nd Place; $10 - 3rd Place (in each category)


Entry constitutes permission to publish the winning essay in a future edition of a Virginia Writers Club publication or on the Virginia Writers Club website. Acceptance of the prize money constitutes waiver of any and all further compensation for first publication rights. Remaining rights are the property of the author. Authors retain all rights to non-winning entries.




ANNUAL CELEBRATION OF POETRY                                                            Sponsored by the RIVERSIDE WRITERS CHAPTER, VWC

Salem Church Library, Meeting Room A

2601 Salem Church Rd, Fredericksburg, VA 22407


For More Information Contact Larry Turner,

4208 Stonehaven Way, Fredericksburg VA 22408, 540-710-2518, Thanz3000[AT]aol.com

Driving Directions The library is about a five-minute drive from Exit 130B on I95. Go west on Plank Road (Virginia Route 3) about 1.7 miles, and turn left on Salem Church Road. Drive south about 0.8 miles and arrive at the library on your left. The library is a two-story building that looks like a one-story building.

 Parking: Parking is available in the library parking lot.

Rules for a Poetry Slam

Poetry and Performance:

1) All poetry must be the original work of the slammer.

2) Slammer cannot use props or musical accompaniment (other than that which they can make with their own body). Slammers cannot employ costumes, nudity, or animal acts.

3) Any subject matter or style is acceptable.


1) A slam is typically 1 or 2 rounds. The first round in a two round slam can be an elimination round.

2) Each slammer has 3 minutes to perform during a round. There is also a 10 second grace period. A deduction of .5 points occurs for every ten seconds (or fraction thereof) that the slammer goes over 3 minutes, ten seconds. At 4 minutes, the slammer is cut off.


1) 5 judges are randomly picked from the audience. Judges cannot be directly connected to any of the slammers.

2) Judging is done Olympic style, 0-10 with one decimal place. The high and low score are dropped and the remaining scores are added together. The highest score during a round wins the round.

3) A calibration poet will be provided for judges to “practice” judging. The calibration poet’s score should be used as a benchmark (anything better should be scored higher; anything worse should be scored lower).

4) Giving a perfect “10” is a privilege, not a right.


1) Judges SHOULD NOT be influenced by the audience.

2) The audience SHOULD try to influence the judges.

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