2021: It’s a Crime!

Events of this last year, and entering 2021, could be straight out of a dystopian thriller novel. Unlike real life, crime, thriller and mystery novels usually unravel a crime, with…

Events of this last year, and entering 2021, could be straight out of a dystopian thriller novel.

Unlike real life, crime, thriller and mystery novels usually unravel a crime, with justice restored by the end. It’s not surprising than that one of the hottest literary trends is cosy crime, epitomised by the runaway success of Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club. Osman was the guest speaker at the virtual 2020 CWA Dagger Awards.

We’re planning another criminally good year of PR with the world-famous Crime Writers’ Association (CWA).

This February, budding authors have the chance to enter the CWA Margery Allingham Short Mystery Competition – full details below!

CWA Margery Allingham Short Mystery Competition

Photo courtesy of the Margery Allingham Society.

The world-famed Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) is on the hunt to find the best unpublished short mystery story.

Entries are being invited for the 2021 CWA Margery Allingham Short Story competition, with just weeks before deadline closes on 26 February for the international writing competition.

The Margery Allingham Society, set up to honour and promote the writings of the great Golden Age author whose well-known hero is Albert Campion, works with the CWA to operate and fund the writing competition. Each year the competition attracts many entries from the UK and overseas.

Dea Parkin, Secretary of the CWA, said: “This year promises to be hotly contended. Editors and agents have predicted mystery stories are a strong trend in 2021, with Richard Osman’s soar-away hit debut, The Thursday Murder Club, a key touchstone for publishers. This short story competition is a fantastic way of building a writer’s craft, and profile, in this genre.”

Entrants are asked to focus on specific elements to match Margery Allingham’s definition of a mystery, which is: “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.”

Dea said: “It’s easy to see why authors like Robert Thorogood are so popular as readers are craving proper whodunnits in the pandemic. Thorogood created the TV hit show, Death in Paradise, and his latest novel The Marlow Murder Club is another example of this trend. Real life is so uncontrollable and daunting at the moment, but these ‘cosy’ stories provide some reassurance as they offer clues, suspects, great characters and locations, with a satisfying resolution and the mystery solved.”

The CWA anthology, Vintage Crime, is edited by the 2014 winner of the Margery Allingham prize – acclaimed crime writer Martin Edwards. Shortlisted authors for the prize have also found wider success, such as Christine Poulson, whose short story ‘Accounting for Murder’ featured in the CWA anthology, Mystery Tour, and went on to be shortlisted for the CWA Short Story Dagger.

Submissions have a limit of 3,500 words. It costs £12 to enter. The winner receives £500, a selection of Margery Allingham books, and two passes for the international crime writing convention CrimeFest in 2022. Being shortlisted for this renowned competition also brings attention and prestige.

The longlist, shortlist and winner will be announced by the CWA online in spring/summer.

For rules and to submit an entry, go to Short Story Competition on the CWA website. The deadline is 6pm on 26 February 2021.


We also announced a new sponsor for the coveted CWA Debut Dagger. Full details below…

CWA Announces new Debut Dagger Sponsor

The world-famous Crime Writers’ Association has announced a new sponsor for its annual international writing competition for unpublished writers.

The CWA Debut Dagger is to be sponsored by ProWritingAid, a platform that operates as a grammar checker, style editor and writing mentor.

Linda Stratmann, Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: “We look forward to the exciting and fruitful interaction of the CWA Debut authors and the PWA community of writers.”

Created in 1955, the Daggers are the oldest and most regarded awards in the genre, and for over two decades the CWA has been encouraging new writing with the Debut Dagger competition.

Lisa Lepki, Head of Marketing at ProWritingAid, said: “ProWritingAid is thrilled to sponsor the Debut Dagger. There are thousands of crime writers in the ProWritingAid community and sponsoring the Debut Dagger will be a fantastic way to help those writers get their work in front of the right people.”

