Is this competition open to anyone?
If you’re a member of the AIS alumni, then you are exclusively eligible to submit under category 1. (You must be over 18)
If you’re not an AIS alumni but are over 18 and a resident on the island of Ireland or hold an Irish passport, then you are eligible to apply under Category 2.
Do I have to be an experienced writer to enter?
Not at all! While experienced writers are welcome to apply, we are actively seeking submissions from new voices and new storytellers too. Many of our previous winners have been first-time creative writers, so don’t worry if you haven’t got a track record as a writer yet. We’re looking forward to reading your work.
How do I submit an entry?
Category 1 (AIS Alumni only) should submit via the form above.
Category 2 (Public) entrants should send an email to email@example.com
What format should my submission be?
Submissions must be in word.doc or .docx file attachments. Remember that you must keep your word limit to a maximum of 2000 (not including title). Entries that exceed that maximum will be disqualified.
Should my entry have a title?
Yes, all submissions should contain a title (note this title will not be included in the word count).
Should I include my name on my submission?
Competitor contact details should be contained separately from the submission (i.e., in the body of the email). Since this competition is judged anonymously, the creative writing attachment itself must not contain any identifying information.
Are there other layout requirements?
Submissions should be typed in a standard 12pt font and be double-spaced.
Is there an entry fee?
No. Both categories of this competition are free to enter.
Can I submit more than one entry?
Yes, you can submit up to a maximum of two entries in the same category i.e. Category 1 (Alumni) or Category 2 (Public).
Do I retain copyright of my work?
Yes, all entrants retain long-term copyright to their work. (If your story is placed first, second, third or is highly commended in the competition, we ask for one-time publication rights after which copyright reverts to you.)
Do you accept simultaneous submissions (i.e., can your written submissions be under consideration for publication/competitions elsewhere?)
Yes, we are happy to accept simultaneous submissions, but we ask that you notify us immediately should your entry be successful elsewhere so that it can then be withdrawn from this competition.
Can I submit something that has already won a prize or been published elsewhere?
No, please do not submit work that has previously been successful in another contest or published elsewhere.
What themes or topics or stories are the judges looking for?
We welcome original creative writing stories, non-fiction or op-ed/opinion pieces on any subject, genre or theme. However, please be advised that content that we consider discriminatory or gratuitously offensive will be disregarded in its entirety. Judges’ decision is final.
Is there any other advice available before I enter?
Yes! Writer and competition judge, Prof Donal Ryan, and competition chair, Prof Sarah Moore Fitzgerald will be hosting an online writing workshop on Saturday December 9th from 10am-12noon. We’ll share some general insights on writing, clarify the different competition categories, explain the three forms of writing we’re looking for, and give you the courage you need to submit a piece of your writing! This workshop is fun, engaging and informative, and anyone who’s considering entering the competition is advised to attend if they can.
When can I enter?
Competition opens Monday 13th November, 2023.
When is the entry deadline?
January 15th, 2024.
What is the entry timeline?
• Jan 15th - Feb 15th: Entries are screened, read and assessed, and shortlist is identified.
• Mid-Feb: Shortlist is announced.
• Feb - March: Judging process for overall winners begins.
• April: Winners and runners up are announced and prizes awarded.
Will you send feedback on my submission?
No, unfortunately we cannot provide feedback to entries that are not shortlisted. Shortlisted pieces will receive direct feedback and commentary from the chair. The decisions of the judges will be final and no correspondence will be entered into relating to this final decision.
What’s the difference between fiction, creative non-fiction and op-ed?
A fictional short story can about anything at all, created from your imagination. For inspiration, have a look at the short stories/collections of any of these Irish writers: Donal Ryan; Joseph O’Connor; Louise Kennedy; Madeleine D’Arcy; Wendy Erskine; Nicole Flattery; Kevin Barry, Nuala O’Connor.
While creative non-fiction should have a strong story arc, it is based clearly on real events. It could include memoir, biography, a moment in time; travel; a figure 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, read Emilie Pine’s award-winning ‘Notes to Self’, Kerry Ni Dochartaigh’s ‘Thin Places’ or chapters from memoirs that you admire. Like fiction, non-fiction can be written in any style and can be funny, sad, insightful, strange. Your non-fiction piece should be well structured and have just as satisfying sense of story as a fictional short story.
Op-ed generally involves some analysis and exploration of real-life or world events and opinion should also be backed up by evidence. While requiring research and an informed backdrop, your writing should also be fresh and original – condensed through the lens of your own point of view. That point of view can be political, philosophical or reflective. For inspiration, check out some of our favourite op-ed writers in Ireland such as Olivia O’Leary, Maeve Higgins, Justine McCarthy, David McWilliams, Alison O’Connor.