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Discoveries 2020

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

We are proud to be partnering with the Women’s Prize Trust and NatWest to launch the Discoveries programme, which will offer aspiring female authors of all ages and backgrounds encouragement and support at the beginning of their creative journeys.

Discoveries invites applicants to submit their work of fiction from September 2020. The programme doesn’t require writers to have finished a novel – only to have started one – and it is free to enter.

In acknowledgement of the many women who will have less time and fewer resources as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are announcing the programme earlier than planned in the hope that more writers will be able to take advantage of a longer lead-in period over the summer months.

The Prize

Discoveries will open for entries on 7th September 2020 and the closing date for submission will be 17th January 2021. The programme will be open to all women aged 18 and above, residing in the UK or Ireland and writing in English. The programme 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.

A longlist of sixteen and shortlist of six writers will be selected by a judging panel, with the winner offered representation by Curtis Brown Literary Agency and a cash prize of £5000. 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, and free or discounted places on Curtis Brown Creative’s creative writing courses.

NatWest will gift the Discoveries winner access to space, tools and events in one of their entrepreneurial accelerator hubs and provide membership to the NatWest Business Builder community. These offerings – financial planning tools, coaching and access to free office space, including wi-fi and printing – will help assist the budding novelist navigate their fledgling career as they begin their new journey, building their confidence to help reach their potential.

The longlist and shortlist of Discoveries will be announced in the spring of 2021 and will be invited to attend the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction award ceremony in summer 2021.

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.

Over the next eight months, the Women’s Prize Trust, NatWest, Curtis Brown Literary Agency and Curtis Brown Creative Writing School will curate a programme of free online content across their platforms. 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. Wherever women are writing, whether at home or if lockdown eases in libraries, writing groups, or cafes, Discoveries’ outreach programme, both online and (hopefully!) in-person aims to find and support them.

Watch this space for further details, Terms and Conditions for the competition and FAQs.

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
Women's Prize Discoveries Programme Partners