NOTE: THIS WRITING AWARD IS NOW CLOSED FOR SUBMISSIONS “I credit the Wicked Young Writers’ Award with helping me find my voice as a writer and build my confidence. Having my winning story printed in the Anthology and read aloud by an actor from Wicked was a treasured moment. I have recently published my first book, lost and found, and I credit this award with being the first people to believe in me as a writer and so helping me to start this journey. The opportunities this award gives are unrivalled and I would urge every young writer to enter.”
- Sophie Max, Wicked Young Writers’ Award winner 11-14 category 2012. Sophie and one other winner have also shared their TOP TIPS TO BUDDING NEW WRITERS as has the bestselling author of How to Train your Dragon, Cressida Cowell, has also shared her tips too. Scroll down to view them.
FICTION categories - any creative writing will be accepted including a story, play, or poem with five age ranges - 5-7 years old • 8-10 years old • 11-14 years old • 15-17 years old • 18-25 years old
NON-FICTION categories - enter the Wicked: For Good Award for Non-Fiction and write an article, essay, biography, review or letter, to name a few! - 15-17 years old • 18-25 years old
Launched in 2010, the free-to-enter, annual creative writing competition for 5-25 year olds raises money for, and awareness of, the National Literacy Trust who campaign to improve public understanding of the vital importance of literacy. The Wicked Young Writer Awards was established by the long-running musical WICKED to link the important messages of the production with a competition that would inspire young people to use creative writing to look at life a little differently. Since its launch in 2010, over 20,000 entries have been received. Deadline for entries is MONDAY 12th MARCH 2018. Entrants can submit their writing by visiting www.WickedYoungWriterAwards.com, where they will also find writing tips and resources from the Award judges. JUDGING PANEL - The acclaimed WICKED YOUNG WRITER AWARDS, created and sponsored by the award-winning musical WICKED in association with the National Literacy Trust, are delighted to announce that author, award-winning journalist and former Labour MP Ed Balls is returning to join on the judging panel, alongside acclaimed Young People’s Laureate for London, Caleb Femi and Editor-in-Chief of First News, Nicky Cox MBE. Author and illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon books, Cressida Cowell, returns as Head Judge for the fourth consecutive year, together with long-standing judges Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust and Michael McCabe, Executive Producer of WICKED. Check out some Top Tips to Budding New Writers from bestselling children's author and one of this year's judges, Cressida Cowell as well as two previous winners: Cressida Cowell
My top writing tip would be to read lots, to give you a feel for the way different stories can be told. Also practice writing as much as you can – write, and re-write – don’t worry if you don’t finish a story, as long as you are practicing, that’s what matters. Also don’t worry if your stories aren’t very long: I didn’t start out writing books as long as the ones I write now. You can still do research when you are creating your own fantasy world. Kids often think that ideas get beamed into an author’s head, or that when you write fantasy you can’t do background reading, but many ideas in The Wizards of Once were sparked by books I read about the history of magic, and magical creatures. You can be inspired by your own experiences. Ideas I had about Vikings and dragons during summer holidays when I was 9 years old became 12 books, and a film and TV series. I had a slightly unusual childhood (I spent my summers on an uninhabited Scottish Island), but the world we all live in is full of extraordinary, wonderful idea for stories. You only have to watch an episode of Blue Planet to see that’s true. I always begin my stories with a map of my imaginary place. Lots of other authors have done the same – Robert Louis Stevenson drew a map of Treasure Island before starting to write. This is a really easy way of thinking about characters and setting. Often kids say to be that they aren’t very good at writing, but I know that’s not true – what they’re struggling with is the mechanics of getting the words onto paper. If you can make up a game in the playground, or you tell your friends stories, you can be an author! Get an adult to write or type for you, if you need to. Keep an ideas notebook so you can scribble down ideas and drawings. This doesn’t need to be neat, and no one should be correcting it for spelling, because spelling doesn’t matter. I kept an sketchbook for The Wizards of Once for about 5 years.
