This year, the Mail on Sunday competition for the best first 150 words of a novel was won by a Bournemouth lady (Yay! Go, Bournemouth!) - Marion Richards. She's given me permission via her writing tutor, women's mag writer Hilary Halliwell, to publish her entry - see below. Well done Marion!
The next competition is now open - and here are the details.
You need to write the first part of a novel, between 50 and 150 words. Your entry must include the word 'row' - in any format, eg rowing boat, blazing row, row of tulips. Closing date is 28th October 2011. Send your entry to The Mail on Sunday Novel Competition, PO Box 150, Rochester, Kent ME1 9AG. You must include full contact details (name, address, phone no and email) on the same page as your entry. Judges are Fay Weldon, James Buchan and Sarah Waters (wow, two of my very favourite authors in that lineup!)
First prize is £400 and a place on an Arvon course. Five runners-up get book tokens to the value of £150-£300. Entry to the competition is free.
So, nothing to lose and loads to gain! Here's Marion's entry so you can see what impressed the judges this year. The word to be included was 'set'.
The word splits my ears.
A guard grabs my arm, marches me down concrete steps and throws me into this underground cage – like I’m no better than a wild animal straight out the jungle.
“It’s your home ‘til morning,” says the uniform. “They’ll be shifting you on tomorrow – somewhere permanent.”
“Where’s that?” I ask.
Uniform’s keeping the answer to himself and I’m left in this rathole wondering what’s gonna happen next.
“Make yourself comfortable, lad,” he says but I know he can’t mean it ‘cos there’s only a rusty bunk and buglife for company. He hands me a tin plate and mug. Then reels off mealtimes as though I’ve booked into some posh-nosh hotel.
His bit done, he makes his exit. The door clangs. The key turns.
Footsteps echo down the corridor. Uniform’s gone.
“It’s a set-up!” I scream. “A bloody set-up!”
But nobody’s listening.
Well that certainly grabbed me! Where's the rest, Marion?! Good luck to all who enter.