Author Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE is joining forces with the Sunday Times to launch The Write Stuff, a short story competition aiming to discover the next generation of young female writers.
The competition, which is open to girls aged 11-18 who live in the UK, will launch on 22nd March with coverage in the Sunday Times’ Style magazine and online as well as Taylor Bradford’s website. It has been set up following research by the National Literacy Trust of more than 14,000 girls which revealed that only one in four girls aged 14 to 16 (23%) see writing as cool and almost half prefer watching TV to reading (49%).
The competition is being fronted by NLT ambassador Taylor Bradford, who said: “I feel it’s critical to reach out to girls and young women who want to share a story they have created and inspire a new generation of female writers and readers. It’s really important that female authors like myself take the lead as role models for girls and young women and encourage them to reach their full potential. I regularly go in to schools and meet girls itching to write but often they lack the confidence or don’t know where to start. We hope this competition will help encourage them.”
Eleanor Mills, editorial director of the Sunday Times, added: “We are delighted to partner with Barbara and really want the competition to inspire girls, and give them greater confidence in their creative writing abilities as we know research shows as they get older, they become less confident in this area. We hope to discover a new generation of female writers who will tell their stories and make sure their voices are heard.”
To enter the competition, girls must write a fictional story of no more than 1,000 words with a central theme of ‘friendship’. The stories will be judged on: the overall quality of writing; originality, imagination and creativity; sentence structure and language; and the writer’s ability to tell a story, capture the reader and hold their attention.
One winner and two runners-ups will be awarded in each of the following age categories: 11-13 years; 14-16 years and 17-18 years. The best entries will be featured in an e-book by HarperCollins and published on the Sunday Times website, and the writers of them will also receive a story-writing masterclass with Bradford and Mills. The three overall category winners will also each receive a box of books donated by HarperCollins.
The competition is being supported by the Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, National Literacy Trust, HarperCollins, The Girls’ Day School Trust, Association of State Girls’ Schools (ASGS), Girls School Association, teen story-sharing community Movellas and children’s author Cathy Cassidy.
Blackman said: "I’m all for any competition or initiative that encourages our teens to use their voices and to tap into their creativity. This is a fabulous opportunity for teenage girls to express themselves and share their stories."
In addition to Taylor Bradford and Mills, the story will be judged by Abigail Moss, deputy director of NLT, Lynne Drew, publisher at HarperCollins, 15-year-old author Helena Coggan, and 14-year-old Movellas ambassador Miranda Stephenson.
Entries will close by 12 noon on 3rd July and finalists will be announced by mid-September. Full details on how to enter and information about the competition’s terms and conditions are on the author's website.