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Our advice and Frequently Asked Questions are divided into subject areas so that you can browse them to find the information that you need. If your question isn’t answered here, please contact us.

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How long should my synopsis be?

Your synopsis should be no more than 600 words and should outline the piece of work. For more advice on how to write a synopsis, please refer to this resource. 

Are the awards judged anonymously?

The entries are judged anonymously at all stages of the process, except when interviews are required in the case of the Channel 4 Writing for Television Awards. The reading team and judges will not see any of the monitoring information you submit, which is an important part of ensuring the judging process is fair and even. Find out more about the judges and the reading team.

You will need to include your name when you register but please leave it off your application questions and don’t include it on any part of your submission, such as the title page or as a header or footer, or in the document file name.

Where do I have to live to enter?

Writers must be based in the North of England. The North of England is defined as the areas covered by Arts Council England in Yorkshire, North East and North West.

We appreciate that this year people may be temporarily living away from their usual residence due to Covid-19. Please only apply for an award if you are a permanent resident of the North of England, and intend to still be living here in 12 months’ time. University students living in the North of England may apply for an award, as long as they will be living in the North of England for the next 12 months.

How should I format my manuscript?

Please format your work as double-spaced for prose and single-spaced for poetry, 12-point text. You’re free to choose a font that appeals to you but avoid anything that doesn’t suit the tone of your work.

Should I enter consecutive chapters of my manuscript?

Ideally, you should enter Chapter 1 followed by as many consecutive chapters as allowed within the word limit. If you feel strongly that you would like to enter work from different parts of the manuscript, this is acceptable as long as you provide clear context.


What kind of writer do I need to be to enter?

Please read the Eligibility and Conditions of entry for the awards that interest you.

Can I apply for an award if I am a previous winner of a Northern Writers’ Awards?

Yes, if you meet all the necessary eligibility criteria. Most writers cannot apply with the same project they were previously awarded for. However, if you have previously won a Northern Writers’ Award for a work in progress, you can enter this same completed work into the Hachette Children’s Novel Award or the Northbound Book Award.

How old do I need to be to enter for an award?

You must be over 18 years of age to enter for most of our awards. The Young Northern Writer and Matthew Hale awards are for writers aged 12 to 18 years of age. Female writers over the age of 42 are eligible for the Andrea Badenoch Award.

Are the awards only for younger or new writers?

No. We are interested in supporting talented writers, whatever age they are. We understand that the work of talented writers comes to fruition at different times for different people. When we refer to ‘emerging’ or ‘new’ writers, we are not making any assumptions about the age at which writers reach or arrive at these stages. Some of our awards have specific age criteria that is clearly stated in the information about those awards.

Can I enter more than one award?

Usually, you may only enter one award but there are the following exceptions:

Poets and prose writers may enter for a TLC Free Read in addition to an application to one of the other awards categories.

Screenwriters may enter for both strands of the Channel 4 Writing for Television Awards.

Writers eligible for the Andrea Badenoch Award will also be considered for a Northern Debut Award.

Do I have to have a track record to enter the Writing for Television Award?

No, we are interested in identifying new writers and welcome entries by people who are new to writing as well as those with more experience of writing but who are not yet produced.

How do you define new, emerging, published and established writers?

Unpublished: you have never published in magazines, websites or anthologies or your work has not been broadcast or staged yet.

Emerging: your work has appeared online, in magazines, pamphlet form or anthologies, but you are yet to publish a full-length work. If a scriptwriter, your work has begun to be performed or broadcast.

Published: you have published one full-length work (novel, collection of short stories or poetry collection) or you have had a full script performed or broadcast.

Established: you have published two or more full-length works (novels, collections of short stories or poetry collections) or had two or more plays or TV episodes staged or broadcast.

Which award should I enter for?

Browse the awards that we offer and identify the particular award that best reflects both your aspirations and your current needs as a writer. Most of the awards require you to have a current work in progress, although the Northbound Book Award and The Hachette Children’s Novel Award are for a completed, unpublished work.

Can I enter a self-published book or e-book?

No. The awards are aimed at supporting new work and work in progress, so work that has been previously published as a book or e-book is not eligible.

Can I enter a children’s picture book or a graphic novel?

Yes, if you would like to enter a graphic novel or picture book either as the writer/graphic artist please do so through the applications portal. Please note that you must be entering work that is graphic as well as written, as we cannot accept just the written element of a project for the awards.

What is creative non-fiction?

Creative non-fiction has stylistic and structural similarities to fiction but deals instead with factual or mostly factual subject matter. For the Northern Writers’ Awards, our definition of the work that fits in this category includes biography, memoir, nature writing and non-fiction with a strong literary intent.

Can I enter if I already have an agent?

Yes. It’s useful for us to know if you already have an agent representing your work. Please only mention having an agent if you have actually signed a representation agreement with an agency.

Can I enter if I already have a book deal?

As the awards exist to support work in progress you cannot enter work that is completed and for which a publishing deal is secured. If you have a book deal in place you could enter new work from your next project for an award. We define a book deal as being a contract with a publisher that involves you being paid an advance for your writing and a royalty on book sales.

Poets may enter work in progress from a collection as long as it is not yet completed and signed up to a publication schedule with a publisher.

Can I enter sample pages for the TV awards that don’t relate to the synopsis I have provided?

Yes, your sample writing does not have to come from the same synopsis you have given in your submission questions.

Can the ten-page sample of writing for the TV award be comprised of more than one scene?

Yes, whilst we have asked for one scene of up to ten pages, if your scene is shorter than ten pages you may supply multiple scenes. Just remember not to go over ten pages.

