Romantic Novelists' Association

December 2020: Competition Monthly

14 December 2020

Considering Critiques

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 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. (Yes, this once happened to me as a judge in a short story comp, and sadly 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.

There are four free competitions to enter this month, including a fantastic opportunity to be represented by Curtis Brown and a chance to have an audio script recorded.

Good luck to you all in your comping endeavours.


Click  November 2020 for posts detailing further competitions closing in January.






Closing soon


Curtis Brown Discoveries Prize

Theme: Any genre adult fiction, first 10,000 words of a novel, plus synopsis, written by a woman

Prizes: Representation by Curtis Brown Literary Agency plus £5,000 / Mentoring packages for shortlisters and runners up

Closing date: 17 January 2021

Entry: Free



The Screw Turn Flash Fiction Competition

Theme: Supernatural, 250 – 1,000 words

Prizes: US$1,000c/c2 x $200

Closing date: 31 January 2021

Entry: US$15




February Competitions


Spread the Word’s Life Writing Prize

Theme: Life writing up to 5,000 words, by writers yet to be published with a full length work or represented by an agent

Prizes: £1,500, Arvon course, writing mentor and other prizes / 2 x £500 and writing mentors

Closing date: 1st February 2021

Entry: Free



Papatango New Writing Playwriting Prize

Theme: Audio script with run time of approx. 25 to 50 minutes

Prizes: 3 x £2,000 plus audio production and digital publication

Closing date: 7 February 2021

Entry: Free



Spotlight First Novel Award

Theme: Open. First page of a novel plus one-page synopsis

Prizes: Mentoring package

Closing date: 14 February 2021

Entry: £16



The Bumble Bee Flash Fiction Contest

Theme: Open, 750 words max

Prizes: CAN$300

Closing date: 15 February 2021

Entry: CAN$15



Writing Magazine Dialogue Only Short Story Competition

Theme: No discription, 1,500 – 1,700 words

Prizes: £200 and publication in magazine / £50 and publication on website

Closing date: 15 February 2021

Entry: £6 / £4 subscribers



National Flash Fiction Day Microfiction Competition

Theme: Open, 100 words max

Prizes: £150 / £100 / £50

Closing date: 15 February 2021

Entry: £2



Northern Writers’ Awards

Theme: Various, including short stories, YA, Children’s, TV, nonfiction. Entrants must be from Northern England

Prizes: Various, a share in all of £40,000.

Closing date: 18 February 2021

Entry: Free



Exeter Writers’ Short Story Competition

Theme: Open, 3,000 words max

Prizes: £700 / £250 / £100

Closing date: 28 February 2021

Entry: £7



Flash 500 Short Story Competition

Theme: Open, 1,000 – 3,000 words

Prizes: £500 / £200 / £100

Closing date: 28 February 2021

Entry: £7







Francesca Capaldi Burgess has been placed or shortlisted in a dozen competitions including Winchester Writers’ Conference, Retreat West, Meridian Writing, Wells Festival Book for Children, Writing Magazine and The People’s Friend serial competition. She’s had stories published in magazines worldwide and her fourth DC Thomson pocket novel, was published on 10th December. Her second historical saga, War in the Valleys, published by Hera Books, was published on November 25th. Apart from the RNA, she’s also a member of the Society for Women Writers and Journalists. Francesca runs a writing blog with RNA member Elaine Roberts called Write Minds.