Wed, July 7, 2021 

(5 PM ET)


The GUTSY GREAT NOVELIST PAGE 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 carefully reviewed by one judge, award-winning novelist and writing teacher, Joan Dempsey. 

Each entry gets sorted into one of three categories: top tier (the page 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 categories. The top tier entries (usually between 15-25 entries) then get printed out, numbered, re-read several times, and the winners are chosen from this group. A slate of honorable mentions will also be chosen from this final batch.

Our judging criteria is quality of writing, originality, a sense of a story or bigger narrative emerging, and how much the writing hooked the judge. For more information about what makes a great first page, read this article. You can also read the 2020 winning first pages.

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.

All entrants will be contacted when the prize is announced.


The GUTSY GREAT NOVELIST PAGE 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.