Women’s Prize for Fiction launches programme for budding writers

The coronavirus lockdown has inspired many to take up writing for the first time, with unprecedented potential for exceptional new writing talent emerging from this challenging environment. In honour of the 25th anniversary year for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and in recognition of untapped diverse and exceptional writing talent across the country, the Women’s Prize Trust, powered by NatWest and Curtis Brown, is launching Discoveries. Discoveries is a unique and ambitious writers’ development programme offering aspiring female writers of all ages and backgrounds encouragement and support at the beginning of their creative journeys.

Have you finally found the time to pick up your pen and start creating that story you've always dreamed of writing? Have you been spending the past few months crafting the sweetest short story or maybe some moving prose? This programme is perfect for budding writers who are eager to continue their writing journey, regardless of your age.

Kate Mosse, Novelist & Founder Director of Women’s Prize for Fiction, said: “Somewhere out there, our Women’s Prize winner of the future is considering whether to pick up the pen – to her I want to say: do it. 'Discoveries' is here to help you on your way. For 25 years, the Women’s Prize has championed female writers to tell their own stories and make sure as diverse and wide a range of voices are heard. Whether you're 88, 48 or 18, the beginning of one’s writing journey is a crucial time and the authors of tomorrow, whoever they are, wherever they are, deserve support today.”

Discoveries, first announced at the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist celebratory event on March 3, invites women of all ages and backgrounds to submit their work of fiction from September 2020. The programme doesn’t require writers to have finished a novel – only the opening three chapters or up to 10,000 words – and it is free to enter.

Ahead of applications opening in September, the Women’s Prize Trust, NatWest, Curtis Brown Literary Agency and Curtis Brown Creative Writing School will curate a programme of free online content. This will include interviews with publishing industry professionals, practical advice and inspiration from former winners and shortlistees of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and teaching notes by Curtis Brown Creative Writing School to help writers craft their submissions.

A longlist of 16 and shortlist of six writers will be selected by a judging panel, with the winner offered representation by Curtis Brown Literary Agency and a cash prize of £5,000. All longlisted and shortlisted authors will be offered personalised mentorship packages from a Curtis Brown agent or industry expert tailored to their needs, and free or discounted places on Curtis Brown Creative’s creative writing courses.

Discoveries will open for entries from 7th September 2020-17th January 2021. The programme will be open to all women aged 18 and above, residing in the UK or Ireland and writing in English. The programme will accept novels in any genre of adult fiction.

The longlist and shortlist of Discoveries will be announced in the spring of 2021 and the authors will be invited to attend the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction award ceremony in summer 2021. 

NatWest, who have been one of the title partners of the Women’s Prize since 2018, will gift the Discoveries winner access to space, tools and events in one of their entrepreneurial accelerator hubs and provide membership to the NatWest Business Builder community. These offerings – financial planning tools, coaching and access to free office space, including wi-fi and printing –  in addition to the seed funding that has enabled the programme to take place, will help assist the budding novelist navigate their fledgling career as they begin their new journey, building their confidence to help reach their potential.

Lucy Morris, literary agent at Curtis Brown Literary Agency, and Anna Davis, MD of Curtis Brown Creative writing school said: “A brilliant writer can come from anywhere. She can be any age and of any background. Finding, supporting and developing emerging talent from first pages to long-term writing careers is at the very heart of both the Curtis Brown Literary Agency and the Curtis Brown Creative writing school. We are thrilled to be partnering with the Women’s Prize Trust and NatWest to champion regionality, inclusivity and accessibility with the launch of Discoveries.”

To find out more about Discoveries, visit here.