Short Story Award

In 2012, we launched the Costa Short Story Award for a single short story. This is run in association with the Costa Book Awards but judged independently of the main five-category system.

What is the Costa Short Story Award?


The Award is for a single, previously unpublished short story of up to 4,000 words written in English.

The competition is open to any writer, published or unpublished, aged 18 years or over and resident in the UK or Ireland who submit their stories anonymously via this website.

It's up to the public to read the top three stories shortlisted by the judges and vote for their favourite, with the winner and two runners-up being announced at the Costa Book Awards ceremony in January.

Key dates for the 2021 awards
  • Entry opens: 1st July 2021

  • Download and vote: From Wednesday 1st December 2021

  • Shortlisted writers revealed: Tuesday 18th January 2022

  • Winner announced: Tuesday 1st February 2022

Download and vote for your favourite short story

A Man in Half

Finally facing up to a mystifying disappearance, an isolated former magician breaks a lifelong spell.

Download to read and vote for this story below.

Pholas Dactylus

Sal Shrivel, ex-villain, is selling seafood on the seashore when his old life comes looking for him...

Download to read and vote for this story below.


It’s Sami’s last chance to tell her dying friend a secret, but the hospital visit leads to an unexpected road trip.

Download to read and vote for this story below.


The 2021 Costa Short Story Award judging panel

Learn more about this year’s panel of judges here by downloading the PDF below.


You don't need a publisher or an agent to enter the competition - just an idea and a talent for writing

Costa Short Story Award 2020: Winner Results

Congratulations to Tessa Sheridan who has won the 2020 Costa Short Story Award with her story: The Person Who Serves, Serves Again.

Laura-Blaise McDowell came second with The Lobster Waltz and Louise Dean took third place with How Adult Conversation Works.

Thank you to everyone who voted. You can still download a PDF for each of this year’s shortlisted stories below or listen* to them here to them instead

Tessa Sheridan for The Person Who Serves, Serves Again

Sal hasn't seen her brother for years, so why is he inviting her for a badminton match? Something is being played out, and winning isn't quite the point... 

Tessa Sheridan is a London-based writer. Her short stories have won the Chester Prize and appeared in two published collections to date, and many more lurk on her laptop. As screenwriter/director, her short films have won the Palme D’Or at Cannes and the BBC Award for Best Short Drama, and her feature film scripts have won major development awards.

Laura-Blaise McDowell for The Lobster Waltz

A young woman explores LA while back in Dublin, her famous father claims an actress has replaced her. 

Laura-Blaise McDowell lives in Dublin. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, including Still Worlds Turning, an anthology of new Irish writing from No Alibis Press. In 2019, she was shortlisted for the Benedict Kiely Short Story Award and was runner-up for the Dalkey Creates Short Story Prize. She is currently working on a short story collection.

Louise Dean for How Adult Conversation Works

Setting off on a mini cruise together, a mother promises her son her romantic misadventures are a thing of the past. 

Louise Dean, based in Kent, is the author of four published novels. She was the winner of the Betty Trask Prize in 2004, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Prize and IMAP and the winner of Le Prince Maurice Prize in 2006. She is the founder of the worldwide writing school The Novelry.

Got a question?

We receive many enquiries about every aspect of the Costa Book Awards, so we've taken all the most frequently asked questions and answered them here.

**Check here for full terms and conditions for the Costa Book Awards and Costa Short Story Award.