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Competition: Searchlight Awards – Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults

Writing.ie | Magazine | Writing Competitions

By Writing.ie

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Competition deadline: 22nd November 2021

Searchlight Writing for Children Awards is a new rolling competition for aspiring authors writing for children or young adults. Our aim is to create opportunities for emerging authors of children’s fiction to be recognised.

Entries are invited for the Best Novel Opening Competition, up to 1,200 words of a longer piece of children’s fiction. Literary agent and co-founder of the Bath Festival of Children’s Literature Gill McLay will judge the competition. She says, ‘They say that first impressions count and on this occasion it’s all about the first sentence. I want to be hooked in from the very start and transported to the adventure than I will be taken on…’

How to Enter

Submit the first 1,200 words of a novel for children aged between eight and eighteen. You don’t need to have finished writing your manuscript to enter. The entry fee per story is £11. Enter via our website.


The ten shortlisted stories will feature in an electronic pitch book called The Winners’ Collection and be sent to numerous literary agents/publishers who have requested it. These stories will also be published in an annual printed anthology. First prize also includes a cash award of £500 and a one-to-one call with our agent judge.

Terms and Conditions for the Best Novel Opening Competition

· Your story must be suitable for a reader aged between eight and eighteen.

· Your story must not exceed the 1,200 word limit, not including the title. There is no minimum word count.

· Your story should be double-spaced, a size 12 font, and submitted as a doc, docx or PDF file.

· Begin your story with the title. Please don’t include any other identifying information as stories are read blind.

· Entries need to be in English.

· Multiple entries are permitted. However, we require a separate entry form and a new payment each time.

· Stories cannot be altered after they are submitted. Refunds are not given if a story is withdrawn.

· Entrants must be 16 years and over.

· Stories must be previously unpublished (this includes self-published novels)

. Stories that have been submitted to forums for on-line critiquing are allowed.

· Entries from authors worldwide are welcome.

· Entries must be the work of the entrant.

· While entrants retain full copyright, by entering the Best Novel Opening competition you give permission, if shortlisted, for us to publish your name, photograph, biography and the title of your winning story on the Searchlight Awards’ website.

· By entering the Best Novel Opening competition you give permission, if shortlisted, for us to publish your story on our website, in our printed Anthology (publication date: Sept 2022) and in the Winners’ Collection, which will be sent to UK literary agents and publishers, unless you opt out. On the entry form we will offer you this option.

· The decision of the readers and judges is final. No correspondence will be entered into regarding judging. We are unable to provide individual feedback.

· Results will be posted on the Searchlight Awards’ website and winners will be emailed on 21st March 2022.

See here for full details.

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