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Story writing competition

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The University of Birmingham and the National Literacy Trust are jointly running a story writing competition. Following on from the university's ‘How to write a female villain’ story writing competition in 2019, this year’s topic is ‘Heroes and Heroines’.

We’d particularly like you to think about how you create characters in a story. These characters can be entirely fictional or maybe you want to think about some of your life experiences with people. In the winning stories we are looking for depictions of characters that grip and engage your readers.

The submitted stories will become part of the ‘Birmingham Stories Corpus’ (BSC), a collection of stories that our researchers at the University of Birmingham use to study the language of stories.

The aim

The aim of the story writing competition is to give students an opportunity to engage with creative writing. Through the topic of ‘heroes’ the competition particularly encourages students to think about the creation of fictional characters.

Professor Michaela Mahlberg, Director of the Centre for Corpus Research at Birmingham University, explains what the judges are looking for in the entries:
"In addition to directly addressing the KS3 curriculum, story writing is an opportunity to develop skills in empathy. When writing a story, students explore how to put themselves into other people’s shoes. They need to consider how to describe the thoughts, feelings, behaviours and speech of the characters they create."

Prizes for schools and pupils

Each school will have at least one overall winner who is put forward for our shortlist who they will receive a collection of books, stationery and a journal. Two- runner ups from each school will receive certificates. Individual submissions will be shortlisted separately.

Our Student Literacy Champions are available to help shortlist entries. A panel of experts, including authors and exciting local ambassadors, will choose a winner from our shortlist.

The overall winner will receive an iPad. Winning Stories will be published on the Birmingham Stories and the University of Birmingham webpages.

Key information

Deadline for submission of the story: Friday 4 December

Winners will be announced: Friday 18 December

Story length: 500- 750 words

The competition is open to participants aged 9 to 14 years old (years 5 to 9).

The competition is open to individual and school submissions, but each writer can only take part once.

Please submit via the online submission system.

Pupils are encouraged to submit their entries individually, but if required schools can send multiple submissions via email to - noting the below requirements:

  • Each story must come as a separate file. The file name must start with the school name, followed by the name of the entrant. eg St Peters School Joe Bloggs
  • File format must be a text document, ideally .txt or another text format (e.g. .rtf, .docx) NOT pdf
  • For each entrant we need a completed consent form, which you can download here. Please send this back as pdf, file name is ‘Consent form, followed by School name, followed by entrant name’ eg Consent form St Peters School Joe Bloggs
  • Before sending a school submission, please contact us via so we know to expect it.

Full terms and conditions here.

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