Harvardwood Writers Competition


The Harvardwood Writers Competition (HWC) was founded in 2006 with the aim of recognizing superior work by Harvard writers and giving these talented individuals the opportunity to gain industry exposure. View the list of past HWC winners (2016 winners pictured to the right).

The HWC features three categories:

  • Feature screenplays (90-120 pages, all genres)

  • Television pilots (half-hour and one-hour, all genres)

  • Shorts (30 pages maximum, all genres)

In addition, writers who have participated in the HWP - TV Modules during the preceding fall and spring semesters are eligible for the annual Harvardwood Most Staffable TV Writers list.


In recent years, participants in the Harvardwood Writers Program and Competition have seen unprecedented success with pilot sales to ABC, the CW, Showtime, Sony, Spike, Syfy, and TV Land, in addition to blind script deals at ABC Studios and Warner Bros. Harvardwood writers have been staffed on Agent Carter (ABC), American Dad (Fox), Billions (Showtime), The Brave (NBC), Charmed (CW), Community (NBC), Covert Affairs (USA), Family Guy (FOX), The Flash (CW), Future Man (Hulu), Girlfriends’ Guide (Bravo), The Good Wife (CBS), Gotham (Fox), Great News (NBC), How To Get Away With Murder (ABC), Jane the Virgin (CW), Justified (FX), The Newsroom (HBO), Perception (TNT), Power (Starz), The Resident (FOX), Sleepy Hollow (Fox), State of Affairs (NBC), and The Tomorrow People (CW).

Among our feature film writers, successes include the theatrical releases of Jamesy Boy and Unfriended, as well as OddLot Entertainment’s optioning of Septillion to One; previous HWC feature category winner Capture is in post production with Circle of Confusion producing. Participants have also secured representation at Apostle, Benderspink, Brant Rose Agency, Brillstein Entertainment Partners, CAA, Circle of Confusion, Echo Lake, Gersh, ICM, Madhouse Entertainment, Management 360, Original Artists, UTA, WME, and others.

Past HWC winners and Most Staffable List writers have been covered by Deadline (here, here, and here), and last year's winning writers & mentors were announced by Harvardwood here.


Industry professionals, with support from the Harvardwood Board of Directors, will evaluate all scripts entered to determine the winner and runner up from each category. Results are expected to be announced in Winter 2019. HWC judges are working executives and creatives (51% women, 49% men) with experience across various fields of entertainment.

HWC submitters can opt to receive judging comments and feedback for each script submitted. All comments and feedback are given by Harvardwood-vetted, working TV and feature writers, e.g., writers who have sold/optioned scripts, are staffed, whose scripts have been produced. The notes are aimed to illuminate judges' reactions to your script (beyond the numerical average of your scores received by semi-finalists and finalists) and may be useful to you for future rewrites.

Winning scripts will be read by an array of industry professionals, including literary managers, agents, and development professionals. All winners will receive a mentor and a small cash award, in addition to waived program fees for the 2019-20 Harvardwood Writers Program.


Only Full Members of Harvardwood are eligible for the competition (Friends of Harvardwood are ineligible). To become a Full member, non-members can register here.

Submissions for the contest must be received in PDF format between June 15, 2019 and no later than 11:59pm Pacific Standard Time, July 31, 2019. Full payment must also be received by the same time. Under no circumstances will materials received later be considered.

Neither the applicant's name nor any other identifying information should appear on the title page or any other page of the script — this information should only be included on the entry form.

Applicants must agree to the terms and conditions of the Harvardwood Writers Competition Release Form.

The entry fee per script will be:

  • Early bird: $25 from June 15-30
  • Regular: $35 from July 1-31

If you'd like to receive reader feedback and notes, the additional fees (inclusive of the submission fee) are as follows:

  • Short or half-hour pilot: $100
  • One-hour pilot: $115
  • Feature: $130

Your script must have an anonymous cover sheet in the following format:

Title (if a Pilot, then Title of Show)

"Episode Title" (only applicable for TV Pilots)

Genre: [horror, comedy, drama, suspense, one-hour drama, half-hour comedy, etc.]

Short Logline: [yours here]

State on your cover sheet: "Submitted for evaluation in advance of the Harvardwood Writers Competition and Harvardwood's Most Staffable Writers list. If you have further questions or would like to contact the writer, please email Dona Le at hwp@harvardwood.org."

Each individual may submit no more than TWO SCRIPTS per category.* Repeat entries are allowed, only if the script has been rewritten since it was entered in a previous contest. But we would encourage writers to focus on completing new work.

*Exception to above: Writers who completed two HWP Original TV Pilot modules during Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 may submit an additional script for Most Staffable TV Writers list consideration only. You should submit what you believe is your top script for the Competition (which will also include consideration for the Most Staffable List), and you may submit another eligible script for Most Staffable List consideration only.

All genres are permitted. Scripts should be submitted in PDF format using standard script margins and conventions, and body pages must be numbered. Submissions must be in English.

Submissions must be the original work of the contestant(s), although they may be based on a true story (historical or contemporary) or on other fictional or nonfictional material; if this is the case, please indicate as such on the title page of the script. Entries may also be adapted from the contestant's (or contestants') original work, which should also be noted on the title page.

Collaborative work, undertaken by no more than two writers, is eligible, provided that at least one writing partner is a dues-current Full Member of Harvardwood. Only one entry fee is required per script. Writing partners selected as winners will divide the prize equally.

Entered scripts may not have been previously optioned, sold, or produced (in the case of shorts, non-equity readings/productions will not be deemed to disqualify work from entry). Scripts must be the original work of the author(s), 18 years of age or older. No substitutions of new drafts or corrected pages for script entries will be accepted under any circumstances.

Paid employees of Harvardwood and their immediate families are ineligible, as are competition judges and their immediate families. Harvardwood recommends registering your scripts with the WGA and/or copyrighting your material with the Library of Congress before submission.

*FOR FALL 2019 & SPRING 2020 HWP - TV MODULE PARTICIPANTS ONLY: Please read additional rules and guidelines regarding the annual Most Staffable TV Writers list.



If you have trouble accessing the submission link above, your Harvardwood membership may not be current. Make sure you are logged in and your membership is renewed.

If you have any questions about the Writers Competition, please email us.

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