About the Competitions

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Green Stories writing competitions are a series of free writing competitions across various formats to solicit stories that showcase what a sustainable society might look like. Open to all, with cash prizes and winners read by BBC.   Deadlines across 2019/2020.

Why we are doing this

Research shows that that solution-based stories, or stories that smuggle in green ideas/characters in an otherwise mainstream story, are more likely to inspire greener behaviours than catastrophic tales of climate change. Thus creating a cultural body of work that presents positive visions of sustainable societies is necessary to enable a shift towards a more sustainable society.

We ask writers to check out transformative solutions and integrate them into their stories. A rom-com, for example, could be set in a sharing economy that replaces ownership with borrowing; the hero in a crime drama could use a carbon-credit card; a family drama could be set in a society where people have gardens on their roofs, use green technologies, eat insect burgers and generate energy from their own waste, and so on. We are eager to read what your imaginations can come with!

Competitions

We have already run green stories competitions for short stories, radio plays, novels and stage play [link to page] The next round of competitions asks for TV series, screenplays, short films, novels, flash fiction and interactive fiction. All competitions are free to enter with prizes and publication/production opportunities via BBC Writer’s Room, agents and production companies. We’d love to get sponsorship from organisations that share values of sustainability, creativity and positivity to sponsor prizes for competitions for 2021.

Contest Guidelines

All competitions are free to enter, there will be prizes and routes to production/publication.

We are looking for stories (in a variety of formats: play, film, radio, book, tv) that in some way touch upon ideas around building a sustainable society. We will consider all genres – rom-com, literary fiction, science fiction, mystery, crime etc. – but stories must engage with the idea of environmentally sustainable practices and/or sustainable societies.

Most stories set in the future are dystopian, meaning they have a pessimistic view of society. We will consider all stories, but we encourage you to imagine a more positive settings and practices for your stories. You can find out more about why we recommend positive stories by clicking here. Do feel free to draw upon the resources in this Green Stories website to write your story (found in the menu on the homepage). Each page provides links to articles/videos that describe the ideas and also ideas for how such ideas may be integrated into stories.

The story doesn’t have to be about sustainability or climate change directly. A rom-com, for example, could be set in a society that replaces ownership with borrowing and the heroine goes to a clothes library to pick up a posh dress and borrow jewellery for her big date; or the hero in a crime drama could use a carbon credit card and hear the news in the background reporting on the wellbeing index instead of GDP; or the characters in a legal drama could live in a city where everyone has gardens on their roofs and generates energy from their own waste.

The first output from our green stories short stories competition is now available to buy ‘Resurrection Trust‘ – a collection of funny, dark, mad, bad, upbeat, downbeat and fantastical short stories about living sustainably. It has a foreword by Caroline Lucas and review by Jonathon Porritt. It’s £3.99/£7.99 available on Amazon or even better use Hive which allows you to support your local bookshop. Writers may find it a useful source of ideas.

Formats

Stage Play

Deadline: 30th June 2019

Length: min 1 hour 15 minutes max 2 hours (typically 60-80 pages)

Prizes: £750: 1st prize £500, 2nd prize £100, third prize £50 plus £50 for best student submission (18-25 years) and £50 for best < 18 year submission. If a student or under 18 entry is the best overall then it will win first prize regardless if the entry is from a student and the student prize will go to the next best student entry.

Staging of winning play: Live Your Values production company have said they will read all top-rated scripts with a view to putting on a production in 2020 with a community-based theatre group.

Submit here.  Send as a pdf. Also your play will get a better reception if written in a standard format e.g. see these BBC guidelines

Full guidelines for playwriting competition

Radio Play Drama/Comedy series

Length/format: choose one of three categories

  1. 45 minute drama: send whole script + 1 page synopsis
  2. 6 x 30 minute comedy series: send sample/pilot episode + 3 pages outlining remaining episodes (these should be ready as we will ask for them if shortlisted).
  3. 5 x 15 minute drama series: send the first two 15 minutes episodes and an outline of the further 3 episodes (these should be ready as we will ask for them if shortlisted).

Prizes: £750: 1st prize £500, 2nd prize £100, third prize £50 plus £50 for best student submission (18-25 years) and £50 for best < 18 year submission. If a student or under 18 entry is the best overall then it will win first prize regardless if the entry is from a student and the student prize will go to the next best student entry.

Opportunities for writers:  BBC Writers room have agreed to read the top five scripts and follow up with any writers they think have promise. In addition, Goldhawk Productions and Whistledown Productions who both produce programmes for radio have agreed to look at top entries and consider any they believe suitable for production.

