Daily Mail Penguin Random House New Crime Novel Contest Now Open

If you’re an aspiring crime/thriller novelist – and you live in the UK or Republic of Ireland – here’s a contest you should definitely consider entering.

The Daily Mail Random House New Crime Novel Competition is free to enter. The winner will receive a £20,000 advance fee, the services of a top literary agent, and guaranteed publication by Penguin Random House UK.

Your story can be detective novel, crime or spy thriller, or psychological chiller. Entrants must never have had a novel published before (in any format, including ebook or self-published) and must be 16 or over.

You don’t need to submit the finished novel, just the first 5,000 words plus a 600-word synopsis of the complete work. The deadline is 5 May 2017, so at the time of writing you have just over a fortnight to get your entry written, polished and submitted.

All entries have to be typed and printed on A4 paper with double spacing in font size 12 point, Times New Roman. They must be posted or couriered to Daily Mail First Crime Novel Competition, c/o Penguin Random House Group, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA. All entries must include the entrant’s full name and contact details (including their home and email address) and confirmation they have agreed to the full terms and conditions.

For more information about the contest, including tips for would-be authors, visit this page of the Daily Mail website. For the full terms and conditions and details of how to enter in PDF format, click on this link.

Good luck, and happy crime writing!


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Ten Top Tips for Winning Short Story Contests

Ten Top Tips for Winning Short Story Contests

As well as being fortunate enough to win several short story contests, I have been asked to judge a few. So I thought today I would share some tips that come at least partly from my judging experience..

1. Most important of all, obey the contest rules. It they say the maximum is 1500 words, don’t submit 2000. An entry that clearly breaks the rules has no chance of winning.

2. Don’t enter the same story in more than one contest at a time. It will be embarrassing to both you and the organizers if the same story wins or places in both contests, and you may end up forfeiting your prize (or prizes).

3. Try to come up with an original idea or angle. Remember that your story will be competing with many others, so avoid the predictable plots that have been done to death, or at least give them a fresh twist. A clever double-twist ending that surprises the judges and subverts their expectations can be a winning formula.

4. Twist endings aren’t essential, though (unless that is specified in the rules). A story that engages with the reader on an emotional level and leaves him/her something to ponder can also be a strong contender in a short story contest.

5. Other things being equal, avoid submitting stories that are laden with doom and gloom. As a judge I’ve been amazed (and depressed) by the high proportion of miserable, downbeat tales that are entered in competitions. That’s not to say such stories can’t be good, but judges are only human. Faced by story after story brimming with misery, when we come across a tale with a bit of humour it really stands out. So go easy on the negativity. Witty, humorous stories (even dark humour) are far more likely to catch the judge’s eye, partly because they are so unusual. And even if you don’t end up winning, my fellow judges and I will be grateful to you for brightening our day!

6. Avoid cliches such as ‘she was a mine of information’ or ‘he was as cool as a cucumber’. These are signs of lazy writing and won’t impress the judges.

7. Likewise, try to avoid stereotyping. Just as judges are familiar with all the usual plot twists, so they can recognize flat, two-dimensional characters. Admittedly short stories don’t allow much space for characterization and character development. But if you can go beyond the standard stereotypes and present readers with interesting and surprising characters who spring to life off the page, it will greatly boost your chances of success.

8. Check and double-check your spelling, grammar and punctuation. No story that demonstrates a lack of attention to the basics of good English is likely to win a contest. Ideally, have someone else who is good at this check your entry for you before submitting it.

9. Don’t be too despondent if your story doesn’t win or even place. In most competitions there are hundreds of entries, and luck and the judges’ personal tastes inevitably play a part. I have had a story come nowhere in one contest and win another. If you are confident of the quality of your story, give it another polish and send it out again when a suitable opportunity arises.

10. If possible, though, take the trouble to read the stories that do win and see what this tells you about what the judges were looking for. Compare your own story honestly with those of the winners and see what they did that you didn’t (although bear in mind my comments above).

Good luck, and I wish you every success entering short story contests!

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Next Great Horror Writer Contest

The Next Great Horror Writer Contest

If writing horror fiction is your thing, here’s a contest you won’t want to miss.

The Next Great Horror Writer Contest is open to any aspiring horror writer over the age of 18. The contest is for new writers, so you must not have had a story of over 10,000 words published by a publishing house already (although self-published authors are eligible).

The contest is being run by the website, and is free to enter. It is being judged by a panel of professional horror writers, publishers and editors.

