2021 Season

Youth Writing Contest

Youth Writing Contest

Applications Closed

Every year, the Vancouver Writers Fest launches a youth writing contest for short stories and personal essays. The contest is open to all writers in grades 8-12 studying in a school in BC and is judged by an esteemed member of the literary community. Two cash prizes, and publication in our newsletter are awarded each year.

Many winners have subsequently had their works published—either by a publisher or in major literary journals.

Our 2021 contest is now closed. Sign up to be notified when our 2022 submissions open.

The Youth Writing Contest is presented thanks to the generous support of the Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Contest Rules

1. The contest is open to all writers in grades 8-12 who are attending a school or being taught in a home-school environment in British Columbia.

2. Entries will be accepted for previously unpublished short stories and personal essays: 1,500 word limit.

3. Entries are judged blind. Please do not put your name on your story, in the file you have uploaded or in the file name.

4. Entries must be submitted in MS Word or PDF formats. Please use standard margins, 12-point font and double spacing.

5. The deadline for submissions is May 31, 2021.

The 2021 contest is now closed.

Sign-up here for more information on the Vancouver Writers Festival youth programs.

2021 Winners

Coagulation: A Tale of Leeches, Mummies, and Drag Queens, by Bella Berry (Dover Bay Secondary School)

Judge’s verdict:

“The first paragraph of this personal essay is perfection and the rest of the work is just as good as the set-up. This is a smart, darkly funny, self-aware account of the journey to self-acceptance in the early part of high school. It’s tough to convey such a meaningful emotional transformation in a limited word count, but this writer makes it totally believable and entertaining with their skillful use of metaphor.”

Bite Your Tongue, by Ava Palansky (Elgin Park Secondary School)

Judge’s verdict:

“I could not stop thinking about this underappreciated dentist. What begins as a seemingly benign story about everyday vocational frustrations spirals into a sinister comedy that keeps you on the villain’s side right to the very end (and the last line actually made me jump). It’s ridiculous, addictive, macabre fun and I want a whole novel about Dr. Goodman.”