The All Ireland Scholarships Alumni Association is delighted to present its third Creative Writing Competition, open to all members of our Alumni Association. This year, a brand new category has been added: an op-ed opinion piece category. This will run alongside fiction and creative non-fiction categories.
*PLEASE NOTE: In order to enter this competition, you must have received an All-Ireland Scholarship.
• 28th November: Launch.
• 17th December 11am – 1pm – Donal Ryan and Prof. Sarah Moore Fitzgerald will host a free online workshop.
• 7th February: Deadline for receipt of entries.
• Mid-March: Shortlist announced
• 8th April: Award winners announced
Categories: A) Fiction; B) Non-fiction; C) Op-ed
Word limit: 2,000 words
€2,500 prize fund, with up to three runners-up prizes of €500 each.
Initiated in 2020, the AIS Creative Writing Competition has already uncovered notable creative talent among AIS Alumni.
Whether you’ve entered before or are considering it for the first time, the competition provides all entrants with an opportunity to learn from leading Irish writer Donal Ryan, and supports and encourages new writers by celebrating their talent and creative commitment. We invite submissions of previously unpublished written work.
The winning and shortlisted stories will be published in a specially produced AIS limited edition publication. Writers in first, second and third places will also receive prizes, will be celebrated as part of prize-giving ceremony in the late spring or early summer of 2023 and will be invited to read from their work at a special UL-hosted event.
Following the success of the inaugural competition, this year’s judging panel comprises a stellar quartet of award-winning authors: Ireland’s first Prix Jean Monnet winner for European Literature, Donal Ryan, acclaimed writers Joseph O’Connor & Eoin Devereux, and 2022’s winning entrant, Romana Semler . The judging process will be chaired by Professor Sarah Moore Fitzgerald.
A fictional short story can about anything at all, created from your imagination.
For inspiration, have a look at the short story collections of any of these Irish writers: Donal Ryan; Joseph O’Connor; Louise Kennedy; Madeleine D’Arcy; Wendy Erskine; Nicole Flattery; Kevin Barry, or go back to some of your own favourites.
Creative non-fiction should have a strong story arc, but based clearly on real events: this can include memoir, biography, a moment in time; travel writing; a piece about a person or moment in history. For good examples of excellent non-fiction have a listen to: any of the memoir-based pieces from RTE’s Sunday miscellany, or read some of the following: Emilie Pine’s award-winning ‘Notes to Self’, Kerry Neville’s ‘Thin Places’ Dave Sedaris’s ‘Me talk pretty one day’. Like fiction, non-fiction can be written in any style and can be funny, sad, insightful, strange, adventuresome or in whatever style or tone you choose. Your non-fiction piece should be well structured and have just as satisfying a narrative arc as a good fictional short story.
We’ve added this third category of writing to the competition this year. If fiction or non-fiction storytelling is not for you, here’s another alternative: Send us an opinion piece. For this category, we encourage you to be guided by a focus on making the world a better place. But beyond that focus, you should feel free to explore any subject or topic of importance to you. Op-ed generally involves some analysis and exploration of real-world events or issues. Within the piece, the opinions you articulate should be backed up by demonstrated reasoning. You should also aim for your writing to be fresh and original – adopt a position, tell us the reasons you think and feel as you do about the issue you write about, share your point of view. That point of view can be political, philosophical, reflective, exploratory, critical and/or more. The most important rule for an op-ed is to have a clear point to make and to get to that point quickly and convincingly. For inspiration, check out some of our favourite op-ed writers in Ireland and beyond: Fintan O’Toole; Olivia O’Leary; Una Mullally, Fergus Finlay, Michael D’Antonio, Polly Toynbee, Sanah Ashan.
- There is no minimum word count, however each entry should be no longer than 2,000 words. If you submit more than one entry, you must include each (to a maximum of three) as separate applications.
- It is essential that you specify whether each submission is fiction, non-fiction, or op-ed.
- Entries must be written in English and should be typed, double-spaced 12 font size and saved using the format Title_Genre_WordCount (e.g., ReadersReport_NonFiction_2000) and entered via the form below in Microsoft Word format.
- Upload one coloured photograph of yourself with your submission.
- Note that all submissions will be anonymously reviewed, so your name must not appear anywhere on the document, but you should include your full name and contact details in the application form.
- All writing must be your own, original, unpublished work and should not currently be under consideration elsewhere, nor should it have appeared in the public domain either in print or online.
- No submissions of poetry please. If you have entered before, you may submit a similar entry once it is not an exact replica and once, compared to the original version, it has been substantially developed.
Terms and Conditions
- In the event of an insufficient response and/or low numbers of competition entries, the Alumni Association competition team reserves the right not to award a prize or prizes once the specified time frame is complete.
- Entrants must be over 18 and must be Alumni or current students of the All Ireland Scholarships scheme.
- The judges’ decision will be final and they will have absolute discretion with regard to the number of awards in each category.
- No correspondence will be entered into with any entrants in relation to the award decisions.
- The competition screening, shortlisting and selection process will be overseen by the competition team and by a trustee of the Scholarships Association.
- Membership of the judging panel, prize money amounts, categories, competition time frames and deadlines may be subject to change.
- Shortlisted and / or winning entries may be subject to media and other forms of publication. By entering the competition, you agree to this.