The RTÉ Short Story Competition 2021 in honour of Francis MacManus is now open for entries...

Entrants have until Friday 7 May to submit their short story to the competition, which will be judged by writers Lisa McInerney, Declan Hughes and Lucy Caldwell.

The 35-year-old literary prize, set up in 1986 to honour writer and broadcaster Francis MacManus, recognises and rewards the best new Irish fiction writing for radio. The top prize is €3000. Ten stories will be shortlisted and broadcast.

Judges 2021: Declan Hughes, Lisa McInerney and Lucy Caldwell

Free to enter, last year's competition, which coincided with Ireland’s first lockdown, attracted record numbers of entries – over 4,000.

Judge for 2021, Lisa McInerney, says: "I'm delighted to join the judging panel for this competition, not least because it acknowledges the short story as oral as well as written tradition... What I love to find in a short story is a fresh twist in the telling, whether through a clever turn of phrase, or special clarity of character. And all the better if we can hear the heart beating in every sentence."

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Listen: Judges Declan Hughes and Lisa McInerney give tips and advice for entrants, via RTÉ Arena

Fellow judge, Lucy Caldwell says: "When you’re writing your story for the RTÉ Short Story Competition, you are writing for the listener, even more than for the reader. I still think it’s a kind of magic, that a stranger’s voice can travel over that mysterious thing called airwaves, and reach us, enter us, disarm or distract or maybe even change us. These are your superpowers. Use them wisely – use them well. I can’t wait to hear your stories."

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Listen to the 2020 winner: Flower Wild, a short story by Shane Tivenan

Declan Hughes adds: "The Irish short story is in rude health, with a vigorous infrastructure of literary journals and magazines, awards and independent publishers providing opportunities for writers at every level to place new work, produce collections and win prizes...  I’m very much looking forward to reading the submissions for this award, which has played an important role in the development of Irish short fiction for over 30 years."

A shortlist of ten stories will be announced in September, and the top prizewinners will be announced on an Arena special programme later in the autumn.

The overall winner will receive €3,000, while €2,000 and €1,000 will be awarded to the second and third place prize winners respectively. A further seven runners-up will receive €250 each, and all 10 shortlisted stories will be published on rte.ie/culture and broadcast in a season of new writing on RTÉ Radio 1 in the autumn.

For competition rules information on how to enter, and to read and listen to past winning stories, see www.rte.ie/writing