London Writers Awards 2021 Judges’ Top Tips

Special Feature

The London Writers Awards is Spread the Word’s annual development programme for talented London writers. We’re thrilled to have a brilliant line up of judges championing this year’s prize. Read on for some great top tips on submitting your application…

“Be you! What do you bring to the table? Is it your attitude or experience or sense of humour? Then bring this to your work! Even if you are writing in the character’s voice, think about your own unique way of telling the story. We are all unique – I mean I’m a lactose  intolerant tea drinking comedian who loves knitting! I want to see you in your story.”
Samantha Baines is the YA/Children’s Fiction Author Judge for the London Writers Awards 2021.

“When I’m reading non-fiction I want to get a real sense of the writer’s obsession with their subject, for the prose to fly just as beautifully as if they it were in a novel – this is no lesser literary form. Trying to make sense of the times we’re in and the people we are, I think, demands strong authorial voices, and this is what I’m looking to hear as I read.”
Luke Turner is the Narrative Non-Fiction Author Judge for the London Writers Awards 2021.

“A lot of writers like to get a second pair of eyes on their work before they make a submission, which can be a great idea. If you decide to seek feedback, try asking some specific questions beforehand. Prompt your reader with questions like, ‘Does the dialogue feel natural?’ or ‘Is it clear that the butcher is hiding something?’ This will give you more targeted feedback particularly if you’re taking risks (please do!), and might give you a clearer sense of what’s working, the areas that might need more attention and where your writing can be even more audacious.”
Season Butler is the Literary Fiction Award Judge for the London Writers Awards 2021.

“I am hoping to find myself reading about richly realised worlds in which careful description adds texture to the piece but also drives the plot along. I am also on the lookout for striking, unusual, risky narrative voices that remain consistent throughout the work. Above all else, I’m keen to discover unforgettable characters whose perspectives and thought processes surprise and challenge me.”
Michael Donkor is the Literary Fiction Author Judge for the London Writers Awards 2021.

“Challenge, but never forget the influence of books you’ve loved. Ask yourself why the readers of your favourite authors should want to read your work too. Borrow themes, styles, characters and plots from your heroes, and bring them into new contexts on your pages – mash them together into something new. Be confident and brazen in this – then write and rewrite until your work is unquestionably yours.”
Ludo Cinelli is the Literary Fiction Industry Judge for the London Writers Awards 2021.

“My top tip is to be true to yourself and the story. Don’t try and create something that you’re not comfortable with because it will show through in your writing. Readers are looking for authenticity; they want a story that they can believe in. They want characters that resonate with them and a narrative that carries them along to the end. We’re all looking for that WOW factor! That feeling you get when you finish a book and you just need to get everyone you know to read it because it’s spoken to you. I love to see writers pushing the boundaries of the genre and playing with readers’ expectations.”
Katherine Armstong is the Commercial Fiction Industry Judge for the London Writers Awards 2021.

“I love to see authors using comparisons in their query packages– these are *SO HELPFUL* and tell me more about your manuscript, author voice and the space you would see your books occupying. Don’t feel limited to just using book comparisons, think outside of the box and look to film, TV, music, pop culture – anything that has inspired your writing and gives an immediate flavour of what your story is about.”
Lauren Gardner is the Children’s/YA Fiction Industry Judge for the London Writers Awards 2021.

Submissions to the London Writers Awards 2021 are open until 30 September. Find out more and how to apply here:

Published 8 September 2020