Arcadia Science Fiction Short Story Competition, Deborah Rogers Writers Award, Magic Oxygen Literary Prize, Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition, Short stories, Stephen E King, Templar Poetry Awards, The Mogford Prize, The Orwell Prize
H E Bates Short Story Competition. A maximum of 2,000 words on any subject. Prizes: £500; £100; £50. Entry fee £6. Deadline 4 December. Details: http://www.hebatescompetition.org.uk/competition-rules
Amnesty International York Short Story Contest. Maximum 1,700 words on the theme of ‘Borders‘. Prizes: £50, plus signed novel and publication on Amnesty International York website. Deadline: 10 December. Details: yorkamenstyuk.blogspot.co.uk/p/competition.html
Deborah Rogers Writers Award. First 20,000-30,000 words of an unpublished novel by a debut author. Prizes: £10,000. Deadline: 15 December. Award is in memory of literary agent Deborah Rogers. Details: deborahrogers-foundation.org
Templar Poetry – Quarterly Portfolio Awards. 10-12-page portfolio. Entry fee: £12. Prize: publication. Deadline 18 December. Details: templarpoetry.com/pages/submissions-and-awards
Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition for flash fiction. Maximum 1,000 words. Prize: £1,000 plus commission of four further stories. Entry fee: £15. Deadline 22 December. Details: http://www.interactstrokesupport.org/news/ruth-rendell-short-story-competition-2017
Arcadia Science Fiction Short Story Competition. Short story of maximum 5,000 words. Rules: age 18-plus, no children’s stories or erotica. Entry fee: £5.50. Prize: percentage of anthology royalties. Deadline 31 December. Details: http://www.audioarcadia.com/science-fiction-competition
Magic Oxygen Literary Prize. Poem: maximum 50 lines. Short Story: maximum 4,000 words, excluding title. Rules: age 15-plus. Prizes: £1,000; £300, £100; 2x£50. Entry fee: £5. Details: http://www.magicoxygen.co.uk Entry fees contribute to the planting of trees in Africa.
The Mogford Prize for a 2,500 word story on the theme of food and drink. Prize: £10,000. Entry fee: £10.Deadline: 3 January. Details: http://www.oxford-hotels-restaurants.co.uk/mogford prize
The Orwell Prize 2018 – for non-fiction: journalism, books, political writing. Entry is FREE. Prizes: £3,000 in each category. Deadline 11 January. Details: http://www.orwell-foundation.org
Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition for full-length novels, 30,000-80,000 words, suitable for readers aged 7-18. Prizes: Publication deal worth £10,000. All long-listed writers receive an editorial report. Entry fee: £15. Deadline: 18 December. Details: http://www.chickenhousebooks.com/submissions
Exeter Novel Prize for the first 10,000 words, including synopsis, of an unpublished manuscript by an author not currently represented. The winner will receive £500 plus a trophy. Five finalists will each get £75. Entry fee: £18. Deadline: 1 January. Details: http://www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk (One of ninevoices made it to the final five last year, and has a rather splendid trophy to prove it, so it CAN be done)
One in Four new writer contest, run jointly by Trapeze, single parents’ charity Gingerbread and women’s lifestyle website The Pool are seeking a novel celebrating single parent families. Your first 5,000 words could earn a £10,000 publishing contract with Orion, plus three hours mentoring. CLOSING DATE IS 4 DECEMBER. Details: OneInFourSubmissions@orionbooks.co.uk
I could be wrong, but at such a busy time of year, surely these competitions will receive fewer entries than usual? Which might you a better chance of getting noticed? So I suggest you follow Stephen King’s example, and keep entering these things until you get recognition.
Please remember to double-check all details.
Ben Elton, Bloomsbury, Celia Brayfield, Chaucer, Diaries of Parson James Woodforde, Duncan Sprott, Francis Spufford, George III, Golden Hill, Hampton Court, Hilary Mantel, Jane Austen, Sir John Franklin, Upstart Crow
Ecod, methinks Master Edward hath right verily strucken a hand-wrought nail upon its noddle…
Having enjoyed Francis Spufford’s Golden Hill, Ed wondered in his 8th November post how much research a historical novelist needs, and whether they should strive to use exact language and idiom. Or just wing it.
