Romantic Novelists' Association

August 2019: Competition Monthly

21 August 2019

To pay for a critique or not?

Is it worth paying for a critique for your short story or novel when entering a competition? Some competitions offer them, but they can vary enormously in price. Some critique writers will give you more for your money than others, and often you won’t know if it’s worth the fee until it pops onto your mat or up on your email. Cheaper critiques are often only a tick list, which in itself may not provide you with enough useful information.

Critiques can be invaluable in pinpointing areas to work on and can help you improve your writing. It’s up to you to decide whether you’re willing to take that advice. If you’re going to take offence at any suggestion that what you wrote is anything but perfect, a critique may not be for you. You might wonder why anyone would pay for one only to be praised, but it happens.

If you receive a critique but disagree with some, or all, of what it says, please don’t go onto social media and around all your friends to tell them what a rubbish person the critique writer is. This once happened to me as a judge in a short story comp, and unfortunately I knew the person in real life. Often it’s better after a first read to put the critique to one side and come back to it later with a fresh perspective. If it really does fall short of what was expected, in terms of length or detail of content (or really is offensive), then take it up with the people running the competition.


Good luck to you all in your competition endeavours, and don’t forget to let us know of any success.


Click June 2019 and July 2019 to check competitions detailed in past blog posts that are still open.






Rolling Competitions


Writers’ Forum Short Story Competition

Theme: Open. 1,000 – 3,000 words

Prize: £300 / £150 / £100

Closing date:  Rolling

Entry: Subscribers £3 / Non Subscribers £6




October Competitions


Writing Magazine Speculative Fiction Competition

Theme: 1,500 – 1,700 words

Prize:£200 + publication in the magazine / £50 + publication online

Closing date:  15 October 2019

Entry: £4 subscribers / £6 non subscribers



Writing Magazine Timely Topic Island Competition

Theme: Short story set on an island. Up to 500 words

Prize: £100 + publication on WM website

Closing date:  22 October 2019, at 15.51

Entry: £5




November Competitions


Caledonia Novel Award

Theme: Open, 50,000 word minimum, self published and unpublished without agents.

Prize: £1,500 / place on a writing course / prize for novel from Scotland

Closing date:  1 November 2019

Entry: £25



The Bath Children’s Novel Award

Theme: For children’s or young adults. First 5,000 words plus 1 page synopsis, for unpublished or independently published writers

Prize: £2,500

Closing date: 17 November 2019

Entry: £25



Betty Trask Prize

Theme: First novel from under 35s

Prize: Total prize money of £26,250

Closing date:  5pm, 30 November 2019

Entry: Free



Aeon Award

Theme: Speculative fiction, 10,000 words max

Prize: €1,000, €200, €100 plus publication for all in magazine

Closing date: 30 November 2019

Entry: €8.50



Fish Short Story Prize

Theme: Open, 5,000 words max

Prize: €3,000 + 5 day workshop / €300 + 1 week writing retreat / €300 / 7 x €200

Closing date: 30 November 2019

Entry: £20 online / £22 by post



Cinnamon Literary Award

Theme: Open: 2 short stories up to 5,000 or first 10,000 of a novel (also poetry)

Prize: Publication by Cinnamon Press

Closing date: 30 November 2019

Entry: £16



Prairie Fire Contests

Theme: Short fiction up to 10,000 or creative nonfiction up to 5,000 words (also poetry)

Prize: Can $1,250 / $500 / $250

Closing date:  30 November 2019

Entry: $32



ServiceScape Short Story Award

Theme: Open, short fiction or nonfiction, 5,000 words max

Prize: USD $1,000

Closing date: 30 November 2019

Entry: Free







Francesca Capaldi Burgess has been placed or shortlisted in a number of competitions including Winchester Writers’ Conference, Twyford Writers, Chorley & District Writer’s Circle, Retreat West,, Meridian Writing, Flash a Famous Phrase, Wells Festival, Writing Magazine and The People’s Friend serial competition. She’s had stories and a serial published in magazines worldwide. Her first book, Danger for Daisy, was published by My Weekly Pocket Novels at the end of 2018. Apart from the RNA, she’s also a member of the Society for Women Writers and Journalists. Francesca runs a writing blog along with RNA member Elaine Roberts called Write Minds.