The Peter Wells Short Fiction Contest is a pivotal part of our festival. The award celebrates the life and work of Samesame but Different founder Peter Wells, a writer, filmmaker and historian. It gives New Zealand LGBTQIA+ writers the opportunity to prove their creative skills and to promote their work to a wider audience in a safe and supportive environment.

First prize is $1000 for the winning story, $500 for the runner-up and $500 for the best writing by a promising young writer aged under 25. This makes it one of the leading short fiction competitions in Aotearoa. To read more about the awards or to read the winning entries from previous awards, see below.

The Peter Wells short FICTION contest 2022

With the generous support of our sponsors, samesame but different is again running a short fiction writing contest in 2022. 

The competition celebrates the life and work of our founder, Peter Wells. It gives New Zealand LGBTQI writers the opportunity to prove their creative skills and to promote their work to a wider audience in a safe and supportive environment. This year’s contest is closed.

The theme of the 2022 Samesame but different festival is Legacy. 

With this in mind, we decided this year to ask writers to include the phrase ‘once upon a time’ somewhere in their story. 

Writers did not have to restrict their story to any particular theme, but the phrase must have appeared in the story. It could be used in any way and in any place in the story. As always, it is excellence that the judges looked for. Past winners have demonstrated originality and good storytelling. Their work has been about inventiveness, imagination and the powerful use of language.

The maximum word limit of 2000 words must not be exceeded, with a minimum requirement of 1200 words. 

Our judges this year are Carole Beu and David Herkt. Carole is the proud owner/manager of The Women’s Bookshop in Auckland and one of the best-read people in the country. David is a writer and has published memoirs, short stories, poetry and arts journalism, including many interviews and book reviews. The judges are looking for writing flair and creative brilliance. Their decision is final.

The outcome of the 2022 Contest will be announced on Friday, February 18th at 6pm at the Peter Wells Short Fiction Contest Awards. Click here to learn more about the awards and to book your free slot to join online. At this event you will not only hear from the winners, you will also hear from the judges about their selection process, making it a great opportunity for past and future entrants to the Contest.

For the contest rules and how to enter, keep scrolling:

previous winners previous Winners

The Crunch of an Apple

by Lisa Williams Runner up, 2020. The crunch of an apple. Yup. That’s the sound. Melody let the Nissan Tiida’s footbrake out and mashed it in again with her bare […]

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Hi Honey

by Isabelle McNeur . Runner-up prize, 2021. I’ve found a clearing. The sun barely gets through the branches, but here on the ground there’s a patch of uneven grass. […]

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Urban Foraging

by Joy Holley WINNER: Under 25 Youth Award, 2021 First it’s just seaweed. Wallace is doing their honours project on foraging at Wellington beaches, and I have come along […]

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Entry criteria

We welcome entries to our annual short fiction contest, named for our late founder, the writer, filmmaker and historian Peter Wells. Keep an eye on our social media feeds for details on when entries close for each year’s competition. You can read previous winning entries to the award at the links below. Keep scrolling for the rules of entry to the award.

The maximum word limit of 2000 words must not be exceeded, with a minimum requirement of 1200 words. Entrants must state in their covering email if they are eligible for the promising young writer award. All entries will be judged for the overall contest winner. Please watch our Facebook and Twitter feeds for details on entering our next awards.

Entrants to the Peter Wells Short Fiction Contest must also comply with the following rules:

  1. Stories must be your own work, and not previously published.
  2. Stories must be original works of fiction.
  3. You must identify as LGBTQI, and your story should have relevance to the broader New Zealand LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex) community.

  4. Stories should be at least 1200 words in length but must not exceed 2000 words. Any entry over this limit will be disallowed automatically. Please include your word count at the end of your story.
  5. Stories must be emailed as attachments in Word to: [email protected]
  6. Stories must be received by midnight on 5 January 2022. Late entries will not be accepted.

  7. Be sure to include your full name, email address and contact phone number in your submission email.

  8. Please state in your covering email if you are entering your story in the promising young writer category. If you are, please confirm that you are aged under 25. You will still be eligible to win the Peter Wells Short Fiction Contest.

  9. Your name must not appear in headers or footers or anywhere in your story – our judges read all stories in blissful ignorance of the writer’s identity.
  10. Please give your work a title. This helps us identify each piece.
  11. If you submit a story to the competition, you are also giving us permission to publish it, which may be online or in a printed publication.
  12. The winner may be invited to read their work at our winners’ event during the samesame but different festival, which will be held on 18-19 February 2022.

  13. You may submit more than one story.

  14. Previous winners of either award are not permitted to enter in the same category.

  15. We only accept stories from writers resident or normally resident in New Zealand.