Romantic Novelists' Association

November 2019: Competition Monthly

11 November 2019

Critiquing Not Criticising

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 terrible person the critique writer is. (Yes, 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 in your endeavours.


Click September 2019 and October 2019 for posts detailing further competitions closing in November and December.






January Competitions


Henshaw Short Story Competition

Theme: Open. 2,000 words max

Prize: £200 / £100 / £50

Closing date: 6 January 2020

Entry: £6



The Big Moose Prize

Theme: Unpublished novels, 90 – 1,000 pages long.

Prize: Book publication, US $1,000 plus 10 copies

Closing date: 31 January 2020

Entry: $25 ($20 if entered before December 1)




February 2020 Competitions


The TSR Non-Fiction Prize

Theme: Open. 4,500 words max

Prize: US $1,000 / $500

Closing date: Open 1 January – 1 February 2020

Entry: $15



Sportlight First Novel Competition

Theme: Open. One page synopsis, first page of novel

Prize: A Stage One Mentoring Package

Closing date: 14 February 2020

Entry: £16



Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction

Theme: Novel between 150 and 250 pages

Prize: US $2,000 cash plus publication

Closing date: Open 1 January  – 15 February 2020

Entry: $29



William Van Dyke Short Story Prize

Theme: Open, 5,500 words max

Prize: US $1,500 / $300, plus publication for both

Closing date: 15 February 2020

Entry: $20



Exeter Writers Short Story Competition

Theme: Open, 3,000 words max

Prize: £700/£250/£100 (Devon prize £100)

Closing date: 29 February 2020

Entry: £7



Red Hen Women’s Prose Prize

Theme: Novel between 45,000 and 80,000 words

Prize: US $1,000

Closing date: 28 February 2020

Entry: $25



Flash 500 Short Story Competition

Theme: Open, 1,000 – 3,000 words

Prize: £500 / £200 / £100

Closing date: 29 February 2020

Entry: £7



CWA Margery Allingham Short Mystery Competition

Theme: Mystery, 3,500 words max

Prize: £500 plus 2 full weekend passes to Crime Fest the following year

Closing date: 29 February 2020

Entry: £12



CWA Debut Dagger

Theme: Crime. Opening 3,000 words max, Synopsis of 1,500 words. Writers with no publisher or agent only

Prize: £500. All shortlisted entries will be sent to UK publishers and agents

Closing date: 29 February 2020

Entry: £36







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 and her third pocket novel is due out next year. 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.