Discover Brightwater’s new, ambitious and visionary literary initiative is to encourage, engage, train and discover local literary talent in the region of the River Skerne in County Durham, celebrating the Skerne and its environs. Working with local and national partners where appropriate, Discover Brightwater is launching a creative writing workshops; a local short-story competition; and an anthology incorporating the winning story along with the finalists from other competitions.


Brightwater Short Story Competition 2022 Short List

Gold Rush by Chrissie Robinson 
The Homecoming by Michael Drew
Our House by Fran Edwards
Tipster by Mark Chappell
Wherever Went the River by John Ridsdale

Short Story Competition

The Discover Brightwater Short Story Prize will award a local writer £1,000 for the best short story in competition. The winning story will form the title of in The Discover Brightwater Anthology, to be published by Paper + Ink in Autumn 2022.

Four runners-up will each receive £100, and their stories will be included in The Discover Brightwater Anthology as well.

Entrants to the competition must have, as an element in their story, a reference to the River Skerne and its surrounds, in line with Discover Brightwater’s mandate to ‘restore, reveal and celebrate life around the River Skerne’. Stories may be set in the region; characters might be from there; or this theme may be present in ways that needn’t be direct. The stories should run to a maximum of 5,000 words.


Deadline: Submissions should be received after the 1st of April 2022 but no later than 31 May 2022. The longlist will be announced in June 2022, the shortlist in September 2022, and the overall winner in October 2022.

Submission: stories are to be submitted via the following email:

Terms and conditions apply. Entrants should read the following section before submitting their story.


Short Story Competition Terms and Conditions

1. The Promoters of this Competition are Groundwork North East & Cumbria / Discover Brightwater and Momentum Books, Limited / Paper + Ink.

2. By entering this competition, you agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions. Promotional materials relating to the Competition, including all information on how to enter the Competition published by the Promoters (including on social media if applicable) or on the Promoters’ websites, also form part of these Terms and Conditions. In the event of any conflict between any terms referred to in such promotional materials and these Terms and Conditions, these Terms and Conditions take precedence.

3. The Competition is open to any citizen of the United Kingdom aged eighteen years or over.

4. The Competition shall open at 00.00 (GMT) on Friday 1st of April 2022 and shall close at 17.00 (GMT) on Tuesday 31 May 2022.

5. Entrants must submit an original work of fiction or creative non-fiction to a maximum of 5,000 words, excluding the title. Poetry, journalism, essays, screenplays and works that exceed 5,000 words will not be considered.

6. Only one entry will be accepted per qualified entrant. Multiple entries submitted by a single entrant will all be disqualified.

7. The winning entrant will be awarded £1,000. Four runners-up will each receive £100.

8. Entries must contain, as an element of the narrative, a reference to the river Skerne and its surrounds, in line with Discover Brightwater’s mandate to “restore, reveal and celebrate life around the river Skerne”. Stories may be set there; characters might be from there, or have visited there; or this theme may be present in ways that needn’t be direct, or even overt.

9. Entries must:

  • be submitted as an electronic file in Microsoft Word or Apple Pages;
  • display the author’s name and contact details on a separate cover page;
  • have the word count displayed on the cover page below the author’s name and contact details;
  • be in the English language;
  • be the original work of the entrant and not previously published in print, online or as an audio recording;
  • be submitted to via the following email:

10. All valid entries received before the closing date will be reviewed by first by a reader selected by the Promoters, who will draw up a longlist of stories. This longlist will be passed to a panel of judges comprising a special guest writer as well as personnel from and/or associates of the Promoters and The Northern Echo. A shortlist will be drawn up by these judges, and the winner and four runners-up will be selected and announced. The judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.

11. Judging will be fair and unbiased. None of the judges will see the cover page of any entry (which must contain the name and contact details of the author), as it will be removed by the first reader. Criteria shall be established for judges to consider, including creative adherence to the place theme and word-count requirement; style and originality; and the degree to which the entry prompts the desire to share it with others.

12. The winning entry, along with the four runners-up, will be published in a collection titled The Brightwater Anthology, to be published by Paper + Ink in Autumn 2022. The winning entry, along with the four runners-up, will also be made available to read online by Discover Brightwater for three months from the date of the announcement of the shortlist. Entrants will retain worldwide copyright in their submitted entries; however, by entering, all entrants grant Paper + Ink a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual licence to edit and publish the entries.

13. The Promoters are not under any obligation to publish any entries.

14. Winning entrants agree to participate in reasonable publicity relating to the competition, including but not limited to having their full names published. By entering, any subsequent prize winners agree to allow the free use of their full names, photographs and general locations for publicity and news purposes during this and future promotions by the Promoters or any of the Promoters’ associated or subsidiary companies.

