'It has to connect' - Our judges on the Norfolk Day Drabble competition

Judges with Norfolk Day logo

Alice Kent (top left), Elizabeth Haynes (bottom left), Melissa Brown (top right), and Hayley Scott (bottom right), are judging this year's inaugural Norfolk Day Drabble writing competition - Credit: SUPPLIED / (Melissa Brown) STUART HELLINGSWORTH

The final deadline for the Norfolk Day Drabble writing competition is just around the corner. 

And with just a few days left to enter, our judges have been sharing their tops tips as well as what they are looking for in a winning piece. 

The free-to-enter competition, in association with the National Centre for Writing (NCW), is on the lookout for the best 100 words written on the theme of ‘A Norfolk Holiday’.  

There are three categories to enter: Young writers (ages 5 – 10), older writers (ages 11 – 17), and adult writers (18 and over). 

Alice Kent of NWC

Alice Kent of NWC - Credit: SUPPLIED

Alice Kent, communications director at the NCW, will be judging the adult writers’ category. 

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Ms Kent has worked at Norwich University of the Arts and The Poetry Trust. She has an MA in European Journalism having studied in Denmark and the Netherlands. Her first short story, Len’s Whole Life, was published in the inaugural Words and Women anthology and she has previously been long-listed for the Grazia Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction First Chapter.  

She lives in Norwich with her partner, two young children, and a much-doted on cat named Mishka. 

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She said: “I’ll be looking for writing that grabs the reader and stays in the mind long after reading the story. That might be through a really perceptive description, or perhaps a tiny detail that shows real observation and care in writing the story. It has to connect with the reader.  

“I’ll also be interested in stories that convey something of Norfolk – that could be through setting, people, or history – but something that could only be set here in this county.  

“I would say don’t worry initially about grammar or spelling. First, have fun with it and write instinctively what comes to mind. The refining can come later but at first, it often helps not to worry if it’s any good or not. Just write what feels most needed to be put down on paper, and then perhaps share it with someone else for a bit of feedback to see how it connects with a reader.  

“The only difference between a writer and a non-writer is a writer writes – so get those words down and you become a writer. Enjoy it!” 

Author Melissa Brown

Author Melissa Brown - Credit: STUART HELLINGSWORTH

Author Melissa Brown will be judging the older writers’ category. 

Originating from Michigan, Miss Brown made her home in Norwich twenty years ago. In that time, she has contributed massively to education and the arts, working in the Millennium Library as well as teaching English and creative writing in the city.  

She was a featured poet during the original Norwich: City of Stories event and was shortlisted for the IdeasTap Inspires programme.   

Her novel, Becoming Death, started as a project for National Novel Writing Month, known by those who take part as nanowrimo, an annual international challenge that encourages entrants to write 50,000 words of a novel within a month.

Miss Brown said she owes her success to her grandmother who encouraged her to write and her supportive partner of ten years, Kris.   

Describing what she is looking for in a winning entry, she said: “Successful entries will include realistic dialogue and characters. The more I can picture the characters in front of me, the better.  

“Young people are the future of creativity and storytelling. I’m hoping to see something unusual but well-constructed on the page.”   

Author Hayley Scott

Author Hayley Scott - Credit: SUPPLIED

And finally, Hayley Webster, a Year 5 teacher at Fakenham Junior School and author for both children and adults, will be judging the young writers’ category. 

Her Teacup House series with Usborne, written as Hayley Scott, is about a family of toy rabbits that come to life. It has been nominated for various awards and used by the NUT in its diversity in children’s fiction programme.  

Her most recent book, Luna Rae is Not Alone, is for nine to 12-year-olds and is about a girl who wants to be a baker-detective while trying to work out a family secret and keep some secrets of her own.  

She said: “I'm looking for stories nobody else could have written. Writers with fresh voices who aren't afraid to break the rules and have fun with language.” 

Crime writer Elizabeth Haynes. Picture: SUBMITTED

Crime writer Elizabeth Haynes. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

Donna-Louise Bishop

Donna-Louise Bishop - Credit: Donna-Louise Bishop

Author Elizabeth Haynes and the EDP's community life correspondent Donna-Louise Bishop will be involved in drawing up a shortlist for the judges. 

Winners will be announced on July 27 and the winning entries will be published in the EDP.  

Norfolk Day 2021 is being sponsored by Richardson's

Norfolk Day 2021 is being sponsored by Richardson's - Credit: ARCHANT

How to enter:   

  • Use Google Docs to check the word count. Submissions must be 100 words exactly. Titles will not be included in the final word count.   
  • One entry per person, including collaborations.   
  • Participants retain rights to their submissions.   
  • Entries must be fictional and written in English.   
  • Participation is open to anyone from anywhere.   

The final deadline for entries is 11.59pm GMT on Wednesday, July 7, 2021. Email submissions to norfolk.day@archant.co.uk with the subject header ‘Norfolk Day Drabble Competition’. Include full name, age, and address.  

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