Writing challenge for aspiring authors

Posted on Thursday, April 1, 2021
Category: Writing Activites

Writing challenge for aspiring authors

The Henrietta Branford Writing Competition is open to those aged under 19 years, who are challenged to complete a story started by last year's Branford Boase winner, Liz Hyder.

The annual competition for young people runs in conjunction with the prestigious Branford Boase Award (BBA).

The deadline for entering the competition is Sunday 23rd May 2021 and it is open to those aged under 19 and living in the UK.  Each story can be any length up to 1000 words, should have a title and connect to this starter paragraph by Liz Hyder:

'I'd never normally cut through the cemetery but I was running late. In trouble late. Shoelaces not tied properly late. I skirt around the corner and straight through the archway. A flock of birds shoots up and into the air shouting at me as I run along the old path, gravestones leaning at a funny angle, making me feel as if I'm being watched. It used to be a monastery once, Mum had told me, and I shiver as I think of creepy old monks in hooded robes.

'The world suddenly turns upside down. Sky where the ground should be. I'm flat out on the path, sore-headed, knees scratched. I curse as I stumble back to my feet, see the shoelace that tripped me snaking on the ground as if it were alive. And that's when I see it. Out of the corner of my eye. Right by the bottom of the nearest gravestone.'

Writing tips

Liz says, "Don't forget your story doesn't have to be creepy or involve ghosts! It's your story - you can take it wherever you want to: a rocket to the moon, an adventure underground, lost treasure, a comedy misunderstanding or a million and one other things! The only limit is your imagination and I can't wait to see what you write! Good luck and get writing!"

Entries will be judged by Prue Goodwin, consultant and lecturer in literacy learning and children's literature. She says she will be looking for writing which shows "imagination and originality".

"Use the starter paragraph as a guide rather than a directive - and make sure the story is as engaging and entertaining as possible," she says. "We are looking for stories that keep the reader wanting to know what is going to happen from beginning to end, are imaginative and unpredictable (don't go for the obvious), and are written with a genuine reader in mind."


Six winners will receive a copy of each of the books shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award. They will also be invited to the Branford Boase Award ceremony in London to meet the shortlisted authors and have their books signed.

You can find further details here