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Entry deadline: October 15, 2017. Entries must be emailed as a Word document attachment with the subject heading “CWA First Chapter Contest” to: info@chicagowrites.org 

  1. All entries must be the original work of the author from a fictional work-in-progress. No previously published work will be considered.
  2. Judging will be based on merits that should be found in a first chapter of a novel, including a good opening hook, strong characterizations, compelling voice, conflict, dialogue, and no grammar/mechanical errors. Judges will also be looking at your presentation. Did you follow the rules, submit in the correct format, with the manuscript at the appropriate length. Generally, we are looking for an entry with a fresh idea, presented with clarity, structure, and elements of exceptional writing. Read last year’s winning entry by Victoria Freund to get an idea of what we’re looking for.
  3. There is no restriction on style or theme.
  4. Submissions should be double-spaced, using 12 point Times New Roman font with one-inch margins.
  5. Page limit: 10. If your first chapter is more than 10 pages, only the first 10 pages will be judged so please do not submit more than 10 pages.
  6. Pages must be numbered in consecutive order.
  7. Please submit with a cover page. Do NOT put your name on the cover page or any other page of the manuscript. Your cover page should include only: the manuscript title and word count.
  8. Remember, the author’s name should not appear anywhere in your entry (contact info goes in the body of your email). PLEASE double check this before submitting. This includes your headers and footers.
  9. Proof your work before submitting. Show us your best!
  10. One entry per person.
  11. Entrants must be current dues-paying members of the Chicago Writers Association.
  12. For each entry, a non‐refundable fee of Fifteen Dollars ($15) must be made to CWA via PayPal on the same date as the author’s entry is submitted.
  13. Submissions will be judged by the Chicago Writers Association’s Board of Directors.
  14. The top three entries will be published in the Chicago Writers Association’s e-zine, The Write City.
  15. The winner will be awarded a full scholarship to attend the Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp & Writing Retreat May 20 to 26, 2018, at the Cedar Valley Center & Spa, 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, near West Bend, Wisconsin (value: $1,375). Second and third place will receive cash awards of $150 and $75, respectively. 
  16. Those who enter and do not win but want to attend the Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp & Writing Retreat may apply the $15 entry fee towards their Bookcamp registration. So save an extra copy of your PayPal entry receipt and use it to receive an extra $15 discount on the already reduced Bookcamp registration cost for CWA members.


Sample Manuscript Format – Reminder: Do NOT put your name on the manuscript!

(Click on images to enlarge)

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