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As a director of The Brighton Prize I have the good fortune to act as one of the judges every year. The prize is open for international entries of short stories (between 1,000 and 2,000 words) and flash fiction (up to 350 words). It’s always exciting to see what stories arrive through the inbox and there are always some truly world class entries. We like to see stories that are a little bit out of the ordinary, that look at the world in a different way, through different eyes. We also love a laugh and rarely get sent anything funny so if you have something that will make us guffaw it might be worth sending it – comedy is a difficult write though.

This year my fellow judges are author Alison MacLeod (previously long-listed for the Man Booker and currently shortlisted for The Edge Hill Prize) and literary agent Sarah Manning

On what she looks for as a judge Alison says: ‘In a great story, I love to see a writer’s understanding that seemingly small dramas can reveal the profound stuff of life; that ordinary events can reveal the extraordinary.  Melodrama swamps a short story of course. If a story is about the extraordinary or the fantastical, I want to be shown the ordinary human truth within those events. I love a confident prose style. whether the language of the story is gritty and stark, or lucid and clear, or rich and rhythmic. I want the voice of a story to draw me in with its quiet force or alternatively, to grab me and say, ‘Listen… This story matters.’

Sarah says: ‘I am excited to be a judge for the Brighton Prize and am looking forward to discovering new voices. If the main character jumps off the page and has a clear goal which keeps me reading, then I am hooked no matter the genre!’.

And me? ‘I want to see stories that linger long after reading. There has to be something new and original, an authentic voice, a subject no-one has thought of before. Be as ‘out there’ as possible but keep it simple. The story should be suitable for a public reading and should therefore be easy to follow. I love cinematic writing; I want to be immersed in new worlds. Writers need to show that they have paid attention to detail too. I don’t want to see any silly mistakes as I’ve got to edit the stories for publication!’

The winners and short-listees of last year’s prize were all offered publication. There was a prize-giving in Brighton in November, a launch at Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh, an event at Brighton Fringe Festival and our Flash Fiction winner Haleh Agar was published in Viva Brighton a local magazine with a circulation of 26,000.

All this AND big cash prizes!

You’d be silly not to enter. www.brightonprize.com

Brighton Prize Poster 18