In association with Bradt travel guides

Independent on Sunday travel writing competition: Write your way to an inspirational week in Croatia

We have once again joined forces with Bradt Travel Guides  to offer readers the chance to win our travel-writing competition, with a top prize this year of a holiday for two to the Croatian region of Istria. PLUS have your winning story published in 'The Independent on Sunday' and Independent.co.uk

The prizes and how to enter

The first prize is a holiday for two to the beautiful Croatian region of Istria and publication of the winning entry in the travel section of The Independent on Sunday. In addition, the winner will earn a commission from the newspaper to write a piece about their prize visit to Istria. This prize can be won by either a previously published or an unpublished writer.

A special prize will also be awarded to an unpublished writer. This is a place on a travel-writing weekend run by Travellers' Tales, the UK's leading training agency for travel writing.

Every entry to the competition will be entered for the first prize; only unpublished writers will be eligible for the special prize.

To offer this opportunity, we have again teamed up with Bradt Travel Guides ( bradtguides .com), the pioneering guidebook publisher. The competition is open to all writers who are resident in the UK.

The theme this year is "A Narrow Escape". Entries must be original, previously unpublished and based on personal experience relating to the theme. Minimum length is 600 words; maximum length is 800 words. The closing date for the competition is midnight on 2 June.

For full competition rules, go to independent.co.uk/bradtcomp

To enter, go to bradtguides.com/travelwriting

What are the judges looking for?

The writer needs to grab the reader's attention and hold it. The best writers do this so that the reader is hardly aware of the technique. But it's always there, especially in short articles. For inspiration, the shortlisted entrants to our 2012 competition are available at bradtguides.com with details of the next annual Bradt travel-writing seminar in September.

Get started!

The opening sentence. Get this right and you have the reader's attention. Here are some opening sentences from 2012 which caught our eye:

"A big red X was spray-painted onto the side of rusting corrugated iron. I never expected death to be so clearly marked."

"I only had one bullet so I aimed straight between the eyes."

"He glides quite elegantly around the bend, that great blubberish Peruvian in his little yellow pants."

The shape of the piece

Some of the most successful articles start with an eye-catching sentence, as above, and then go back to set the scene and explain how the writer got to that situation. Assuming there's a beginning, a middle and an end, the middle is where you generally find the best descriptive writing. All good writers have the ability to "paint the picture" so that the reader visualises the places and people described while moving forward with the narrative.

The power of the individual sentence or phrase

With only 800 words with which to impress the judges, every sentence carries weight. The following are from the 2012 winning entry, "A Wolf in the Mountains" by Julia Bohanna:

"The donkey has sides like an over-stuffed purse, a trembling mouth and the dark, hopeless eyes of a depressive."

"My donkey has stopped. In a strange hoofy tiptoe he moves – not forward, but sideways – towards the edge. Stones flake from the side and give me an indication of his wish to die."

"That's what wolves do ... they separate the weak and the sick, surround them, and tear off strips of flesh like liquorice. Don't they?"

Wrapping it all up

The closing sentence or paragraph is all-important. It sums up the story, often returning to the opening sentence. Ideally there is something surprising, shocking, moving or amusing about it.

The prizes and judges

Istria

The prize is a one-week holiday for two to Istria, courtesy of the Croatian National Tourist Office ( croatia.hr) and the Istria Tourist Board, returning before 14 June 2014. This peninsula in the northern Adriatic, rivals Tuscany and Provence. Its hilly interior contains medieval villages, olive groves and vineyards; the coastline is never far away, offering pretty coves and hidden bays to explore.

You'll have time to discover the Venetian town of Rovinj and the Roman amphitheatre at Pula, as well as have the opportrunityto enjoy the region's gastronomy – including truffles and just-caught fish. The prize includes return flights, transfers and four-star accommodation, as well as guided tours, and wine and olive oil tastings. The tourist boards will prepare a bespoke itinerary for you, but you will also have plenty of time to explore the area for yourself.

Travellers' Tales

The prize for unpublished writers is a place on any travel-writing weekend in 2013 or 2014 run by Travellers' Tales ( travellerstales.org). The prize does not include transport.

The judges

The judges will include representatives from Bradt Travel Guides, Travellers' Tales and The Independent on Sunday. The winners will be announced at an event at Stanfords, the UK's leading travel bookshop.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Day In a Page

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices