The Chalkface Challenge: The Pilot

THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED FOR ENTRIES. 
There are some new competition judges on the block and they know what they like. They're the love you or hate you sort of judges. They could be your harshest critic or your biggest fan. They're not the gatekeepers but if you want a future in this business, they're ultimately who you have to please.

Do you have the courage to find out if your work stands the test?

We're piloting a new competition on Words & Pictures and we're asking the kids to judge. The first set of young judges are 9-11 years old and they come from St Edwards Catholic Primary School in Derbyshire. If you've been a regular reader, you've met them before here and here.

Send us the first 750 words of your unpublished  middle grade novel.

The competition will be judged entirely by the children. They will compile a shortlist of five and then vote for the excerpt they most want to hear more of. These five excerpts will be read to them by the class teacher.

The prize will be publication of the excerpt on Words & Pictures with the children's comments.

The competition is open to all SCBWI British Isles members and it's free to enter. Why not try out your Undiscovered Voices entry on these most discerning of judges? Remember, industry professionals read Words & Pictures so can you afford not to take every opportunity to showcase your work?

TO ENTER, PLEASE
  • Send a PDF attachment of your first 750 words, less is fine more is not.
  • One entry per member
  • Ensure your name does not appear on the PDF submission, but does in your email.
  • Do not include the title of the story on the PDF, while a good title is very important in selling a book, for this pilot competition we would like the children to only judge the story and not be influenced by words like 'pants'!
  • The deadline for submissions is 12 noon GMT (so 1pm BST) on Sunday 16th June 2013
  • The winning excerpt, with comments, will be posted on Sunday 21st July 2013

Good Luck!

To join SCBWI and take advantage of the many opportunities to raise your profile: market your work, meet fellow writers, artists, the gatekeepers to publication, while being supported in the development and pursuit of your craft, visit scbwi.org.

25 comments:

  1. Great idea! Shouldn't all submissions to publishers go through a panel of children?

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    1. I think so. Peer and professional feedback is essential if we're writing to be traditionally published and I would say if we're self publishing too ( though there's nothing to stop us going ahead without it) but, apart from ourselves, who are we writing for?

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    2. sheryl webster17 June 2013 at 06:34

      Absolutely Lesley! Totally agree.

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  2. Such a fab idea! Can't wait to hear the kids' comments!

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  3. Ooooh, this sounds scary but quite alluring. Am I brave enough?? Will have to wait and see!

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    1. Go on Lorraine - it can be really encouraging to get feedback from kids you don't now - and surprising!

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  4. Celia J Anderson27 May 2013 at 11:50

    The class of children who are judging this one are some of the most enthusiastic readers I've ever taught, so please enter and give us some really good June reads - we can't wait!

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    1. Fantastic! Thank You, Celia:o)

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  5. This looks a great competition. Is it one entry per SCBWI member?

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    1. Thanks Jane very good question!
      Yes, it's one entry per member and following your comment, I've updated the how to enter box. Thank you

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  6. Publishers do trials with kids. Especially Barrington Stoke I think. My publisher in India is currently testing my book with 4-5 year olds and I am sitting on pins. :)

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    1. Brilliant - I wasn't aware of that, Chitra.

      Do hope your young beta readers give you the thumbs up. x

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  7. Hang on, reword required! "The competition is open to all SCBWI British Isles members" ???? - erm, that's all SCBWI British Isles members who write middle grade novels surely!

    Not much use to illustrators and picture book writers, sadly.

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    1. You might like to try, John?
      I don't want to exclude anybody in this:)
      It's why it's a challenge!

      And like the Slushpile challenge, if this is a success we'll do our best to cover the whole 0-19 age range.
      Anyone know any discerning preschoolers?

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  8. Thanks for running this competition, it sounds like a great opportunity! I've been pondering about joining SCBWI for ages, but this has helped me finally make a decision!

    Can I just ask about the file name for the PDF we attach to the email? If you don't want our name or the story title included, what's the best way to identify it?

    Thanks
    x

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    1. Fabulous, thanks Jo!
      The file name can be the title of your story and your name so long as it's not on the pdf itself when it's printed - so that our judges won't be able to see it when they assess the printed copy.
      I am allocating each entry a number which they will use instead of titles etc.
      Does that make sense?

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    2. Hi Jo - welcome to SCBWI! It's THE place to be for children's writers and illustrators. Best wishes for the competition.

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  9. If we shouldn't put the title or our names on the PDF, what should we call it? I imagine it'll be hard to sort through dozens of PDFs called 'Chalkface Challenge' :)

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  10. Oops, doubled up :) Also, does it have to be PDF? Can it not be Word? Thanks!

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  11. These are good questions:)
    I thought pdfs because I'm fairly sure they can't be altered. But if a pdf is tricky then yes word ok.
    What I'm trying to avoid is the the judges seeing authors' names or book titles on their printed copies. I'm allocating every entry a number - I have a master spreadsheet mwa ha ha
    Though titles do sell books I'm sure, I just wanted the entries to be judged solely on the hookiness of the story.

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  12. What a fab contest. I am a Scbwi member but I live in Australia. Sob sob. Would have loved to see if the kids like my story. Best of luck to the entrants and I'll keep watch on the results. Cheers Julie Grasso

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  13. One more question! My 9+ manuscript is illiustrated (not a graphic novel) can I include an illustration? Or should I just stick to text?

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    1. For everyone's benefit here's the reply I gave to Maureen on the FB Group:
      "Maureen, that's tricky, the W&P guideline for posts is that a picture doesn't paint a thousand words but a hundred. SO given that the picture is doing the job of some words for you that cuts the word limit down to 650. Does that sound fair? Also bear in mind that the the final 5 excerpts will be read to the children. So the picture may not have the same impact seen at a distance. This MG competition is all about judging the 'hookiness' of the story. So sorry for the delay in answering your question I hope this leaves you with enough time to amend if that's the way you decide to go. So basically pictures take 100 words off the word count limit. I hope that sounds fair"

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  14. What a great idea! Just back from 3 intense and wonderful days of CWISL Shoutsouth festival - with mixed groups from South London schools of 8-13 year olds - so impressed by the amazing stories they wrote and covers they designed. Some of them breathtaking as other published SCBWI members also agreed. I think they'd make brilliant judges too, one day!

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