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#CBCWinterStory writing challenge

BY Katie Smart
6th Dec 2021

Welcome to our Instagram writing competition: #CBCWinterStory! This blog has the details of the story and competition structure, and will also be where we announce our winner.

Find out more about our special festive writing competition, which is taking place on Instagram @curtisbrowncreative, including instructions of how to play, the prizes on offer and the rules here.

We are delighted to have a special guest author setting the writing prompt for this competition… Ayisha Malik!

Ayisha Malik is the author of the critically acclaimed novels, Sofia Khan is Not ObligedThe Other Half of Happiness, and This Green and Pleasant Land. She was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick and Sofia Khan was a London CityReads choice in May 2019. Her contributions have included, A Change is Gonna Come, A Matchmade in Heaven and TheSunday Times bestselling Conversations in Love. She has written a re-telling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Part – part of Hachette’s Awesomely Austen children’s series – and the children’s book, Seven Sisters. Ayisha is winner of The Diversity Book Awards and has been shortlisted for the Asian Women of Achievement AwardMarie Claire’s Future Shapers Awards and h100’s Awards for Publishing and Writing. Her fourth adult novel, The Movement, is to be published in summer 2022.

Ayisha is also one of the judges for Discoveries 2022, a writing development programme for unpublished female novelists – ran by the Women’s Prize Trust, Curtis Brown, Curtis Brown Creative and Audible. Discoveries is open for applications now, find out more about Discoveries and read our interview with Ayisha here.

How it works:

Mon 6 Dec, 11am (UK time) – Competition is live!

We’re asking you to write a story using this prompt from Ayisha Malike as your inspiration:

The icicle, amongst other things, had begun to crack…

Continue on from this opening, we want ti know what happens next! You have a limit of 150 words. Entrants must post up there story by Fri 10 Dec, 10am (UK time).

At the end of the competition we’ll choose a winning entry, they will receive a free place on one of our six-week online courses, worth £210. Three runners-up will be awarded £50 vouchers to be used on the six-week course of their choice.

Find the Instagram competition post here.

Our winner:

Congratulations to @hnovelcharacters, the author of the winning #CBCWinterStory!

The icicle, amongst other things, had begun to crack…



Her eyes glanced down at the ground and the place the dagger-sharp end would land when it finally broke free. Right beneath the doorway. It was as if Jack Frost had set a carefully prepared trap for any unwanted visitors. Her patience had cracked right along with the icy weapon and she couldn’t imagine any visitors that wouldn’t be unwanted at this point. It was 5.26pm on Christmas Eve and she just wanted to shut the shop and go home. She didn’t see why everyone else’s lack of planning had to become her emergency. The shop looked like it had been ransacked by thieves, not visited by last minute shoppers. Then she heard a pair of footsteps. Their eyes met, the icicle cracked. Without breaking eye contact, he reached out his hand and caught it. He had come back and the icicle had started to thaw.

We really enjoyed the setting of a shop on Christmas Eve, and the frustrated worker desperate to get home. The clever turn in the story – that it wasn't just the busy shoppers that have our protagonist loosing patience, but an unspoken rift between her and the unnamed man – had us hooked. The thawing of our protagonist's bad mood (and the icicle) makes a perfect, heart-warming conclusion.

Well done to our three runners-up @authorandrewjackson, @kayleighrattlewriter and @charliwhat. You’ve all won a £50 discount to be used on the six-week online course of your choice.

Email cbccourses@curtisbrown.co.uk to claim your prize!

Helpful tips:

  • This is a winter story, so bear this theme in mind when you’re writing
  • Try to think about the magic and mystery of this time of year
  • Pay attention to the details of Ayisha’s prompt
  • Introduce us to at least one character
  • Include a point of conflict/an issue to solve, which comes to a climax and is ultimately resolved
  • Remember to use sensory details to enhance your storytelling
  • Have fun!

A few rules…

To enter the #CBCWinterStory you will have to: