The judges for the London Writers Awards include authors, poets, agents and editors. Our panel have experience and expertise in the field, and know what makes a great piece of writing that both stands out now, and reveals future potential. We’ve asked our judges to reveal what they are looking for and share some tips to help you craft a winning entry. Read their advice below…
Vaseem Kahn (author of the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency novels, commercial fiction)
This programme is about finding writers who will go on to have lengthy careers. This means that the judges need to be convinced not only that you have the prose-writing ability, the ‘diverse’ new voice, and a great story to tell, but also that you have the commitment to follow through. Starting a novel is easy, but finishing one is exceedingly difficult. We will be looking for writers who can show us that they are in it for the long haul.
Ella Kahn (agent at Diamond Kahn & Woods Agency, commercial fiction category)
For commercial fiction, I’m looking for an intriguing central hook, a pacy and gripping story – whether it is emotionally driven or action-packed – and engaging characters who I’ll want to champion. I like vivid and immersive settings, and a distinctive writing voice – style and quality of writing is always important, no matter what genre you’re writing.
Patrice Lawrence (author of Orangeboy, YA/children’s)
A unique confident voice, a compelling protaganist that plays with my expectations and credible world-building be it fantasy, speculative or contemporary YA.
Aimee Felone (agent at Knights Of, YA/children’s)
I absolutely love working in Children’s publishing – it’s where your imagination can really run wild! I’m looking to read characters that are bold, brave and honest. To read a story that authentically represents the world we live in or shows one that I would want to run away to. Take me on a journey worth having!
Lucy Luck (agent at C+W, literary fiction)
I’m looking for literary fiction or non-fiction strong on voice and place, like Kevin Barry, Colin Barrett, Andrew Michael Hurley or Sara Taylor. I’d also love to find a writer of literary crime like Tana French or Michael Dibden. Anything that makes me sit up and take notice.
Diana Evans (author, literary fiction)
I am looking for bold and audacious writing that is not afraid to take risks or experiment with form and language. I am hoping for words, worlds and characters that leap off the page.
Cathy Rentzenbrink (author of The Last Act of Love and A Manual for Heartache, narrative non fiction)
The most important thing in any memoir is the voice. Don’t try to sound writerly, but work on having the confidence to sound like yourself.
Rukhsana Yasmin (deputy editor of Wasifiri magazine, narrative non fiction)
Life writing is a particular skill and writers will need to think about who they’re writing for, what makes it unique, though if it isn’t a unique experience, what unique element, through your writing, can you bring to it. Edit your work brutally and only send in the best of the best of your work. You only get one shot to make an impression…
Daljit Nagra (award winning poet, poetry)
I’m looking for good opening and closing lines. Be consistent, if being weird stay weird. If you have short lines, keep to this style unless there’s a reason to change from this. Make sure the poem has been edited – judges can tell if the best words have been chosen or if the poem is saying the same thing repeatedly and without variety.