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For those of us slaving into the night on our novels (who groan at also having to produce an enticing agent letter, plus possibly an elevator pitch) competitions for debut novels do at least omit these. You usually need the dreaded synopsis, of course, but that can hardly be avoided. Unless you’re Hilary Mantel: no agent would surely have the nerve to demand one from her…

May is the month for the Bridport’s Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award. Required are the opening chapters of the novel – a minimum of 5,000 words and a maximum of 8,000 words, plus a synopsis of 300 words. First prize is £1,000, plus a written report from the judge, while a runner-up will receive £500, plus a full manuscript appraisal from The Literary Consultancy. The entry fee is £20 and the deadline is midnight on May 31st. Full details from: http://www.bridportprize.org.uk

Next up is the Yeovil Literary Prize.  They’re asking for your opening chapters and a synopsis, up to 15,000 words. Prizes are: £1,000, £250, £100, with a modest entry fee of £12. Closing date is May 31st. Full details: http://www.yeovilprize.co.uk

The Winchester Writers’ Festival 2017 want only the first three pages, plus a 600 word synopsis. Prizes: an editorial meeting with Little Brown, plus £70-worth of books; £30-worth of books. Entry fee is only £6, or £16 with some constructive feedback. This would be perfect for someone embarking on a first or new novel and the feedback offer sounds incredibly good value.  Deadline May 15th. Details: http://www.writersfestival.co.uk

New Voices First Novel Competition. 50 pages of a novel, ready for submission by a first-time writer. Prize: Start-up mentoring package worth £550. Entry fee: £10. Deadline May 31st.  Details: http://www.adventuresinfiction.co.uk

And for the short story writers:

Winchester Writers’ Festival 2017 are also looking for a 1,000-word short story with a MURDER theme. Prizes are books to the value of £60, £40, £20. They also want open-themed short stories between 1,500-3,000 words. Prizes: a telephone consultation with Janklow and Nesbit ‘to receive editorial report’; book prizes for second and third places. Winchester also have competitions for a picture book for children, a memoir, a book for children aged 8-12; flash fiction, and a competition for young writers. Each entry is £6, with the same offer of an included critique for £16. Lots of opportunities on their website: wwwwritersfestival.co.uk

Frome Festival Short Story Festival is seeking stories of 1,000-2,200-words on an open theme. Prizes: £400, £200, £100, with winning entries published on their website – and also possibly sent by them to Women’s Weekly for consideration. Entry fee: £8. Deadline May 31st. Details: http://www.fromeshortstorycompetition.co.uk

Bath Short Story Competition want up to 2,200 words on an open theme. Prizes: £1,000, £200, £50, plus a £50 prize for the best short story by an unpublished writer. Winning and shortlisted stories will be published in an anthology. Entry fee is £8, and the closing date (SOON) is May 1st. Details: http://www.bathshortstory.org.

The Bristol Prize is for a 4,000-word short story. Prizes: £1,000, £799, £400, £100. Fee £8. Deadline (SOON) May 3rd. Details: http://www.bristolprize.co.uk

Bridport also have a short story prize (5,000 words), plus one for a poem (42 lines maximum) and another for flash fiction (250 words). Fee: £10 story; £9 poem; £8 flash. Prizes: story/poem: £5,000, £1,000, £500, 10x£100; flash: £1,000, £500, £250, 3x£100. Deadline May 31st. Details: http://www.bridportprize.org.uk

Yeovil are also offering prizes for a short story, up to 2,000-words and a poem, up to 40 lines. Prizes: £500, £200, £100 for stories/poem. They also have a ‘Writing Without Restriction’ competition (see website for further information on this), with prizes of £200, £100 and £50. Entry fees: £7 for short stories and/or one poem, £10 for two, £12 for three. Writing without restriction: £5. Deadline: May 31st. Details: http://www.yeovilprize.co.uk

Storgy Magazine 2017 Short Story Competition. Stories up to 5,000 words. Prizes: £1,000, £500, £250. Entry fee: £10. Deadline: May 31st. Details: http://stogy.com

Cinnamon Press Short Story Prize: 2,000 to 5,000 words. Prizes: one year’s free mentoring, place on a Ty Newydd course. Publication. Entry fee: £12. Deadline May 31st. Details: http://www.cinnamonpress.com

There are so many opportunities in May that I’m going cross-eyed, so PLEASE check all details carefully. I’ll certainly be entering several of these competitions (ever the optimist), as will other members of ninevoices.

Remember. If you don’t enter, you can’t win.