Ends on

The competition is open to anyone 18 OR OVER who wants to write in the English-language and has an interest in crime, thriller or mystery novels. Writers can enter as many times as they want.

We are looking for the best 50-200 words of an ‘opening’ for a crime-mystery-thriller novel. The work must be never-before-published (including online), original to the author, and ideally written for this prize. It need not be connected to a completed book. Indeed, we very much hope the prize encourages people to start a novel, with this first page – and maybe go on to complete it. 

The contest will open on September 7th 2023 and closes early 2024. All submission info can be found at the blackspringcrimeseries.com website; the entry fee is £10. Lee Child - 100 million selling world-famous author of the Jack Reacher series of books - will read and judge the best final 50 entries, and leading crime writer Luca Veste will be the sifting judge for the first stage of the competition.

Lee Child says, ‘Long ago people would say, “This is a great book, but you need to give it fifty pages.” That's crazy now, in our hyper-fast world. Now readers give you fifty words. Your first paragraph, basically. That's where you win or lose. It doesn't always need to be slam-bam, but it does always need to give the reader absolutely no choice but to race ahead. Send your entry in to Black Spring's contest, I’ll judge the best... and if you win, I'll be first in line to buy your book.’

The winner will be announced in 2024, receive £200, a one-off, hour-long online mentoring session with Luca Veste and be offered a publishing contract if they ever decide to complete the novel. All longlisted, shortlisted, and winning entrants agree to let their submitted work, biography and photo be included in any publicity organised by the press.

The Black Spring Crime Series was recently endorsed by, among others, giants of crime Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Child, and Mark Billingham.

Note that immediate family members of those on the BSPG team, and the team themselves, are ineligible to enter.  . The contest may be cancelled at the discretion of the organisers for any reason at any time; all monies will be refunded. Should any of the judges be unavailable due to force majeure other judges of equal calibre will step in.

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