Welcome to Discoveries 2020-21

Discoveries is a pioneering programme seeking the most talented and original new female writing voices in the UK and Ireland.

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The Women’s Prize Trust, NatWest, Curtis Brown Literary Agency and Curtis Brown Creative Writing School have partnered to create Discoveries, a unique initiative searching for the most talented and original new female writing voices in the UK and Ireland.

The Discoveries writing development programme was set up in honour of the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Prize for Fiction – and builds on the principles of regionality, inclusivity and accessibility that were at the heart of the 2019 Curtis Brown First Novel Prize.

The prize is now closed

Discoveries invites all unpublished women writers aged 18 and up, residing in the UK or Ireland and writing in English, to submit their works of fiction to the Discoveries Prize. The prize doesn’t require writers to have finished a novel – only to have started one – and it is free to enter.

The prize will accept novels in any genre of adult fiction and entrants will be required to submit only the first 10,000 words of their novel with a synopsis.

Discoveries 2020-21 is now closed for entries.

Due to the number of entries we’ve received only longlisted writers will be contacted.

Meet our inaugural winner and runner-up.

The prize will return September 2021.


A 2020-21 longlist of sixteen and shortlist of six writers were selected by a judging panel chaired by acclaimed author and Women’s Prize Founder Director Kate Mosse. She will be joined by author Abi Daré, literary agent Lucy Morris, Curtis Brown Creative Managing Director Anna Davis, and Director for Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature Sandeep Mahal.

First prize

The winner will be offered representation by Curtis Brown Literary Agency and a cash prize of £5,000.


All longlisted and shortlisted authors will be offered personalised packages of mentorship from a Curtis Brown agent or industry expert tailored to their individual needs, as well as free or discounted places on Curtis Brown Creative’s writing courses.

How to enter

If you’d like to enter, click the button above (or go to discoveries.curtisbrowncreative.co.uk/) and fill in the form to send us the first 10,000 words of your novel and a synopsis of up to 1,000 words, but if you can, keep it shorter than that – 500 words is perfect. Novels do not need to be finished before you enter the competition, but you should be able to summarise in your synopsis the main plot of your work-in-progress.

Please read our Terms and Conditions here.

Any questions? Please see our FAQs here.  

Supporting Writers

Every novel starts with a first line, every career with a first moment of inspiration and we want to reach out to writers in their communities to offer them encouragement and practical support at the beginning of their creative journeys.

As well as the prize this programme includes free online content. This will include everything from interviews with publishing industry professionals to practical advice and inspiration from former winners and shortlistees of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, as well as a series of teaching notes by Curtis Brown Creative Writing School to help writers craft their submissions.

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A few words from our Discoveries team

Somewhere out there, our Women’s Prize winner of the future is considering whether to pick up the pen – to her I want to say: do it. We’re here to help you on your way. The Women’s Prize has always championed female writers to tell their own stories and make sure their voices are heard. Whether you’re 88 or 18, the beginning of one’s writing journey is a crucial time, so let us show you the way.

Kate Mosse
Founder Director of Women’s Prize for Fiction

I am proud to lead a bank with purpose and one that champions women’s potential, especially during these unprecedented times. Having recently committed £1 billion of funding for female entrepreneurship, and launched the only female crowdfunding platform in the UK, I am pleased NatWest is now partnering with the Women’s Prize Trust and Curtis Brown to launch a new platform for emerging female fiction writers.

Alison Rose
CEO of RBS Group

A brilliant writer can come from anywhere. She can be any age and of any background. Finding, supporting and developing emerging talent from first pages to long-term writing careers is at the very heart of both the Curtis Brown Literary Agency and the Curtis Brown Creative writing school. We are thrilled to be partnering with the Women’s Prize Trust and NatWest to champion regionality, inclusivity and accessibility with the launch of Discoveries.

Lucy Morris, literary agent at Curtis Brown Literary Agency, and Anna Davis, MD of Curtis Brown Creative writing school

This is a crucial competition for these times, and with an ever increasing need for female voices to be heard, I feel very privileged, and honoured to be part of the judging panel for the Discoveries Prize. I am looking forward to reading and discussing entries that provoke, inspire and engage, in the hope of discovering and championing some new and incredible female talent.

Abi Daré
Author of The Girl with the Louding Voice

Discoveries is a pioneering programme. It will support and encourage the most talented new voices from a whole range of backgrounds and help make their work shine.  I am honoured to have been asked to take on the role of judge, and I can’t wait to dive in and read the entries .

Sandeep Mahal
Director for Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature
Women's Prize Discoveries Programme Partners