Guide to Teen Writing Contests in Fiction, Poetry & Nonfiction
IMPORTANT: Deadlines for teen writing contests sometimes vary year to year. To verify dates, click on contest websites. For additional publishing opportunities, click here.
WRITERS THEATRE OF NJ YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS CONTEST
The Writers Theatre of New Jersey invites middle and high school students grades 4-12 to submit plays up to 20 pages in length. While we enjoy plays with “realistic” structures, we also encourage plays that are non-traditional and inventive. We look for strong plot, characterization, dialogue, conflict, theme, and originality. Plays may be on any topic, but there is a special category, “Living with Disabilities” designed to find plays either written by an author with a disability, or a play with themes or characters dealing with disabilities. Formatting instructions may be found under the Submissions Guidelines tab. Winning plays will be performed by professional actors. Deadline: January 5, 2017.
THE WRITING CONTEST, INC
The Writing Conference, Inc., sponsors writing contests for elementary, junior high/middle and high school students. Students may create a poem, a narrative, or an essay. Only one piece of writing from a student may be submitted. Winners will be published in The Writers’ Slate. Entries must address the annual theme. The 2015-16 theme is “courage.” Create a poem, narrative, or essay in which you incorporate your ideas and feelings concerning competition. Deadline: January 8th
THE THEATER PROJECT YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS COMPETITION
The Theater Project Young Playwrights Competition invites high school students aged 13-18 to submit either a short play or an excerpt from a longer work that they have written. Winners’ plays will be performed by professional actors. This contest has a $10 entry fee. Deadline: January 17th.
VSA NEW JERSEY SEEKS NOMINATION FOR 2015 ARTS ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
On an annual basis, VSA/NJ honors students with disabilities ages 14 to 21 for outstanding achievement in and dedication to the arts. Award recipients become candidates for the NJ Governor’s Awards in Arts Education. The application deadline is January 23rd. Please contact VSA/NJ for application materials and additional details.
Each Bishop Prize winner is awarded a $3,000 full scholarship to the Writing & Publishing Summer Program at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Massachusetts, June 22-July 14, 2013. Prize-winning works are published on The Blue Pencil Online. Students in grades 8-11 may submit one story up to 5,000 words and up to 3 poems. Students in grade 12 may submit work to Blue Pencil Online Magazine, but will not be eligible to attend the summer program. Deadline: Noon, February 1st.
NCTE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD IN WRITING
Achievement Awards in Writing is a school-based writing program established in 1957 to encourage high school students in their writing and to recognize publicly some of the best student writers in the nation. The National Council of Teachers of English recognize students cited as excellent writers by judges. Only students who are JUNIORS in the academic year 2014-2015 may be nominated for 2015 awards. Each high school selects its own nominee. Entries must include two pieces of writing, one “best” and the other responding to a theme designated by the contest. This year’s theme can be found in the online brochure. Deadline: February 13th.
DAVIDSON FELLOW SCHOLARSHIP IN LITERATURE
Davidson awards $50,000, $25,ooo and $10,000 scholarships to extraordinary young people, 18 and younger, who have completed a significant piece of work. Submit a 60-75 page portfolio including 3 different genres: poetry, fiction, nonfiction and/or dramatic script; plus a table of contents, 2 application essays, 3 letters of recommendation from teachers familiar with your work, and a 10 minute video of you explaining your artistic vision. See website for details. Previous NA winner: Coleman Hughes for Music. Deadline for all materials: Mid-February 2016.
KENYON REVIEW SHORT FICTION CONTEST
The Kenyon Review will publish the winning short story in the Winter 2014 issue, and the author will be awarded a scholarship to attend the 2014 Writers Workshop, June in Gambier, Ohio.Writers must be 30 years of age or younger at the time of submission. Stories must be no more than 1200 words in length. One submission per entrant. Please do not simultaneously submit your contest entry to another magazine or contest. All work must be submitted through our electronic system. The submissions link will be active February 1st to February 28th.
ATLANTIC MAGAZINE/COLLEGE BOARD AP US HISTORY WRITING CONTEST
The Atlantic and the College Board hold an annual writing contest to recognize the best high school essayists, with the writer of the grand prize-winning essay receiving a cash prize and publication in the magazine. For their essays, students this year will focus on important documents from American history. The annual contest seeks to identify promising young writers in the United States and around the world and to instill the analytical-writing skills critical to success in college and professional life. Sponsoring teachers can submit essays for students from January 1 to February 28.
Published by Susquehanna University, The Apprentice Writer features fiction, poetry, drama, personal essays and photographs by high school students. There are no restrictions on style, subject matter or length (up to 30 pages). We are looking for the best-written work and photography/graphics by high school students (grades 9-12) from the United States. Submission Deadline: March 10th.
