The John Hinde Award for Science Fiction presented by the Australian Writers' Guild is broadening its scope this year, including inviting entries from unproduced scripts.

The $10,000 prize will be awarded to the writer of the best produced script and the categories will be expanded to sub-genres and cross genre pieces, including horror-hybrids and post-Apocalyptic works.

Also, this year the writer of the best unproduced script will get to meet with a leading genre producer, with all travel costs covered by the AWG and the Hinde Award.

The purpose of the award bequested by  Australian film critic John Hinde is to encourage, reward and foster creativity in the development and showcasing of science fiction writing for feature film, short film, TV, radio and interactive media.

This year’s award was launched at the Stranger With My Face Horror Film Festival in Hobart on Saturday.

Screenwriting duo Shayne Armstrong and Shane Krause (Acolytes, 6 Miranda Drive, Bait 3D) and Ursula Dabrowsky (Family Demons, Inner Demon) elucidated their ideas on the process, craft and the future of horror writing in a panel moderated by Vicki Madden, who is producing The Kettering Incident with Vincent Sheehan.

The panel disputed the notion that genre films have an inferior track record in Australian cinemas.  Armstrong cited IF's regularly updated Australian films B.O. scorecard, which shows that among the top 50% of the highest-grossing films, more than half are genre titles, horror, sci-fi and crime/thriller.

"Genre is the whipping boy for Australian films," he said.  "When an Australian drama doesn't do well no one talks about the drama genre."

Armstrong pointed to the success of Bait 3D in China and The Babadook in France as examples of films that have performed more strongly outside Australia than in the home market.

He noted that many genre fans may not watch local films in cinemas but are keen renters and buyers of DVDs, Blu-rays and downloading.   

Submissions for the Hinde Award close on September 22.