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Gloucestershire Writers’ Network 2024 Competition

Supported by The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival. 
Sponsored by Liggy Webb

Flyer GWN 2024 'Weather' Competition
THEME: WEATHER — Interpret widely!
Opens 1 Jan 2024 
Closes 31 May 2024
Poetry Judge - David Ashbee
Prose Judge - Michael Johnstone
1st prize poetry — £200 
1st prize prose — £200
3 runners-up for prose, 3 for poetry — £20 book token
Winners/runners-up/highly commended — inclusion in the 2024 anthology and a free copy.

Winners and runners-up will be invited to read their work at The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, date to be announced.
Who can enter
• You must be at least 16 years old.
• You must live, study or work in Gloucestershire or South Gloucestershire.
• Contact if you're not sure.
What to enter
Prose (max 750 words) 
Poetry (max 50 lines)
Your entries must be your own unpublished (either electronically or in print) work. Simultaneous submissions are not allowed. If you wish to submit your piece elsewhere you must withdraw it — but no refunds. Your work can't be altered for the anthology or reading at the Festival but you will be sent a proof copy of your work to check before the anthology is printed. You may enter as many pieces as you wish. You can only be placed once in each category.
How to enter
£3.50 one entry
£6 two entries
£8 three entries

No refunds or withdrawals

You can enter EITHER electronically OR by post
Enter Online
1. Pay for the appropriate number of poems through the Paypal button below. You don't need a Paypal account — you can use a debit card through Paypal.

2. Email with: your submission(s), name, address, and phone number.
Each entry must be in a separate document, and be one of the following: .doc, .docx., .pdf, .rtf
Use the title as your document name, not 'Weather', 'Competition' or your name. 
Please do not put your name on your entry.
Your name and titles of work
Enter by Post
1. Email or post your entries
If emailing, each entry must be one of the following document types:
.doc, .docx., .pdf, .rtf and the document name must be the title. Use the title as your document name, not 'Weather', 'Competition' or your name. We don't accept underpaid or signed-for entries

2. Post a cheque (with entries if not emailed) to: Competition Administrator, 31A Upper Park Street, Cheltenham GL52 6SB with your name, address, phone no. and email address.

To enter online — pay first

To enter online, pay first, then email your entries

You don't need a Paypal account. Pay either by Paypal or card.

  • Please complete your name and titles in the box below.
  • Click on Pay Now.
  • Paypal will give you the option to pay by Paypal — or
  • Click on Pay by Debit or Credit Card.

When you have paid:

Email with:

  • Titles and whether prose or poetry,
  • Name, address, email, phone no.
  • Paypal receipt or transaction number
  • Whether you wish to subscribe to our mailing list.

DON'T FORGET to attach your entries, each in a separate document.

The results will be sent to everyone on our email list, and posted on our Facebook page and X. To join our email/subscribers' list, please email We don't send results to individual entrants.

The Judges

Poetry Judge - David Ashbee

David Ashbee - Poetry Judge David Ashbee is a Gloucester-born poet with centuries-old county roots. He sustained the poetry and music group Holub for over 40 years, and is a founder member of the Cherington Poets, who have run poetry workshops in coastal towns from St Ives to Cromer. He was recently invited to be a selector for South Poetry Magazine for a third time, and regularly reviews new poetry collections for them. His third full collection Poems from the Mind Shop is available from Dempsey and Windle: Photographer: Richard McCleery (

Prose Judge - Michael Johnstone

Prose Judge - Mike D.D. JohnstonMichael Johnstone, writing as Mike 'D.D.' Johnston, is a Scottish novelist and short story writer who teaches Creative Writing for the University of Gloucestershire and the University of Oxford. He’s been described as ‘Bringing light to a dark world’ (The Financial Times), ‘Funny as all hell’ (The Sunday Herald), and ‘One of the country’s most important left-wing fiction writers’ (The Morning Star). His website is

How to get started

Our theme for 2024 is ‘Weather’. You can interpret this as widely as you like through real or imagined weather, by emotional weather, how the weather can change events, the seasons, by life writing or fiction.

Here are some ideas and exercises for you to try, either individually or in a group.

Here are some ideas and exercises for you to try, either individually or in a group.

1. Mind mapping

Take a sheet of paper and write ‘Weather’ in the centre. Scribble around the subject all the ideas, meanings, metaphors etc you can think of. For examples, look up spidergrams, mind maps etc.

2. Free writing

Start with the word ‘Weather’. Keep your pen steady and your hand moving! No matter what, don't stop, write whatever words, ideas you think of.

Don't overthink the subject – be free flowing.

Don't worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar.

Go back and circle the ideas you especially like.

3. Word and Image Association

Thumb through the dictionary and choose several words at random. Look at ways they might relate to what you’re writing.

Do the same with images – flip through a magazine and look at the pictures you find. Can they be related to your piece?

4. What if?

Ask of your characters:

What if s/he is from a different culture?
What if she is a he – and vice versa?
What if this was based abroad or by the coast/in town?
What if there was someone else involved?
What if they had much less or much more ...?
What if s/he didn’t do it?

5. Learn from past winners

Our Competition Winners Anthologies for 2017, 2018 (online pdf only), 2019, 2020, 2021 (online pdf only), 2022 and 2023 are on sale via the website here.

What did you enjoy about the poems and stories? What were the stand-out entries? What made them so readable or compelling?

Writing Tips

‘In the planning stage of a book, don't plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it.’ — Rose Tremain

‘Always carry a note-book. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.’ — Will Self

‘Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.’ — Zadie Smith

‘Read it aloud to yourself because that's the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK (prose rhythms are too complex and subtle to be thought out — they can be got right only by ear).’ — Diana Athill

‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.’ — Anton Chekhov

‘Listen to the criticisms and preferences of your trusted 'first readers.' — Rose Tremain

‘The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it's definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.’ — Neil Gaiman

‘The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying “Faire et se taire” (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.’ — Helen Simpson

‘The trick is to keep your reader believing in the characters and the story - even though both of you know it’s a work of fiction’ — Margaret Attwood

Happy Writing!

Competition Anthologies

Previous competition anthologies are available to purchase. 

If you’re interested in reading the work from past winners and runners-up, you can buy copies of our 2017 to 2023 anthologies direct from us via PayPal below. 

If you would like to pay another way, for example by cheque or bank transfer, or you would like the anthology sent to a different address from the one on your PayPal, please email

Individual Anthologies

To purchase each anthology individually, click the images below to be taken to the payment page via Paypal (you don't need a Paypal account, just click the 'pay by debit or credit card' button at the bottom and make sure you switch the toggle off where it says 'Save information & create your PayPal account')

With thanks to our Sponsors:

We are grateful to The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival for their support of local writers and for creating the opportunity for the winners and the runners-up of our annual writing competition to showcase their work at the GWN event.
Liggy Webb Logo
We would like to thank Liggy Webb for her generous sponsorship of our annual writing competition.

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The go-to place for writers in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire
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