The first prize is pretty impressive. The winner will receive:

  • a novel/book contract with leading indie publishers Crystal Lake Publishing
  • a free edit of a novel up to 50,000 words
  • a short story contract with the “Horror Bites” series
  • a horror writer gift box – ‘supplies and inspiration for the Next Great Horror Writer’

There are other prizes as well, including audio drama production, podcast interviews, more short story contracts, and so on. The contest will proceed through a series of ‘challenges’ designed to select the final winner, with prizes being awarded to the winners of each stage. The challenges will take place from March 2017 to October 2017.

The closing date for entering The Next Great Horror Writer is 1 March 2017. At this stage you simply have to submit the online entry form and a 100-word story. The rules say you must ‘have a full-length novel or novella ready to pitch to a publishing house’ but you aren’t required to submit this with your entry. Clearly, you should have a novel at least in progress so you will be in a position to benefit if you are lucky enough to win the first prize. However, definitely don’t be put off if you don’t have a full-length novel ready to submit now!

For more information about The Next Great Horror Writer Contest, click through any of the links in this post. You can also complete the online application form on the web page.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, as always, feel free to leave them below. I wish you the very best of luck if you decide to enter this contest. 🙂

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World’s Richest Short Story Award Now Open for Entries!

Here’s a writing competition with a prize worth winning!

The Sunday Times Short Story Award 2017, with a £30,000 first prize, is now open for entries.

The contest is open world-wide, though you do have to have had work published professionally in the UK or Ireland. More information from the Aerogramme Writers’ Studio website is copied below…

Writers from around the world are invited to enter the 2017 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. The winner will receive £30,000 (approx US$40,000), making this the most valuable prize in the world for a single short story.

The prize is for stories up to 6000 words in length and there is no entry fee. Stories can be either unpublished or published. If published, the work must have first appeared after 31 December 2015.

Writers can enter regardless of their nationality or residency but they must have an existing record of publication in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

Source: The Sunday Times Short Story Award 2017: Entries Now Open for the World’s Richest Short Story Prize

Full terms and conditions for the prize can be found on this page (PDF) and you can access the entry form via the Short Story Award website

The winning story from last year’s contest by UK author Jonathan Tel, along with the other five works shortlisted for the 2016 prize, can be read in this low-priced Kindle e-book. The closing date for entering this year’s contest is 29 September 2016.

Good luck if you enter this contest. Even being longlisted would be a considerable feather in any writer’s cap. And if you win the top prize, remember who told you about it!

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The Bridport Prize Now Open for Entries!

One of the UK’s most prestigious (and best paying) writing contests, The Bridport Prize is open for entries until 31 May 2016.

The Bridport Prize was founded by Bridport Arts Centre in 1973. They say their mission is to encourage emerging writers and promote literary excellence through their competition structure.

This year there are separate contests for poems, short stories, flash fiction (under 250 words), and novels. There is a fee of £8 to £10 per entry (£20 for the novel award).

A total of over £16,000 (around $23,000) in prize money is on offer, with entry open open to all nationalities aged 16 years and over. To quote from the website…

The poem and short story categories each have a first prize of £5,000, second prize £1,000 and third prize £500. An additional 10 supplementary prizes (for each category) of £100 each are awarded.

A new category for flash fiction with a prize of £1,000 was launched in 2010. There is a second prize of £500, 3rd prize of £250 and 3 supplementary prizes of £100.

In 2014 the Peggy Chapman-Andrews first novel award, named after the Prize’s founder, was launched. The first prize is £1,000 plus a up to a year’s mentoring from The Literary Consultancy through their Chapter & Verse scheme. A runner-up prize of £500 is also offered. Three shortlisted writers will receive £100.

The Dorset Award is a prize specifically for Dorset writers. Thanks to the sponsorship of The Book Shop of Bridport, £100 is awarded to the highest placed Dorset writer in the Bridport Prize each year.

You can enter by post or via the Bridport Prize website, where further information is also available. The closing date is 31 May 2016, so don’t hang about!

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Three Great Fiction Writing Contests for UK and Irish Writers

With apologies to my readers elsewhere in the world, in this post I’m sharing details of three current fiction writing contests with big cash prizes that are open to writers in the UK and Ireland.

The first of these is the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller 2016, run by the Richard and Judy Book Club. On their website they say:

‘Search for a Bestseller’, supported by WHSmith, will be accepting manuscripts from unpublished authors from 10th March 2016 – 31st May 2016. Richard and Judy will then be leading the selection process, helped by editors and agents, to choose a winner who will receive a £50,000 publishing deal with Bonnier Zaffre and specialist advice from literary agency Furniss Lawton.

