Thinking of entering the Times/Chicken House Competition?

Posted by Jazz on Friday September 27th, 2019

We’re opening the 2020 Times/Chicken House Competition shortly – watch this space for dates and more! After the success of this year’s two winners, Efua Traoré (Children of the Quicksands) and Richard Pickard (Something Fishy), we can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store for us. While you wait, we thought we’d offer some words of advice from this year’s reading team about their observations and thoughts for the coming year … 

‘As always, the quality of submissions was even higher than ever before – it was a real challenge to whittle it down to my favourites. I would say roughly 80% of the entries I read came under the fantasy genre – this is great as we love fantasy and magical realism at CH, but due to the popularity of the genre we’re looking for stories with a really unique narrative hook. What makes your novel different? What makes it a good fit for the Chicken House list? I’d also love to see some more funny, contemporary novels with a bit of romance – something rarely seen in the competition entries.’ Jazz, Senior Marketing Officer

‘The submissions I read were all of a very high standard. Over the four years I’ve been reading for the competition, I’ve noticed that writers are generally much more clued up about how to pitch their work and many have taken courses or received professional advice – this is great and I applaud this professionalism, but not everyone has the ability to pursue this kind of polish. If you’ve not gained an MA in Creative Writing, don’t worry: I would urge you to enter anyway, as we’re looking for raw talent and fantastic stories to develop editorially. Strike out and follow your storytelling passions – don’t feel the need to follow trends.’ Kesia, Senior Editor

‘Every story I read for the competition was compelling and crafted well, to the testament of each writer’s ability, and that made judging incredibly hard. Ultimately, each of the novels I eventually chose were stories that, in some way or another, reflected the lives, troubles and trials of today’s children and young people, and were each filled with characters that were so alive they breathed on the page. My biggest piece of advice for anyone writing or wishing to enter next year’s competition is this: be bold. With whatever you’re writing do not be afraid to hit the ground running! Remember, today’s children have so much vying for their attention – the world is so fast-paced – that novels that launch the rocket from the very first paragraph and manage to uphold the trajectory, the tension, and the stakes throughout, are a real thrill to read. They make us, make me, race through paragraphs and beg to read just one more chapter. Which as writers, as readers, as publishers, is ultimately the sign of a very good book.’ Callen, Freelance Reader

The competition will be opening soon – keep an eye on our submissions page for more info! 

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