Young Writers' Awards

The Young Writers’ Awards is a joint initiative of the Department of Creative Arts and English and Alumni and Advancement.

The Awards aim to encourage Year 10 students from Victoria and guest border schools to enter an original creative writing piece on a set theme. The top three places receive cash prizes.

Each year the Awards open at the beginning of school term 3. In 2017 the theme for creative pieces was ROADS.

Top 10 entrants, their families, schools and judges are invited to a celebration night where students share their writing and prize winners are announced. Please see the winning entries page for our 2017 top ten entrants.

Past entries can be read in full in the Young Writers’ Awards Anthologies.

Young Writers' Awards Anthology 2017 [PDF 437KB]

Young Writers' Awards Anthology 2016 [PDF 368KB].

To read about our some of our past talented writers and what inspires them please see below.

Katy Gale

What books have you read that especially helped your writing?
I enjoy classic novels and young adult fiction, and the most influential book I have ever read, The Outsiders, is a combination of the two. Not only was it a moving story that I felt realistically portrayed the intricacies of hovering somewhere between childhood and adulthood, S.E. Hinton was only 17 when it was published, a fact I found truly inspirational.

What do you think makes a good story?
I think a good story is something that doesn't finish on the page. The world and the characters seem to be as alive as real as we are, and no matter how long it leaves you wishing there was more.

What tips do you have for young writers?
Don't overthink it. When you have an idea, or you're given a prompt, just run with it. Write as if your life depends on it, and write frequently. Have as many other people read your work as possible. It's scary to put yourself out there, but the rewards will far outweigh any nervousness you felt. Do what you are comfortable with, but don't be scared to step out of your comfort zone. Just enjoy the experience.

Emily Mannix

What do you think makes a good story?
A good story is different from a great story. The great ones are set apart from the rest by the way they make the reader feel. People don't just want to read a good collection of words, they want to experience what's happening within a story. The character's should be relatable to help the reader connect and the environment should be unique to alight imagination. The plot needn't be complicated, but challenging, so the reader is left guessing what will happen next. Without singularity, a book won't be finished, it will be turned upside down and left to gather dust.

Brynnie Rafe

Brynnie Rafe, winner of the Young Writers’ Awards 2016Why did you decide to enter the YWA?
I find that having a deadline can really help me find the motivation and time for writing - especially since I am often busy with school! Also, the theme of “space” was really inspiring, it may be a broad topic but I knew I wanted to write something Sci-Fi and I suddenly had this new idea that fitted the theme perfectly!

What authors do you like to read? What books have you read that especially helped your writing?
My top two favourite authors are Patrick Ness and Frances Hardinge because both of them write brilliantly with amazingly original ideas! “Illuminae” by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff also really helped with writing this story - it’s a brilliant adventure in space with plenty of exploding spaceships!

What tips do you have for young writers?
Use adjectives sparingly! It may seem like a small thing but overusing adjectives can badly impact the flow of a story and finding the right adjective can be much better than using several! Also, similes and metaphors are brilliant in moderation.

Katelyn Samarkovski

Katelyn Samarkovski, second place award recipient, Young Writers Awards 2016Where did you get your ideas for your story?
My ideas came purely from my head. I first got my idea for my poem by finding out the different definitions of the term ‘space’. I didn’t want to stick just to the theme of outer space - I wanted to do something different that would stand out more. As a result, I made the decision to use the theme in the sense that a family might need space and how that might have an effect on others.

Why did you decide to enter?
My English teacher sent me an email saying that I should enter this competition as I had written a poem about mental illness in teenagers a few weeks earlier. After reading over the criteria and theme, I decided to enter. I wanted to show others what my capabilities were and see what I could learn from the other entrants. Even if I didn’t get very far, I knew that I had to try and see what benefits I could gain from this experience. I wanted to make my family proud that I was finally allowing others to read what I had written.

What authors do you like to read? What books have you read that especially helped your writing?
At the start of the year, I read The Great Gatsby and fell in love with the writing, the imagery and the characters. Immediately, I knew I could use F. Scott Fitzgerald as an inspiration as well as some of my other favourite authors: J.K Rowling, Sarah J. Maas and Marissa Meyer. The works of these authors are some of my favourite novels of all time, including the Harry Potter series, A Court of Thorns and Roses series and Cinder. These stories have shaped me into the writer that I have come to be.

What do you think makes a good story?
In a good story, there are a lot of things that need to be considered. I think believable characters, an unpredictable plot and exceptional vocabulary and grammar make up the best stories.

What tips do you have for young writers?
Write about what you love or what really speaks to you. If you’re heart isn’t in it, then it’s hard to truly express yourself as well as your story. Remember, if you love your story, other people will too. You should never give up on your writing and always take people’s advice seriously. Also, try to do something different to make your work stand out.

John Schnelle

Where did you get your ideas for your story?
When writing my story, Keys and Space, I followed the advice I received at numerous Write around the Murray sessions at the Albury Library Museum: write about your interests. So when one of my sisters had just left for university a few months earlier, I thought perhaps I could write about my relations with my siblings who are separated from me by space. My oldest sister left for uni in Sydney when I was in year four. At eight years old, my family got smaller. It did this again when I was nine as my brother left. Three times more this happened, as my five older siblings left for uni, like the old man (in the story), I'm the only one left.

There was no big emotional reunion, for I still speak to them all at least once a month, usually more.  But I thought, I know first-hand one definition of space, and how the distance has had a minor effect on my relationships with my siblings. Yet like the ending of the story, as one could previously assume, the drastic effects of the 'space' aren't there.

I couldn’t simply write a story about the city, for the farming influence in my life is real, the calling from the land similar to that of the younger man. Like the younger man (in the story), I really enjoy my time on the farm.

Why did you decide to enter?
I entered this competition as it had a broad topic, one that I could approach from a less conventional angle and I had free time to fill during the holidays. One of my teachers gave me an information sheet, so I took it from there.

What authors do you like to read? What books have you read that especially helped your writing?
I do read quite a bit. During my years I have read a range of books from sci-fi to autobiographies, from fantasy to action thriller's.
I have no favourite genre and enjoy almost everything I read, from newspapers to novels.  I think to be able to be broad minded with a story, it is good to expose yourself to different texts.

What do you think makes a good story?
Sometimes to create interest from the reader, a good writer needs to approach a topic from many different angles. To mix something you know about with some good writing skills can really create a great picture to get your message across.

I believe many of the writers who made the top ten combined their personal interests with some exceptional writing skills to make something special that attracted the interests of the judges. An unexpected twist in the story that has it's origins earlier in the text is a good inclusion.

What tips do you have for young writers?
A tip could be just to keep on doing it. Start with something then adapt it, edit it. You can't change something that isn't there, written down. Regardless of how good the story or the vision is in your head, the judge can only read what is written. So, it is important to try get as much as you can onto paper, before refining it.  For me, time was the key, I wrote my story over more than two weeks, having the core down in a few days, then spending many more hours changing little aspects, to fine tune the bigger picture.