First Drafts Competition 2017

Myriad and West Dean College invite previously unpublished writers to submit entries of up to 5,000 words from a novel or short story collection in progress.

Closing date: Friday 30th June 2017
How to Enter and Conditions of Entry

First Drafts is an annual event organised by Myriad to uncover exceptional new voices. It is at the heart of Myriad’s mission to discover and nurture bold and exciting writers. There are very few competitions for a work in progress and this is a brilliant opportunity for aspiring authors to get their work noticed by publishers and agents.

The prize is a week-long writing retreat in the luxurious surroundings of West Dean College near Chichester, detailed editorial feedback from the judges and six months’ mentoring from a Myriad author. The closing date is 12 noon on Friday 30th June 2017 and the winner will be announced at an event in London in November 2017.

Now in its eighth year, First Drafts has a track record of launching writers who have gone on to enjoy creative and commercial success. Never Forget by Lisa Cutts Stephen Mullan, shortlisted last year, has won a TV deal and a German publisher, even before the UK edition of his novel is published.

Myriad has published several writers brought to its attention through the competition, including Lisa Cutts, whose crime debut Never Forget was been optioned by a major TV company; Nina de la Mer, author of the acclaimed novels 4 a.m. and Layla; Hannah Vincent, whose debut, Alarm Girl, came out in 2014; S.E. Craythorne, author of How You See Me, and Sara Marshall-Ball, author of Hush, both published in 2015.

Other past successes include 2010 winner Kirsty Logan, who used her retreat to write a short story that she later expanded to become her novel, The Gracekeepers (Harvill Secker); 2013 winner The Gift of Looking Closely by Al Brookes was Guardian Self-Published Book of the Month; a sample of Juliet West’s novel Before the Fall (Pan) was shortlisted in 2013; American short story writer Owen D. Cluer (winner, 2014) was signed by literary agent Becky Thomas (Johnson & Alcock); and Paul McVeigh’s novel The Good Son, shortlisted in 2013, was published by Salt and won the Guardian Not-the-Booker Prize.

Swan Song, by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, was shortlisted in 2015. It went on to win The Bridport Prize Peggy Chapman Andrews Award for a First Novel and will be published by Hutchinson in 2018. We’re proud that First Drafts has played a part in launching Kelleigh’s writing career:

‘I don’t think you could possibly know how much your early support of Swan Song meant. Myriad validated that I had created something special, and gave me the momentum to sprint forward and never look back. To now have everything come to fruition is amazing, and I know what a hugely significant role you and Myriad have played in that journey’.

This year’s competition will be judged by industry professionals and acclaimed authors:

Margaret Busby, OBE, publisher, editor, writer and broadcaster
Rebecca Carter, Janklow & Nesbit
Martine McDonagh, West Dean College; author of I Have Waited and You Have Come, After Phoenix and Narcissism for Beginners
Rich Naiff, Waterstones
Umi Sinha, Writing Clinic; author of Belonging