The Women's Prize Trust Discoveries writing development programme is returning this year in partnership with Audible and backed by Curtis Brown.
Launched earlier this year, the initiative aims to find untapped female writing talent from across the UK and Ireland, and rewards the winner of an unpublished novel in progress with £5,000 and an offer of representation. Submissions for the 2022 programme are now open and unpublished women writers from the UK or Ireland are invited to submit the opening of a novel in English of up to 10,000 words.
For the 2022 delegation, a bespoke, two-week online course has been designed by Curtis Brown Creative (CBC) for the 16 writers, to be taught by CBC tutor Charlotte Mendelson, who was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2008 with When We Were Bad (Picador).
The course will focus on the works-in-progress of the longlisted writers, using one-to-one tutorials, live teaching on Zoom, and writing exercises and group discussion on the agency's online learning platform. Taking place from 27th June to 8th July 2022, the course will culminate in a teaching session with Curtis Brown literary agents.
In its inaugural year, the prize received more than 2,500 submissions, 73% of which were from writers who lived outside London. The winning author, Emma van Straaten, has been signed by Curtis Brown agent Lucy Morris. Three other Discoveries longlisted writers have since accepted offers of representation by UK literary agents, and all 16 longlistees have been offered mentoring by Curtis Brown agents and the opportunity to take part in Curtis Brown Creative writing courses.
The 2022 judging panel will again be chaired by Kate Mosse, novelist and founder director of the Women’s Prize, and includes writers Ayisha Malik and Irenosen Okojie, Lucy Morris, and Anna Davis, founder and m.d. of Curtis Brown Creative writing school.
Mosse said of the programme: “The Women’s Prize has always championed women authors – wherever they come from, whatever their age, whatever their genre of writing – to tell their own stories and worked to ensure that the widest possible range of female voices and experiences are heard. When the Women’s Prize Trust launched the Discoveries writing programme in 2021, we were blown away by the response from so many talented and inspiring writers and it’s been hugely gratifying to see a number of them go on to receive representation from agents.
"We are absolutely thrilled to be building on last year’s success and to be creating an enhanced programme in 2022, with the aim of receiving even more submissions from all over the UK and Ireland. As well as welcoming budding writers, we also hope to inspire women who haven’t picked up a pen before, who perhaps haven’t had time or the opportunity to explore their creativity.”
Davis said: “We at Curtis Brown Creative are thrilled to take part in Discoveries 2022. With Covid hopefully easing its grip, we are keen to try to reach even more women who are writing – or who want to start writing – than we were able to last year, and to help them to develop their work through the provision of free writing resources and online workshops. We’re particularly excited to be creating the brand new two-week online course for the longlisted writers. We consider that one of the very best things we do at Curtis Brown Creative is to bring writers together in mutually supportive groups which stay in touch long after our courses are over. We relish the opportunity to bring together and work with 16 talented women writers in this way.”
As well as the cash prize and offer of representation, the winner will have the opportunity to workshop their manuscript with an Audible commissioning editor, who will be specifically matched to their writing style and genre. All 16 writers will also receive an annual Audible subscription.
The Discoveries Scholar, selected from among the shortlist of six, will be offered a free scholarship place to attend a three-month Writing Your Novel course with CBC, worth £1,800, and a mentoring session with an agent. Four further shortlisted writers will be offered a mentoring session with an agent plus free enrolment on a CBC six-week online course. All six shortlisted writers will take part in a studio session with Audible.
Commenting on programme's second year, Morris said: “We are delighted to be launching Discoveries for a second year, to reach thousands more writers and offer support and encouragement as they work towards finishing their novels. We have an exciting new prize offering this year, but two core principles remain exactly the same: whether you began five decades, five years, five months or five minutes ago, we want to hear from you; it’s originality and imagination that our readers and judging panel will be looking for – potential, not polish.”
Submissions are open from 30th September 2021 until 11:59 p.m. on 17th January 2022. The longlist and shortlist will be announced in May, and the winner in June 2022.