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Tuesday 19 January 2021

CWA Announces new Debut Dagger Sponsor

The world-famous Crime Writers’ Association has announced a new sponsor for its annual international writing competition for unpublished writers.

The CWA Debut Dagger is to be sponsored by ProWritingAid, a platform that operates as a grammar checker, style editor and writing mentor.

Linda Stratmann, Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: “We look forward to the exciting and fruitful interaction of the CWA Debut authors and the PWA community of writers.”

Created in 1955, the Daggers are the oldest and most regarded awards in the genre, and for over two decades the CWA has been encouraging new writing with the Debut Dagger competition.

Lisa Lepki, Head of Marketing at ProWritingAid, said: “ProWritingAid is thrilled to sponsor the Debut Dagger. There are thousands of crime writers in the ProWritingAid community and sponsoring the Debut Dagger will be a fantastic way to help those writers get their work in front of the right people.”

Submissions to the Debut Dagger are judged by a panel of top crime editors and agents and all shortlisted entrants receive feedback from the judges. Moreover, all shortlisted entries are sent to UK agents and publishers of crime fiction and every year a number of them get offers of representation or contracts. The 2021 competition is now open for entries, closing at 6pm on Friday 26 February 2021.

Leigh Russell, Chair of the Debut Daggers, said: “We are thrilled to receive the generous support of ProWritingAid as our sponsors for this year’s Debut Dagger Competition.”

Lisa added: “ProWritingAid was created by writers, for writers. Our primary goal is to help new writers get their stories and ideas across in the clearest and most effective way possible. We are passionate about language and believe good stories are intrinsically entwined with the words and phrases used to express them. ProWritingAid will never replace a human editor (our software can’t spot plot holes!) Rather, our software helps writers self-edit to a deeper level so that when they send their manuscript off to a human editor, they can focus on the content of their writing and not spend time fixing basic writing issues like passive voice or emotion tells.”

The Debut Dagger competition has helped launch the careers of established crime writers, including M W Craven, who entered the 2013 CWA Debut Dagger competition. Craven was offered a publishing contract by an independent publisher who were influenced by the shortlisting. He went on to write The Puppet Show, which sold to Little, Brown and went on to win the CWA 2019 Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year. It has been sold in 17 foreign language territories, and TV rights have also been sold.

Anyone is eligible to enter the Debut Dagger who has not had a full-length novel published by a traditional publisher and who, at the time of the competition closing, has not got a contract with a publisher or literary agent. Independently published authors, provided they fulfil the criteria above, are eligible to enter.

Entries must send in their first 3,000 words and a 1,500-word synopsis of their novel. Writers do not need to have completed their novel in order to enter.

The winner, who also receives £500, will be announced at the annual CWA Dagger awards ceremony.

For tips, case studies of shortlisted and winning Debut Daggers, and full details on how to enter both writing competitions, go to

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