The GUTSY GREAT NOVELIST CHAPTER ONE PRIZE entries are submitted to a blinded review process. The identity of the author is unknown to the judge while she is reviewing the entries.

Each entry is reviewed by one judge, award-winning novelist and writing teacher, Joan Dempsey.

Our judge reads submissions as they come in throughout the month when submissions are open, not just between March 1 (when submissions close) and March 29 (when winners are announced), so it's a busy time, and also manageable; each entry is carefully reviewed.

Each entry gets sorted into one of three categories: top tier (the chapter really stands out as exceptional); possible (the page is very good and deserves a second read); no (the page needs more work before it shines or does not match the stated submission guidelines). The entries in the possible category get read a second time and sorted into either the top tier or no categoriesThe top tier entries (usually between 15-25 entries) get printed out, numbered, re-read several times, and the winners are chosen from this group. A slate of honorable mentions is also chosen from this final batch.

Our judge will be looking for the following elements in your submission: a clear point of view; a tone appropriate to the genre and story; an introduction to character(s); a sense of what the story will be about; a gripping opening scene; a vivid setting or settings; and a chapter ending that urges readers on to the second chapter. 

Our judging process adheres to the Code of Ethics as shown below.

The decisions of the judge are final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding the judging process. If you'd like to take a more detailed look into the judging process, you can find that here.

All entrants will be contacted when the prize is announced.

Thank you to everyone who enters in 2024. It is an honor to read your work.


The GUTSY GREAT NOVELIST CHAPTER ONE PRIZE competition has modeled the following Code of Ethics on those established by the Council of Literary Magazines & Presses.

We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to: 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible; 2) provide clear and specific contest guidelines—defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public.