FWS Vernal Equinox Competition – enter now!

Our annual Vernal Equinox Competition is now officially openThe competition will close at midnight on 31 March.  

The poetry section will be judged as usual by the Makar in post for the year, who this year is Marjorie Lotfi Gill. The short story section will be judged by Neil Leadbeater, runner-up in this category last year and the flash fiction by Karen Jones.

Prizes in each category: 1st prize £100, 2nd prize £25, 3rd prize £10

See below for the entry rules


The Judges and what they are looking for


Marjorie Lotfi Gill’s poems have won competitions, been published in journals and anthologies in the UK and US (including The RialtoGutterAmbit and Rattle) and the Scotsman and been performed on BBC Radio 4. Her pamphlet Refuge is forthcoming this spring from Tapsalteerie Press, and in 2017 she was commissioned by Enterprise Music Scotland to write Pilgrim, a sequence about migration between Iran and the US, and the University of Edinburgh to write Bridge, a companion sequence about migration within Europe.

Marjorie founded the Belonging Project, creative writing workshops and readings considering the experiences of refugees with over 1,500 participants, and was Poet in Residence at Jupiter Artland and Writer in Residence for Spring Fling and the Wigtown Book Festival in Dumfries and Galloway. She is also a founder and director of Open Book, a charity providing shared reading and creative writing groups within community settings across Scotland.

 What I’m looking for in the 2018 Federation of Writers Competition entries: I’m looking for work that asks me to forget, draws me in so completely that I lose my sense of self and am instead entranced by the narrative, form, character or voice. Being drawn in often means that the language used is somewhere between ordinary and beautiful but never overdone, unusual enough for me to see something anew but not so striking that I am drawn out of the story or poem. I also particularly enjoy writing that asks something of me as a reader, leaving gaps so that I have to work a little and engage, make a decision or two for myself, and have a stake (however small) in the piece of writing.


Neil Leadbeater is an author, editor, essayist, poet and critic living in Edinburgh, Scotland. His short stories, articles and poems have been published widely in anthologies and journals both at home and abroad. His books include Hoarding Conkers at Hailes Abbey (Littoral Press, 2010), Librettos for the Black Madonna (White Adder Press, 2011); The Worcester Fragments (Original Plus, 2013); The Loveliest Vein of Our Lives (Poetry Space, 2014) and Finding the River Horse (Littoral Press, 2017). He is a regular reviewer for several journals including Galatea Resurrects (A Poetry Engagement) (USA) and Write Out Loud (UK). His work has been translated into Dutch, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish.

What I’m looking for in the 2018 Federation of Writers Competition entries:

It is a privilege and an honour to be asked to judge this year’s short story competition. I have been asked to give competitors a few hints about what I will be looking for when each entry is passed on to me. First and foremost I want to be surprised. I will be looking for something that is not only well-written but also, if possible, innovative: a piece of writing that pushes the boundaries and holds my interest from the very first sentence until the last. I place a lot of importance on characterisation, development, setting and plot. Something that can be read on more than one level is always appealing and intellectually satisfying.

Before you start, know what you are going to write about. Know your characters well. Be yourself and do not try to imitate others. Write what you feel strongly about, that way, you will be able to write with conviction.

When you have finished your story, put it aside for a while and then look at it objectively at a later date. I cannot stress the importance of revision. REVISE, REVISE, REVISE. Carefully check each word, cutting out unnecessary material as you go.

I wish you all the very best of luck with your writing and look forward to reading your entries.


Karen Jones is a prose writer from Glasgow with a preference for flash and short fiction. She has been successful in various writing competitions including Mslexia, Flash 500, Words With Jam, New Writer, Writers’ Forum, Writers’ Bureau and Ad Hoc Fiction. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines, ezines and print anthologies such as The Wonderful World of Worders, Bath Short Story Anthology, 10 Years of HISSAC, An Earthless Melting Pot, City Smells, Ellipsis: One, To Hull and Back, 10 Red, Bath Flash Volume 2 and Flash Fiction Festival One. In 2014 she published a short story collection, The Upside-Down Jesus and other stories.

