Short story competition to give Year 9-13 students a creative outlet during pandemic

A writing programme based at Keele University has launched a short story competition to help young people stay creative and share how coronavirus has affected their lives.

The competition, launched by White Water Writers, is open all summer and allows individuals to submit their stories and be in with the chance of winning £50 worth of book vouchers, as well as having their work published in a collection of stories which will be available to purchase on Amazon. Each entrant will also receive a free copy of the book.

White Water Writers, funded and supported by Higher Horizons+, part of the Uni Connect Programme, is a project aimed at students in Years 9 to 13 from areas that have low participation in higher education.

The project provides young people with the opportunity to collaboratively write and publish a novel in a single week which can help to raise attainment as well as aspirations and self-esteem. By adapting the existing programme, young people are being provided with a new creative outlet which can help them process how the coronavirus pandemic has affected their life, as well as continuing the development of writing and communication skills.

Entrants are invited to download a handy resource pack which details how to submit their work, provides useful tips on how to write a short story, and includes a number of story prompts to help get them started.

Richard Seymour, White Water Writers Officer, said: “The quality of the submissions so far has been extremely high. The young people who have engaged with the activity have clearly worked very hard. We've enjoyed reading the stories, but over the summer we will be analysing them more deeply. Previous research has found that writing fiction allows us to explore ideas, feelings and identities in a safe space, so the stories could provide us with a valuable insight as to how lockdown affected adolescents.”

Ant Sutcliffe, Head of Higher Horizons+, said: “Once again, we are reminded that Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent have some of the most talented and creative young people in the country. The quality of the stories so far has really impressed us and we look forward to publishing the book with all the short stories in, meaning these fantastic young people will all become published authors.”