Firsts writing competition

Want to win £250 for your writing? And learn from the very best to make it even better?

Firsts is a new writing competition for students from years 7–13, set up by the University of Suffolk and Primadonna festival.

Write 800 words on the theme of ‘happily ever after’ to be in with a chance of a cash prize and a one-to-one tutorial with award-winning YA author Patrice Lawrence. Patrice’s first book Orangeboy was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award. Indigo Donut, her second book for teenagers, won the Crimefest YA Prize. And if writing isn’t your thing, you can submit a poem or song lyrics (minimum five stanzas), a play, film or TV scene (minimum three pages) or a cartoon strip (minimum three pages) instead.

Entries to Firsts will not be judged on grammar or spelling but on their originality and raw potential. We’re looking for the best new writing talent – take a First step forward with us.

Entries open on 2 January 2023, and close on 1 April. Students from any secondary school in East Anglia are eligible to enter.

A shortlist of entries in two ages groups – years 7-9, and years 10-13 – will be put forward to a team of professional editors at HarperCollins who will select a winner in each category. Winning students will be awarded £250, a one-to-one creative writing tutorial with Patrice, and formal feedback on their writing from the HarperCollins team. They will also showcase their work at a special event at the 2023 Primadonna festival, held at the Food Museum in Stowmarket, Suffolk (28-30 July).