When I began my current book, set in C18 London, I spent long hours studying contemporary novelists, together with the entertaining and informative Diaries of Parson James Woodforde. I subsequently foreswore contractions, larded my first draft with the phrases and expressions of the time, and made my humble characters respectful and the educated ones God-fearing, with behaviour that was (outwardly, at least) formal. Jane Austen‘s fiction, after all, portrays an era when men and women would agree to marry before they were even on first name terms.
However, although what I’d written was comprehensible, it reminded me of having to listen to Chaucer being read out at school. It wasn’t remotely like the page-turning spiral of darker and darker mysteries that I wanted to unleash on unsuspecting agents.
I set my sights lower. After all, however much research you do, some clever clogs will spot errors. In the entertaining Upstart Crow, Shakespeare‘s dad complained that the pastry of his pie was hard and inedible. When visiting the kitchens of Hampton Court recently, I was told the delicious-looking pies on display weren’t what they seemed. They were flour and water shells, designed to cook and tenderise meat. After being broken open, they were thrown away. Did Ben Elton realise this? Does it matter? I suspicion (thought I’d throw in some archaic language) that the destitute of the day would have been glad to gnaw on them. After all, didn’t Sir John Franklin eat his own boots when starving in the Arctic in the C19?
As my husband reminds me, a historical novel is a work of fiction. I clearly shouldn’t have suffragettes throwing themselves in front of George III’s coach, or adventurers sailing to New York in a week. But, as long as the things I write could possibly have happened, my fingers are crossed. Sufficient facts important to my plot are true. I have British Library references to prove it.
Top flight historical novelists like Hilary Mantel do, of course, adopt a scholarly approach, but lesser mortals like myself can hopefully settle for something more modest.
(Anyone attempting this genre could do no better than invest in Bloomsbury‘s Writing Historical Fiction, by Celia Brayfield and Duncan Sprott)
I’m a couple of days late with this – for which, my apologies, I was off on my broomstick – but here are some competitions worth entering in November.
Bath Children’s Novel Award, for 7-17 years. 5,000 words plus synopsis. Entry fee £25. Prizes: £2,000; £500 Cornerstones voucher. Deadline: 19 November. Details: bathnovelaward.co.uk/childrens-novel-award
Erewash Writers Free Entry Competition. Poem: 40 lines. Flash Fiction: max 500 words. Story: 1,500-2,000 words. Theme: Live in the Moment. Entry, as said, is free, but is limited to two entries max per person. Prizes: £25 story; £10 poetry/flash fiction, plus publication. Deadline: 23 November. Details: erewashwriterscompetition.weebly.com/2017-free-entry-themed-writing-competition.html
Fish Short Story Prize 2017. Word limit, 5,000. Entry fee: 20 Euros. 10 stories will also be selected to go into the 2018 Fish Anthology. First prize: 3,000 Euros. Second prize: Week at Anam Cara Writers Retreat, plus 300 Euros. Third prize: 300 Euros. Fish also have an on-line short story writing course and a critique service. Details: http://www.fishpublishing.com
Congleton Playwriting Competition for one-act plays from new and emerging playwrights with a running time of 20-30 minutes (3,500-4,000 words). Ideally plays should have between two and six characters, but monologues will be considered. Shortlisted plays will be performed at the Congleton Players One-Act Play Festival in 2018, and the writer of the play voted the audience’s favourite will get £150. ENTRY IS FREE. Deadline: 30 November. Details: http://congletonplayers.com/
There are also always competitions to enter in Writer’s Magazine and Writers’ Forum.
And, finally, November is National Novel Writing Month, the challenge to use November to get your word count up to 50,000 words and your book properly under way. Although this started on November 1st, you can still sign up. There are badges for reaching important targets and a prize draw for people who get successfully to the end. Along the way are pep talks, support and the chance to meet fellow writers on-line. Details: https://nanowrimo.org
The picture, incidentally, was one of my entries into the annual Speldhurst Village Scarecrow Competition. It didn’t win, nor did it get placed (maybe it should have been featured in my Rejection Diaries), but was great fun to create. My friends tell me the likeness is remarkable, apart from the hair length.