CLAREMONT REVIEW ANNUAL WRITING CONTEST
Note: this contest requires a $20 – $25 reading fee which gives you a one-year subscription to the magazine. Hard copy submission of up to 3 poems and/or 1 short story and a cover letter. The editors of The Claremont Review are looking for first class poetry and short stories by young adult writers (aged 13-19) anywhere in the English speaking world. We publish anything from traditional to post modern, but with a preference for works that reveal something of the human condition. We strongly urge contributors to read back issues of The Claremont Review. That is the best way for you to learn what we are looking for. Deadline: Postmarked by March 15th.
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY CREATIVE MINDS FICTION CONTEST
Imagine, a magazine of the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, holds an annual writing contest for students 18 and under. This year’s genre is fiction. Students may enter up to 2 stories (no required theme) of up to 1,000 words each. Stories that have won other contests or that have appeared in any print or online publications are not eligible. Save your stories in a single Microsoft Word document with your last name as the file name. Submit your entry online here. You will see a screen confirming that your entry has been submitted. Questions may be directed to . See the winning stories from previous years in our Fiction Archives. Deadline: Friday, March 17, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest.
LIVE POETS SOCIETY OF NEW JERSEY
The Live Poets Society of New Jersey is open to students in grades 9-12. You may submit no more than one poem within a 90 day period. Poems must be 20 lines or less. Scholarship awards available. Deadline for Summer issue is March 31st.
Adobe Youth Voices invites you to participate in the Aspire Awards, giving young creatives the opportunity to have their work showcased publicly. This media festival seeks to recognize outstanding creative projects that demonstrate imagination and expression along with an evident motivation for social change. Categories include narrative, poetry/experimental, music video, audio, documentary, digital photography, etc. Deadline: Mid-April.
NCTE NORMAN MAILER HIGH SCHOOL & COLLEGE WRITING AWARDS FOR CREATIVE NONFICTION
The Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony and the National Council of Teachers of English jointly sponsor the annual Norman Mailer High School and College Writing Awards for creative nonfiction. Entries of 10 single-spaced pages or less will be accepted online only and may include one or more pieces of writing. Quality is far more important than quantity. Entries must be endorsed by a teacher and released by a parent or guardian. Winners receive travel and lodging to attend the Colony’s National Award Ceremony and a $5,000 award. Entries accepted March 1–April 30, Noon CST.
PEACE ISLANDS INSTITUTE ART & ESSAY CONTEST
2014 theme: Reduce, reuse, recycle: Can our children enjoy the same resources and beauty that we have had for generations? Submit one of the following about saving the earth’s natural resources: an informative essay, a narrative story or a true story. 1,000 word max. New Times Roman, 12 point. Include your name, grade, school, sponsoring teacher’s name and teacher’s email. Each teacher may sponsor up to 5 students per grade. Teacher must submit all entries in one envelope. Winner receives $600. Deadline: April 4, 2016 before 5pm.
POETS.ORG “DEAR POET” PROJECT
For National Poetry Month, we introduce Dear Poet, a multimedia educational project that invites young people in grades 5-12 to write a letter in response to poems shared by some of the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors. Students—to participate in Dear Poet, watch the videos on the link of poets reading one of their poems. Then, write a response letter to one of the poets and email it to us at dearpoet. Your “letter” can take the form of a poem. Please include your name and the name of the poet below who has inspired your letter. We will consider all student letters for publication on Poets.org in May. Deadline: April 30, 2016Speak Up Press Writing Contest for Young Adults. See Speak Up Press website for details for the 2014 contest. For writers age 13 – 19. Submission window opens April 1 and closes August 31.
Sponsored by Polyphony, a student-run national literary magazine, the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards are open to all students in grades 9–12. Each participant may submit a total of three works, either poems, stories, essays, or any combination (1500 word limit for fiction and creative non-fiction. All submissions must contain the necessary contact information; see website for details. Cash award is $200. Deadline: May 30, 2016.
TEEN INK FICTION CONTEST
Teen Ink will only consider original fiction written by teens. Entries of all genres are accepted, whether fantasy, horror, sci-fi or romance. Short stories should be between 500 and 2,500 words. Send your short stories to: Teen Ink Biannual Fiction Contest, Box 30, Newton, MA 02461. All fiction pieces submitted to Teen Ink are automatically considered for the Fiction Contest. See our submission guidelines for more information. Poetry and nonfiction contest entries are accepted throughout the year. Fiction deadline: May 1, 2016.
