The Women's Prize Trust is launching Discoveries, a writers’ development programme offering aspiring female writers of all ages and backgrounds "encouragement and support" at the beginning of their creative journeys.
Discoveries will be launching in honour of the 25th anniversary of the Women's Prize for Fiction and "in recognition of untapped diverse and exceptional writing talent across the country".
To be considered for the programme, women of all ages and backgrounds have been invited to submit a work of fiction from 7th September 2020 until 17th January 2021. The programme doesn’t require writers to have finished a novel—only the opening three chapters or up to 10,000 words—and it is free to enter.
Kate Mosse, novelist and founder director of Women’s Prize for Fiction, said: "Somewhere out there, our Women’s Prize winner of the future is considering whether to pick up the pen—to her I want to say: do it. 'Discoveries' is here to help you on your way. For 25 years, the Women’s Prize has championed female writers to tell their own stories and make sure as diverse and wide a range of voices are heard. Whether you're 88, 48 or 18, the beginning of one’s writing journey is a crucial time and the authors of tomorrow, whoever they are, wherever they are, deserve support today."
Ahead of applications opening in September, the Women’s Prize Trust, NatWest, Curtis Brown Literary Agency and Curtis Brown Creative Writing School is curating a programme of free online content. This will include interviews with publishing industry professionals, practical advice and inspiration from former winners and shortlistees of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and teaching notes by Curtis Brown Creative Writing School to help writers craft their submissions.
A longlist of 16 and shortlist of six writers will be selected by a judging panel, and announced in the spring of 2021. The winner will be offered representation by Curtis Brown Literary Agency and a cash prize of £5,000. All longlisted and shortlisted authors will meanwhile be offered personalised mentorship packages from a Curtis Brown agent or industry expert tailored to their needs, and free or discounted places on Curtis Brown Creative’s creative writing courses.
NatWest, one of the title partners of the Women’s Prize since 2018, will also gift the Discoveries winner access to "space, tools and events" in one of their "entrepreneurial accelerator hubs" and provide membership to the NatWest Business Builder community.
Alison Rose, chief executive of NatWest Group, said: "I am proud to lead a bank with purpose and one that champions women’s potential, especially during these unprecedented times. Having recently committed £1 billion of funding for female entrepreneurship, and launched the only female crowdfunding platform in the UK, I am pleased NatWest is now partnering with the Women’s Prize Trust and Curtis Brown to launch a new platform for emerging female fiction writers."
Lucy Morris, literary agent at Curtis Brown Literary Agency, and Anna Davis, m.d. of Curtis Brown Creative writing school said jointly: "A brilliant writer can come from anywhere. She can be any age and of any background. Finding, supporting and developing emerging talent from first pages to long-term writing careers is at the very heart of both the Curtis Brown Literary Agency and the Curtis Brown Creative writing school. We are thrilled to be partnering with the Women’s Prize Trust and NatWest to champion regionality, inclusivity and accessibility with the launch of Discoveries."