In a world where J.K. Rowling’s manuscript of “Harry Potter” was rejected 12 times and Kathryn Stockett’s manuscript of “The Help” was rejected 60 times, it can be easy to become despondent about publishing your fiction, even more so for teenage writers aching to voice their thoughts to the world.
However, there’s an abundance of writing competitions year round for teens and writing contests for high school students — you just need to know where to look.
Here, I compiled a list of 33 writing contests for teens. Genres include: fiction, poetry, nonfiction, screenplays, and plays.
Some of these contests may sound like the competition is too stiff, especially if the organization receives thousands of submissions every year. But speaking from personal experience, you never know unless you try. Rejections will pile up for young authors, but so will acceptances accompanied by whoops and fist pumps.
Additionally, the experiences offered by certain teen contests such as working with professionals, revisiting your work, and perhaps even seeing it come to life either in a publication or on stage is indescribably rewarding and gratifying.
So, young writers, submit on!
1. Ocean Awareness Student Contest
The theme is “Making Meaning out of Ocean Pollution,” and it challenges you to research, explore, interpret, and say something meaningful about the connections between human activities and the health of our oceans. Prizes range from $100-$1,500.
Grades: Middle school – High school
2. Rattle Young Poets Anthology
This is an anthology to look back on the past and view your younger work with pride. The author of the poem must have been age 15 or younger when the poem was written, and 18 or younger when submitted.
Ages: 18 or younger
Number of submissions: “Thousands” are submitted, 50 are chosen.
3. Inkitt Novel Contest
If you have a novel over 20,000 words, submit it to this contest where a community of readers will read your story. The more they love it, the better chance you have of winning a publishing deal.
Think of it as American Idol for your novel.
Plus, all published authors with Inkitt receive these great perks:
- $6,000+ invested into your book launch
- 25% royalties on every copy sold
- Cover design and professional editing
- Publicity on Amazon (over 90% of their books become bestsellers right after launching)
This is a fantastic contest that can get you a ton of exposure and even result in a book deal. Read the reviews on their website and submit today. It’s free and easy to upload your manuscript and have readers start reading your work immediately.
4. Hypernova Lit
Any and all types of writing are welcome. Long short stories, short short stories, prose poetry, traditional poetry, blackout poetry, creative accounts of your life and experiences, essays about yourself, essays about what you love, plays, scripts, letters, lists, rants, lyrics, journal writing.
Deadline: Open Year-round
5. Princeton University Poetry Contest for High School Students
The Princeton University Poetry Contest recognizes outstanding work by student writers in the 11th grade. Prizes: First Prize – $500, Second Prize – $250, Third Prize – $100.
6. The Bennington Young Writers Awards
Students in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades enter in one of the following categories: poetry (a group of three poems), fiction (a short story or one-act play), or nonfiction (a personal or academic essay). First-place winners in each category are awarded a prize of $500; second-place winners receive $250.
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7. Canvas Literary Journal
Teen literary magazine published quarterly.
Seeking writers ages 13-18 to submit fiction, novel excerpts, poetry, plays, nonfiction, new media, and cross-genre.
8. The New Voices One-Act Competition for Young Playwrights
Submit your best one-act play (one per playwright!) to the New Voices competition and you can potentially win cash, software from fabulous sponsors Final Draft and Great Dialogue, and even publication!
Ages: 19 or younger
Submission period: Fall
9. Princeton University 10 Minute Play Contest
Eligibility for this annual playwriting contest is limited to students in the eleventh grade. Prizes: First Prize – $500, Second Prize – $250, Third Prize – $100. The jury consists of members of the Princeton University Program in Theater faculty.
10. Jet Fuel Review
Through Lewis University, Jet Fuel Review is run entirely by students under the supervision of faculty advisers Dr. Simone Muench and Dr. Jackie White.
Jet Fuel Review is looking for quality in writing, whether it be in poetry, prose, non-fiction, or artwork.
Submission periods: August to October; January to March
11. Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
Since 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have recognized the vision, ingenuity, and talent of our nation’s youth. Through the Awards, students receive opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication, and scholarships.
