National charity The Children’s Society is hosting a story-writing competition with Southwark-based journalist Alice O’Keeffe, in an effort to secure help for vulnerable teenagers, writes Anisha De…
The brief is to pen a fictional story about the ups and downs faced by older teenagers, within 2,000 words.
The competition is part of the national charity’s Seriously Awkward campaign, in partnership with Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
The Children’s Society wants to see more sustained help for 16 and 17-year-olds – including those designated by councils as being ‘in need’ – with issues such as mental health, housing and access to employment. The charity would like to see support continue when young people turn 18 where it is still needed.
O’Keeffe, who is Books Editor at national magazine The Bookseller, said: “I’m looking forward to seeing how entrants to the competition respond to the challenge of writing about older teenagers.
“Your story might be a romance, a mystery, a comedy, a coming of age tale or whatever you choose.
“By taking part, you will be helping to show why we all need to pay more attention to the awkward age at the heart of this campaign.”
Other writing experts including international best-selling author Emma Healey will also be on the judging panel.
Although the stories should be fictional, they may be inspired by real events. They can highlight the highs and lows of their age, and be written from any perspective.
They could be about a 16-year-old making daunting decisions about their future, or falling in love and making new friends at 17. About a parent terrified about their child leaving home. Or maybe a social worker trying to protect a child from harm.
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Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: “Teenage years can be an awkward time for many older children and the prospect of adulthood and greater independence can be both exciting and terrifying.
“For the most vulnerable young people this emotional rollercoaster may come with significant risks and personal or family issues.
“Yet we find that they are too often wrongly dismissed as troublesome teenagers, old enough to make their own choices and resilient enough to deal with their own problems.
“We know this is not always the case, but 16 and 17-year-olds facing serious issues like substance misuse, mental health problems and even child sexual exploitation may not get the help they need as leave childhood behind and begin adult life – something we are fighting to change through our Seriously Awkward campaign.”
The competition has categories for both young people aged 16-25 and adults aged 26 and over.
The competition winner will receive exclusive expert advice and feedback from literary agencies, with the best stories being published on The Children’s Society’s website and celebrated at a special event in London.
- Theme: 16 and 17 year olds
- Word count: 2,000 words maximum
- Who can enter: Unpublished writers in two categories 1) 16 to 25 year olds and 2) adults aged 26 and over
- Genre: Fiction – from any perspective and any genre
- Closing date: Friday 31 August 2018
- Judges: A panel of writing industry experts will join a young person from the charity to choose the best stories.
- Prizes: Our top prize is exclusive advice and feedback from a top literary agent and writing goodies.
For more information and top enter: https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-you-can-do/campaign-for-change/creative-writing-competition