The Crime Writers’ Association

Time to Get Crime Writing for Prestigious CWA Competitions

Two crime writing competitions are open now.

1)The CWA Margery Allingham Short Story Competition

Not to be missed for lovers of short-story writing – and being shortlisted for this renowned competition brings attention and prestige to the writing CV.

You have a limit of 3,500 words and a fairly open brief – providing your story fits Margery Allingham’s definition of a mystery: “The Mystery remains box-shaped, at once a prison and a refuge. Its four walls are, roughly, a Crime, a Mystery, an Enquiry and a Conclusion with an Element of Satisfaction in it.”

It costs £12 to enter and the winner walks away with £500, a selection of Margery Allingham books and two passes for international crime writing convention CrimeFest in 2020. The winner will be announced at CrimeFest 2019 – when the longlist of the CWA Debut Dagger and other daggers are also made public. Not an event to be missed.

For the rules, and to submit, pop along to Short Story Competition on the CWA website. The deadline is 6pm on 28 February 2019.

Would you like professional feedback on your story before submitting? The CWA Mini Critique is for any writing up to 4,000 words, including short stories.

For more details, contact


2) The CWA Debut Dagger for Crime Novel Opening

This is the one to win for would-be crime novelists – or not even win; if you get on the shortlist your work will come to the direct attention of interested literary agents and publishers.

That’s worked well for writers in previous years; pop along to the Debuts page to read inspiring tales of success from those who’ve triumphed. Jayne Bernard and M W Craven have fascinating, helpful things to say and we’ll be adding more personal stories soon.

Meanwhile, over on Crime Writing Tips, you’ll find all kinds of advice. Especially this one, written by one of the Debut Dagger readers whose scores create the longlist. Essential reading for any serious entrant.

So what do you have to do? Write an opening of a crime novel up to 3,000 words, together with a synopsis for the full novel of up to 1,500 words. Do you need to finish the novel? No – though if you do reach the shortlist, there’s no denying agents are going to be much more interested if you’ve completed it, or nearly. Can you enter even if you’ve self-published it? Yes, providing you’ve never had a traditional contract for a full-length novel. Can you enter if you already have an agent? Sorry, no – you can’t have a contract at the time the competition closes; 28 February 2019. Is there an entry cost? Yes: £36. And can you win money as well as glory? Yes: £500 for the winner.

The deadline is 6pm on 28 February 2019, so still plenty of time. And if you think getting some professional feedback on your novel might be a good idea, the CWA provides that: check out the Criminal Critiques page on the CWA website. The Mini Critique is specially aimed at Debut Dagger entrants and is very popular. If you want feedback in time to hone and polish for the deadline, we recommend you submit soon.

Anything else you need to know?

On the Debut Dagger page itself you can read the full rules (always a good plan!) and submit your entry. Good luck!

For more details contact


Join the CWA

Become part of a thriving community of successful crime writers with invaluable support, expertise and marketing opportunities for all our members.

Advertise with us