FWS Vernal Equinox Competition – enter now! Deadline Mar 31st!

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

Prizes in each category: 1stprize £100, 2ndprize £25, 3rdprize £10

You can find the Rules below and there are also answers to some Frequently Asked Questions **here**.


Poetry Judge is our Makar for 2019, Stephen Watt

Stephen’s latest book of poems is MCSTAPE  He also premiered on the popular radio show “Off the Ball”, is Poet in Residence for Dumbarton Football Club and Hampden Collection Poet-in-Chief. His love of football is legendary and his poem-film “Diddy Cups” has had more than 40,000 views. Stephen supports the Federation and posts regularly on our website. He also published a poetry collection Optogramsin 2016.

 What the judge is looking for in the poetry competition

I’ll be looking for creative storytelling which ensnares the reader in intoxicating plot and language. Poems which are bold and either manage to illuminate the everyday or provoke the conventional with raw, honest, and sincere sentiment often shine through and correlate with me as the reader. I want poems with an attractive shape, unafraid to use humour if it aids the piece, and which make me want to read them over and over again, absorbing different elements of the writing on each occasion.

Short Story Judge  is our first ever Scriever, Olga Wojtas

For almost 30 years Olga was Scottish Editor of the Times Education SupplementSince 2009 she has been a freelance writer. Olga won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2015 and has had more than 30 short stories published. Her first novel, Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar is published by ContrabandShe has featured in the programmes of the Edinburgh Book Festival, the Wigtown Festival, the Bookmark Book Festival and Bloody Scotland, Scotland’s Crime Writing Festival, among others.

What the judge is looking for in the short story competition

The world is your oyster as far as theme and style are concerned – comedy, crime, sci-fi, gentle, terrifying. But in a short story you’re unlikely to have the space to mix genres.

The opening should make me want to read on, even if it’s a slow burn. And there has to be momentum throughout, which doesn’t mean that it can’t be reflective, gentle, or slow, but does mean that my attention shouldn’t be able to wander.

Check that the language is appropriate to the theme, and that it flows. It can be useful to read it aloud. I get mocked by my friends for being a “grammar nazi” – the reason I’m a stickler for proper spelling, punctuation and syntax is not to stultify writing, but because it makes it clearer. Of course you can deliberately bend or break the rules, but there has to be a reason for it.

The story should be complete in itself, and not be the first chapter of a novel. It doesn’t have to be conclusive: it can be powerful to have an ending that keeps the reader guessing. But there has to be an ending rather than a hiatus.

The story shouldn’t be predictable. It should intrigue, surprise or startle.

And lastly: if there’s something you really want to write, don’t ever self-censor because you think someone won’t like it. If you’re enthusiastic about what you’re writing, you’re well on the way to engaging your readers.

Flash Fiction Judge is FWS member and seasoned Flash Fiction judge Gordon Lawrie

Gordon Lawrie is the editor of Friday Flash Fiction, which attracts thousands of stories from around the English-speaking world each year. The author of three published novels, he is also the founder of the innovative Comely Bank Publishing collectivein Edinburgh.

 What the judge is looking for in the Flash Fiction competition

  1. A story: It might seem obvious, but even in the space of five hundred words, the reader should sense that something happens. Flash fiction is not descriptive prose about beautiful scenery, for instance. At the end of the story, readers should be in a different place from where they started.
  2. A sense that you value your words: The best flash fiction almost always has to be heavily edited. Paring down your over-long first draft is part of the fun.
  3. Writing that speaks volumes: ‘Show don’t tell’ applies even more to flash fiction than to novels. The best writing always says much by leaving so much unsaid. And personally, I find an author’s exclamation marks irritating: I shouldn’t need to be told that something is meant to be funny, it should be obvious.
  4. High-quality writing: Your spelling, grammar and punctuation should be spot-on, and words should be used correctly. Check the dictionaries if you’re not sure. But it also means that your writing should ‘sparkle’: there’s something indefinable about wonderful language, no matter how long the story.
  5. Carefully reviewed work:Get someone else to look over your story before you send it in. Better still, get them to read it back to you out loud – does the writingconvey your voice, or do you need to be the one reading it?


