The Chalkface Challenge 2014

They're back! The love you or hate you sort of judges - though in our experience they're all lovely. 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?

Yes the Chalkface Challenge is back and this year's young judges are 7-9 years old and they come from Sparsholt Church of England Primary School in Hampshire.

Send us the first 500 words of your unpublished   novel for 7-9s.

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 and they will vote for the excerpt they like the best.

The five shortlisted excerpts will be sent to a shadow judging panel consisting of an agent an editor and either a publisher or a published author.

You can see the results of last year's shadowing here.

And the winning excerpt  will be published in Words & Pictures with the children's comments.

The competition is open to all SCBWI British Isles members and it's free to enter.


  • Send a PDF attachment of your first 500 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 15th June 2014
  • The winning excerpt, with comments, will be posted on Sunday 20th July 2014

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

UPDATE: Introducing the JUDGES...


  1. Wonderful! A competition I can enter, because I am not running it. :) Thanks Jan

  2. Just wanted to say to anyone who's wondering whether or not to enter this... do! I entered last year's Chalkface Challenge and getting to read the children's comments about my work was such a fantastic boost. It really helped me remember why I write and why I should keep going!

  3. I am so goign to do this this year!

  4. A great opportunity - would love to enter but I am a member of SCBWI Sydney/NZ - goodluck!

    1. Ramona - thank you for looking in!
      The reason for limiting it to UK to not risk overloading the young judges.
      Would be delighted to talk you through how to run one in Sydney.

  5. Do you mean 15 June 2014 and 20 July 2014?
    Great idea, Jan.


We love comments and really appreciate the time it takes to leave one.
Interesting and pithy reactions to a post are brilliant but we also LOVE it when people just say they've read and enjoyed.
We've made it easy to comment by losing the 'are you human?' test, which means we get a lot of spam. Fortunately, Blogger recognises these, so most, if not all, anonymous comments are deleted without reading.

Words & Pictures is the Online Magazine of SCBWI British Isles. Powered by Blogger.