Science Fiction / Fantasy: First Chapters

Science Fiction / Fantasy: First Chapters

Judged by Ben Clark

1st prize: £1000. 2nd prize: £300. 3rd prize: £100

5000 words max. + Synopsis (300 words)

New, ground-breaking Science Fiction and Fantasy novels are what we’re on the lookout for. Whether you’ve written a Speculative novel, an Epic Fantasy, or Military SF, Urban Fantasy, we want to read the first 5,000 words and a plot synopsis.

Literary agent, Ben Clark, is Director at the Soho Agency. He is looking for new SFF talents to build a list. This is a really fabulous opportunity to get your work on his desk at the right time. He loves Science Fiction and Fantasy and is on the lookout for anything with huge, original worlds and settings, tightly paced plots and in particular is keen to hear from genre authors from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. Anything that blurs the boundaries between genres will really catch his eye. Also – he likes a good scare!

Ben’s background is in non-fiction of all kinds – narrative, prescriptive, or illustrated. Whether that is history, philosophy, memoir, technology, science, business, nature writing, or anything that explores the world we live in and helps us understand it. He works extensively with brands, television producers, and magazines in developing their IP for publication. He is drawn to the strange and unusual, stories from the fringes that need to be seen by the mainstream or different perspectives on established narratives that challenge a status quo.

Our SFF: First Chapters competition is the perfect launch platform for your career. To be long listed (final 20) is big news. To be shortlisted in the top 10 may land you a literary agent. To be adjudged the winner by Ben Clark, or place second or third, might just be the buzz that promotes you to a publisher.

"Ground-breaking SFF. That's what I'm after."

Ben Clark

The Prizes

First Prize: £1,000

The winning SFF: First Chapters entry will be published in The Plaza Prizes Anthology 2. The winner will also receive a one-to-one tutorial and detailed feedback from the judge, literary agent, Ben Clark.

Second Prize: £300

Third Place: £100

Terms and Conditions



  • Deadline: 30th September 2023
  • Writers can enter any number times. (£16.00. Subsequent entry: £8.00)
  • 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 or ‘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 SFF novel in sequence. (5,000 words, max).


£16.00 per SFF: First Chapters entry. (5,000 words max, with One-Pager plot synopsis). (Subsequent entry: £8.00)

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 SFF: 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 reserves the right to change the judge without notice, extend the deadline, or cancel the competition.


Copyright remains with the author, but The Plaza Prizes 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 in September 2023. Extracts from first, second, and third prizewinners will be published on our website.

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 long listed or shortlisted SFF novels that are subsequently Traditionally published.

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?

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