Cressida Cowell’s new book, The Wizards of Once is available now. Sophie Max (Co – Winner of the 11-12 category, Wicked Young Writer Awards in 2012):
1. Write down all your ideas! I carry a journal to jot down sparks of inspiration. If I don't have my journal to hand, I’ll use the Notes app on my phone. 2. I always say that I know my characters better than I know some real people in my life. Perhaps its because I’m also an actress, but I think you’ve got to know them inside out to be able to get inside their head and write their experience authentically. You need to love them in order for your readers to love them! 3. Jump in at the deep end! Just write. Try and turn off your inner critic and let the words flow out. Don’t worry about the grammar, the structure, the word count. You can go back and edit later. I like to get some distance from my work by not looking at it for 2 weeks, then go back and re-read it: once for typos/spelling/ grammar, then multiple times more for the sense, word choices and the story, to check I’m expressing myself exactly how I want to. Then, I leave it again for a week or two before starting the whole editing process again. 4. Inspire yourself! Meet interesting people, go to art galleries, watch plays and movies, read a variety of books, travel, keep up with the news, go for walks…you never know what might inspire you. Cultivate yourself because your writing comes from you- the more interested you are, the more interesting your work will be! 5. Each person has a different voice- your biggest power as an author is YOU. Write from your heart and imagination. Write what you’re passionate about. Never worry about what someone else thinks or mimic another writer - you won’t write the same as someone else and that is your strength! GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY WRITING!!
Iona Mandal (co-winner of the 8 to 10 category, Wicked Young Writer Awards 2017) King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls, Birmingham
"Good writing needs practice and is best nurtured over time. Try to write something new every day for the joy of it and refine your work continuously with time and patience. Good reading makes good writing. A latent idea often needs a spark to emerge. Good books inspire conceptualizing new plots besides helping barge onto unfamiliar territory and subjects. Technology is a blessing and can be used judiciously to boost online reading. I tend to rely on personal experiences, anecdotes or even stories passed down orally over generations in the family. These can be valuable repositories in framing characters and situations from myriad perspectives as one chooses. Research becomes crucial especially if one is delving onto subjects demanding historical authenticity in terms of dates or facts. But I also tend to let my imagination run wild. An inquisitive and sensitive mind always helps. Observation, often deliberately or unknowingly (till it becomes almost second nature) can help one make mental notes to be later translated onto paper. A good piece of writing oozes power and yet remains silent. Hence, handpicking right words or phrases is vital so as to express ones thoughts and feelings as eloquently as possible so as to touch a chord with the reader. Building one’s vocabulary always helps but what is more important is to appreciate the meaning and feel of words so as to enrich the quality of writing. Clarity of thought comes from knowing what you wish to accomplish exactly. It is worth keeping the plot simple with a few well thought out characters. Imperfections and peculiarities always work, so avoid clichés. Normal is boring. There is a big, wide world out there waiting to be explored!"
Full Rules can be found at Wicked Young Writer Awards PRIZES
AWARD PARTNERS NATIONAL LITERACY TRUST - The Award is proud to partner with National Literacy Trust. One person in six in the UK lives with poor literacy. This holds them back at every stage of their life. As a child they won't be able to succeed at school, as a young adult they will be locked out of the job market, and on becoming a parent they won't be able to support their child's learning. Lacking these vital skills undermines their well being and stops them making a full contribution to the economic and cultural life of our nation. The National Literacy Trust is a national charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK. It works to improve the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in the UK's most disadvantaged communities, where up to 40 per cent of people have literacy problems. Its research and analysis make it the leading authority on literacy. Because low literacy is intergenerational, the National Literacy Trust focuses its work on families, young people and children. FIRST NEWS - First News is the Media Partner to the awards and is the UK’s only newspaper for young people. It was founded in 2006 by Sarah and Steve Thomson with editor Nicky Cox. It has always been independently owned and have no political affiliations. It is published both print and digital editions every Friday. Ten years on, over 2 million young people nationwide read First News each week with over half of all UK schools subscribing to the paper. LOVEREADING - We have just joined the Awards as a partner for 2018. LoveReading is a unique family of websites including Lovereading.co.uk, Lovereading4Kids.co.uk and Lovereading4schools, and media channels which helps to connect writers, readers, publishers and organisations with an active and enthusiastic audience of book lovers. THE LITERACY SHED - a unique online resource for teachers, home to a wealth of visual resources collected by primary school teacher Rob Smith over 10 years as a teacher. The Literacy Shed has over 24k followers on Twitter. PRIMARY TIMES - over 18 million copies of Primary Times magazines distributed every year through primary schools in 59 regions across the UK and Ireland. ABOUT WICKED Based on the acclaimed novel by Gregory Maguire that ingeniously re-imagines the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, WICKED tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two sorcery students. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West. Now in its 12th year in London and acclaimed as “one of the West End’s true modern classics” (Metro), WICKED has already been seen by over 8.5 million people in London alone and is the recipient of over 100 major awards worldwide, including ten theatregoer-voted WhatsOnStage Awards (winning ‘Best West End Show’ on three occasions) and two Olivier Audience Awards in the UK.