Memoir: First Chapters

Memoir: First Chapters

Judged by Toby Litt

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

5000 words + One-pager

We all have a book in us. A truth to tell. How did I get here, this me, and why might that matter to others?

The market for memoirs is competitive. How will readers discover your unique story and the moral of it? Enter Memoir: First Chapters, and send us your first 5,000 words, plus a One-Pager (300-word summary).

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 win, or place second or third, is a means of promotion that might just get you published.

Toby Litt is the judge of our inaugural Memoir: First Chapters competition. He is a novelist, short story writer, poet, musician, essayist, activist, and lately—a memoirist. Galley Beggar Press published his family memoir, Wrestliana, in 2018, and will publish his memoir, A Writer’s Diary in January 2023.

Since January 2022, he has been writing daily entries on the writing platform, Substack, that seem like a real-life writer’s diary, with nods to Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary, but there’s something else at play. This is serialised memoir, carefully plotted and constructed painstakingly from several years of Toby’s experiences, shot through with flights of the imagination.

Aspire. Experiment with form. Dare to do something new. Make your story, in your words, change your life.

“I'm hoping for weird recognitions, and the familiar in a new form”

Toby Litt

The Prizes

First Prize: £1500

The winning Memoir will be published on The Plaza Prizes website. The winner will receive a one-to-one tutorial and detailed feedback from the judge, Toby Litt.

Second Prize: £300

Third Place: £100

Terms and Conditions



  • Deadline: 31st January 2023
  • Writers can enter any number of memoirs. (£20.00. Subsequent entry: £10.00)
  • Memoirs 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. (Try to avoid using your full name in the One-Pager or First Chapters.)

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 on any website, blog or online forum, broadcast.

Entries must NOT have won in any other competition. If your entry was long-listed or shortlisted in other competitions it is 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 (summary of your Memoir).

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


The first page of your entry must be a One-Pager (summary of 300 words, max), which should include:

  • An introductory paragraph about you (WHO), and why you wanted to write it your story (WHAT).
  • A paragraph highlighting the themes of the memoir (WHY, WHERE & WHEN).
  • A conclusory paragraph about the HOW, the structure.


£20.00 per Memoir (with One-Pager, in a single Word document or PDF file). (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 memoir’s 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 Memoir, top right, first page (this should not exceed 5,300 words in total).
  • 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 reserves the right to change the judge without notice.


Copyright remains with the author, but The Plaza Prizes reserves the right to publish extracts from winning and runner-up memoir on the website and use quotations from the 10 short listed memoirs for publicity purposes.

Results & Awards

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

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 expects to be recognised in any published memoirs associated with us.

The Plaza Prizes 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