Submit here. Send as a pdf. Also your script will get a better reception if written in a standard format e.g. see these BBC guidelines

Full-length novel

Deadline: 31st Aug 2019 (expect to run again with a deadline in summer 2020)

Length:  This will depend on genre, normal novels are 50,000 – 100, 000 words but children’s books may be as little as 15000. Submit the first 5,000 words double-spaced and numbered pages plus a one-page synopsis.  We will then ask for the full novel from best entries.

Prizes: £750: 1st prize £500, 2nd prize £100, third prize £50 plus £50 for best student submission (18-25 years) and £50 for best < 18 year submission. If a student or under 18 entry is the best overall then it will win first prize regardless if the entry is from a student and the student prize will go to the next best student entry.

Route to publication: We have agreement from a literary agent from the top agency Curtis Brown to read the top entries and consider any writers they think suitable for representation.

Submit here.  Send as a pdf

TV/Netflix 6 part series

Deadline:   30th Nov 2019

Length: 6 episodes 25-60 minutes each.

Prizes:  £750: 1st prize £500, 2nd prize £100, third prize £50 plus £50 for best student submission (18-25 years) and £50 for best < 18 year submission.(tbc) If a student or under 18 entry is the best overall then it will win first prize regardless if the entry is from a student and the student prize will go to the next best student entry.

Opportunities for writers: BBC Writers room have agreed to read the top five scripts and follow up with any writers they think have promise. In addition, Red Production Company have put on some fabulous dramas such as ‘Last Tango in Halifax’ and ‘Come Home’ have agreed to read the winning script and  consider it for production.

Submit here. Send as a pdf. Also your script will get a better reception if written in a standard format e.g. see these BBC guidelines

Interactive Fiction

Thanks to PRME UK Chapter for sponsoring this prize

Deadline:  deadline extended to 3rd Feb 2020

Details: We’re looking for interactive fiction entries, from both individuals and creative teams, consisting of a complete story or demo of a longer piece.

Your entry should be no longer than 30 minutes worth of gameplay in total. It may be the whole piece, the opening section, or a subsequent chapter or scene.

If you’re new to Interactive Fiction, there is a wealth of free software available, such as Ink and Twine for producing playable interactive scripts, as well as programming tools based on natural language, such as Inform7. Good examples of Interactive Fiction can be found via The Interactive Fiction Competition and The Interactive Fiction Database.

Prizes: £750 total prize fund: 1st prize £500, 2nd prize £100, 3rd prize £50, plus £50 for best student submission (18-25 years) and £50 for best under 18 year-old submission.

In addition, Talespinners is offering narrative feedback for 1st place, best student, and the under 18 winner. This feedback will take the form of editorial notes on their entry and a one hour feedback session via Skype, etc.

If a student or under 18 entry is the best piece of work, then it will win first prize regardless of whether the entry is from a student or under 18 entry and prizes for those categories will go to the next best entry.

Submission Guidelines:

  1. Entries must not infringe on the Copyright of others. If an entry includes any third-party created or owned material, whether text, images, music, audio, or work in or from any other medium, you must have the permission of the original creator or license holder.
  2. Entries must be freely accessible for the Judges to play. Your entry must be accessible and playable via the files you’ve submitted (an Ink file, Twine file, etc), or hosted online and the URL made available.
  3. Entries should be no longer than 30 minutes worth of gameplay. If your piece is longer than 30 minutes, please select a demo section of this duration or less that best represents the piece.
  4. Entries should be accompanied by a brief overview. Please provide a brief overview of your entry, no more than 100-500 words, as a PDF.
  5. Entries should be accompanied by a full credit list. Please provide details, the names and their roles, of everyone involved in creating the piece, as a PDF.
  6. Submit here. 

We are collaborating with Talespinners, an outsource writing studio, a cooperative providing writing, narrative design, and consultancy for games and interactive media, on the details of this competition.

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Who are we?

The competition is being run by the University of Southampton. Dr. Denise Baden is Associate Professor of Business Ethics and Sustainability and has run several projects aimed at engaging people in sustainable practices. Denise is convinced, that more than anything else, creating a cultural body of work that portrays sustainable societies and solutions in a positive way is necessary to counter anxiety and inspire positive social change. Denise is joined by Carole Burns, head of Creative Writing at the University of Southampton and Dr Dr. Aiysha Jahan, a published writer with a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Southampton and Shirley Wardell from ‘Live your Values’ Production Company.

Judging

The judges will vary by the competition format. The process will be that entries are screened for quality and sustainability content by someone with professional or academic experience in Creative Writing relevant to that format and rated from 1-5. Those that are rated 4 or 5 are then sent to a team of volunteer readers and the top ten will be reviewed by a panel of judges (tbc) to decide upon the shortlist.

Prize Giving Event

Our free prize-giving event for the short stories competition was on 21st June 7-8.30 pm at October Books, Southampton and you can see a video recorded that captures highlights. Prize giving events for future competitions will be organised nearer the time.

