Welcome to the LWB writing competition page.
Currently I run two competitions a year:
Page 100 competition which is open for entries from June to September each year.
Favourite Paragraph competition which is open for entries from December to March.
2020 Favourite Paragraph competition winners
I'm delighted to announce the winners of my inaugural Fave Para comp! I have whittled down my short list of six to three rather wonderful paragraphs (and opening chapters). It was really tough actually, as all six short listed fave paragraphs were excellent, as were all the opening chapters. In the end I went with my "reading gut"... if I was in a bookshop browsing (and I bet we all can't wait to do that again!) which ones would I buy? Want to take home and curl up with? I imagined I had a nice big book token to spend. Once I looked at it like that, the top three became a little clearer.
I will soon send a bit of feedback to all the long listed writers, and of course work on the editorial report for the winning entry. Massive thanks to everybody who entered. I'm really grateful for your support and it's been a pleasure to read all the entries.
The winning favourite paragraph is...
The Unsound Voices
by Rowena Fishwick
He opened his door and got out. I sat alone in the car for a moment. Listening to the sounds outside. Tyres crunching on grit, the ground humming as a car rumbled through the exit. An ordinary car park. Strange how in poems it was always mountains or flowers or sun-set beaches that were beautiful. Because right now that car park was beautiful. Even a puddle of oil on the concrete. The way yellow light reflected off it and washed it sepia. And it struck me that I’d almost missed it. Just as I’d almost missed Nate saying he loved me. His love would still be there, but it would become painful inside him. Unable to loosen and catch onto the thing it was meant for, because the thing it was meant for was me, and I was gone. That seemed so lonely. In fact it seemed the loneliest thing of all.
That's a lot going on in one short paragraph. I was surprised by how poetically an ugly, plain car park is evoked here. And the relationship between the narrator and this Nate... I want to know more! And the "loosen and catch" of love... fabulous language.
The first three paragraphs are equally impressive. How is this for a first sentence: The night before the voices started I was arrested for keying Arsehole onto the bonnet of a brand new Ford Mondeo.
You can't not want to read on!
And in second place is...
An Unfamiliar Landscape
by Amanda Huggins
I thought of that long hot summer when we were waiting for the future to begin. One night we went down to the park and climbed to the top of the playground slide, sat on the platform looking out over the town. We talked of the shine in all those distant cities, of the lives we would lead, the people we would meet. For a moment there was a pause, a strange stillness. The night air felt softer, as though we had been transported to somewhere magical; a place where the sky was lit by fireflies and we could hear the put-put of scooters on some distant coastal road, boys shouting in Italian, the scent of flowers on the breeze. It was a moment of teenage clarity, a sudden awareness that life would be good and worth the wait. And we each held this new knowing close to our ribs and didn’t speak of it in case it wasn’t true.
Well, what can I say about this beautiful paragraph? It stood out from the first reading. Atmospheric, well chosen language and details. I feel like I'm in this scene when I read it. The opening pages are just as atmospheric and written with Amanda's trademark care and precision. The more I read of Amanda's work the more I enjoy it. Brilliant stuff.
And in third place I have chosen...
by Deborah Cooper
It doesn’t even feel real at times. Being here, standing in a proper grown-up kitchen and wiping away marks left by a husband on his way to work; picking up bits of drawn-on paper and toys discarded by a four-year old daughter being ushered out and into the car ready for nursery school. Gemma surveys the room. The kitchen. Her kitchen. It’s big, it’s bright, it’s (now) cleaner than it was earlier but it’s never spotless. There’s a vase of spring flowers on the table and sunlight vaults through the Georgian bars of the windows, checker-boarding the walls. Years ago she’d placed this precise—perfect—picture inside her bubble of ultimate happiness. She just never imagined being married to the prick that burst it.
Another paragraph which stood out from early on in the competition. Such a build up... the kitchen... big, bright, clean... the light... then that rather deflated and deflating final sentence that changes everything. I got a real sense of the story behind all this material comfort. Intriguing! The opening chapters are engaging and humorous, setting up the story neatly, succinctly and clearly. Great!