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. 

General Guidance

Available Awards

Award Entry Dates

Please note that some awards will be running at different times to allow a wider period of time when writers can apply for our opportunities.


Carefully read the eligibility criteria for the award you have chosen to ensure that you can apply for it. The Awards are only open to writers based in the North of England.

Submission Questions

Read the entry questions carefully. You may save a draft of your entry in the submissions portal, however, it is highly recommended that you draft your answers offline initially so that you don’t lose any work.

Synopsis and Writing Sample

Prepare your synopsis and writing sample carefully so that they are ready to upload. Once submitted, your application can no longer be edited.


Use the Frequently Asked Questions to guide you while you make your application. Most queries will be answered here, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, please contact us. Our website also includes various resources that may be useful as you construct your application.

Preparing Your Manuscript

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. 

Should I put my name on the extract?

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

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. 

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. 

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

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

Yes, if you’ve published a few stories or poems in magazines 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.

Writing Your Application

What should I say in my application?

Please answer each awards question as closely as possible and stay within the word count. It might be useful to take a look at the online form and make a note of the questions to consider before-hand. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

Writing for TV Applications

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. 

Should the 'original storyline' submitted be for a single episode or a longer series?

The original storyline can be for either a single episode of a longer drama series or for a stand-alone drama. If you are submitting an episode of a series, please give some context about the full series. 

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

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. 

Can I enter the same work to multiple Writing for Television Awards?

Yes – though keep in mind that each production company is different, and so may be looking for different things. 

Can I enter a different type of script, such as a stage play, short film or radio drama?

Yes, as long as it is within the ten page limit. 

Eligibility and Rules

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 people may be temporarily living away from their usual residence. 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 old do I need to be to enter an award?

You must be over 18 years of age to enter for most of our awards. The Young Northern Writers’ and Matthew Hale awards are for writers aged 11 to 18 years of age.  

Can I enter more than one award?

You may only enter one award per submission window unless otherwise specified on the Enter page.

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 signed contract with a publisher. 

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 apply for an award if I am a previous winner of the 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. 

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

In some circumstances, yes. Please contact [email protected] for more information about this. 

How the Awards Work

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

Do any of the award winners receive mentoring?

Yes, several do. The Northern Debut Awards 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 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. 

In addition to the individual programmes of each award strand, all Northern Writers’ Awards winners over the age of 18 will receive ongoing support (winners under 18 will receive separate support). 

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 is the pitching workshop? And the Summer Talent Party?

In previous years, following the announcement of the awards, we have hosted 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 for literary agents and publishers to meet our award-winners. 

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. 

Further Advice and Guidance

Which award should I enter?

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. 

Are the awards only for younger or new writers?

No. We are interested in supporting talented writers, whatever their age. 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. 

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. 

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 into this category includes biography, memoir, nature writing and non-fiction with a strong literary intent. 

Privacy and Equality

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 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?

We use Submittable to receive your application, which allows you to maintain control over our access to your work – you can withdraw it at any time. Read more about Submittable’s data policy here

We understand that some of the questions on the application form are detailed and personal. We ask optional evaluation research questions which are not part of the application process. They will in no way impact your application. Please see here for more information on how we may use your application data.

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 [email protected].