2022 First Chapter Comp Winners

We’re delighted to reveal this year’s winners as chosen by our literary agent judge, Nicola Barr, at The Bent Agency.

We loved all of the chapters on our shortlist and well done to everyone who made it to the final round. And HUGE congratulations to our winners!

WINNER: The War Between Us by Fiona Morgan

The first short sentence draws the reader in so effectively. The writing is so authentic and natural. The world is built naturally around the story. Some of the writing is exquisite. I loved Blitz London described as ‘a drab, steaming mess, water poured over raked embers’. I really like it and it has stayed with me. I’d love to read the rest!

RUNNER UP: All That is the Case by Hugh Burkhart

Very elegant, smooth prose that fits the narrative perfectly. A cool, sophisticated opening to a thriller. Intriguing.


A Perfect World for Alice by Sarah Barnett

A familiar set up but the author does a really skilful job of engaging the reader and keeping them engaged and on edge. Full of good, taut, surprise  turns that are handled very deftly.

Persona by Rod Cookson

Nice combination of small personal details amid a huge violent event. Snappy, pacy writing and a good sense of drama.

The Baby in the Box by Anne Hamilton

Really strong, interesting, non-typical main character. The relationship between the mother and son is immediately engaging. I found the prose here a tiny bit portentous and having a look at that could really improve the overall quality. I mention it just because I think it has real potential.

The Pre-Pact Christmas by Jennifer Bromham

The dialogue is a real strength here. It feels natural and relaxed, the writing is accessible and importantly it’s amusing but doesn’t try too hard to be funny and miss. Obviously it’s a very familiar set up so it really will need some twist to help it stand out.

Where the Sunbeams Go by Norah Blakedon

This is really atmospheric. It’s good on setting the scene and strong on the character’s emotion. I can feel her worry for her sister very obviously! I think pulling back just a little on description would help with the pacing. Again, mentioning because a small change could have a very big impact on it and it has real potential.

Fiona and Hugh both win detailed feedback on their submission packages.

If you have a MS that is not at submission stage yet but you have a complete draft, you can win a full MS review in our brand new Opening Lines competition.