2020 Contest Guidelines

2020 Young Writers Contest Guidelines

Enter to Win our $200 Grand Prize

Writing for Peace challenges young writers (ages 13-19) to expand their empathy skills by researching an unfamiliar culture and writing from the point-of-view of a character within that new world, while exploring social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes.

  • The deadline for entrance is June 1st, 2020.
  • Winners will be announced on our blog on July 1st.
  • There is no fee for participation.
  • Writers, ages 13-19, may submit in one of three categories – poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. Ages are counted from the entry date, and entrants are required to show proof of age (those images are never shared publicly).
  • Winners and published finalists will be asked to submit an author’s photograph and biography. We encourage you to explore the past winners’ pages on our website to see the types of information and pictures authors share.
  • The contest is open internationally, but all submissions must be written in English and submitted with the completed form. Both American and British English are accepted.

Awards:

First, second, and third place prizes will be awarded in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry categories. Announcements will be made on July 1st on the Writing for Peace Blog. Be sure to subscribe to our blog to receive email posts and updates.

  • First, second, and third place winners will receive a certificate, publication, and an invitation to participate in our 2020 Youth Summit. One Grand Prize Winner will receive $200.
  • Winners’ work, photo, bio, and a follow-up interview will be published in our August 1st, 2020, online journal, DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts.
  • Finalists may be eligible for online publication in our Writing for Peace blog, and a chance to work with Writing for Peace editors, as well as opportunities to participate in other Writing for Peace Events, such as our Annual Youth Summit, readings, and possible mentoring opportunities.
  • The author will retain copyright of the literary work with the understanding that Writing for Peace may publish in DoveTales, online, and/or republish at a later date in a printed anthology.

In all divisions your work should attempt to:

  • Show day-to-day life.
  • Show family relations and friendships.
  • Show outside forces at work (weather, government/politics, social pressures, etc.)
  • Avoid stereotypes and generalizations.  Dig beneath the surface to explore common humanity and universal themes.

All submissions (even fiction) should be about a real country or culture, although it could be a country that no longer exists. For example, you could choose to write a period piece that takes place between 1918 and 1992 about Czechoslovakia, or a fiction piece about Anatolia that takes place during the 13th century. The challenge is to research the pressures faced by your characters so that you are able to convey their point-of-view convincingly.

While there are different cultures within the man-made borders of our countries, and there is value in exploring those differences, the purpose of this challenge is to stretch as a writer and develop the empathy that not only leads to powerful writing, but a greater understanding and compassion between peoples. If you feel strongly that researching a culture within your borders would be a stretch for you, and beneficial to your writing development, then we will allow it. But be sure to give a thorough explanation of your decision.

Fiction Division:

Submit an original unpublished short story of 800-1000 words in the voice of a character from another country or culture.

Poetry Division:

Submit one poem (no longer than 1000 words) in the voice of a character from another country or culture.

Nonfiction Division:

Write an 800-1000 word essay about a social, political, environmental, or familial challenge faced by individuals within a cultural group, or a personal experience with another culture.

Copyright © 2019 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

100 thoughts on “2020 Contest Guidelines

  1. Pingback: Recharge for Upcoming Writing Deadlines | Writing For Peace

  2. Anne

    can we write an essay on a particular topic or is it supposed to be a story with the character’s pov

    Reply
  3. Aindrila Rakshit

    I am 17 years old but I graduated high school this month. Can I participate?
    If yes then what should I fill in the school, grade and language teacher boxes in the submission form?

    Reply
  4. mika

    Hi, I have a question about prove of my age.
    I have a student ID which I used last year but it’s written about my birthday and year. Also it’s a school one so it’s not a kind of national thing as passport and drive license. Can I use it to prove my age?

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      R,
      Thanks for your question! While there are different cultures within the man-made borders of our countries, and there is value in exploring those differences, the purpose of this challenge is to stretch as a writer and develop the empathy that not only leads to powerful writing, but a greater understanding and compassion between peoples. If you feel strongly that researching a culture within your borders would be a stretch for you, and beneficial to your writing development, then we will allow it. But be sure to give a thorough explanation of your decision.
      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. Ay

        Hi, I was wondering if you could clarify what “within your borders” mean? Does this mean physically, in the country you live in, or your ethnicity? And at what part of the application would we explain why it was a stretch for us? Thank you

        Reply
        1. admin Post author

          These are good questions. Yes, the guidelines are referring to physical borders, but an argument can be made for ethnicity or cultural “borders” as well. There are places on the form that give entrants an opportunity to write about their research and what they learned during the process of writing. Good luck!

          Reply
        2. Spinel mccray

          Im African American but I’m writing from the point of view of a cocasion American but it’s a surprise I’m very confident about this and I think I’ll win not for the money either but for recognization .

          Reply
  5. h

    I am half-fillipino, so could I write about Fillipino culture? Also, if I set it in the present, would it be considered non-fiction?

    Reply
  6. C

    Would I be able to write about a slightly controversial topic? I’d like to write about Armenian genocide, but a few nations don’t recognize the Armenian genocide. I’d like to write about the topic for the non-fiction category but I don’t know if it would be considered too controversial.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Absolutely. Don’t hesitate to be controversial. In a nonfiction entry, you’ll want to make sure you do your research nd check your facts. Good luck.