YOUNG POETS NETWORK CONTEST
The Young Poets Network offers a variety of writing challenges and contests throughout the year for poets age 25 and under from all over the world. Check Young Poets Network website for details. Current Challenge: Ways to Be Wilder a nature writing poetry Contest. Write a poem capturing the sights and sounds of nature. See website for prompts that include writing with a blindfold, using binocular backwards, and imagining you are a bird. Send as many poems as you like. If you are sending a written version of your poem, please include it in the body of an email. If you are sending a video or audio file, please attach it to the email (making sure it’s no bigger than 4MB or it won’t come through) or send us a link to where we can see/hear it. Send your poems to email@example.com with your name, age and address. Put “Ways to be Wilder Challenge” in the subject line. By entering, you give permission for Young Poets Network to reproduce your poem in print and online, though copyright remains with you. The deadline is May 29, 2016 (U.K. time).
MAHATMA GHANDI WRITING & ART CONTEST
Open to all New Jersey middle and high school students. Entries must be poems or short essays no longer than 300 words based on the following quote: “Nonviolence is the weapon of the strong.” Contest is sponsored by the Association of Indians in America. Cash awards range from $50 to $250. For more information, visit www.aia-sj.org. Deadline: June 15, 2016.
ONE TEEN STORY CONTEST
One Teen Story is open to students age 14-19. Short stories should be between 1,500 to 4,000 words and be the writer’s own original, unpublished work. Previously published stories and stories forthcoming at other publications cannot be considered. No entry form or fee is required. Deadline: June 30, 2016.
LIVE POETS SOCIETY OF NEW JERSEY
The Live Poets Society of New Jersey is open to students in grades 9-12. You may submit no more than one poem within a 90 day period. Poems must be 20 lines or less. Scholarship awards available. Deadline for Fall issue is June 30, 2016.
Sponsored by the Poetry Society, the Foyle Young Poets Award is the UK’s largest poetry competition for 11-17 year olds. The competition is free to enter.Individuals may enter more than one poem, however we strongly advise that you concentrate on drafting and redrafting your poems and send only a small selection of your very best (we suggest no more than 6-8 maximum). Remember, quality is more important than quantity! See Full Rules. Deadline: July 31, 2016.
The Live Poets Society of New Jersey is open to students in grades 9-12. You may submit no more than one poem within a 90 day period. Poems must be 20 lines or less. Scholarship awards available. Deadline for Winter issue is September 30, 2016.
The mission of YoungArts, a program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, is to identify emerging artists and assist them at critical junctures in their educational and professional development, and to raise the appreciation for, and support of, the arts in American Society. The program offers scholarships in nine disciplines: cinematic arts, dance, jazz, music, photography, theater, visual arts, voice and writing. The sub-categories for writing are: poetry (up to 6 poems, 10 pages max), creative nonfiction (up to 3 essays, 20 pages max), scriptwriting, novel excerpts and short stories (up to 3 stories, 20 pages max). The entry fee per category is $35. Deadline: October 16, 2016.
Each year, the Bennington Young Writers Competition invites students in the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade to submit their original writing for the Bennington Young Writers Competition. First-place winners in each category are awarded a prize of $500; second-place winners receive $250. Students submit one of the following: poetry (a group of three poems), fiction (a short story or one-act play), nonfiction (a personal or academic essay). More than 2,300 students submitted poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to last year’s Young Writers Competition. We congratulate all entrants on their extraordinary submissions. Entries were judged by current Bennington students and literature faculty members. Deadline: November 1, 2016.
Princeton University Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Secondary School Poetry Prize. Eligibility is limited to students in the eleventh grade during the current academic year. Applicants may submit up to three poems in a single PDF file with name, home address, email address, telephone number and name of high school, HS telephone number on each poem. The jury will consist of members of the Princeton University Creative Writing faculty such as Michael Dickman, Paul Muldoon, Tracy K. Smith, and Susan Wheeler. See website for details. Submissions must be submitted electronically by November 27, 2016.
GLIMMER TRAIN SHORT STORY AWARD FOR NEW WRITERS
This contest is open only to writers whose fiction has not appeared, nor is scheduled to appear, in any print publication with a circulation over 5,000. Most entries run from 1,500 – 6,000 words, but any lengths up to 12,000 words are welcome. Reading fee: $15 per story. Please no more than three submissions per contest. Prizes: 1st place wins $1,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue. Deadline: November 30, 2016.
KENYON REVIEW PATRICIA GRODD POETRY CONTEST FOR YOUNG WRITERS
The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers recognizes outstanding young poets and is open to high school sophomores and juniors throughout the world. The contest winner receives a full scholarship to the Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop. In addition, the winning poem will be published in The Kenyon Review. The runners up will also see their poems published. Submissions for the 2013 contest will be accepted electronically November 1 through November 30, 2016. One entry per student.
Merlyn’s Pen: Fiction, Essays, and Poems by America’s Teens (est. 1985) showcases the writing of middle and high school students. No submissions are currently being accepted, but stay tuned for upcoming contests.
