It's time to lure us in with the first pages of your mystery novel for middle grade readers.
This contest is your chance to write a fiction mystery first page for kids ages 8-12 years old. It can be funny or ominous or somewhere in between.
Entries for this contest will include a one-sentence book summary followed by no more than 1,000 words from the beginning of your book. (Book summary sentence not included in first pages word count. The full manuscript does not need to be finished in order to enter.) Your first page should be previously unpublished.
DEADLINE: November 15, 2021
Please include a one-sentence book summary such as you’d find on the copyright page of a traditionally published novel. These summaries will often—but not always—contain the name of the character, the setting in which the story takes place, and an idea of the central conflict. Read examples from your favorite books to study how editors can distill a book down to its essence. Here’s an example from Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth Bunce, which won the Edgar for best middle grade mystery last spring:
When twelve-year-old aspiring detective Myrtle Hardcastle learns her neighbor in quiet Swinburne, England, a breeder of rare flowers, has died, she is certain it was murder and that she must find the killer.
Engaging first page: The first line, the first paragraph, the first page—they must all persuade the reader to keep going.
Believability: Provide the details and specifics that will make readers sink into your world and keep them there.
Voice: That undefinable quality. You know it when you see it.
Characterization: A unique protagonist with a well-developed supporting cast.
Mechanics: Proper punctuation, grammar, formatting. Busy editors expect a clean manuscript as a mark of professionalism. Weaknesses in those areas, on the other hand, could suggest lack of attention to detail with respect to story logic, plot holes, and consistent characterization.
$1,300 Cash Prizes
All entrants are invited to a FREE instructional online workshop with our esteemed judge.
Winning entries will be workshopped by our judge to help writers understand what worked and what could be improved to make it submission-ready.
Here are a few examples of great middle grade mysteries to give you some mentor texts to study as you polish your entry:
Submissions will be judged on clarity, originality, audience engagement, potential in the market, and appropriateness for the age range.
The winning entries in this Middle Grade Mystery First Pages Contest will be announced at a live online workshop within 90 days after the contest closes. All contest entrants will be notified of the event details by email and be invited free of charge. (Non-entrants may attend for a nominal fee of $7.)
This is a great opportunity to build your writing and submitting skills!