This month, Chip Colquhoun brings you the opportunity for feedback on your Opening Lines from former Usborne Commissioning Editor – and current Megaphone Write co-director –
Stephanie King

Opening Lines gives you a chance to get some professional feedback on those all-important first few words so you can fine-tune your submissions. Three entries will be chosen at random for feedback. If yours is selected, it will be published anonymously here in April with Stephanie’s response.

Meet Stephanie

Once her English Literature studies at UCL were over, Stephanie King embarked on a career in children's publishing. After a little brand licencing here and copywriting there, she joined Usborne as an editorial assistant. But she didn't sit in that post for long. Within years, she was Commissioning Fiction Editor.

Stephanie commissioned and edited an excitingly eclectic range of books for readers from age seven to YA, including many by bestselling and award-winning authors such as Sara Hagger-Holt, Phil Hickes, William Hussey, G M Linton, Ann M Martin, Serena Patel, Meredith Russo and Darren Simpson.

Stephanie enjoyed 15 happy years employed by Usborne. But more recently, she felt called to spread her wings wider by establishing herself as a prominent freelance editor. Naming her business after the 'Scribbling Suit' donned by Little Women's heroine Jo whenever she sat down to write, Stephanie now continues to work with Usborne, but also supports Faber, Hachette, the inclusive fiction studio Storymix, the Golden Egg Academy, and many others.

Stephanie is passionate about finding and nurturing talented children’s writers of colour, keen for all children to see themselves reflected in the books they love. So when she was offered the role of Co-Director at Megaphone Write CIC, a mentoring scheme for unpublished children’s writers of colour, Stephanie accepted eagerly.

You could say Stephanie's life revolves around finding, encouraging, and enabling the best children's fiction to reach readers who love and need it. What would she say after reading the first 100 words of your manuscript? Enter this month's Opening Lines for the chance to find out!

How to submit your Opening Lines

Please email and write OPENING LINES ENTRY in the subject line. Your email needs to contain:

•  your story’s title

• your 'elevator pitch' – usually just one or two sentences totalling no more than 40 words conveying the key character, crisis point, genre and/or theme of your story and

• the opening lines of your story, (eg the first paragraph), to a maximum of 100 words.

Make sure we receive your submission by 7 April 2024. Three entries will then be selected at random to be sent to Stephanie.

We’ll publish the results around 5 May 2024.

Please note that, by submitting to Opening Lines, you give Words & Pictures the right to publish the content of your submission anonymously. However this is not an exclusive right so you are free to submit your story elsewhere.

Who is eligible?

You need to be an unagented, current SCBWI member and resident in either the UK or Europe.

To join SCBWI and take advantage of the many opportunities like this one to be supported in the development and pursuit of your craft – and also find advice on marketing your work, meet fellow writers and artists and much much more – visit


If you've received feedback from Opening Lines, how did it help you? If it led to you finding an agent or a publisher please contact us – we'd love to hear your story.

*Header image: in-house collaboration between Ell Rose and Tita Berredo


Chip Colquhoun began storytelling for children in 2007 and was asked to write the EU’s guidance on using stories in classrooms in 2015. He became a children’s writer when The History Press commissioned him in 2016 to write Cambridgeshire Folk Tales for Children. He’s since had 22 books published, most as part of the Fables & Fairy Tales series he co-produces with illustrator Korky Paul (published by Epic Tales), and is currently working with the National English Hub and the National Literacy Trust to raise the rate of recreational reading in schools. You can find him at

Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures. Contact them at

Tita Berredo is the Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. Contact her at:

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