Every year, in affiliation with the Library of Congress Center for the Book, River of Words sponsors a free international poetry and art contest on the theme of watersheds. Teachers or facilitators must send all entries from their classes in one envelope. Entries mailed directly from students will not be considered. Entry forms must be stapled to the back of each entry. POETRY: 32-line max. PHOTOGRAPHY or ARTWORK: 11×17 max. Grand Prize and international winners receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the awards ceremony at the Library of Congress. Deadline: December 1, 2016.
LETTERS ABOUT LITERATURE
The Letters About Literature contest is sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Students write to an author describing how that author’s work somehow changed his/her view of the world or himself/herself. Readers respond to the book they’ve read by exploring the personal relationship between themselves, the author and the book’s characters or themes. Grade 7-8 entries must by postmarked by January 11, 2016. Grade 9-12 entries must be postmarked by December 4, 2016. (See website for details).
RIDER UNIVERSITY ANNUAL HIGH SCHOOL WRITING CONTEST
High School students may submit one entry per category: essay, fiction and poetry. Essays and fiction may be no more than five typed, doubled-spaced pages. Poem may be up to 50 lines. Include on the entry your name, address, grade, teacher’s name, school name and school address. Include a letter from a teacher stating that the work is original and by you. All work must include a title. Mail to: Dr. Roberta Clipper, English Department, Rider University, 2083 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648. Winners receive $100 and possible inclusion in Rider’s literary magazine, Venture. Deadline: December 11, 2016.
PLAYWRIGHTS THEATRE SCRIPTWRITING CONTEST
The NJYPF does not look for a certain “type” of play. While we enjoy plays with “realistic” structures, we also strongly encourage plays that challenge ideologies and storytelling structure, plays that are non-traditional and inventive. That being said, you may want to consider how some of the following components are developed in your play, as they are typically what our readers look for: plot, characterization, dialogue, conflict, theme, and originality. 20 page max. See website for formatting specifications. Deadline: December 18, 2016.
NEW JERSEY COUNCIL OF TEACHERS OF ENGLISH HIGH SCHOOL WRITING CONTEST
NJCTE invites New Jersey students in grades 9-12 to participate in its 2011 Writing Contest. Categories include poetry (one poem, 50 line max), short story (5-page max), and personal essay (5 page max). Check the website for this year’s themed essay contest. Poetry and Fiction have no required theme. See website for details. Click here to register for the contest. If you are not a current student in the Creative Writing class, ask your English teacher if you can enter under his/her name. After registration mail your entries to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the GENRE but NOT YOUR NAME. Deadline: December 17, 2016.
SCHOLASTIC WRITING AWARDS
The Scholastic Writing Awards Alliance for Young Writers accepts submissions from students in grades 7 through 12. Students can earn opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication and scholarships. Works designated as Gold Keys on the regional level are forwarded for national-level review where they can earn Silver Medals and Gold Medals. Categories include dramatic script, humor, journalism, personal essay, poetry, novel writing, science fiction, and short story. Deadline: December 16, 2016.<ahref=”http://www.poetrysociety.org/psa/awards/annual/student_poetry_award/” target=”_blank”>Louise Louis/Emily F. Bourne Student Poetry Award $250. This prize is awarded for the best unpublished poem by a student in grades 9 through 12 from the United States. Teachers or administrators may submit an unlimited number of their students’ poems (one submission per student). Ask Ms. James for a copy of the cover form, fill out the information, and staple it to the poem. The poem itself should have no name on it. Deadline: Must be given to Ms. James by December 17, 2016.
SEVENTEEN MAGAZINE/FIGMENT.COM FICTION CONTEST
DISCONTINUED. Seventeen, Figment, and Scholastic are teaming up to bring you this year’s fiction contest. One lucky winner will get a $5,000 cash prize, the opportunity to have her story published on Seventeen.com, and a phone call with Maggie Stiefvater, author of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy – Shiver, Linger, and Forever. To enter, all you need to do is write an amazing, completely original story about absolutely anything, of no more than 500 words. All entries must be submitted by December 31 (at 11:59:59, ET).
LIVE POETS SOCIETY OF NEW JERSEY
The Live Poets Society of New Jersey is open to students in grades 9-12. You may submit no more than one poem within a 90 day period. Poems must be 20 lines or less. Scholarship awards available. Deadline for Spring issue is December 31, 2016.
FIGMENT: WRITE YOURSELF IN
Figment hosts a variety of contests on an ongoing basis throughout the year. Check website for current contests. Young Poets Network. The Young Poets Network is a UK site that lists upcoming contests and magazine calls for submission. Some of the listings are for UK residents only, but many are international. The site allows you to filter your search by age range and type of market.