She is currently working on a second short story collection and a novella-in-flash.

 What I’m looking for in the 2018 Federation of Writers Competition entries:

I’ll be looking for a strong title and opening sentence – something that really pulls me into the story so I have to read on. Remember it’s not a poem, it’s a story. That doesn’t mean you can’t use beautiful language – please do – but it has to be more than that. Give me a beginning, a middle and an end. That sounds obvious, but people often forget that flash should be a complete story. And, finally, make me laugh or make me cry or make me see something in a new light. All three would be great.


  1. There will be three categories, poetry, short stories and flash fiction. Entrants may submit an unlimited number of entries for each or for all three categories provided they are accompanied by the correct entry fee.
  2. No entrant may receive more than one prize in each category.
  3. Entry is open: you do not have to be a member of the Federation of Writers (Scotland).
  4. In the poetry category you may submit an unlimited number of entries. No poem should exceed forty lines in length excluding the title. Please indicate the number of lines at the end of the poem.
  5. In the prose category you may submit an unlimited number of stories of between 1,500-2,000 words in length. Please indicate the word count at the end of the story.
  6. In the flash fiction category you may submit an unlimited number of pieces not exceeding 500 words in length. Please indicate the word count at the end of the piece.
  7. Work submitted must be in English or Scots and must be your own work (no translations of others’ work or poems which are ‘erasures’ of another’s text).
  8. No work submitted should have been previously published/broadcast/e-published or posted on-line in any form.
  9. Entries must be typewritten, double-spaced (single-spacing is acceptable for poems) on one side only of A4 paper using at least a 12pt font and, if sent by email, sent as a Word, rtf or pdf document. Please number each page. No name or other mark which could identify the author should appear on any page of the entry which should be accompanied by a separate cover sheet setting out your name, address and email address, the category or categories entered, the number and title(s) of entries and the total fee due.
  10. If you are sending your entry by post please use a paperclip to secure pages NOT a staple and send two copies of each entry.
  11. Entries will not be returned so please keep a copy of your entry.
  12. No alteration can be made to an entry once submitted.
  13. The judges’ decision is final. The judges cannot enter into any correspondence regarding entries. The organisers reserve the right to withhold prizes in any category if the number of entries received is insufficient or if entries received are judged not to meet the required standard.
  14. Closing date for the competition is midnight on 31 March 2018.
  15. Entry fee is £3 per poem, £3 per flash fiction piece, £5 per short story.
  16. Failure to comply with the above rules or to pay the appropriate entry fee will result in automatic disqualification.
  17. Successful entrants will be notified by June 4 2018.

How to enter

By email

Email your entry with a separate cover sheet (see 9 above) as a Word, pdf or rtf document to acclarke6@btopenworld.com to arrive by midnight on 31 March 2018. Email submission of entries is preferred.

By post

Send your entry (two copies) with a separate cover sheet (see 9 above) to:

Competition Secretary , 0/1 25 Craigmillar Rd, Glasgow, G42 9JZ

All entrants: Send the appropriate fee (see 15 above) by bank transfer to Account No.12874968, sort code 80-22-60 (name of account Federation of Writers (Scotland), Bank of Scotland) using as identification your name followed by ‘comp18’. If you are not able to send money by bank transfer please send a cheque or postal order (pounds sterling only) made out to The Federation of Writers (Scotland) by post to the address above.

Email entries will be acknowledged on receipt.

Postal entrants wishing confirmation that their entries have been received should either include their email address on their cover sheet or enclose a stamped addressed postcard.

No entries will be entered in the competition until the entry fee has been received.

PLEASE NOTE: Proof of posting does not mean proof of delivery.

Once an entry has been submitted and the fee paid please do not contact the competition secretary unless the piece you submitted has been accepted for publication elsewhere or placed in another competition prior to 4 June, which would automatically disqualify it.


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