My husband’s recent re-ordering of our modest library led me to rediscover this powerful book by Brian Moynahan about religious intolerance and the brave man who translated the word of God into English.
Moynahan’s heart-stopping biography of the young Gloucestershire tutor forced to flee England in 1524 in order to safely translate the Bible into English is as much thriller as history. It brims with exhumations, double-agents, whispered confidences, poisoned soup and brutal burnings. There are unfamiliar glimpses of Anne Boleyn alongside the familiar autocratic ones of Henry VIII. Sir Thomas More, sadly, does not come out of it well. Indeed, it is less familiar figures like Thomas Bilney, who show unimaginable heroism. It is not an easy read. There is faith. Hope. But scant charity.
The agents of Tudor England caught up with Tyndale in the end. On the 6th October 1536, in Vilvoorde, just outside Brussels, he was bound to a stake with iron chains, with a noose around his neck. In the brief period he was allowed to pray, Foxe tells us he cried out in a loud voice: ‘Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.’ He was then strangled and burned, although it is said he was still living as the flames engulfed him. His executioner was instructed to add fuel to the flames until the body was utterly consumed, after which even the ashes were disposed of (probably in the nearby River Zenne) to obliterate any traces that might remain. His words, however, will surely survive as long as we have the English language. His prose has enriched the work of writers from William Shakespeare to Alan Bennett and has lessons even for stumbling novices like myself.
Tyndale’s unique contribution was that he was translating the Bible into English for the first time from the original texts in Greek and Hebrew. Moynahan ‘s biography makes particular mention of his use of verbs: ‘…he wrote at the infancy of the written language [for] it was common for people to read aloud, even when alone; and it is this habit, and Tyndale’s studies in rhetoric at Oxford, that accounts…for the charm and thunder that soar from the English Bible when it is spoken from the lectern.’ [Tyndale uses] ‘verbs where less flowing writers use nouns and adjectives…creating a cadence and sense of immediacy.’
This terrific book is still available, though now only on eBay or through specialist bookshops. It is not the easiest of reads, but it is rich with lessons, not only for those seeking to know how even the ‘boy that driveth the plough‘ came to have first-hand access to the Bible, but for those striving to write prose with a powerful punch. We must follow Tyndale’s example: short words; short sentences, and, above all, those potent verbs.
This Friday will mark 481 years since Tyndale’s death. What better time to remember a brave and gifted man, and everything we English-speakers owe him.
The Dorset Fiction Award has a prize of £500, with anthology publication. Entries must be under 1,000 words, on any theme, and the entry fee is £7. You need not be resident in Dorset. Their deadline is 15 October and full details can be found on their website: dorsetfictionaward.co.uk
The National Poetry Competition has a first prize of £5,000, a second prize of £2,000 and a third prize of £1,000. All this, plus the chance to receive international acclaim for your work. There are also seven commendations which will earn £200 each. Entry is £6.50 for a first poem, with £3.50 per poem thereafter. Deadline 31 October. Details: poetrysociety.org.uk/npc
Southport Writers’ Circle has launched its Annual Short Story Competition for original, unpublished short fiction on any theme, up to 2,000 words. The first prize is £150, the Second Prize £80 and the Third Prize £30. Winning stories will be published online. Entry is £3 per story, or four for £10. Closing date 31 October. Details http://www.swconline.co.uk
Troubadour Poetry Prize for a poem of 45 lines. Entry: £6 for first poem, then £4. Prizes: £2,000; £1,000; £500. Deadline 16 October. Details: http://www.coffeehousepoetry.org/prizes.
RW Flash Fiction Prize. Up to 500 words in any genre except children’s. Entry: £10 for one entry; £18 for two; £25 for three. Prizes: £250; £150; £75; £15, plus publication. Also RW Short Story Prize, for 1500-4000 words. Entry £15 for one entry, £28 for two; £35 for three. Prizes: £350; £200; £100; £20. Deadline 29 October. Details: retreatwest.co.uk/competitions/the-rw-short-story-prize.
NAWG Open Short Story Competition. 500-2000 words. Entry: £5, plus £5 for optional critique. Prizes: £200; £100; £50. Deadline 31 October. Details: http://www.nawg.co.uk/5658
There are also regular quarterly short story competitions by organisations such as Henshaw Press, who look for stories up to 2000 words. The Entry fee is £5, with prizes of £100; £50; £25. Details: henshawpress.co.uk.
