Two competitions taking place this spring give budding young writers, poets and lyricists an opportunity to make their literary mark

Young creatives are being offered to opportunity to have their talents celebrated in two writing competitions taking place this spring. This is a good opportunity for individuals or class groups to have some creative fun while writing to a tight brief. Both competitions are open now, with closing dates in May. Do read the competition terms and conditions carefully, especially the rules about who can submit entries.

Inspired by a line

The Henrietta Branford Writing Competition is aimed at all young people who enjoy writing and is run in conjunction with the Branford Boase Award. Anyone under the age of 19 can enter – and this year the challenge is to write a story, poem or song lyrics.

The starting point is Christine Pillainayagam’s book, Ellie Pillai is Brown and this line in particular: ‘I think you have presence, something special about you. Something different’. Entrants are asked to write about a character who has ‘presence’ or something that makes them stand out.

The tip to entrants from this year’s Award Chair Prue Goodwin is to: “remember that this writing is not a piece of schoolwork, it won’t be marked by the judges, just read to be enjoyed… Try to make the final version as original as possible”.

Six winners will receive signed copies of each of the books shortlisted for the 2023 Branford Boase Award and – best of all – winning stories, poems or song lyrics will be published on the Award website. Now in its 25th year, this competition is supported by independent children’s publisher Walker Books and delivered by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society.

* The closing date is Friday 31st May. See more about the competition at

Writers' room
The cast of Witness for the Prosecution. Photo: Sam Barker

Whodunnit challenge

Agatha Christie’s great-grandson James Prichard and author Kate Moss are among the judges of a competition celebrating the 2,000th performance of Witness for the Prosecution at London County Hall. Now in its seventh year, this classic courtroom drama centres on the trial of Leonard Vole, accused of a dastardly crime for financial gain.

Budding writers and whodunnit lovers in Years 7-9 are being invited to write a short thriller of up to 2,000 words – a testing literary challenge requiring fast-paced plot and character development. Entries must be original work, with new characters and plot (so not based on any existing drama/novel or characters by Agatha Christie or any other author).

The winner of the prize receives tickets for their class (up to 35 people) to watch a performance of Witness for the Prosecution at County Hall on a date of their choosing.

* The closing date is Friday 3rd May. To see entry criteria, visit

Further reading: St Swithun’s School on the value of telling stories