Richard Madeley commented: “Judy and I are so excited to host the “search for a bestseller” competition, it gives us a chance to keep doing what we both love- reading and discovering a fantastic title for our devoted Book Club audience. We can’t wait to read the submissions!”

To enter Search for a Bestseller, aspiring authors must submit 10,000 words of original fiction aimed at adults, as well as a synopsis of the full novel, via the entry form below. Good luck!

For anyone who may not know, Richard and Judy are UK TV personalities Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan. Their book club is said to be the largest in the UK. As well as the huge cash prize, the winner can therefore expect to get lots of publicity!

The closing date is 31 May 2016. For more information, here is a link to the contest website.

The second contest is the Daily Mail First Novel Contest. The winner of this one will receive a £20,000 advance fee, the services of a top literary agent, and guaranteed publication by Penguin Random House UK.

To enter this competition you have to send the first 5,000 words of your novel plus a 600-word synopsis of the complete work. The story can be a romance, a thriller, a sci-fi adventure, a contemporary tale or a historical one, as long as it is aimed at adults (not children) and is previously unpublished.

The closing date for this one is 16 April 2016. Full information, including how to submit your entry, can be found on this page of the Daily Mail website.

Finally, if you’re a young writer between 18 and 35, you might be interested in entering the Sunday Times/Peters Fraser and Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award.

The top prize of £5,000 is awarded for a full-length published or self-published (in book or ebook formats) work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, by a British or Irish author aged 18-35 years. There are also three awards of £500 each for runners-up.

The work submitted must have been first published in the UK and/or the Republic of Ireland, in the English language, between 1 July 2015 and 1 May 2016. Ebooks must be submitted in PDF format.

The closing date for this one is 1 May 2016. For more information, click through to this page of the Society of Authors website.

Good luck if you decide to enter any of these contests. If you win, remember that you heard about it here!

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Two Free Flash Fiction Contests With Awesome Prizes!

Flash fiction contests are always popular, so here are two with generous prizes that caught my eye recently…

The Florida Keys Flash Fiction Contest is a free-to-enter competition for an unpublished short story of up to 500 words.

The winner will be offered a three-week writing residency at the Studios of Key West, spending up to ten days writing in Ernest Hemingway’s private study at the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum.

The prize includes accommodation for up to 21 days in a residency cottage, an Air Travel Card up to $1,500 and a meal allowance. The total value of the prize is $6,950 USD.

The residency must be taken between 5 and 31 July, and the closing date is 31 March 2016.

This contest is open to residents of the United States, Canada excluding Quebec, the United Kingdom excluding Northern Ireland, and Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. For further information, click on this link to the contest website.

The other contest is the Reader’s Digest 100 Word Story Competition. This one is only open to residents of the UK and Ireland, but it is free to enter and has a £2000 top prize.

On the Reader’s Digest UK website, they say:

There are three categories—one for adults and two categories for schools: one for children aged 12–18 and one for children under 12.

Your stories should be original, unpublished and exactly 100 words long—not even a single word shorter or longer!

Entries must be in by February 20 2016.

The editorial team will then pick a shortlist of three in each category and post them online on March 6.

You can vote for your favourite, and the one with the most votes will scoop the top prize. Voting will close on March 27 and winning entries will be published in our June issue.

Entry is open only to residents of the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland.

What you could win

In the adult category:

The winner will receive £2,000, and two runners-up will each receive £200.

In the 12–18s category:

The winner will receive a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (8.0, WiFi) and a Samsung Gear S watch (choice of colour), plus £150 for their school. Two runners-up will each receive £100.

In the under-12s category:

The winner will receive a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (8.0, WiFi), plus £100 for their school. Two runners-up will each receive £75.

For more information, click here to visit the contest website.

Good luck if you decide to enter either of these contests. Remember where you heard about them if you end up winning!

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Creative Writing

Two New Writing Competitions From The Writers Bureau

As some of you will know, for several years I was a tutor for The Writers Bureau, the UK’s leading distance learning institution for writers. I also wrote their Complete Copywriter course, and some sections of their Comprehensive Creative Writing course.

I thought you might therefore like to know that they are running two writing competitions at the moment. One is inexpensive to enter, and the other is absolutely free!

