Writing competitions for young writers are an important way to encourage writing and to get young people interested in and excited about writing. Writing is the other side of the coin from reading and good readers often enjoy writing. BT&M is always happy to promote and share opportunities for young people to develop their writing skills – and if they can win a prize in the process all the better! There are a number of competitions open to teens in the UK: Wicked is one of these and it stands out because:
- writers up to the age of 25 can enter, meaning this competition is open to all sixth form or college students too.
- entries can be in the form of stories or poems
- it includes a new fanfiction category for 14-25 year olds.
- the awards ceremony is rather special because of where it is held (Apollo Theatre) and the involvement of the Wicked cast
The 2015 winners in this competition were announced today making it an ideal time to share with you details of how the award works so that you can prepare yourself, your students or your children for the 2016 awards! If you aren’t too sure where to start, checkout the Wicked Awards website which includes a section with advice and resources for teachers and another with advice for writers.
If you haven’t heard of the award it could be because it is only five years old. The long-running West End show launched the Award in 2010 to recognize excellence in writing, encourage creativity and help develop writing talent in young people between 5 and 25 years of age from across all backgrounds and areas of the UK. It is separated into five age categories as follows: 5-7, 8-10, 11-14 and 15-17, and an individual Gregory Maguire Award for 18-25 year-olds. One winner from each of categories’ twenty shortlisted entrants receives a family ticket including backstage tour to the award-winning musical Wicked and a special certificate. The school that encourages the most entries wins an array of books for their respective school libraries. The award was spearheaded by the author Michael Morpurgo and is championed by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall. In 2015 the judges line up included the Cressida Cowell – author of the popular series How to Train Your Dragon.
Photo from the Wicked production
Shortlisted entrants already had the excitement of seeing their names on the Wicked Awards website and then were able to attend the ceremony announcing the winners at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, home of the award-winning musical WICKED. In addition, all shortlisted entries have the opportunity to see their names in print with the 5-17 year old age-categories published in an anthology celebrating the 2015 Wicked Young Writers’ Award. The shortlisted entries from the 18-25 year old age category, The Gregory Maguire Award (18-25 age group winner) and The Sugarscape Fan Fiction Award, have been published in an e-anthology downloadable from the Wicked Young Writers’ Award website.
I have had the opportunity to look at some of the winning entries and they are impressive and inspirational – a mixture of stories and poems. Many teens will enjoy the Sugarscape Fanfiction winner which is The Hunger Games – Alternative Ending by Evie Buller, age 14, from Northamptonshire. However it is worth taking time to read the all the original and interesting winners and runner ups – as Cressida Cowell commented:
“These stories and poems address vital concerns, the really big questions. War, mental illness, love and the forging of identity are just a few of the issues explored with clarity and imagination. As a judge, I was looking to be moved, amused, stimulated and entertained, and I was not disappointed.”