15. The Competition is not open to employees and agents of the Promoters (Groundwork North East & Cumbria / Discover Brightwater, Momentum Books Limited / Paper + Ink) and/or The Northern Echo, or anyone otherwise connected with the operation or fulfilment of the competition (including third-party sponsors or promotional partners), their respective associated, affiliated or subsidiary companies and the immediate families and household members of all such employees and agents. The Competition is, however, open to any participant on any creative-writing workshop operated by the Promoters.

16. The winners are responsible for ensuring that they are each able to accept the prize awarded them as set out and in accordance with these Terms and Conditions. In the event they are unable to do so, the Competition’s operators reserve the right to award the prize to another eligible entry.

17. All eligible entrants must be individuals, must enter on their own behalf and must submit an entry in the form requested in these Terms and Conditions.

18. By entering, all eligible entrants agree to abide by each of these Terms and Conditions. Misrepresentative or fraudulent entries will be invalidated. The Promoters reserve the right, with or without cause, to exclude entrants and withhold prizes for violating any of these Terms and Conditions. The Promoters reserve the right to amend these Terms and Conditions.

19. If participants do not provide any of the mandatory information requested when participating in the Competition, their entry will be void. The Promoters reserve the right to require the participants to prove that they are eligible. If a winner is found to be ineligible, the Promoters reserve the right to award their prize to another participant, and to require the return of any prize already awarded.

20. Entrants must not do anything illegal and/or dangerous and/or that would put themselves or others at any risk. Save where they have been negligent, the Promoters will not be responsible for any damage, loss or injury resulting from any entrant’s participation in the Competition or any entrant’s acceptance and/or use of any prizes, or for technical, hardware or software failures, lost, faulty or unavailable network connections or difficulties of any kind that may limit or prohibit an entrant’s ability to participate in the Competition. The Promoters will not be responsible for any lost, damaged, delayed, defaced, incomplete, illegible or otherwise unreadable entries. Proof of making a phone call, sending an entry by post, email or text, is not proof of receipt by the Promoters of any entries. Nothing in these Terms and Conditions shall in any way limit the Promoters’ liability for death or personal injury caused by their negligence or for any other matter where liability may not be limited as a matter of law.

21. Information provided by entrants will only be used for the purpose of conducting this Competition (including for prizes to be delivered) and other purposes as may be specified at the time of entry or on promotional materials. Personal information will be held in accordance with the applicable privacy policy in place from time to time.

22. All entrants will be asked to agree to these terms and conditions as part of the submission process.

23. The Promoters reserve the right at any time to cancel, modify or supersede the Competition (including altering prizes) if, in their sole discretion, the Competition is not capable of being conducted as specified.


Short Story Course

Participants on the Brightwater Short Story course will receive a basic grounding in the art of the short story, with examples drawn from some of the finest works in the form, from around the world. In addition to reading and discussing these stories, they will be guided in their own writing, through journals, group work and assignments. Each participant should emerge from the course with a short story draft, or a structural departure point for the development of an idea into a short story. Each course consists of four two-hour workshops.

Courses will cover:

1. Introduction to short fiction. Participants will develop a basic critical understanding of short stories; jump-start their own creative writing process, be encouraged to explore new territory, or familiar territory in new ways.

2. Observation and Recording. Participants will learn to use journals and other means of capturing ‘moments’.

3. Style, structure and form. Each participant will draft or outline a new short story. They will learn the basics of developing atmosphere, plot, character and style; how to shape the ‘identity’ of the story; and how to capture and hold a reader’s attention.

4. Aftercare. The importance of editing and polishing will be taught, as well as attention to craft. The submissions process will be discussed.

Harry Man is a locally based, award-winning published writer and teacher. He is currently a core tutor on Oxford University’s Master of Studies in Creative Writing programme. Formerly, he was an associate lecturer in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University.

The course will take place on villages along the River Skerne, including Sedgefield, Newton Aycliffe and Darlington.

Free of charge to participants.

Creative Writing Courses (all dates given are for 2022)

Course 1
Sunday 6 March: Workshop A 12pm Freemasons’ Hall, Darlington
Sunday 20 March: Workshop B 12pm Freemasons’ Hall, Darlington
Saturday 27 March: Workshop C 12pm Freemasons’ Hall, Darlington
Saturday 3 April: Workshop D   12pm Freemasons’ Hall, Darlington
Course 2
Sunday 6 March: Workshop A 3pm Ceddesfeld Hall, Sedgefield
Sunday 20 March: Workshop B 3pm Ceddesfeld Hall, Sedgefield
Sunday 27 March: Workshop C 3pm Ceddesfeld Hall, Sedgefield
Sunday 3 April: Workshop D 3pm Ceddesfeld Hall, Sedgefield
Course 3
Saturday 5 March: Workshop A 3pm Aycliffe Village Hall, Newton Aycliffe
Saturday 19 March: Workshop B 3pm Aycliffe Village Hall, Newton Aycliffe
Saturday 26 March: Workshop C 3pm Aycliffe Village Hall, Newton Aycliffe
Saturday 2 April: Workshop D 3pm Aycliffe Village Hall, Newton Aycliffe