Submissions to the Debut Dagger are judged by a panel of top crime editors and agents and all shortlisted entrants receive feedback from the judges. Moreover, all shortlisted entries are sent to UK agents and publishers of crime fiction and every year a number of them get offers of representation or contracts. The 2021 competition is now open for entries, closing at 6pm on Friday 26 February 2021.

Leigh Russell, Chair of the Debut Daggers, said: “We are thrilled to receive the generous support of ProWritingAid as our sponsors for this year’s Debut Dagger Competition.”

Lisa added: “ProWritingAid was created by writers, for writers. Our primary goal is to help new writers get their stories and ideas across in the clearest and most effective way possible. We are passionate about language and believe good stories are intrinsically entwined with the words and phrases used to express them. ProWritingAid will never replace a human editor (our software can’t spot plot holes!) Rather, our software helps writers self-edit to a deeper level so that when they send their manuscript off to a human editor, they can focus on the content of their writing and not spend time fixing basic writing issues like passive voice or emotion tells.”

The Debut Dagger competition has helped launch the careers of established crime writers, including M W Craven, who entered the 2013 CWA Debut Dagger competition. Craven was offered a publishing contract by an independent publisher who were influenced by the shortlisting. He went on to write The Puppet Show, which sold to Little, Brown and went on to win the CWA 2019 Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year. It has been sold in 17 foreign language territories, and TV rights have also been sold.

Anyone is eligible to enter the Debut Dagger who has not had a full-length novel published by a traditional publisher and who, at the time of the competition closing, has not got a contract with a publisher or literary agent. Independently published authors, provided they fulfil the criteria above, are eligible to enter.

Entries must send in their first 3,000 words and a 1,500-word synopsis of their novel. Writers do not need to have completed their novel in order to enter.

The winner, who also receives £500, will be announced at the annual CWA Dagger awards ceremony.

For tips, case studies of shortlisted and winning Debut Daggers, and full details on how to enter both writing competitions, go to https://thecwa.co.uk/the-debuts

Notes to Editors

About the CWA

The CWA was founded in 1953 by John Creasey. Its aim is to support, promote and celebrate this most durable, adaptable and successful of genres and the authors who write within it.

It runs the prestigious CWA Dagger awards, which celebrate the best in crime writing, hosted every autumn.

A thriving, growing community with a membership encompassing authors of all ages and at all stages of their careers, the CWA is UK-based, yet attracts many members from overseas.

It supports author members (plus literary agents, publishers, bloggers and editors) with a monthly magazine; a website and digital monthly newsletter showcasing CWA authors and their books and events that goes to over 11,500 subscribers; and Case Files, a bimonthly ezine highlighting new books by CWA members. www.thecra.co.uk

The CWA also supports the Debuts; as yet unpublished writers, many of whom enter the Debut Dagger competition and the Margery Allingham Short Mystery competition.

The CWA run an annual conference and hold chapter meetings throughout the UK so members can access face-to-face networking and socialising, even if that’s over Zoom! There are also active CWA Facebook groups and two Twitter accounts.

It supports libraries and booksellers, with two Library Champions and a Booksellers Champion. It has links with various festivals and many other writers’ organisations such as the Society of Authors.


About ProWritingAid

ProWritingAid is a grammar checker, style editor, and writing mentor.

ProWritingAid is the only platform that offers world-class grammar and style checking combined with more in-depth reports to help you strengthen your writing. The more you use ProWritingAid, the more you grow as a writer.

Over 20 reports highlight elements like repetitiveness, vague wording, over-dependence on adverbs, passive voice, over-complicated sentence constructions, and so much more. The unique combination of suggestions, articles, videos, and quizzes makes writing fun and interactive. ProWritingAid will never replace a human editor, rather it helps you self-edit to a deeper level so that when you send it off to an editor, they will be able to focus on the meat of your writing and not spend their time fixing basic writing issues. Software integrations are available for MS Word, GoogleDocs, Scrivener, Chrome and more.