The Plaza Crime: First Chapters Prize

The Plaza Crime: First Chapters Prize

Judged by David Mark

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

5000 words max. + Synopsis

Crime does pay, whether it’s Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Legal Thriller, Whodunit, Hard-boiled, Noir, Historical, or Detective, Crime sells shed-loads. And ‘Local’ Crime is a publishing phenomenon in the UK and Commonwealth. Our judge, David Mark, is a bestselling master of ‘Local’, ‘Detective’ Crime, the so-called ‘Police Procedural’.

David spent 15 years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with The Yorkshire Post — walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels. He has written 13 novels in the series.

Dark Winter was selected for the Harrogate New Blood panel (where he was reader-in-residence) and was a Richard & Judy pick and a Sunday Times bestseller. Dead Pretty was long-listed for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger in 2016, as was Cold Bones in 2019.

David doesn’t limit himself to a life of Crime. His first Historical Thriller, The Zealot’s Bones, was a Sunday Times Book of the Year. With publishers Severn House, he has written the critically-acclaimed thrillers The Burying Ground, A Rush of Blood, Borrowed Time, Suspicious Minds and Cages. So, it’s fair to say – he really knows what he’s looking for in those opening pages. All the hooks, the thrills, the reader expects.

If you’ve written a Crime Thriller or Mystery, send us the first 5,000 words, plus a One-Pager (300-word plot synopsis). To be long-listed (final 20) is a notable credit for the CV/resume. To be shortlisted in the Top 10 may create a platform that literary agents will be interested in. To be adjudged the winner by David, gets you published in The Plaza Prizes Anthology 2 and might just be the buzz that promotes you to a publisher.

"These days I love to read Crime, Mystery or Thrillers that have that magic mix of local and global. But if it's good stuff, I'll devour anything."

David Mark

The Prizes

First Prize: £1500

The winning Crime: 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, David Mark.

Second Prize: £300

Third Place: £100

Terms and Conditions



  • Deadline: 29th February 2024
  • Writers can enter any number times. (£20.00. Subsequent/Discounted 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, X-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 Synopsis, 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’ published 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/Noir 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 12 pt. font, 1.5 or double-spaced, with numbered pages and the title on the top of 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 2023-2024, 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 acknowledged in any long-listed or shortlisted Crime / Mystery / Noir Thrillers 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

Enter by pressing the big orange button below.