      Reply
  7. Lauren Jordan

    My students are finishing their persuasive essay as though writing like Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of Civil War, anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin), that their essay may persuade others to end slavery. Would that be applicable for this contest?

    Reply
  8. Rachel Wong

    I was wondering if college students are allowed to apply. Or are there similar contests for college students? Please let me know. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      The contest is open for ages 13-19. We also hope you’ll consider submitting work to our journal. The summer issue is themed “Resistance.”

      Reply
  9. em

    Hi! I saw a few comments earlier in the threads about the deadline being May 1st. It seems that the deadline noted on the website elsewhere is June 1st. Is there a discrepancy and/or what’s the actual deadline? Thank you!!

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Thanks for your question! The board of directors has voted to extend the deadline to June 1st. This news went out with the post on Monday, along with an invitation to join us for a Zoom reading with poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller this Friday, May 1st, at 8pm Eastern Time. You can find the information on our blog. Hope you’ll check it out!

      Reply
  10. Kayleigh

    On the article it says the entrance deadline is June 1st, but in the comments it says that it’s May 1st. So, what is the deadline?

    Reply
  11. Bella

    Hi there! If I’m homeschooled, what do I put for my English Teacher’s name? I don’t have one.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Good question! You can write “Homeschooled” and we’ll know to use your parents’ information if we need to reach them for any reason. Good luck!

      Reply
  12. Karen

    In the piece I’m thinking of writing about, it alludes to sex. Is that okay? This is because I’m basing it off of a Vestal Virgin in the ancient Roman culture?

    Reply
  13. Karen

    Do we have to put in our teacher’s information? I’m doing this in the regulation of my parents, and I wouldn’t want my teacher getting emails they didn’t ask for. Also, I do not know their phone number.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      You can use your parents’ information there. Many people are homeschooled, especially now during the pandemic. Good luck!

      Reply
  14. Bean

    What exactly is the grand prize winner? Is it a person chosen between the 1st places of each category? Also, how is the grand prize winner paid via? Thank you!

    Reply
  15. Corbin Citrowski

    Would I be able to switch between different points of view to have a more in depth look at each characters emotions?

    Reply
  16. Isaiah

    If we choose to write about a personal experience with another culture, would we have to do any research or can it just be based on the experience?

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Your experience may count as research, but you would be wise to supplement that with additional research. Good luck.

      Reply
  17. Samathi

    Hi there!
    Will only the first,second and third place winners of each category receive an invitation to the Youth Summit 2020 or will there be a set number of finalists who will be invited too? for example, the top 10 authors of each category…

    Reply
  18. I.S.

    I am wondering- I am twelve right now, but will turn 13 a month after the contest. Can I still join the contest?

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      I’m so sorry, no. But we hope you will enter next year. Keep writing. And, of course, you are always welcome to submit your work to DoveTales.

      Reply
  19. Emma Walls

    Is it okay if we go a little bit over 1000 words? Like 5 words over? I finished my document, but when I convert it to a Google Docs, it says 1005 words. But, everywhere else, it says 1000 words. I guess Google Docs is counting the page numbers? Do the page numbers count?

    Reply
  20. Beth

    Hi!
    I was wondering if a non fiction essay can be about a family member’s experience of discrimination for their culture? Also, when will the winners be announced?

    Reply
  21. Jean

    Hi,

    Can the poem be about an existing country and its culture during a certain period? For example, could it be about France during the French revolution? Or can we only write about countries that no longer exist if we want to set our piece in the past?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  22. Mandy

    If we were to include translations at the bottom of the piece, would they count as part of the total word count?

    Ex. “Court, court!” he cried.

    Court = run

    Reply
  23. Maxine

    Hi, I recently turned in my non-fiction submission to the competition! However, I would like to update some parts of the form (particularly, the teacher contact information I listed down and a file I uploaded). Would I be able to do this/submit another form in its place?

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      The safest thing is probably to re-enter with the correct information and clarify in the comments that this entry replaces the old one.

      Reply
  24. Mahaila

    Hi im 14 years ild ajd my previous ela teacher just posted this i love writing and was wondering if i could still enter

    Reply
  25. Yahya

    I have just submitted my non fiction story how long do you wait for any feedback about the work to come through.

    Reply
  26. Rose

    Hi, I was wondering if I’m eligible: I’m 19 and I graduated high school last year but will be attending university next year. If so, what do you recommend I put down in the boxes?

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      You’ll want to include the names of your teacher last year. Yes, you are correct that the contest is open to ages 13-19.

      Reply
  27. Lisa

    Can I briefly mention that I am Caucasian in my story and it still can count for researching another culture. I’m Indian

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      We trust your judgment on that. Read the guidelines carefully to understand the intent behind the challenge. You will want to avoid stereotypes and strive toward universal themes.

      Reply
  28. Salwa

    Hello what is the citation style and are the intext citations counted as part of the 800-1000 word count

    Thank

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      We are not specific as to the citation style, as long as they are clear and concise. Citations do not count toward your story word count.

      Reply
  29. Angelica Schuyler

    What timezone does the June 1st deadline extend to? Is this 11:59pm PST or EDT or something else? Thank you!

    Reply
  30. Eileen

    Hi! I’m not sure if you’re still answering questions since the contest is now closed, but if you are, I just wanted to make sure– is it ok that I submitted my entry a second time since the first time the document didn’t attach correctly and wasn’t able to be opened? Thanks for your time!

    Reply

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