Gaelic Judgeis our Gaelic Co-ordinator Marcas Mac an Tuairneir

Marcas Mac an Tuairneir writes poetry, prose, drama and journalism, in Gaelic and English
He has two full collections in print: Deò (2013, Grace Note Publications) and Lus na Tùise (Lavender) (2016, Bradan Press), as well as beul-fo-bhonn (heelster-gowdie),a pamphlet co-written with Stuart A. Paterson (2017, Tapsalteerie).
Marcas’ poetry has been published in various journals and short-listed for several poetry prizes including Duais Filíochta Dhúbhglas de hÍde and Comórtas Filíochta an Chornéil Eoghain Uí NéillIn 2017 he won the Wigtown Book Festivalprize for Gaelic Poetry. 

He is a regular contributor to Dàna, Cothrom Ùr and Bella Caledonia and is the Gaelic Editor of one of Scotland’s most exciting poetry periodicals, The Poets’ Republic.

A-rèir na bhios am britheamh a’ sireadh, thuirt Marcas:

Na gabhaibh cus dragh an gràmair a bhith buileach glan, an litreachadh a bhith smàl, a thaobh na Gàidhlig. Ged as e sgil cudromach a tha sin, cuiridh mi fhìn meas nas motha air cànan nàdarra, brìghmhor, ghnàthasach. Taghaibh na faclan agaibh gu math. Ma ‘s e còmhradh a sgrìobhadh sibh, tha mi airson na caractairean a chluinntinn nam inntinn. Ma ‘s e rosg a sgrìobhadh sibh, tha mi airson faireachdainn gu bheil mi còmhla ris na caractairean, a’ coimhead air na tha a’ tachairt. Ma ‘s e bàrdachd a sgrìobhadh sibh, na innis dhomh na tha sibh airson a ràdh ach mìnich dhomh le ìomhaighean leasaichte. Tha mi airson faireachdainn na tha sibh sibhse a’ faireachdainn tro na faclan agaibh.

In terms of what the judge is looking for, Marcas suggests:

When it comes to your Gaelic, don’t worry too much about immaculate grammar or impeccable spelling. Whilst this is an admirable skill, I personally put greater stock in natural, meaningful language, rich with idiom. Choose your words well. If you’d write dialogue, make me hear the characters speaking in my head. If you’d write prose, make me feel that I am there with the characters, seeing the scene unfold. If you’d write poetry, don’t tell it to me, but evoke it with developed imagery. I want to feel what you are feeling, through your words.


Rules of Entry

  1. There will be four categories, poetry, short stories, flash fiction and poetry or flash fiction in Gaelic . Entrants may submit an unlimited number of entries for each or for all four categories provided they are accompanied by the correct entry fee.
  1. No entrant may receive more than one prizein each category.
  1. Entry is open: you do nothave to be a member of the Federation of Writers (Scotland).
  1. In the poetry category you may submit an unlimited number of entries. No poem should exceed forty linesin length excluding the title. Please indicate the number of lines at the end of the poem.
  1. In the short story category you may submit an unlimited number of stories of between 501-2,000 words in length. Stories of 500 words or less should be entered as flash fiction; stories of over 2000 words will be disqualified. Please indicate the word count at the end of the story. 
  1. In the flash fiction categoryyou may submit an unlimited number of pieces not exceeding 500words in length. Please indicate the word count at the end of the piece.
  1. In the Gaelic category you may submit an unlimited number of poems and/or flash fiction. No poem should exceed forty linesin length excluding the title. Please indicate the number of lines at the end of the poem. No flash fiction story should exceed 500words in length. Please indicate the word count at the end of the piece. The fee is the same whether you submit poems or flash fiction and you may submit both genres in provided you pay the correct entry fee for each.
  1. Work submitted must be in English, Scots or Gaelic and must be your own work (no translations of others’ work or poems which are ‘erasures’ of another’s text).
  2. No work submitted should have been previously published/broadcast/e-published or posted on-line in any form.
  1. 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 or rtf document. Please do not send in any other format, including pdf. Please number each page. No name or other mark which could identify the author should appear on any page of the entrywhich should be accompanied by a cover sheet setting out your name, address and email address, the category or categories entered, the number and title(s) of entries, the total fee due and the method of payment.
  1. If you are sending your entry by post please use a paperclip to secure pages NOT a staple and send two copiesof each entry.
  1. Entries will not be returned so please keep a copy of your entry.
  1. No alteration can be made to an entry once submitted.
  1. 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.
  1. Closing date for the competition is midnight on 31 March 2019.

