Rules for the 2020 Golden Nib Contest

The 2020 Golden Nib writing contest is officially open. The Golden Nib is the Virginia Writers Club (VWC) 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 and a current member of the state organization. Due to the COVID-19 situation, if you are not yet a member of a local chapter, we are enacting an online submission option for this year. 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 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 are members of a VWC Chapter must enter the first tier of the competition through that Chapter. VWC members who are not members of a local Chapter can submit their entries via the online submission form. See below for more details.

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

  • Manuscripts must be the original, unpublished work of the entrant, and must not have won a prize at any level in any other competition.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.
  • Entrants may submit only one entry per category of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
  • Fiction and non-fiction entries must be no longer than 3,500 words. Poetry entries must be no longer than 50 lines.
  • Fiction should conform to the Chicago Manual of Style; nonfiction can be either Chicago style or Associated Press Style.
  • Submissions will be electronic and consist of two documents; a cover sheet, and the manuscript.
  • Cover sheet and entry will be in doc, docx, rtf or pages format.
  • The cover sheet must include the author's name, address, telephone number, email address, category (fiction, non-fiction, poetry) and title of the manuscript.
  • Submission format:
    • All pages must show contest category, title and page number in the header. If the author s name appears on any page of the manuscript, the entry will be disqualified.
    • Prose (fiction and non-fiction) manuscripts must be printed in a plain, legible font, such as Times New Roman, 12 pt, double spaced. Page size should be 8 ½ by 11-inch, with one-inch margins top, bottom and left, and a ragged right margin.
    • Poetry manuscripts must be printed in a plain, legible font, such as Times New Roman, 12pt, single space. Page size should be 8 ½ by 11-inch with one-inch margins top, bottom and left. 
    • Submissions not in accord with format and other rules will be disqualified.
  • 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.

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.

  • 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 by members of local chapters sent 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 or a writer who completes an application to join the VWC and submits a check for annual dues of $30 to accompany the entry. If you are just joining VWC, your first year dues will be $15 and not $30.


If you are not yet a member of a local chapter, but are a member in good standing of the state organization, you can submit your work online. Membership status will be verified by the online membership directory.

NOTE: If you are a member of a VWC chapter, you must submit through your local chapter. 

  • Only one submission per category will be allowed. Multiple submissions in a single category will be disqualified.
  • Submissions must follow the guidelines outlined above in the contest rules, with the exception of the coversheet.
  • Coversheets must be submitted through the link below. A separate document is not necessary.
  • Online submissions will be open from May 5, 2020 through 11:59pm, May 30, 2020. Submit your online entry here.


There are ten VWC Chapters and one online submission option in the state. Only first-place winners from the Chapters will be eligible for the state contest. That means only 33 entries will be forwarded for the State competition -- eleven entries total per category (fiction, nonfiction, poetry) -- by the State Deadline of August 31. Winners of State VWC Contest will be announced and awards presented at the VWC Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony in November. Awards for each category: First Place-$100; Second Place-$50; Third Place-$25.



NOTE: This info is only for chapters submitting their winning Nib entries to Golden Nib. If you're a member who wants to submit your writing, contact your local chapter or follow the link above to online submissions for details on how to enter the local contest. All Golden Nib entries come from local chapters.

Winning Chapter entries must be submitted by August. 31, 2020 to:

Michelle McBeth

Email Michelle here.

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