Competitions for 2020

Full-length film screenplay

Deadline:  18th April 2020

Length: Assuming 1 minute per page, aim for 90-120 pages.

Prizes: £750: 1st prize £500, 2nd prize £100, third prize £50 plus £50 for best student submission (18-25 years) and £50 for best < 18 year submission.(tbc)

Opportunities for writers: BBC Writers room have agreed to read the top five scripts and follow up with any writers they think have promise.

Submit here. Send as a pdf. Also your script will get a better reception if written in a standard format e.g. see these BBC guidelines

Short film

Deadline:  26th March 2020

Length: between 3 and 20 minutes

Prizes:  £750: 1st prize £500, 2nd prize £100, third prize £50 plus £50 for best student submission (18-25 years) and £50 for best < 18 year submission.(tbc). If a student or under 18 entry is the best overall then it will win first prize regardless if the entry is from a student and the student prize will go to the next best student entry. (tbc – awaiting prize sponsorship confirmation)

We are looking for actual films, not screenplays. If you are a film-maker and are looking for a suitable script, see this page which has some scripts and ideas for you to start from.

Submission details available nearer the time

Flash Fiction

Deadline:  21st March 2020

Length: max 500 words (excludes title)

Prizes:  £500: 1st prize £250, 2nd prize £100, third prize £50 plus £50 for best student submission (18-25 years) and £50 for best < 18 year submission. If a student or under 18 entry is the best overall then it will win first prize regardless if the entry is from a student and the student prize will go to the next best student entry. (tbc – awaiting prize sponsorship confirmation)

Submission details available nearer the time

10 minutes episodes for mobile phones via Quibi

Deadline:  23rd May 2020

Length: 3 – 15 ten minute episodes  (suitable for new platform Quibi – designed for mobile phones)

Prizes:  £750: 1st prize £500, 2nd prize £100, third prize £50 plus £50 for best student submission (18-25 years) and £50 for best < 18 year submission. If a student or under 18 entry is the best overall then it will win first prize regardless if the entry is from a student and the student prize will go to the next best student entry. (tbc – awaiting prize sponsorship confirmation)

Submission details available nearer the time

We are looking for Full-Length Novels for adults that in some way touch upon ideas around building a sustainable society. If you’d prefer to create your story in a different format, click here. We will consider all genres – rom-com, literary fiction, science fiction, mystery, crime etc. – but stories must engage with the idea of environmentally sustainable practices and/or sustainable societies.

Most stories set in the future are dystopian, meaning they have a pessimistic view of society. We will consider all stories, but we encourage you to imagine a more positive settings and practices for your stories. You can find out more about why we recommend positive stories by clicking here. Do feel free to draw upon the resources in this Green Stories website to write your story (found in the menu on the homepage. Each page provides links to articles/videos that describe the ideas and also ideas for how such ideas may be integrated into stories.

The story doesn’t have to be about sustainability or climate change directly. A rom-com, for example, could be set in a society that replaces ownership with borrowing and the heroine goes to a clothes library to pick up a posh dress and borrow jewellery for her big date; or the hero in a crime drama could use a carbon credit card and hear the news in the background reporting on the wellbeing index instead of GDP; or the characters in a legal drama could live in a city where everyone has gardens on their roofs and generates energy from their own waste.

No children’s books as we expect to run a later competition for children’s stories

The first output from our green stories short stories competition is now available to buy ‘Resurrection Trust‘ – a collection of funny, dark, mad, bad, upbeat, downbeat and fantastical short stories about living sustainably. It has a foreword by Caroline Lucas and review by Jonathon Porritt. It’s £3.99/£7.99 available on Amazon or even better use Hive which allows you support your local bookshop. Writers may find it a useful source of ideas.

Full-length novel (adult) Guidelines

Deadline: 2nd June 2020 

Length: Typically novels are 50,000 – 100, 000 words. Submit 5000 –  10,000 words that must include the following:

 – the first chapter

– another chapter that best showcases how your novel meets the green stories criteria

– a third chapter (suggest the final chapter if possible)

– a one-page synopsis

You can submit more  than three chapters if you need to, in order to make up to 5,000 words.  Format is double-spaced and numbered pages.  We may then ask for the full novel from the best entries.

Prizes: £750: 1st prize £500, 2nd prize £100, third prize £50 plus £50 for best student submission (18-25 years) and £50 for best < 18 year submission. If a student or under 18 entry is the best overall then it will win first prize regardless if the entry is from a student and the student prize will go to the next best student entry.

Route to publication: We have agreement from a literary agent from the top agency Curtis Brown to read the top entries and consider any writers they think suitable for representation.