Students across America submitted nearly 320,000 original works during our 2016 program year across 29 different categories of art and writing.
Submissions period: September to December
In this handbook for young writers, “Spilling Ink,” professional authors give advice to teens who want to become authors.
By mixing personal anecdotes with practical advice, this book offers everything a young author will need to create incredible stories.
12. One Teen Story
One Teen Story is an award-winning literary magazine for readers and writers of young adult literature. Subscribers receive one curated and edited work of short fiction each month in the mail or on their digital devices.
Submission period: September to May
13. The Claremont Review
The editors of the Claremont Review publish the best poetry, short stories, short plays, visual art, and photography by young adults. We publish work in many styles that range from traditional to modern.
We prefer pieces that explore real characters and reveal authentic emotion.
Submission period: September to April
14. Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest
Sponsored by Hollins University, the Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest is in its fifty-second year. The contest awards prizes for the best poems submitted by young women who are sophomores or juniors in high school or preparatory school. Prizes up to $5,000 are awarded to winners. Winners are chosen by students and faculty members in the creative writing program at Hollins.
15.VSA Playwright Discovery Competition
Each year, young writers with and without disabilities, in U.S. grades 6-12 (or equivalents) or ages 11-18 for non-U.S. students, are asked to explore the disability experience through the art of script writing for stage or screen.
Writers may craft scripts from their own experiences and observations, create fictional characters and settings, or choose to write metaphorically or abstractly about the disability experience. Winners in these divisions will receive $500 for arts programs at their schools.
Grades: 6-12 OR Ages: 11-18
The National YoungArts Foundation identifies and nurtures the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary, design and performing arts and assists them at critical junctures in their educational and professional development.
Additionally, YoungArts Winners are eligible for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students who exemplify academic and artistic excellence.
Ages: 15-18 OR Grades: 10-12
17. The Critical Junior Poet’s Award Contest
The Critical Pass Review is now accepting submissions online for its Critical Junior Poet’s Award Contest, an editor’s choice award for exceptional promise in the art of poetry. Applicants between the ages of 13 and 18 can enter for free. The winner will receive a $100 cash prize, a $20 iTunes card, a CD of master poets reading their poetry, publication of his/her winning work in The Critical Pass Review‘s Summer 2016 issue, and more.
Submissions period:November to March
“Leap Write In!” is from acclaimed author Karen Benke, who does a fantastic job helping teen writers to generate ideas for their next story.
This book has an amazing spread of writing prompts, all designed to get your heart on the page and the reader’s heart in their throat.
18. The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize 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.
19. Santa Fe University of Arts & Design High School Creative Writing Competition
The Glazner Creative Writing Contest is an opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to compete for a chance at publication in Santa Fe University of Art and Design’s online journal, Jackalope Magazine. To enter, students must submit up to 10 pages of work in any genre to our contest email address (ude.y1520758686tisre1520758686vinue1520758686fatna1520758686s@tse1520758686tnoc1520758686).
Deadline: November to December
20. Young Authors Writing Competition (Columbia College Chicago)
The Young Authors Writing Competition is a national competition for high school writers of fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry. It began as a local contest in 1995, and since then has expanded into a national competition that has received tens of thousands of submissions from students across the country. 1st Place: $300, 2nd Place: $150, and 3rd Place: $50.
Submission period: November to January
21. Odyssey Con
The OddContest is an annual competition for speculative (science fiction, fantasy, or horror) stories or prose poems no longer than 500 words. Prizes: $50 to first place; Odyssey Con membership and free books to top 3.
Ages: 18 or younger
22. Young Playwrights INC.
Selected writers will be invited to New York, expenses paid, for our Young Playwrights Conference to work with some of this country’s most exciting professional theater artists, and to hear their plays read in our Off-Broadway Readings Series.
Ages: 18 or younger
23. University of Iowa – Hemingway Festival High School Writing Contest
Accepting Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction, Poetry, and Essays.
Winners and Finalists will be recognized at the 7th Annual University of Idaho Hemingway Festival, and cash prizes will be awarded in each category. Winners will also be considered for publication in an online University of Idaho publication. There will be one winner and one Finalist in each category with one Overall Grand Prize Winner. Cash prizes up to $500.