16.Entry feeis £4 for the first poem, flash fiction, or Gaelic poem or flash fiction and £3 for each subsequent poem or flash fiction entered, £5per short story.

  1. Failure to comply with the above rules or to pay the appropriate entry fee will result in automatic disqualification.
  1. Successful entrants will be notified by June 3 2019.


How to enter

By email

Email your entry with a completed cover sheet(see 10 above) as a Word or rtf document to acclarke6@btopenworld.comto arrive by midnight on 31 March 2019. Email submission of entries is preferred.

By post

Send your entry (two copies)with a separate cover sheet (see 10 above) to:

Competition Secretary

0/1 25 Craigmillar Rd


G42 9JZ


All entrants: Send the appropriate fee (see 16 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 ‘comp19’. If you are not able tosend 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.


Please ensure that you indicate your method of payment on the cover sheet

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 entrieswill 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I’m not a Federation member. Can I enter the competition?

Yes. The competition is open to all. 

  1. I have gone a few words/lines over the limit. Does it matter?

Any entry exceeding the word/line limit will not be accepted. You may resubmit a shorter version or a different entry.

  1. Do you allow translations of work by other writers?


  1. How about ‘erasures’ based on work by another writer or on found text?

No. You may where relevant include a word or phrase from another writer or text (provided it is acknowledged) but your work must be substantially your own.


  1. Does self-publishing or putting a poem/story up on my blog count as publication?

The rules say No work submitted should have been previously published/broadcast/e-published or posted on-line in any form. This includes self-publication, posting on a blog or in a chatroom etc


  1. My entry was commended in a previous competition but not published. Can I still submit it?

No. Even if it has not been published we will not accept an entry that has been placed in a previous competition, including being commended. However an entry that was shortlisted in a previous competition but not placedcanbe submitted.

  1. I’ve sent in my entry but just noticed something I want to change.

Once the entry hasbeen accepted no further alterations can be made. 

  1. I don’t want to/can’t pay by bank transfer but I don’t have a cheque book.

You can either pay by Paypal at https://www.paypal.me/FwritersS(but be sure to make it clear that you are paying for a competition entry) or send a postal order made out to the Federation of Writers (Scotland) to the competition secretary.

  1. I managed to email my entry just in time for the closing date but my cheque won’t arrive until after that.

This is a regular occurrence and is not a problem. Your work will be sent to the judge with a note that it is not confirmed as entered in the competition until the fee is received. If the fee is not received within seven working days of the closing date your entry will be withdrawn from the competition.


  1. I’ve just heard that my entry has won a prize in another competition. Can it still be considered?

 We don’t prohibit simultaneous submissions but if an entry wins a prize in another competition it is automatically disqualified. Please let us know of any such success so that we do not inadvertently publish your work.


  1. What about if my entry is accepted for publication

 If an entry is accepted for publication elsewhere and the date of publication is afterthe award ceremony, when the results are announced to the public, it is still eligible for the competition.If the date of publication is before then it must be withdrawn.

  1. How will I know that my entry has been received?

If entering by email you should receive an acknowledgement within three days. If entering by post you will receive an email in due course, if you included your email address in the contact details. Or you can include a stamped self-addressed postcard.


  1. It’s past the date when successful entrants were due to be notified and I haven’t heard anything. Should I assume I wasn’t successful?

Yes, I’m afraid so unless there has been a change in the date owing to unforeseen circumstances in which case there will be a notice on the FWS web-site.

  1. I have a friend who writes lovely poetry but is shy about trying to get it published. I attach two submissions on her behalf.

Entering by proxy is not possible, including entering the work of someone after they have died. You may be able to encourage your friend to submit as per the guidelines on our website.


  1. Can I submit my work under a pen name?

Yes provided your contact details state your real name and how you can be contacted.

  1. Will you alter the layout of my work to make it look better? I’m not very experienced at this.

Entries are accepted as they stand.


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