City Arts & Nottingham Writers’ Studio Writing Competition 2017-18

To celebrate City Arts’ 40th anniversary, we’ve teamed up with our neighbours, Nottingham Writers’ Studio, to put on a writing competition aimed at everyone. It is only open to writers who have never been paid for their writing, so everyone has a chance to win. If you’ve always dreamed of putting pen to paper, now’s the time to do it!

All we’re asking you to do is write a short story on the theme of “40”. You can write up to 2000 words, but there is no minimum word count, so don’t be put off.

We’re hoping to see some original takes on the theme – feel free to interpret it as loosely as you like. You could write about:

  • something that happened 40 years ago, or something that will happen 40 minutes in the future
  • what might happen if the average UK temperature rose to 40°C
  • two people who live 40 miles apart
  • a 40-hour journey
  • the 40th victim of a murderer
  • what happened when someone turned 40 years old
  • a party with 40 guests, and what happened there
  • the 40th elephant to be born at London Zoo
  • a woman (or man) who has to have 40 pairs of shoes to choose from each day

Let your imagination run wild!

Anyone aged 12 or over and who writes in English can enter.

There are three categories:

  • Children (12-16)
  • Young Adults (17-25)
  • Adults (26+)

You can enter up to four stories.

Entries must be all your own work, and not have been published anywhere or have been placed in any other competition.

If you have ever been paid for your writing, you may not enter.

After payment of the judges’ fees, administration costs, and a small donation to the “City Arts at 40” fund, the entry fees will be divided as follows:

  • First prize: 40% of the fund, divided equally between the three category winners (expected to be between £75 and £220)
  • Second prize: 30% of the fund, divided equally (expected to be between £55 and £165)
  • Third prize: 15% of the fund, divided equally (expected to be between £30 and £80)
  • Best Nottingham resident: 15% of the fund, divided equally (expected to be between £30 and £80)

You can only win one prize – if anyone is selected for two or more prizes they will receive the higher of the two.

The fees are as follows:

  • £4 for 1 entry
  • £7 for 2 entries
  • £10 for 3 entries
  • £12 for 4 entries

For students (FE or HE), schoolchildren, unwaged, or senior citizens (65+), the fees are:

  • first entry free
  • £4 for 2 entries
  • £7 for 3 entries
  • £10 for 4 entriess

Nottingham Writers’ Studio is running two short story workshops in January 2018 to enable you to brush up your writing skills. Anyone who attends one or both of these will receive one free entry, after which fees are as above (i.e. first entry free, £4 for 2 entries, £7 for 3 entries, £10 for 4 entries, or for unwaged, first 2 entries free, £4 for 3 entries, £7 for 4 entries).

Workshop: Short story writing with Aidan Parr (14th Jan) // Workshop: Short story writing with Sarah Hindmarsh (28th Jan)

Your entries must not include your name, as all entries are judged anonymously.

The deadline date for entries is 11.59 pm (UK time) on 1st March 2018.

Entries must be in English, typed and double-spaced.

Entries must show no name, address or identifying marks other than the title.

We prefer email entries, but if you would rather submit a postal entry, it must be single sided, with pages numbered and securely fastened with a staple. Each entry must be on a new sheet. Please ensure that you use the correct postage – we will not pay additional postage if insufficient postage is used and the entry will be returned by the Post Office.

The filename of each online entry must be the title of the entry and it must be either a .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf file.

Each entrant must also submit a completed entry form.

For online entries, please pay via PayPal and make a note of the transaction ID on your entry form.

Your PayPal email receipt and an email from the competition administrator will confirm your entry.

Online entries (and any enquiries) should be sent to, along with a completed entry form.

Download the entry form

For postal entries, please enclose a cheque made payable to City Arts, along with your completed entry form and printouts of your stories. If you would like confirmation of receipt, also enclose a stamped addressed postcard marked ‘ACKNOWLEDGEMENT’.

Postal entries should be sent to: City Arts at 40 competition, 253 Main Street, Calverton, Nottingham NG14 6LT. They must be received by the competition deadline.

To receive the full results in April 2018 - send an A5 stamped addressed envelope marked 'RESULTS' to the address above. Please note: we are only able to contact those entrants who have won or been highly commended. If you do not hear from us by mid-April 2018 it means your entry has not been selected.

Worldwide copyright of each entry remains with the author, but City Arts and Nottingham Writers’ Studio will have the right to publish the winning entries, (including highly commended entries), in the anthology and any relevant promotional material.

The judges' decision is final and no individual correspondence can be entered into.

Full terms and conditions

Nottingham Writers Studio Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature Nottingham Post