Sceptre Loves Writing Competition

Sceptre Loves Short Story Competition

How Much the Heat Can Hold


'No one has measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.'
Zelda Fitzgerald

Sceptre, the literary imprint of Hodder & Stoughton, is proud to announce the publication of How Much the Heart Can Hold, a collection of seven original commissioned short stories written by seven award-winning authors, exploring different concepts of love. The authors include Bernardine Evaristo, Carys Bray, D. W. Wilson, Donal Ryan, Grace McCleen, Nikesh Shukla and Rowan Hisayo Buchanan.

To celebrate the publication, we are launching Sceptre Loves, a short story competition. We’re looking for a story based on any sort of love: from obsessive to platonic, unrequited to all-consuming. Entries will be sent via, for more information read the terms and conditions here.

Entries must be between 5,000 and 10,000 words, and submitted before the 14th February 2017. The competition will be judged by Lucy Luck, literary agent at Aitken Alexander Associates, Chris White, fiction buyer at Waterstones, and Emma Herdman, senior editor at Sceptre.

The winning entry will be published in the paperback edition of the book, and the author awarded £150 and a two hour consultation about their work with Emma Herdman, who has worked in the fiction buying team at Waterstones, at Curtis Brown literary agency and is now Senior Editor at Sceptre.

What the judges are looking for...

Emma Herdman
'I’m looking for a story that takes full advantage of the format – that exploits the freedom and embraces the constraints of a short story. And something refreshing, something that surprises me in its interpretation of the brief'

Lucy Luck
'I’d love to read something that takes me by the eyelashes and won’t let go, that makes my heart feel heavy in my chest, that has me rooting for him, no her, no them all the way to the end. I want to be uplifted, down-sized and surprised, though not too much. I’d love to come out of the world on the page with a sigh and the satisfaction of time well-spent. It is a lot to ask but that’s what the best of short stories do for me and I look forward to finding that new confident irrepressible voice'

Chris White
'Primarily, I want to find something which is self-contained and suited to its form: a true short story, not a truncated novel. I’m looking for something which will make me think, ideally something which comes at its subject from a slightly different angle. If I’m lucky I hope to find something which will move me and stay with me for a while after I’ve finished'