Monday, March 23, 2020

Love Sheffield, Luv - Writing Competition

While people are being sensible and self isolating, we are here to help! Writers and non-writers of all ages, get your creativity flowing.

Sheffield Libraries are delighted to announce the Love Sheffield, Luv competition in association with Hive South Yorkshire (open to everyone living, or working, in Sheffield). 
We want to hear about the things you love about Sheffield – and that theme can be interpreted any way you like.

You might want to write about a place that only you know about. Something you’re proud of. Maybe you’d like to show aliens around our city. If you’re in Sheffield it could be anything about you! Or a memory you cherish. Maybe you’d like to make up a story set in Sheffield, past, present, or somewhere in the distant future. 

‘The best thing about being a writer is we can write about whatever we want. We make things up! No-one needs to know if it’s true or not!’ – Nik Perring (author).

Poems, script, and stories are all welcome. 

PRIZES will include £100 in book tokens for each category, publication in the Year of Reading Anthology, or Children’s Anthology, with winners invited to perform at a special event.

Age categories

Children’s Year of Reading Explorer Prize – Up to 13 years

Entrants, or teachers and guardians, are invited to submit young people’s best work using the theme of Exploration to spark ideas. 

Up to 400 words or up to 2 poems

Hive New Writer Prize – 14-19 years

Open to 14-19 year olds who aren’t currently accessing Hive groups and workshops.

As part of Year of Reading, Hive are looking to discover and showcase new talent.
If you’re a secret scribbler, part-time poet, closet novelist, or someone who fancies giving writing a go, we want to read your stuff! More info: 
Up to 800 words or 3 poems

In addition to publication in the Year of Reading Anthology, winners will also receive a one to one guidance session with Nik. 

Sheffield Year of Reading Writing Prize – 20 years & above
Up to 1000 words or 3 poems on the theme of Exploration. 

No upper age limit.

Opens: April 1st 2020
Deadline: February 28th 2021

Please submit your entries to

For tips and tricks from our writer in residence and competition judge, author Nik Perring please scroll down.


A little advice and some story and poetry writing tips from Writer in Residence, Nik Perring, for everyone thinking of entering. There’s help here for everyone – from      beginners and younger writers to those with a little more experience. We can’t wait to read your work!

Try to do something a little different or unexpected. Make the normal unusual in some way.


You don’t have to write like everyone else. You don’t have to imitate your favourite writer.
You’re you – and that’s the most important thing you have over everyone else. Write using
the language you’d use if you were talking to friends.


If you do you’ll either surprise people by a description or an image they’d not have thought of, or make them smile because someone else thinks like them.


Writing for a competition isn’t a test. It’s not school. We want you to have fun and play with
themes. The best writing and the best poetry will make us see or think about the world a little differently.


The best writing comes when we’re enjoying what we’re writing or what we’re writing about. And if you like it, other people will too!


We want you to write about what you love about Sheffield. That doesn’t have to be the sorts of things everyone would expect. It could be yourself. It could someone in Sheffield. The
way they speak or look at you. It could be you taking a part of Sheffield somewhere else.

Maybe it’s someone falling in love with a vampire on The Manor. Or an alien might land in your garden at Meadowhead and need showing around.


Maybe you want to literally explore the city. You could take us on a tour of the places everyone comes to see. Maybe you want to shine a light on your favourite places, or the places only you know about. You might want to make it up – show us Sheffield in a different dimension, a parallel universe, a different era. Your exploration can start in Sheffield and end up somewhere different entirely.

Perhaps you want to explore who you are, what you think, what we are as a race. What we love. How we love. Who we love. Whatever you choose, enjoy it. There are loads of things we’ll consider when judging for the prize and for publication – it’s not all about being literary – it’s about coming up with interesting ideas, trusting them, and having fun. Make us laugh, terrify us, make us question things, make us see the world differently.



 Start as close to the end as possible. That way it’ll be exciting.

 A story is about a character facing something different or exciting or terrifying – don’t be afraid to up the stakes!

 Use clear language. No point in hiding your ideas behind long words.

 Don’t’ be scared of silly ideas. Sometimes they’re the most interesting. A story about a magic piece of furniture sounds daft until you find out it’s about a wardrobe with Narnia on the other side. Same as a boy being trapped on a boat with a tiger.

 You can recycle things that have happened to you (though it’s probably best to use those memories as starting point for your stories so you can have fun making things up!).

 Don’t worry about spellings or punctuation until you’ve finished. You can always go back and tidy things once your first draft’s finished.

If you’re struggling to get started, why not use one of these…

Nobody knows what the best bit about Sheffield is…

I wouldn’t have believed you if you’d have told me yesterday that…

It’s Sheffield, love. You couldn’t make it up!

He’d never seen that before…

It’s not every day you….

It hung over Hillsborough like some enormous bird…

They met by the Wicker…


Poems don’t have to rhyme!

Poems can be a list.

They can be a recipe.

They can be a series of instructions.

They can be a song without music.

A rap without beats.

Anything at all!


Here are my tips for anyone wanting to write a good short story or piece of flash fiction.

Start where the story starts, not before. If I was telling you about a fantastic hotel room I'd
stayed in I wouldn't start by telling you about booking the tickets to get there (unless the story was about booking the tickets and ended in the room).

Take out everything, every word, every sentence, every character that isn't absolutely necessary. Similarly, only use the right words. Sometimes people do just 'sit'. Or 'run'.

Make sure your characters are believable. What they do, or the situations they find themselves in, may be unlikely and fantastical but the way they react to them has to be something that readers will believe.

Be suspicious of anything you think is clever. The story comes first, the story's what people should notice, not the writer.

Write for you, but spare a thought for the reader too.

Don't overdo it. Big words are fine if they're the right ones. Same with descriptions.

Say what you want to say in the simplest, and most effective, way possible. In other words:
get to the point. Aim to be brilliant.

Don't expect it to be easy. Or quick. Be prepared to work hard.

Don't be afraid of rewriting. In fact, embrace it; it will make your stories better.

Don't expect to get it right the first time. You have total control of what can be changed. (I often find also that if a story wants or needs to be changed, then it'll let you know.)

Trust your instincts. If you suspect something's not working then it probably isn't.

Don't be afraid of putting a story away for a while. Sometimes stories, and your head, need space.

Don't be afraid of failure. Nothing's wasted. It's better to try something new and fail (and perhaps learn something) than to play safe all the time.

Most importantly: BE BRAVE. You have an imagination, use it. Write the story you want to write, write what you think's good and interesting, even if that means not sticking with the norm. Different, if done well, can be brilliant.

And read the greats. See how they do things. See why they're the greats.

Big thanks to Nik for these fantastic tips. Now are you ready?
Get set!