Institute for Writers presents



Click Here to Enter

Intrigue us! 

Who doesn't love a good mystery? Now's your chance to show your mystery writing skills. 

For this contest, we're looking for the first pages of your mystery manuscript. Your first page needs to hook us from the start and leaving us wanting more. 

Deadline: January 31, 2019

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What is a Mystery First Page?

If you can't get your reader past the first pages, they won't ever get to the rest of your story. The first page or two needs to be dynamic, grab our attention, and make us want to know more. 

Your mystery first page should introduce us to your main character and begin to reveal the central mystery to your story. It should give us a sense of the type of mystery you are writing, but not be overly violent or exploitative.  

Why Enter?

 $1,300 Cash Prizes 

  • 1st prize = $650 
  • 2nd prize = $350 
  • 3rd prize = $100 
  • 4th prize = $100 
  • 5th prize = $100 

Online Workshop 

All entrants are invited to a FREE instructional online workshop with our esteemed judge and the Director of Institute for Writers.

Free Critique

Winning entries will be workshopped by our judge to help writers understand what worked and what could be improved to make it submission-ready.

Here's what you need to know...

  • Entries can be no longer than 500 words.
  • Entries must be previously unpublished and not currently under contract with a publisher.
  • Target readers are adults.
  • Entries must follow manuscript submission guidelines as stated on our Contest Rules page HERE.
  • Entries deemed pornographic or gratuitously violent will be disqualified.
  • Entries must be submitted via our online form by midnight Pacific Time on January 31, 2019.
  • There is a $19 reading fee per manuscript to enter the contest.
  • You may enter more than one manuscript but each entry requires a $19 reading fee.
  • Every writer who enters will be invited to the online workshop for free where the winning entries are critiqued. (Non-entrants pay $7.)

Submissions will be judged on clarity, originality, potential in the market, and your ability to match standard manuscript format (double spacing, clear contact information, no creative use of fonts).

The winning entries in this Mystery First Pages contest will be announced at a live online workshop within 90 days after the contest closes. All contest entrants will be invited free of charge. (Non-entrants may attend for a nominal fee of $7.)

Second Story members of the Writers' Block get to enter IFW and ICL contests for free. Click here to find out more about the Writers' Block.

This is a great opportunity to build your writing and submitting skills!

I'm In, Let's Do This >>

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