First Drafts Competition 2016: ‘First Crimes’


Myriad and West Dean College invite previously unpublished writers to submit entries of up to 5,000 words from a crime novel or crime short story collection in progress. This year the competition will focus exclusively on crime and thrillers in celebration of the genre. The competition will be judged by an all-star judging panel of internationally bestselling crime authors:


serving police officer and author of D.C. Nina Foster novels Never Forget and Remember, Remember


author of Norfolk-set series featuring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway


former police analyst and author of psychological thrillers including Into the Darkest Corner and the D.I. Louisa Smith series


author of the Roy Grace series, set in Brighton


author of A Kind of Vanishing and The Detective’s Daughter series

Now in its seventh year, the competition (formerly the Writer’s Retreat Competition) recognises promising work-in-progress, be it a short story collection or the first few chapters of a novel. The competition is open to all writers who have not yet published or self-published a collection of stories or a novel.

The prize is a week-long writing retreat in the luxurious surroundings of West Dean College near Chichester, as well as detailed editorial feedback from the judges and six months’ mentoring from a Myriad author.

Myriad’s First Drafts Competition is at the heart of our mission to discover and nurture bold and exciting new 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.

Never Forget by Lisa Cutts

The competition has a proven track record in launching writers who have gone on to enjoy creative and commercial success. Myriad has published several writers brought to its attention through the competition in previous years, including Lisa Cutts, whose crime debut Never Forget has 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 this year.

Al Brookes coverOther 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 Al Brookes, author of The Gift of Looking Closely (Guardian Self-Published Book of the Month); Juliet West, whose novel-in-progress 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); Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott (shortlisted, 2015), whose novel Swan Song has gone on to win The Bridport Prize Peggy Chapman Andrews Award for a First Novel; and Paul McVeigh (shortlisted, 2013), whose novel The Good Son was published by Salt.

Karly StillingThe 2015 winner of the First Drafts Competition was Karly Stilling, for Ways From Home. Karly was awarded the prize by Lisa Cutts, winner in 2012. Karly said, ‘There aren’t very many opportunities for emerging writers to get their work recognised in such a significant way, and I’m honoured to have been chosen as the recipient of this year’s prize. The support offered by Myriad will go a long way to bolster my career at this early stage, and I can’t say how pleased I am to know that others are enjoying my work.’


The First Drafts competition is open to all writers who have neither published or self-published a collection of stories or a novel.

Please send by post submissions of up to 5,000 words of a work-in-progess (novel or short story collection) in the crime and thriller genre, together with:

(a) a synopsis of your complete novel or short story collection

(b) a covering letter containing your name, address, email address and contact number

(c) a cheque for £10 (made payable to Myriad Editions) or a PayPal receipt (pay via email address to:

First Drafts Competition

Myriad Editions, 59 Lansdowne Place, Brighton BN3 1FL

To ensure anonymous judging, please make sure that your name and contact details are only included in your cover letter, and not on the pages of the work itself.

We regret that we are unable to return submitted material.

The closing date is Thursday 31 March 2016.

Conditions of entry

1. The competition is open to writers over 18, of any nationality.

2. All writers who have not yet published or self-published a collection of stories or a novel may enter.

3. Submissions must be in English and no longer than 5,000 words.

4. Submissions of crime and thrillers only will be considered for the competition.

5. Entries must be double or 1.5 spaced (synopses may be single-spaced).

6. Author name must appear on first page only, with the title and page numbers as headers or footers on every page.

7. Entries must not have been submitted to any other competition.

8. Only one entry per person is allowed.

9. Entries must be received by post by Thursday 31 March 2016.

10. An entry fee of £10 is payable by cheque or PayPal:

11. The judges’ decision is final. No discussion concerning the judges’ decision will be entered into.

12. The competition is not open to previous winners of the competition, nor to employees of Myriad or West Dean College.

13. The week’s writing retreat must be taken up within one year of the announcement of the winner, to be arranged with West Dean College, subject to availability.

14. Shortlisted authors will be notified by email in May 2016. The winner will announced in July 2016.

15. The prize cannot be exchanged.

16. Failure to meet the conditions of entry will mean that a submission is automatically disqualified.

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