24. Interlochen Review
Interlochen Arts Academy is a high school boarding school and summer camp. It online literary journal accepts submissions from high school students in five categories: Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Screen/Stageplay and Hybrid form. Up to 6 pieces total.
Submissions Period: February to March
25. Aerie International Journal
Aerie International was born of a desire to offer outstanding young writers and artists an opportunity to share, edit, and publish their work internationally. What makes this journal unique is that it is designed, edited and published entirely by high school students. Students whose work is selected received $100 in addition to a copy of the magazine.
26. Chapman Art and Writing Holocaust Contest
Focusing on themes central both to the Holocaust and to ethical decision making in our world today, the contest gives students from public, private and parochial schools the opportunity to share their creative works in response to survivors’ oral testimonies.
Participating schools may submit a total of three entries from three individual students in the following categories: art, film, prose, and/or poetry.
“Writing Magic” is for every young author who wants to create a world that magically transports the reader.
She focuses on the core advice every writer needs: how to write beginnings and endings, how to create unforgettable characters, and how to write snappy dialogue that keeps readers laughing and crying.
27. Writopia Lab Worldwide Plays Festival
The festival includes plays written in workshops at Writopia’s labs across the country and plays submitted to our competition from playwrights around the world from playwrights in 1st through 12th grade (ages 6 to 18). Plays are professionally produced in New York.
Grades: 1-12 OR Ages: 6-18
28. The Blank Theater’s Young Playwrights’ Festival
Since 1993, 12 plays are chosen by a panel of theatre professionals from submissions across America. Winning playwrights are provided careful mentoring and direction from industry professionals to help prepare their work for public performance and hone their skills, talent and confidence. Nowhere else in the nation can young playwrights receive the prize of seeing their vision come to life on stage in a professional production featuring known actors from film, television and theatre. The plays are crafted by seasoned professional directors and each is given several public performances in a month-long Festival.
29. Austin International Poetry Festival (AIPF)
Each year the Austin International Poetry Festival (AIPF) recognizes youth poets by publishing their work together in a truly diverse anthology. We welcome international poets from kindergarten through high school grade level or age to submit up to three poems.
30. Winter Tangerine
Winter Tangerine is a literary journal dedicated to the electric. To the salt. The sugar. We want bitter honey, expired sweets. We want catalysts. Accepting submissions of poetry, prose, drama, visual art, and short film.
Submission period: April to October
31. The Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose
The Adroit Journal, published at the University of Pennsylvania is open to all writers. The Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose are awarded annually to two students of secondary or undergraduate status whose written work “inspires the masses to believe beyond feeling the work.” In other words, we strive to receive the absolute best work from emerging young writers in high school and college, and the best of the best will receive these two lovely awards.
Submission Period: To be announced
32. Hanging LooseMagazine
Hanging Loose Magazine is a professional magazine that welcomes high school submissions. Payment plus 2 copies. Send 3 to 6 poems, or 1 to 3 short stories, or an equivalent combination of poetry and prose to High School Editor, Hanging Loose, 231 Wyckoff Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217. Identify yourself as a high school age writer.
Deadline: Open Year-round
An online publishing opportunity for young writers.
The New Pages Young Author’s Guide
A resource for young authors to find places to submit their work!
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I’ve been searching for writing contests for kids for my daughter and her friend. Many kids, like mine, want to write for an audience; they’d love to be published. This round-up of opportunities might just help give young writers their first chance.
Let me also suggest that you temper your kids enthusiasm with a bit of reality. It’s a tricky thing because you don’t want to be a killjoy but you also want your children to understand that good, award-winning writing is hard work and takes dedication. So even when faced with rejection, or not winning, kids need to persevere and keep writing. (Feel free to share stories authors such as Madeline L’Engle, J.K. Rowlings, and Dr. Seuss who were rejected for publishing A LOT.)
Also, it’s important that kids read through the past winners or published pieces so they get an idea of what the contest or publication is looking for.
Revision, of course, is essential. You can help by giving kids specific feedback on technique — printable revision tips here. Make sure your story has a story arc. And, proofread a million times to be sure you’re not sending in something with errors!
