TGIF, everyone! I want to start this weekend by telling you about a new writing contest–and when I say new, I mean brand new. This year is the first year of a new annual contest called the Staunch Book Prize. I’m pretty excited because this contest requires writers to really stretch their writing muscles.
What is the Staunch Book Prize? It’s a contest which calls for thriller novels in which “no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered.” If you’re familiar with the thriller genre, you’ll know how often writers fall back on these techniques to make a “thrilling” novel, and that’s why I think this could be a good creative exercise for those willing to try it.
Here are the basic guidelines, beyond the topical concept, for the Staunch Book Prize:
- Authors of any nationality who are over the age of 18 on the closing date may enter.
- Traditionally-published and self-published books may enter so long as they were provably published within 18 months of the closing date. Works not yet published are also welcomed.
- Entries must be in English, but translations are allowed.
- Authors, agents, or publishers may submit entries so long as they comply with the submission formatting.
- The entry, all in ONE DOCUMENT, should include the first 5,000 words of the manuscript (double-spaced, 12pt font) and a one-page synopsis (single-spaced, 12pt font).
- NO IDENTIFYING NAMES OR MARKS ON THE ENTRY; enter in PDF or Word doc format
- Completed novels–which should be at least 50,000 words long–will be requested by the end of August.
- There is an entry fee of £20 per entry (multiple submissions accepted)
- The entry period is February 22, 2018, through midnight BST on July 15, 2018.
- The prize is £2,000, and the winner will be announced on November 25, 2018, to coincide with International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
There is one issue being brought against this contest. Namely, the Staunch Book Prize has been criticized by a writer for The Guardian for supposedly ignoring brutality against women.
I am split on The Guardian‘s opinion. Well, their writer’s opinion. On the one hand, I understand where she (the writer) is coming from. We cannot ignore brutality against women. We need books which represent the all-too-prominent problems of women being beaten, stalked, raped, exploited, etc. On the other hand, I also understand the stance taken by the founder of the Staunch Book Prize. The thriller genre is rather notorious for making women victims and putting them through horrific situations before they can feel empowered. This disproportionate representation doesn’t really seem fair, does it?
I would love to see more thrillers in which women are not tortured like that. Frankly, it’s demoralizing when so many books in a genre depict women that way. Can’t we have as many thrillers that use strong female leads as that explore the horrors that our patriarchal society and rape culture have forced upon us? That’s why I support this contest, so that we as writers can make women feel empowered but also bring attention to the important issues.
To make your own judgment on this debate, check out this article from The Guardian.
For more information about the Staunch Book Prize and to enter starting February 22nd, please visit the contest’s website.