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CWIP Witty Winners

'It's not the winning it's the taking people apart that counts'

Old joke from Helen Lederer stand up 1934

Kirsty Eyre, Jilly Cooper, Helen Lederer, CWIP Published winner Laura Steven

CWIP Winner Event 2019 before lockdown at CONDUIT CUB in Mayfair no less….

Kirsty Eyre, Jilly Cooper, Helen Lederer, and CWIP Published Winner 2019 Laura Steven


Kirsty Eyre

Back in the day (10th July 2019), when people actually went places and did things, I nervously shimmied across London to the Comedy Women in Print winners’ event to celebrity-spot and get drunk on pink gin with my fellow short-listees. After a quick touch up of mascara in a Prêt à manger disabled loo, I was ready to watch some lucky cow win a publishing deal with Harper Collins.

The Conduit Club didn’t disappoint – a salubrious establishment with a well-stocked cocktail bar, it was a whirl of witty women – comedians, comic novelists, stand-ups: a feast of celebrity. I felt a bit Eliza Doolittle and wished I’d donned my fancier frock.

Next minute, the Helen Lederer is announcing MY BOOK, Cow Girl, as winner and I’m up on a stage hugging Jennie Eclair and having my photo taken with Jilly Cooper (who told me a filthy joke). It was what dreams are made of (the night and the joke). I’m a lucky cow (girl).

Kirsty’s TOP WRITING TIPS – and don’t we all need ‘em

  1. Find your sweet spot - the optimal time and place that you put down the best words. I'm an early bird, need the quiet and a gallon of tea - I might throw in jam on toast if I'm feeling frivolous. The kitchen table is my friend. If I try and write in a busy cafe, I can't help tune into Doris and Morris's conversation on the next table.

  2. Not every word of a comic novel has to be funny. A story needs light and shade and if every line was laugh-out-loud, the tone would be a bit Basil-Brush-on-speed. Boom! Boom! Too much. Your reader wants a good yarn so don't compromise story for humour.

  3. Sometimes you'll write utter crap. Like everything else, you'll have good days and bad. Think of it like running. You'll never get a personal best every time you run, but you've got to put the training sessions in to stand a chance of winning. You're playing the long game. Writing the wrong words helps unblock the right ones, exercises your writing muscle and will often spark an idea even if you don't nail it then and there.

And ta da we hear from CWIP UNPUBLISHED WINNER FAYE BRANN 2020

Faye Brann

This time last year I was patiently waiting for CWIP’s winner event, serene and completely unfussed about the outcome…yeah, right... I was a nervous, jittery wreck, convinced of my incompetence and already planning my congratulations tweets to the eventual winners. So, no one was more surprised than me to be told I’d won! Right in the middle of lockdown, I’m not going to pretend it wasn't slightly strange to be celebrating on my own in my back garden instead of quaffing cocktails at the Groucho Club, but I was surrounded by the virtual warmth and love of so many people that it almost didn’t matter! The journey since has been just as amazing. The CWIP family have been the most fun, supportive village I could have chosen to help birth my book-baby, and the HarperCollins team have been so patient with me as I’ve negotiated my way through the publishing process for the first time. Now it’s weeks away from launch and I’m busy arranging author events and gaining Twitter followers and MOST importantly arranging a real-life launch party to finally (hopefully) celebrate in person! In addition, I’ve the honour of sitting on the CWIP judging panel for the 2021 unpublished prize too. It’s the best bit, to know that I’m part of the team who will propel the next witty woman into the publishing world. Well, nearly the best bit. I can’t pretend the idea of seeing my book in bookshops in a few weeks isn’t the absolute BEST part of the whole year!

And now for Faye’s TOP THREE WRITING TIPS cos we need them too…

1. Write from the heart and edit from the head. Accept that there’s a good chance you are not just going to kill your darlings but create a literary bloodbath before you get even close to a finished product. Fail with joy, learn from mistakes, and leave your ego at the door.

2. Comedy is subjective so write it for yourself first. Some people won’t find you amusing but that doesn’t mean you aren’t, or that they don’t have a sense of humour - it just means it’s not for them. But if you’re giggling, chances are there’s someone else in the world who will too. Have faith!

3. Keep going. Keep writing. Keep submitting. You’ll get better each time around. And support other writers in their endeavours too. It’s an amazing community wherever you are on the journey and there’s always something to learn from other writers.

And soon… there will be a CWIP Unpublished Winner 2021…

2021 Unpublished Longlist

Pleeeeese support us so we can make it happen…

@CWIPprize on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

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