Thursday 10 August 2023

"Nature, the Environment & Sustainability" Short Story Competition 2023


Photo: cocoparisienne @ Pixabay

Are you moved by our connections with the natural world? Are you interested in nature writing, climate fiction, the ecological crisis, the Anthropocene, nature and well-being? 

The University of Leicester’s Centre for New Writing and Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability are jointly sponsoring a short fiction / creative non-fiction competition for East Midlands resident writers on the theme of "Nature, Environment, Sustainability." 

We are looking for compelling writing that fires the imagination, and allows room for hope. But this is an open brief and we’re interested in anything relevant you might produce. It can be fiction in any genre, or creative non-fiction in the form of personal essay, memoir, feature journalism, travel or a hybrid of forms.

We love writers like Richard Powers, Arundhati Roy, Annie Dillard, Amitav Ghosh, Octavia Butler, Elizabeth Kolbert, Kim Stanley Robinson, Mark Cocker, Tim Winton and Barbara Kingsolver; TV shows like Wild Isles and Nature Watch, Big Garden Birdwatch and the Big Butterfly Count. 

At whatever point you are in thinking and writing about nature, the environment, and sustainability, tell us about it in fiction or creative non-fiction of 1500-2500 words.

The competition is free to enter. There are prizes of £600 for the winner and £100 for four other finalists, drawn from a shortlist of ten. The ten shortlistees will have the opportunity to participate in an all-expenses-paid nature writing workshop with the competition judge in February 2024. The five finalists’ works will be published on The Centre for New Writing’s Creative Writing at Leicester blogsite. The winning piece will also be print-published in The Leicester Literary Review. The winning and finalist authors will be invited to read from their work at a special event as part of the Literary Leicester 2024 festival in March alongside the competition judge.

The Centre for New Writing is an interdisciplinary research centre exploring and developing new directions in contemporary writing. You can see more information about our work here

The Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability  conducts research on the impact of the environment on human health. It was established in 2018 with the vision to improve human health and the health of the environment through cutting edge multidisciplinary research, in a changing world. You can read more about it here

Literary Leicester is Leicester’s free annual litfest, since 2008. Read more here

Meet the Judge

We’re delighted that our competition judge is multi-award-winning author, naturalist and The Guardian’s "Country Diary" writer Mark Cocker. Mark has published a dozen books on a wide range of subjects and contributed to two dozen more. To read more about Mark, see here

To Submit Your Entry

Email and include your full name, contact email and phone number IN THE BODY OF THE EMAIL. 

The document itself should be anonymised. It should ONLY contain the title and text, and NOT show the author’s name anywhere. See below for details about how to format your document.

FINAL SUBMISSION DATE IS 11.59pm (23.59) on 15th November 2023.


  • Entrants must be resident in the East Midlands region, as determined by the Office for National Statistics at the time of the final submission date. See here for details.  Shortlistees’ residency will be confirmed prior to formal announcement. 
  • Stories must be between 1500 and 2500 words. Any submissions over or under the word length will be disregarded. They should be submitted as a Word doc or PDF, double-spaced, 12 font in Times New Roman or Arial (unless you have a strong stylistic reason to play with the visual form of the piece on the page).  
  • The final submission date is 23.59 on 15th November 2023. Late entries will not be considered in any circumstances.
  • Short fiction may be in any genre. Creative non-fiction can be memoir, biography, personal essays, feature journalism, travel writing. They should be written for a lay audience, rather than specialist. 
  • All work must be in English. 
  • Shortlistees’ and finalists’ names will be published on the Centre for New Writing blogsite and other social media.
  • All entries must meaningfully relate to the competition theme of "nature, environment, sustainability." The judge’s decision on relevance is final and cannot be questioned. 
  • All entries must be submitted by email to  and include your full name, contact email and phone number IN THE BODY OF THE EMAIL. The document itself should be anonymous: it only contain the title and text, and NOT show the author’s name anywhere. No other method of submission will be accepted.
  • Entries should not have been previously published (including self-published, published on a website or broadcast in any way).
  • Entries must be entirely original work, written solely by the submitter.
  • No competitor may win more than one prize.
  • Work must not be produced or edited by Chat GPT or any other AI creation tool.
  • Copyright remains with the author but prize winners must give permission to have the work on the Creative Writing at Leicester website for a period of up to twelve months. The winner’s work will also be published in The Leicester Literary Review, subject to the magazine’s copyright provisions.
  • Current members of the Centre for New Writing or the Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability are not allowed to enter the competition.
  • Decisions of the judge(s) are final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding the decision.
  • Entries that do not comply with the rules will be disqualified.

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