Writing Contests and Helpful Links
I help organize and oversee a very creative bunch, The Whittier Writers, a middle school author club within the school I teach at. The writing tips and hints I give them are the same tips and hints I’ve written on my For Writer’s Page. So be sure you check that out, as well.
One thing I want to remind you of, is that first drafts can be hard! And that’s okay! They’re hard for me too, so I tend to plow through them. It’s the next part I really enjoy, the step where I take words that are already on the page and I rewrite, rearrange, and yes, even cut them. I find it a puzzle-like challenge to take boring, short sentences and build them into something stronger, giving my reader a visual picture in their head. For instance:
The loon nested. Lots of birds nest! They build nests in trees, on the ground, into holes in bankings, and holes in trees. Nests come in all sizes and shapes, too. If my readers didn’t know about loons, they might imagine them nesting in a hole fifty feet up in a tree like a wood duck! I can’t have that! So I rewrite:
Loons build a bowl shaped nest right next to the lake, because they can’t walk on land very well.
Hopefully, my readers will picture this:
Down below, I’ve gathered some sites with contests, story prompts and inspiration especially geared toward young authors . . .
Helpful Tips and Story Starter Sites:
Creative Writing Glossary – I heard about this link from a young author named Carly. It is a great resource for learning exactly what characterization is, or Dramatic Irony. Thank you Carly!
Scholastic Story Starters Machine K – 6 – a fun way to get a story started!
Edutopia – 50 Writing Prompts for Students K – 12 My favorite story prompt on the list?
- Which classmate would be the best to lead us through a zombie apocalypse? Why?
Visual Writing Prompts – Grades 3 – 12 – Need a picture to get you writing? Try this website!
Write The World – Ages 13 to 18 – A community of writers ages 13 to 18 from over 120 countries! There are opportunities to share your work with peers, get writing prompts, get feedback, and submit to contests. There are rules and expectations, be sure to read them before submitting.
Contests for Student Authors
Before entering contests, I’d like for you to do these three things:
- Write and rewrite to make your work the very best it can be. In our Whittier Writer’s Club, the students who do this, usually place well.
- When you’ve written a story, that is your very best, then ask a friend, teacher or parent to read it too, and give you helpful feedback. Then rewrite again based on their notes.
- Also ask a teacher or adult to double check the contest website for you. They can help make sure the website and contest are up-to-date, and to make sure you have everything you need to submit. Some of these listed below have an age limit, need an adult signature, or a small fee.
The Telling Room – Ages 6 to 18 – A fabulous writing resource based right next door to me in Portland, Maine. Their mission is to empower authors like you through your writing and to “seek to build confidence, strengthen literacy skills, and provide real audiences for our students”. They also have a link for Other Places To Publish
Scholastic Art and Writing Contest – Grades 7 through 12, ages 13 and up, are eligible to enter. Have a teacher help you to get registered, as they’ll need your school and district. There is a small entry fee.
Skipping Stones Contest and Publishing – Skipping Stones is an award winning magazine that accepts poetry, photo essays, art, stories and essay submissions from students ages 7 to 18 years old.
As my middle school writing group discovers new links to inspirational, educational or publishing opportunities, I’ll update this page. So come back often! If YOU have a cool link which doesn’t have a bunch of ads on it, please let me know!