Slush Pile Challenge - January 2014

We are pleased to announce the January 2014 Slush Pile Challenge.

This time the challenge has been set by Clare Whitston of Oxford University Press.

Clare Whitston is the Acting Commissioning Editor for children's fiction Oxford University Press


We would like the entrants to think about a character that would work for the 7-9 year old market. We would like a profile of that character, some background information and world building too. (Maximum 1 page for the character profile and maximum 2 pages for the world, minor characters etc) It could be a boy, girl, animal or alien! What are their likes/dislikes? Do they have any significant relationships and what world do they live in?

The brief is really quite open but what we would like to see is the spark of a really fantastic, fully-formed new character, and how stories with that character might work.

We’d like to find a character who feels fresh and different from the competition out there. Entrants should think about what makes their character special and how they are planning to communicate that to their young readers.


OUP would like to invite the winner to OUP for the afternoon, for editorial feedback and a brainstorming session to help them develop storylines based around this character.

OUP will help them flesh the world out further and think about how they might create a book or series of books with their winning character at the heart.

OUP would also like to invite one of our designers to the meeting to talk about how they might like to present their package and give them an insight into how the pre-publication process works.

Send in your entries by 2nd February 2014.
This Competition is now CLOSED! Results in March!

Who is eligible?

You need to be a current SCBWI un-agented member, resident in the UK.

If your entry is selected for a given Slush Pile Challenge, you will not be able to enter for any other challenges.

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

What do you need to do?

Send in your entry (as Word Document) to by 2nd February 2014.

The word document should only contain the 3 pages or less (1 page for the character profile and 2 pages for the world and the minor characters). Do not include your name, address or email address in the word document.

In the email - please write your full name as it appears in SCBWI membership records, your character's name and your email address.

The Process

We will choose 15 entries randomly and send to the editor for review.

The editor will pick a winner and also tell us why.

The winner will be put in touch with the editor for the editorial meeting at OUP.

Good Luck Everyone!

Chitra has published over 20 books in Singapore, UK, USA and India. She loves writing picture books, folktales and is also working on fiction for 7+ with a lead character brightly named Aurora. Chitra is a member of the Words & Pictures' editorial team, managing The Slush Pile Challenge.


  1. Wow - what an inspiring brief and exciting prize!

  2. That's an amazing challenge and a fantastic prize. Get cracking guys.I'm not eligible but I might do it anyway as an exercise. Good luck.

  3. This is great stuff! And a lovely trip to OUP into the bargain - highly recommended :-)

  4. Sounds like a fab challenge! Only wish members of EU countries could participate as well :-) Hopefully next time!

  5. This looks like an amazing opportunity! Can I just check what we need to send to enter, as I'm a bit confused? Is it the first chapter as well as the 3 pages or less of character profile/world info/minor characters? Thanks.

  6. Thanks for spottng that Jo, agree it's not clear.
    For 'first chapter' under 'what you need to do' read 'entry'.
    (these are the standard guidelines for every Slushpile Challenge.)
    The paragraphs under 'THE CHALLENGE" are the most important.

  7. Does anyone know whether the pages are double spaced like they would be if you were submitting chapters?

    1. Sorry for delay George - very good question will check with Chitra - in the meantime until I can confirm, I suggest going for double spacing - always a good discipline to hone down and make every word count isn't it? :)

  8. Thanks Jan, exactly what I thought ;-)

    1. Oooh, we're brilliant at this aren't we?:o)

  9. Sorry everyone, I have changed the standard text - I thought I had removed all traces of chapter - looked like one stubborn one remained. We don't need the first chapter.


  10. The pages are counted when typed in double-space please. Regular manuscript standards.

  11. Can we enter more than once? (Am I mad?)

  12. Do you mean this competetition? With a different character?

    1. Yes, I meant can we enter this challenge more than once.

    2. Hi Caroline,
      Until Chitra confirms, I'd say send in both(?) entries - presumably they're different characters - and if we can accept only one we'll randomly pick.

  13. Can you become an SCBWI member online and then send in submission, as long as you have proof of joining, or does it take a while to process membership? I have an idea but just found out about the competition. x

    1. If we have proof of membership we'd be delighted to accept your entry :) i suggest joining then send in entry with a note to say you've just joined and if you have one, a copy of the confirmation email or a reference. Good luck and welcome to SCBWI!

  14. This competition is now closed. 15 randomly chosen entries will be sent to Clare this week. Results in March. Best of luck to everyone who entered.


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