Begin Your NovelThe contest is open!


The opening of a story is one of the most important parts of any novel. Readers today are impatient and if your story doesn’t grab them right from the start, they might not stick around for when “it starts to get good.” We need our stories to engage the reader right from the beginning. This contest is meant to not only be fun, but to also provide some clues for how to create a great novel opening which hooks the reader.


Follow the rules below when you submit and you could win up to $100. I can’t wait to read your entry!


“I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.”
—Roald Dahl


Basic Guidelines

Your submission must be the opening of your novel, and should be between 75 and 200 words in length, and written in English (my favorite language is probably Icelandic…but I can’t read it. Sorry.)  The contest opens today, February 9thand you must make your submission by 11:59:59 on the night of February 23rd, 2015. Entries must also be provided in proper submission format (please refer to the list of details below for information on this formatting).

The rest is up to you!

This contest is open to writers within the age range of 13-19.


Judging Process

Judging will take place in two steps. Two KP staff members will narrow down the pool of submissions to the top 10, which will then be forwarded on to two independent judges who will determine the winner. To eliminate the possibility of bias, the judges will not know the authors of each story.

The judges will scale your story on each of the following categories, with a potential of between 1 and 10 points, with 1 being lowest and 10 being the best quality in that category. These points will then be added together (with a max of 60 possible points each) for each submission to determine the leading three stories from all submissions. These stories will then be submitted to our final judges, who will pick between them for first, second and third place winners. The categories are as follows:


First sentence (does your first sentence draw the reader into the story) -10

Style and structure (how readable and captivating your actual writing is) – 10

Main character (how active and real the main character is) – 10

Setting (does your opening paragraph clue us into where we are, and what genre the story is in?) – 10

Desire (does the main character want something right away? Do we know what it is?) – 10

Do we want to read more? (does your story opening entice your readers to want to read more?) – 10



Kingdom Pen’s editors, Josiah DeGraaf and Reagan Ramm, will scale all of the submissions, and narrow them down to the top 10. These finalists will be ranked, 1-10, by Kingdom Pen’s guest judges.


Braden Russell

avatar4-279x300Braden Russell is an aspiring author and music instructor who writes weird speculative fiction from his wilderness home in Oklahoma. Once a regular columnist for Kingdom Pen, you can now find him blogging about writerly things at his website The Storymonger.

He has been telling stories with words for as long as he can remember. Somewhere along the way, he grabbed a camera and started making stories with that. He have a YouTube channel where he posts comedic videos. You can find it here:


If you want to gain some insight into how Braden will grade your novel opening, click here.


Jacki Crooks

Jacki2 - editJacki grew up on a 40-acre farm in southern WI where she was homeschooled and worked for her dad’s tower company. When she was in high school, her mom discovered The One Year Adventure Novel writing curriculum. Over the next few years, Jacki worked on several novels while maintaining her life on the farm. After graduating, Jacki spent the better part of the next year and a half embroiled in a heated battle with cancer, and the subsequent recovery.

Now 21 and cancer-free, Jacki lives and works in Kansas City, MO and was recently promoted to management at her day job. In the evenings, she maintains several websites for friends and family. In what free time she has, she enjoys going shooting, hanging out with friends once in a while, and has a very solid relationship with her Netflix account.



First place:

The winner of the contest will receive $100 (Payable via check or paypal) and the option of an interview with Kingdom Pen.


Second place:

$50 (payable via check or paypal)


Third place:

$25 (Payable via check or paypal)


Additionally, the top three finishers will all have their submissions published on the Kingdom Pen website, and will receive comments from the judges on their submissions. The remaining 7 finalists will receive honorable mentions.


How to Enter

As we mentioned above, the only requirement to enter the contest is that you be a Kingdom Pen subscriber, and are between 13 and 19 years of age. If you’re not subscribed, we’d love to have you! You can sign up for free right over here.

To submit your story beginning, email it as an attachment to by February 23rd. If you are unable to attach your story for whatever reason, please contact us at the same address and we’ll work something out so that you can still submit.

In your email, please include your legal first and last names (you may include a pen name if you wish), age, and a brief message about how you found out about Kingdom Pen. If you win, you will also be asked to include a short bio.



Writers retain full rights to their stories. All stories must be the original, previously unpublished works of the submitting author. No story that fails to meet these requirements is eligible.

To claim prizes, the winner must submit their mailing address and/or paypal email. If they are unwilling to do so, they will retain their place in the contest but will forfeit their prize. Only the winners need submit this information.

By submitting to this contest, you give us permission to publish your story opening on our website, should you be a first, second, or third place finisher. Once again, you will retain full rights to your story.

Story openings should be submitted in Submission Formatting, with the exception that we want all words of emphasis in underlines instead of italics. All text should be in Courier New font, double spaced. Paragraphs should be indented at the beginning. Write your legal first and last name in your submission email, but please do not put it in the header or footer of your document. These formatting instructions will be included under the “Strength of style and structure” grade (See above).

A minimum of 10 submissions must be received by February 23rd in order for the contest to be eligible. Only one entry per-subscriber.

After the deadline, the initial judges will be given one week to review the material, and the final judges will be given an additional week to make the final ranking. Following this, the winners will be announced via email and the Kingdom Pen website.

Any content in any story which could be judged as objectionable or offensive (cursing, extreme or inappropriate violence, adult content, ect.) will disqualify a story without further question. If you have doubts about whether or not your story would be disqualified on this point, please email KP’s main address with a detailed description of the content of concern and we’ll let you know.

Have any questions? Easy solution. Email us at and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Happy noveling! We can’t wait to read your entry!