As ever, we recommend that you double-check all details before entering.
I’m almost purring with pleasure as I put the final tweaks in place for my entry to Mslexia’s Women’s Novel Competition 2017. Why? Not because I expect to win – though squeezing onto any long list would be awesome – but because THEY DON’T REQUIRE A SYNOPSIS. Thank you, Mslexia! I always knew you were great people.
This is almost unheard of, and most welcome. Writing a synopsis is worse than cleaning the oven after a blackberry and apple crumble has erupted and left a pumice-hard lava flow.
If you don’t have your own entry poised to go, you still have until 18 September. Plenty of time, especially as there’s no synopsis to agonise over.
Must go and wash my whiskers now, before having another tweak.
(The picture above, incidentally, is of Gizzie, our newish rescue cat – who spent most of her second day with us up a chimney. With a tail like that, maybe we should start a chimney sweep business…)
Nearly missed the great Alan Yentob interview with Margaret Atwood on BBC1 at 10.30 pm on Monday. If you didn’t catch it, it’s well worth catching up with via BBC-IPlayer.
I especially enjoyed her reminiscence about being annoyed when an earlier interviewer suggested that her work must be largely autobiographical: Did Agatha Christie really commit all those murders…?
Alex Clark, Books and the City Heatseeker Competition, Erewash Open Short Story Competition, Henshaw Competition, Manchester Writing Competition., Mslexia Novel Competition, Philippa Gregory, Retreat West Competition, Sarah Such
September 18 is the deadline for entries to Msexlia’s Women’s Novel Competition 2017. With a first prize of £5,000, the entry fee is £25 and they are asking for 5,000 word extracts of completed, unpublished novels of at least 50,000 words in length for adult or young adult readers. However, you need to be an unpublished female writer. Finalists receive manuscript feedback. Check entry rules at https://mslexia.co.uk/competitions/novel-competition-rules/ Judges are: Philippa Gregory (novelist), Sarah Such (literary agent), Alex Clark (journalist).
NO APOLOGIES for this reminder about our own Flash Fiction Competition (pinned at the head of our blog), with a prize of £100 and a deadline of midnight TOMORROW. We have been fascinated by your entries so far, but would like lots more…
Erewash Writers’ Group invites entries for its Open Short Story Competition, with prizes of £100, £60, £25 and £15. They are seeking unpublished stories of up to 2,500 words on any theme. Entry fee is £3 for one, £5 for two and £2 per entry thereafter. Details from: http://erewashwriterscompetition.weebly.com/
Writers & Artists has joined forces with Retreat West for a FREE short story competition. Deadline September 17. They are asking for 1,000 words, which must have a beach as the setting, and the winner will receive a place on Retreat West’s Plotting Retreat from 17-21 November. Please check the details at: http://writ.rs/retreatwestcompetition.
Bedford International Writing Competition want short stories of up to 3,000 words, or poems up to 40 lines, on any theme. Prizes: £3000, £150, £100. Entry fee: £6, £12 for three. Deadline September 30. Details: http://www.bedfordwritingcompetition.co.uk
Manchester Writing Competition. Poem: three to five poems, max 120 lines total. Story 2,500 words. Fee: £17.50. Prize £10,000. Details: http://www.manchester-writingcompetition.co.uk
Books and the City Heatseeker Competition. 2,500 words. Entry FREE. Prize: mentoring session with Paige Toon and ebook publication of story by Simon & Schuster, with royalties. Details: booksandthecity.co.uk
The Henshaw Competition for a 2,000 word short story. Prizes: £100; £50; £25. Entry fee: £5, with critiques an additional £10. Details: henshawpress.co.uk. This latter competition is do-able. I have in my bookcase their anthology including my own winning story – and much enjoyed spending my £100 prize!
Do remember to check the details on the competition website – just in case.
Many best-selling authors started their careers by writing short stories.
I don’t believe this particular young man succeeded with ‘O Henry’s Corner’ on this occasion, but I suspect his liking for obituary columns proved inspirational for his later books.
So – write a short story. There are plenty of competitions around. Hint, hint…