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Inspire your students with Spine-Chillers and enter if you dare!

Extended Deadline - CONTEST NOW CLOSED

Creative Writing Contest For Middle and High School Students

There is nothing better than reading a thrilling story, one that grips you so tightly and puts your senses on alert simply through the power of words. Spine-Chillers is a fantastic way to get your students writing in this way by using tension, suspense and atmosphere. The enclosed lesson plan (optional) covers these techniques and more. Inspire students to create their own original mini saga and become published writers!

Mini sagas can be funny or creepy, scary or odd, but must be the students' own work. If you’d like further entry forms and other resources please go to Downloads.

  • Only one entry per student
  • Mini Sagas must be no longer than 100 words
  • Entries can be handwritten or typed
  • Each student's name and age must be included on their work
  • Complete and enclose your school entry form (found on the reverse of your letter) with your entries, or upload your entries

Extended Deadline - CONTEST NOW CLOSED


Prizes For Students

  • Our favourite writer wins an iPad and a 1st place trophy!

Prizes For Schools

  • The school with the best set of entries will receive the Young Writers’ Award of Excellence.
  • Every school that enters receives a free copy of the book their students feature in.

How to Enter

Show students the Spine-Chillers video that introduces the activity if you wish to!

Ask students to write their mini saga, ensuring their first name, last name and age are included on the entry form

Send your entries, along with your school entry form (found on the reverse of the letter), to:

Young Writers
100 Condor Street
Boston MA 02128

Alternatively, you can upload your entries.

Extended Deadline - CONTEST NOW CLOSED


To download the contest pack, including Full Contest Information, Student Entry Forms, Lesson Plans, and more…please fill in the form below.


Resources Downloads

Teacher Folder
Lesson Plan
PDF Presentation
PowerPoint Presentation
Student Entry Form
School Entry Form

Writing Tips

Tip #1

The power of suggestion – can students make the reader believe something without saying it? Can they persuade the reader to read between the lines, to make an assumption?

· Utilise the reader’s natural curiosity

· Use the weather to set the scene

· Use a simple noise, like creaking or a dripping tap, to create atmosphere

· Describe the character’s physical reaction to fear

· Describe what the character thinks is causing the noise …

Check out our video, which shows students how to use suspense, atmosphere and tension as well as introduces them to the activity!

Tip #2

This round-robin writing activity combines planning with the element of surprise!

Split your class into 6 groups. Explain they will be coming up with ideas for their Spine-Chillers. They will need to bear in mind their mini saga will require tension, suspense and atmosphere.

Each group needs a pen and paper. One person from each group needs to write the following titles on their sheet: 

· Setting
· Weather
· Season
· Character
· Danger
· Something Unexpected

Now ask your class to briefly discuss their setting and write this down under the ‘Setting’ title. They then have to pass their paper on to the next group. Now, each group needs to write down a type of weather. Then they pass the paper to the next group and so on until the paper is complete and returned to the original group.

The group then need to each write their own mini saga based on the round-robin ideas sheet – how to they compare? It’s interesting to see how the same ideas develop into different stories depending on how the writer interprets them!

Tip #3

Ask your students to write down their greatest fear and use this as a basis for their mini saga.

What would they feel and do if their greatest fear became reality? Ask them to make notes. As this is quite a personal exercise student don’t have to share their work with the class!

Can students symbolise their fear as something else? For example if the fear is death, the mini saga could portray a ruthless survivor that will do anything to stay alive, or if the fear is rejection the mini saga could be about someone who’ll settle for a partner that isn’t right just to avoid being alone.

This is a great way to explore fear and how it can inspire creative writing.

Tip #4

Having a character that shape-shifts into animal is a fun idea, but well-used, so how can students make this original…

· Create a new species with a new purpose

· Use the animal to symbolise something else

· Write a tale with a twist; does the reader expect the character to be evil because of this ability or to act a certain way? Surprise them by proving their assumptions wrong!

· Write from the animal’s point of view rather than their human self

· Write a prologue or epilogue

· Use the power of suggestion; is the character an animal? Can they shape-shift? What do they want the reader to believe without the author telling them? 

FREE Weekly Writing Tips

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Submit Entries

Ask each student to write their mini saga. Type or scan their work, then do one of the following:

Or mail them to:

Young Writers
Crazy Creatures
100 Condor Street
Boston MA 02128

Extended Deadline - CONTEST NOW CLOSED