Great Beginnings

Great Beginnings

$ 25.00

The purpose of THE GREAT BEGINNINGS contest is to inspire, motivate, and reward authors of romance fiction.

Eligibility: Participation is open to all unpublished and published authors of novel length romance fiction who are paid up members of RWNZ.

OPENS:                     1st September

CLOSES:                   30th September

SUBMIT:                 Entrants submit the first three chapters (up to 5000 words) of a completed but unpublished manuscript, plus synopsis up to 1000 words.

PRIZES:   Are given out based only on the Editors Pick  

                 First:     $100 cash prize

                 Second: $75   cash prize

                 Third:   $50   cash prize 

ENTRY FEE:             $NZ 25.00


Agent judge is Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Literary Agency.
Editor Judge is Kathleen Scheibling of Harlequin Canada.

Submission Instructions:


Check your computer word count under the Tools menu.

The total word count will include synopsis heading. Your manuscript title is to appear in the header, so there is no need to type it at the top of your first page. If you do so, it will be included in the word count. For entries which are found to be over the word count, every effort will be made by the Contest Manager, prior to the contest deadline, to give the entrant a chance to resubmit a correct entry.  If time does not allow the entrant to resubmit, their original entry will still be judged, but will not be eligible for a finalist place.

  1. Entries to comprise:

       (a) Up to the first three chapters (no more than 5000 words) of your manuscript, including prologue, if applicable. Manuscript pages to be typed in standard entry format (as per sample on website):


Courier New 12 pt font or Times New Roman 12 pt (no other fonts acceptable)

2 .5 cm margins on all sides

—indent paragraphs by 1 cm; (see *** below)

(b) A synopsis not exceeding 1000 words

             Synopsis to be typed in same format as the manuscript pages.


*** Don’t use Tabs to indent your paragraphs because that may disrupt the formatting of your entry when it is sent electronically. Indent paragraphs as follows:

—Under Format choose Paragraph then Indents & Spacing

—Choose Indentation

—Click on Special and choose First Line from drop-down menu

—In the By field, type 1cm

—Under Spacing in that same window, set Before and After to 0pt.

—Click OK

  1. Author’s name MUST NOT appear on any manuscript or synopsis page.
  2. Manuscript title, subgenre (the same as marked on your entry form) and page number to appear in header on each page of both manuscript and synopsis
  3. Manuscript pages and synopsis to be in one document. Number pages consecutively, starting on page 1 of the manuscript, with synopsis at the end (ie: if your manuscript is 30 pages, for instance, make the synopsis pages 31 onwards).
  4. Save entry as a Word .doc or . docx

   Fill in the entry form, and upload your Word document  – if you are loading multiple entries you may need to do two seperate entry orders.



         Manuscript and synopsis pages typed in standard, double-spaced format, Courier New 12 pt or Times New Roman 12 pt font, 2.5cm margins on all sides, paragraphs indented 1cm.

         Entrant’s name does not appear anywhere on the entry.

         Header appears on every page with title, subgenre and page number.

         Entry file contains the first three chapters up to no more than 5000 words  (prologue is counted as a chapter) of the manuscript and 1000 words for the synopsis.

Please note: contest feedback goes out AFTER the finalist announcements have been made.

This product can only be purchased by members. To purchase this product, sign up by purchasing Member Subscription, or log in if you are a member.



This contest is by electronic entry only.

  1. Both published and unpublished writers are eligible to enter this contest but all entrants must be current financial members of RWNZ.
  2. Romance need not be the primary focus of the story, but each entry should contain a romantic relationship that progresses to the next level by the end of the book (clearly evident in the synopsis if not in the partial). The total minimum word count for a completed manuscript is 50,000 and 40,000 for young adult manuscripts.
  3. Entries (or any part of the manuscript from which they are drawn) that have been published (including self-published work) or which have received a 1st 2nd or 3rd placing in a previous Great Beginnings Contest or a RWNZ Strictly Single Contest, including the Agent’s Choice section are ineligible.
  4. The entry cannot be published or contracted for publication in any format until the judging has been completed, but may be published at the end of the judging rounds before the winners are announced.
  5. The entrant must be the original author of the work entered. If using a pseudonym, please include your real name on the entry form below. Collaborated work is treated as one entry and any prize is shared. All contributors must be members of RWNZ. 
  6. Up to 2 entries will be accepted. A completed entry form with payment must be received via the website. An entry fee of $NZ25 is payable for each entry ($50 for two entries).
  7. Alternative versions of the same entry are not permitted. 
  8. Reading by the editor and agent does not imply acceptance for publication by the publisher or the agency. All rights to the manuscript remain with the entrant. 
  9. Entries will be read by five RWNZ Member judges. The top and bottom scores will be dropped and the remaining three scores are averaged to determine the finalists. The number of finalists is dependent on the number of entries received: up to 15 entries—3 finalists; 16-20 entries—4 finalists; 21 plus entries—5 finalists. Winners/place-getters will be determined by the Scrutineer System.
  10. The decisions of all judges are final. No correspondence will be entered into.
  11. RWNZ reserves the right to initiate changes in running this contest in matters that are beyond its control.
  12. Score sheets will be returned to contestants via email.
  13. Judges appreciate thank you notes. If you would like to thank your judges for taking the time to judge your entry, you can email notes to the contest manager, who will forward them. Preferably, send a separate note for each judge but please don’t send them as attachments.
  14. Deadline: Entries and entry form must be emailed to the contest manager no later than 11.59 pm (NZ time) 30 September

Please contact Contests Co-ordinator: Shelagh Merlin if you have any questions.

Click here to view the Great Beginnings Score Sheet

Click the link below to download the Required Entry Format for the Great Beginnings Contest.

Great Beginnings Contest Required Entry Format