Crime: First Chapters

Sam Blake

Crime: First Chapters

Judged by Sam Blake

1st prize: £1500. 2nd prize: £300. 3rd prize: £100

5000 words max. + One-Pager

Commit to Crime. Crime does pay. Crime sells shedloads. Ever since we were all locked down in our own prisons, the market for Crime Thrillers and Mysteries has exploded.

Sam Blake, the No 1 Irish Times bestselling author is the judge of Crime: First Chapters. Sam has written six Crime novels. The Cat Conolly trilogy: Little Bones, In Deep Water, and No Turning Back. She followed these successes with three standalone Psychological Thrillers, Keep Your Eyes On Me, The Dark Room, which was shortlisted for Irish Crime Novel of the Year, and Remember My Name (2022).

Sam teaches courses on how to write Crime. She runs the Murder One International Crime Writing Festival. And she’s also on the board of the Crime Writers Association. So, she really knows what she’s looking for in those opening pages. All the hooks. If you’ve written a Crime Thriller, or Mystery, send us the first 5,000 words, plus a One-Pager (300-word plot synopsis).

You can’t win if you’re not in. To be long listed (final 20) is an achievement of note. To be shortlisted in the top 10 may create a platform that literary agents will be interested in. To be adjudged the winner by Sam Blake, or place second or third, might just be the buzz that promotes you to a publisher.

"To get away with murder these days, you have to be very cunning."

Sam Blake

The Prizes

First Prize: £1500

The winning Crime: First Chapters entry will be published on The Plaza Prizes website. The winner will also receive a one-to-one tutorial and detailed feedback from the judge, Sam Blake.

Second Prize: £300

Third Place: £100

Terms and Conditions



  • Deadline: 31st January 2023
  • Writers can enter any number times. (£20.00. Subsequent entry: £10.00)
  • Entries can be in any style or form, but must be in English, and written for adults.
  • Entries must be submitted online. No email submissions. In exceptional circumstances, postal entry may be accepted, as long as a cheque made out for the correct entry fee is sent to The Plaza Prizes Ltd. (Postal address is on Contact Form.)
  • Enter the correct version of your work. If you make a mistake, entry fees will not be refunded. (You will have to enter again.)


Read the rules carefully before entering the competition. Entry implies acceptance of all the rules and failure to comply will result in disqualification.

All entries are judged anonymously. Please do not include your name, address, phone number, email, website, twitter handle etc on the document or in the file name or it will be disqualified.

Entries will be disqualified if they are over the word limit, or have no One-Pager, and there will be no refund.

Entries must be entirely your own work.

Entries must NOT have been published by a traditional publisher. Self-published ‘Indie’ work is eligible for entry.

Entries must NOT have won in any other competition. If your entry was long-listed or shortlisted in other competitions it is still eligible.

Simultaneous submissions are allowed, but if an entry wins a prize elsewhere, is published or scheduled for future publication, prior to the date of prize giving, you must inform us to withdraw immediately. Entry fees will not be refunded.


A 300-word One-Pager (plot synopsis).

The opening chapters of your Crime Thriller. (5,000 words, max).

Total word count: 5,300 words.


£20.00 per Crime/Mystery Thriller (First Chapters with your One-Pager plot synopsis). (Subsequent entry: £10.00)

Entries must be submitted online. No email submissions.


  • Entries must be typed in Times New Roman 12 pt. font, double-spaced with numbered pages and the title on every page.
  • Save as a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) or PDF file with the title as the file name. Do not include your name in the file name as this will lead to disqualification.
  • Max 2MB file. Include the word count for the One-Pager, and Crime: First Chapters, top right, first page.
  • Do not add cover pages
  • No illustrated work


The judges’ decision is final. No individual correspondence can be entered into. Judges are unable to comment on individual entries. The Plaza Prizes Ltd reserves the right to change the judge without notice.


Worldwide copyright remains with the author, but The Plaza Prizes Ltd reserves the right to publish extracts from winner and runner-up on the website, and also to use quotations from the 10 shortlisted entries for publicity purposes.

Results & Awards

The winner and runner up will be announced on the website and social media on 1st April 2023. Extracts from first, second, and third place memoirs will be published on our website in April.

Bursary Scheme

In 2022-2023, we are offering 100 FREE ENTRY BURSARIES across all our competitions to writers on low incomes, and from underrepresented groups. You can apply for a bursary if low income, class, race, age, gender, sexuality, caring responsibilities, location, disability, or mental and physical health affects your writing. We want to encourage equality to discover quality new writing from diverse voices. Click here to apply for our Bursary Scheme.


The Plaza Prizes Ltd expects to be recognised in any long listed or shortlisted Crime Thrillers / Mysteries that are subsequently published.

The Plaza Prizes Ltd reserves the right to amend the rules where it deems necessary. Any changes to the rules will be posted on our website.

If you have a query about eligibility, please contact: hello@theplazaprizes.com

Are you ready to share your creation?

Enter now