The first is their annual Short Story Writing Competition. This is for an unpublished short story on any theme of 2000 words or under. The entry fee is £5 per story for up to three stories. There is a £1 discount for entrants who are also subscribers to the Writers Bureau’s Freelance Market News newsletter.

The prizes are as follows: 1st £300, 2nd £200, 3rd £100, and 4th £50. In addition, all winners will receive a Writers Bureau course of their choice. The contest is open world-wide, and the closing date is 30 November 2015. You can enter by mail or via the Writers Bureau website.

Incidentally, this competition is being judged by my old friend (and former Writers Bureau colleague) Iain Pattison. I strongly recommend reading this recent post from his blog in which he talks about what he looks for when judging writing contests!

The other contest the Writers Bureau is running right now is for a flash fiction romance aimed at men. It’s free to enter, and the winner will receive a Writers Bureau fiction writing course.

Your story must be no more than 500 words, and it must be submitted by email by 14 October 2015. For full details, including how to enter, visit this page of the Writers Bureau website.

Good luck!

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Time to Start Planning for NaNoWriMo!

Once again, it’s that time of year to start planning for NaNoWriMo.

For anyone who may not know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a challenge to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in a month, and it comes around every November.

From humble beginnings in 1999, when there were just 21 participants, NaNoWriMo has grown into a world-wide phenomenon. In 2013 (the last year for which stats are available) 310,095 people took part, and the numbers this year are expected to be even greater.

There is no entry fee for NaNoWriMo (though donations are always welcome), and no prizes either. Essentially, it is a challenge to help you write that novel you had always meant to write but keep putting off.

By registering with NaNoWriMo, you are joining a world-wide community of writers who are all seeking to achieve the same end, and are thus able to encourage and support one another.

This year a number of members of the myWritersCircle forum (which I co-founded) have registered for NaNoWriMo already, and more will no doubt follow. If you are looking for some ‘buddies’ to share notes and compare progress with, check out this forum topic.

Although there are no prizes for completing a novel for NaNoWriMo, if you do (and you have to prove it by uploading your work to the NaNoWriMo site), you will be able to download an official ‘Winner’ web badge and a PDF Winner’s Certificate, which you can print out.

And, of course, you will have the first draft of a novel you should be able to polish and submit for possible publication (or publish yourself).

There are lots of useful resources on the NaNoWriMo website, including wordcount widgets, web badges, flyers for downloading, motivational articles, and much more. There is also a busy forum where you can compare notes with other participants.

NaNoWriMo is also, by the way, a great opportunity to apply the techniques taught in my publisher WCCL’s Novel in a Month course, or indeed my own Write Any Book in Under 28 Days.

I’d like to wish you the very best of luck if you do decide to register for NaNoWriMo. Please do post a note below if you succeed in completing the challenge!

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BBC Writers Room

Script Room: Your Chance to Submit a Drama Script for Consideration by the BBC

The BBC is currently accepting submissions of unagented/unsolicited drama scripts for any platform (not just TV or radio). Below is an excerpt from their Writers Room site:

BBC Writersroom Script Room | Deadline: 24 September 2015 at 5pm
BBC Writersroom’s regular window for unsolicited scripts is open between 10am on 7th September and 5pm on 24th September 2015 for Drama scripts (TV, film, radio, stage or online).
**Please note this Script Room will close at 5pm on Thursday 24th September. No late submissions will be accepted.
** Submit your script to our E-Submissions system by following this link from 10am on Monday 7th September.
Read the FAQs for our E-Submissions system. If you have not submitted a script to us online before, you will have the opportunity to set up a new account when you come to submit your script.
**Please ensure you leave adequate time to complete the process**
Writers will be asked to submit:
*1 drama script of at least 30 minutes / pages in length for TV, Film, Radio, Stage or Online*
*A brief bio of your writing to date (up to 1 paragraph)
*If you are submitting an episode script for a series/serial, you may also attach a brief outline (1-3 pages) of further episodes and the series/serial as a whole. This should be attached as a separate PDF document to your script.
*Your script should be a saved as a single PDF document of no more than 10MB in size.
*If you are submitting a sample script for Children’s TV, Radio 4’s 15 Minute Dramas or Online, you are welcome to submit 2 x 15 min episodes as a single PDF document.

Source: BBC – Script Room 10 (Drama) – BBC Writersroom – Writers Room

This is a great opportunity for new and as yet undiscovered scriptwriters to have their work considered by the BBC. Note that the deadline is 24 September 2015, so you will need to move quickly to take advantage of this. Click through the link above for more information.

Good luck, and happy scriptwriting 🙂

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