Advice, guidance and information

How advanced does my work need to be to enter?

Poetry and prose: Competition is high for the awards so please ensure that your work is of the highest possible standard before entering it. We would not expect writers to enter the first drafts of their work, or to enter work that had not been adequately spell-checked or proofread. We don’t expect that everyone who enters will have completed a full first draft of a novel or poetry collection but we would expect entrants to be well on the way to doing so. If you win an award we would hope that within 12 months of winning you would have completed your work.

Writing for television awards: You do not need to have written anything prior to entering for these awards.

Should I put my name on the extract?

No, please don’t. All our awards are judged anonymously.

Can I include some previously published poems/short stories in my submission?

Yes, if you’ve published a few stories or poems in magazine and anthologies these can be included as part of your entry. Please be sure to add an acknowledgement to each so we can see where they’ve appeared previously. Remember that we are judging the full-length work – your collection of stories or poetry – and it is this as a whole that must be previously unpublished.

What constitutes a synopsis for a collection of poetry or short stories?

The synopsis should demonstrate the unifying theme or subject of your work. You may wish to explain how you envisage the collection being structured, which could be through chronology, theme or tone.

What should I say in my biography?

Your biography should detail your writing experience to date and any successes that you have had. Please detail any published/produced work and note whether your work has been published in magazines or online. You might also like to say a little about when you started to write, how long you have been writing and how long you have been working on this current project. We do not require a detailed life story, or a list of all your educational qualifications.

What should I say in my application?

Please answer each awards question as closely as possible and stay within the word count.

Do all the awards include a cash element?

All of the awards have a cash value and many include a cash award. Please read the specific descriptions of each award to see in detail how they work. Please note that the Channel 4 Writing for Television Awards are bursary-based awards. The winners of these awards will receive bursaries to cover the cost of them participating in developmental projects.

Do any of the award winners receive mentoring?

Yes, several do. The Northern Debut Awards for Poetry, Fiction and Narrative Non-Fiction and the Andrea Badenoch Award include mentoring from experienced writers. Mentors are not chosen from an existing pool but selected on the basis of how their skills and experience match up with the winning writers’ work.

The Sid Chaplin Award will include a period of mentoring with a representative of the North Agency.

The Word Factory Apprentice Award includes a sustained period of short-story-specific mentoring.

The Channel 4 Writing for Television Awards include mentoring as part of the package of developmental opportunities that the winners receive.

Please read the information sheets on each award for further info.

Award winners discuss their work with New Writing North staff upon winning an award. At this meeting we will try and identify the best way for us to support the development of your work. Some writers use part of their awards cash prize to fund mentoring programmes, supported by New Writing North. We can advise on how to find a mentor and help to structure and deliver a mentoring programme.

What if I win but cannot come to the awards ceremony?

There will be an event of some kind to celebrate the award winners in June 2021. We would hope the winners would be available to take part in some form – whether this be in person or as part of a digital celebration.

Can I apply for money for a project?

No. We do not fund residencies, touring work or literary projects. If you are looking for support for a literary project the first port of call should be the Grants for the Arts programme at Arts Council England.

Can I use my award money to buy equipment?

We would rather writers used awards funding to support their time to write through buying time off from work commitments, childcare or to fund creative retreats. Please do not make explicit asks for technical equipment in your submission as this will weaken your application.

I’m entering the award for serial drama. Does my sample script have to be for a Hollyoaks scene?

Your script does not necessarily have to be connected to Hollyoaks or the storyline you are submitting. You should enter what you feel best represents your voice as a writer and showcases your use of dialogue.

What are the pitching workshop and the Summer Talent Party?

In previous years, following the announcement of the awards in Newcastle upon Tyne, we host a pitching workshop and a Summer Talent Party. The pitching workshop is designed to help writers to understand how to present their work in a professional context and to overcome any fears about how to network successfully and the Summer Talent Party is an event in London for literary agents and publishers.

We currently can’t confirm the details but we will be programming events and activities for the winning writers to take part in during 2021-22. We will share details of these with the winners at a later date.

How can I protect my intellectual property when making a submission?

By submitting work for an award you are agreeing to it being read by awards sifters, judges and staff at New Writing North. The copyright of your work stays with you at all times and New Writing North does not exert or ask for any rights over your work at any point in the process.

Why do you only accept submissions online?

Due to the amount of submissions we receive, it is more manageable to accept digital applications. We use an online portal called Submittable which is an external company that many other organisations use. If you have submitted to any other programme that uses Submittable, you may already have an account. We advise you to submit via a computer rather than a mobile device, but if that isn’t an option for you we recommend using the Submittable app.

What happens if I go over the word limit for my entry?

The word limit for each award is a guide. Don’t worry if you go slightly over (or under) the limit in order to submit a complete chapter, but please be as close as possible.

Data Privacy

Why do you ask for personal information?

Each year we produce de-personalised statistical information on entrants for the awards, which we report to Arts Council England, our funders. We look at entries by gender, ethnicity, geography and age. Undertaking this work helps us to see if we need to work harder to attract entries from any underrepresented groups or locations. No personal data is included in the reporting or used in any other way during this process.

What will you do with my data and work?

Your submission entry will be digitally deleted once the awards have been judged. You will only receive future correspondence from New Writing North if you have specifically signed up to receive our email newsletters as part of the submission process. This is not mandatory and once you have signed up you can unsubscribe at any time. We do not share your data or personal information with any other businesses or organisations and we abide by all data protection legislation.


Do you have an equality statement?

New Writing North has a Single Equality Scheme statement that underpins all of our activities and which is reviewed annually by our board of trustees. If you wish to obtain a copy of it, please contact

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