Mail on Sunday Novel Competition

You may recall that the Mail on Sunday ran its ‘opening lines of a novel’ competition again last October. The word that had to be included, somewhere in the piece, was ‘row’. The results are out and the winner was Catherine Roberts.

Here’s her entry:

When salt is thick in the air and the wind is blowing just the right way, that’s when the fog comes into town, stealing up the curves of the river and spilling over the banks like it wants nothing better than to wash the town clean.
It is on those nights, when the moon is a cold sun and the stars stop their navigating; it is then, some say, that the ferryman will row.

I think it’s good. Very atmospheric, spooky and it has that ‘you-have-to-read-on-ness’ about it – which the start of a novel definitely needs. And I like the way she ends with the required word row.

If, like me, you entered and didn’t come anywhere, do not despair – the Mail on Sunday has announced another competition, in a similar vein. Maybe we’ll win this one, eh?

How to enter: [from Mail on Sunday, 2nd Sept]

Create the opening lines of a novel – between 50 and 150 words – and introduce the word ‘train’. The setting could be a gym, or a railway station, or you might use the word to mean train of thought, the train of a wedding dress or whatever inspires your plot. The winner will receive £400 in book tokens and a place on an Arvon writing course. The five runners-up will receive book tokens ranging from £150 to £300. The judges will be Fay Weldon, James Buchan and Simon Brett.

Send your entry, typed or clearly written, with your name, address, telephone numbers and email address on the same page, to arrive by Monday October 29, to: The Mail on Sunday Novel Competition, 84 Drayton Gardens, London SW10 9SB.

Results will be announced next summer.

Random Word Short Story Competition

I’ve had about 20 entries so far. Perhaps I should have made it clearer that it’s a ‘mini saga’ or ‘flash fiction’ competition because, despite stating clearly in the rules that the story must be a maximum of 250 words, I’ve already had 2 entries that were 395 and 705 words each!

As these came from ‘New Writers’, I have taken pity and told them. BUT in a ‘real’ competition this would not happen! (And, now that I’ve given you all fair warning, I won’t be doing it again!)

Those ineligible entries would, normally, be eliminated and any entrance fee paid would be pocketed by the organisers, thank-you-very-much. And the writers concerned would be none the wiser!

Sooo – I don’t really need to tell you this, do I – make sure you read the rules!

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5 Responses to Mail on Sunday Novel Competition

  1. Julia says:

    Thanks for this, Helen. I’ll definitely be entering.

  2. Reading the rules is very important – it’s easy to miss a vital detail though. Several times I’ve been ready to enter something and just had a quick check through the rules only to realise I’ve not done something quite right.

  3. KH says:

    Thanks, Helen. I entered this competition too. I thought it must have been a scam or something as I’d heard nothing about any winners so I’m glad to know it wasn’t. Interestingly I’ve used elements of my submission as a starter for other stories. So it wasn’t a wasted task. I thought the winning entry was good very atmospheric. All good wishes. KH

  4. Carol says:

    The winning entry was excellent. Beat mine hands down! Hey-ho onto next year! ;0)

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