Check my NanNoWriMo for Kids post for more writing and revision tips.
Writing Contests for Kids
Scholastic’s Kids are Authors
ages: K – 8
Details: This unique writing contests asks kids to collaborate in groups of three or more and the entries must be between 21 – 29 pages, illustrations included. (Text + illustration = 1 page.) The deadline is March 15, 2016 and is the last time for this contest. See all the rules and info here.
PBS Kids Go! Writer’s Contest
ages: K – 3rd grade
Details: This isn’t the easiest contest to enter since it depends on local PBS stations and local stations also pick the winners. Word count depends on your grade but is about 100 – 200 words. Rules here.
ages: 8 – 12
Details: Check the website for deadlines for their spring and fall writing contests. Cash prizes. $15 fee.
ages: K – 6 grade
Details: Monthly winners in ongoing writing contest. Check the website for details.
ages: not stated
Details: Check the website for new contests.
ages: grades 3 – 5, grades 6 – 8, grades 9 – 12
Details: Science fiction or fantasy story on any topic. The only limits are your imagination and the short list of rules. No entry fee. There are small cash awards for the winners in each category. The submissions will be evaluated by a panel of teachers (retired and current).
Neuroscience Kids Poetry Contest
ages: K – 12
Details: Due Feb. 1!
Building Stories Contest / The Henry Ford
ages: 3rd – 12th grades
Details: Each year has a unique writing prompt. That 2016 prompt is to write about Rosa Parks.
Write the World
ages: not stated
Details: This is a online writing community for kids. Contests are posted from time to time here.
Mrs. P’s Be a Famous Writer
ages: K-4th grades
Details: Submissions open from September to mid-November each year with a yearly prompt.
ages: 5 – 12
This online literary magazine holds writing and drawing competitions throughout the year about a specific theme.
Use the illustration provided to write a story.
Young Writers Explore Learning (UK ONLY)
ages: 14 and under
Details: A UK based contest judged by author Lauren Child with specific prompts.
Magazines and Online Publications for Kids’ Writing
Creative Kids Magazine
ages: 8 – 16
Details: Cartoons, songs, plays, stories and more are accepted for submission. If you’re choose, your work will appear in the magazine.
ages: not stated
Details: This magazine publishes kid writing but also will publish: drawings, poems, jokes, riddles, tongue twisters, stories, science questions, and book reviews.
ages: 9 – 14
Details: Fiction, poetry, and nonfiction welcome in this literary magazine. Guidelines for submissions here.
ages: 13 and YOUNGER
Details: This magazine receives a lot of submissions so read through what actually gets published for a better chance. It accepts stories, book reviews, and poems. $3 fee.
ages: 7 to 17
Details: This publication has a multicultural focus. Send in essays, interviews, poems, plays, or short stories. $5 fee. Winners published in their autumn issue.
ages: not stated
Details: This is an Irish publication but accepts entries from anywhere in the world.
Guardian Angel Kids
ages: up to age 14
Details: Themes for submissions here. If your work is accepted (articles, fiction, poetry) then the magazine will own in and will pay you for your work. Just be sure that if your writing is accepted, you don’t post it anywhere else since you will not own it anymore.
ages: 10 – 18
Details: This publication is searching for compelling poetry, short stories, flash fiction, and creative non-fiction that paint images with language.
ages: 0 – 14, 14+
Details: This girls magazine is looking for artwork and fiction stories.
Amazing Kids! Magazine
ages: 5 to 18
Details: A magazine written by kids and teens looking for stories, articles, adventures, and more. Submission guidelines here.
Details: This is an online writing community meant to encourage teen writers to write and share their work. You can post your work and get feedback as well as give feedback to other writers. Contests are posted throughout the year.
Details: This magazine loves SF/fantasy and historical fiction as well as narrative nonfiction about teen topics.
Details: This is an online writing community with a wealth of opportunities for young writers.
More publication opportunities for young writers are listed on this website but this list isn’t always current.
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by Melissa Taylor14 CommentsFiled Under: Education, Elementary, Imagination Soup, Writing, Writing FunTagged With: contests, Writing