Creative Writing Contest

  • creative writing logo The Creative Writing Contest gives students a chance to express themselves by writing fiction or non-fiction stories or poetry. There is amazing young talent here in Southwest MN.
    Whether your students think they are an author or a poet, challenge them to enter the Creative Writing Contest. Encourage your students to use their imagination to generate words and get them on paper. Students in grades 3-12 can submit their entries for a chance to win a 1st, 2nd or 3rd place award. Choose a category Fiction, Non-fiction or Poetry or chose more than one category to enter in.
    This program was established to encourage the love of language and writing for all students and as a way to recognize the talented young writers in Minnesota. SWWC & SMSU Creative Writing Department have partnered to make this event possible. We welcome all students in grades 3-12 attending public, private or home schools to enter this contest. This can be the perfect classroom project or students can enter on their own. 
    Creative Writing Awards Ceremony
    Guest Speaker: Shannon Gibney, and award winning author and a professor of English at Minneapolis College
  • How to Enter
    * Create a poem, fiction or non-fiction story.
    * Follow the Contest Rules and Guidelines listed below.
    * Category descriptions are listed below.
    * Submit (mail) your writings along with an entry form.
    Categories and Descriptions 
     POETRY (grades 3-12)
    What is Poetry? The language of the imagination and feelings. Prose explains, and poetry sings, but it doesn’t have to rhyme. Poetry is precise, concrete, fresh, memorable, and magical. A poem, like food, can feed us. It can be a peach, a pizza, a taco, or a four-course meal. But it can also be popcorn or a candy bar. Always, poetry uses words as ingredients to let us taste, touch, see, smell or hear something in the world as if for the first time.
    FICTION (grades 3-12)
    What is Fiction? The art of storytelling. To build a good story, a writer needs: plot, characters, place or setting, point of view, dialogue, action and conflict. When we read a good story we’re pulled into another world and leave this one far behind. We travel to different places in our imagination, and when we return, we often see our world with new eyes.
    NON-FICTION (grades 5-12)
    What is Creative Non-fiction? An essay with real events and people that mattered or changed you—the day your pet chicken died, that summer your best friend moved away. Characters, settings, and events are true. The writer decides the best way to grab our attention, how to start, what elements of poetry to add as spice—images, metaphor, simile—and what elements of fiction to add zing—characters, place, dialogue. This genre is popular because we read it and think, “Wow, this really happened to someone else, but I feel like I was there!”

    General Rules—Contest Rules & Guidelines need to be followed  or your entry piece will not be accepted.

    1. Entries must be the student’s original work and previously unpublished.
    2. Entries must be proofread for punctuation, spelling and grammar by teacher or parent.
    3. Entry forms are available by clicking the link on the right; fill out the entire entry form. An email address is required.
    4. One entry form per student
    5. One contact person per school must fill out Summary Form.
    6. All students entering from the same school will be listed under one contact person from that school.
    7. Each entry form can be used for up to three poems, three fiction and three non-fiction submissions.
    8. When mailing entries, please include a copy of the entry form and payment. Entries must be postmarked by January 17, 2020.
    9. Each entry submission must include the entry fee of $2 per three poems, $2 per fiction entry and $2 per non-fiction entry.
    10. Winning entries will be published in an anthology. Please refrain from explicit language or content.
    11. Save an electronic version of each entry.
    12. For a reference, a PDF of last year’s anthology is on the website.

    Contest Guidelines (must follow)

    • Title each entry piece
    • Typed on white paper
    • 12 pt. Times New Roman font 
    • 1 inch  margins
    • DO NOT put your name on entries
    • No staples, please
    • No pictures, images or graphics
    POETRY:  limit 3     Grades 3-12
    • Single-spaced
    • One poem per page
    • Any style or set-up of poem
    FICTION:  limit 3    Grades 3-12
    • Double-spaced
    • Numbered pages
    • Maximum length: 10 pages
    NON-FICTION:  limit 3    Grades 5-12
    • Double-spaced
    • Numbered pages
    • Maximum length: 6 pages
     Judging Process
    Entries are screened by SMSU creative writing students who score the entries according to a rubric. Each entry is scored by multiple student judges. The entries with the highest scores are submitted to the final judges, faculty in the SMSU Creative Writing Program. 
     Announcing Winners
    After the results are determined; the top three place finishers will receive an Award Ceremony Invitation. RSVP is needed. As a place finisher, students will need to submit an electronic version of all entries. Winning entries will be printed in the anthology.
    Award Ceremony
    An awards ceremony will be held on Sunday afternoon, April 18, 2021, for finalists, their families and teachers. this is where place winner results will be reveled. Attire is business casual. Additional details will be sent to finalists at a later date. This year’s special guest speaker will be Shannon Gibney is an award-winning author and  a professor of English at Minneapolis College.
    • Students are eligible to receive only one $2,000 Creative Writing Scholarship per year (junior/senior year). If they have won multiple awards for a maximum of two scholarships, one scholarship may be used during their freshman year and the second one during their sophomore year. The student must be enrolled as a full-time, degree-seeking student (minimum 12 credits/semester) at SMSU.
    • Gift certificates for the 1st place finishers from each grade level in each writing category.
    • Medals for the top three place finishers in each grade level from each writing category.
    • 1 free copy of the anthology (book) for all place finishers.
    • A recognition award will be presented to the school with the most place winners.
    *Copyright reverts to authors upon publication. (Meaning: If a student wishes to publish an entry, they just need to mention that it was printed in a small anthology of contest-winning pieces. We do not hold first publication rights.)
     *Photos & media: By participating in this event you are giving SWWC permission to use any audio/video recordings and photographs that are taken during the event.


  • Fiction (grades 3-12)
    Poetry (grades 3-12)
    Non-Fiction (grades 5-12)

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