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2020 Kids News Short Story competition: put your thinking caps on for a winning entry

May 10, 2020 4:00PM Kids News

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2020 Kids News Short Story competition logo media_camera2020 Kids News Short Story competition logo


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Entries have now closed for the 2020 Kids News Short Story competition. We look forward to announcing the winning stories on Kids News soon.

Has being at home for so long sent your imagination wild with ideas for a great story?

We hope so … because Kids News is launching its 2020 Kids News Short Story competition today and wants to read all your amazing tales.

Children from Kindergarten to Year 9 are invited to enter the competition, which opens today.

Maybe you could write about your time in isolation, or turn that dream you keep having into a fascinating story — or maybe just pick your favourite topic and write about that.

Kids News editor Kamahl Cogdon encouraged all kids to enter and get all their creative stories down on paper.

“Last year we received almost 2000 entries and the stories were absolutely fabulous,” Ms Cogdon said.

“We have some very creative young minds across Australia and we are looking forward to reading more of their fantastic stories this year.”

2019 Kids News Short Story competition winner (under 10s) Rose Pullinger with her published book. media_cameraKids News Short Story winner (under 10s) Rose Pullinger from Tasmania with her published book from last year’s competition.

First prize winners in each age category will take home 10 copies of their winning short story published into a printed book with a personally designed cover plus an iPad and Harper Collins book pack.

There are also prizes for one runner-up and three highly commended entries in each age category.

This year’s competition has been expanded into four categories: Kindergarten to Year 2, Years 3-4, Years 5-6 and Years 7-9.

Entrants can choose any theme or topic they want.

However, if you are having trouble getting started, here are some topics that could help:

  1. Coronavirus and being stuck in isolation
  2. Becoming stranded on a deserted island
  3. Exploring the cemetery at night and hearing a strange sound …
  4. Chasing your favourite pet down the street and then you see …..
  5. Opening the front door to a surprise visit from …..
  6. Being struck by lightning and suddenly having super powers.
  7. You’re walking across a rickety bridge to escape from …
  8. Why is there a unicorn in my backyard?
  9. The clouds turned dark and gloomy, and then I saw him …
  10. The fluffy white cat stared at me as I cried and cried …
media_cameraAuthor Jackie French.

Competition judge panel member and award-winning children’s author Jackie French (pictured above) gives some tips on how to add more detail into your stories, how to write a good ending and why you need to roll up your sleeves and think of writing as work as much as something fun to do.

1. Think, think and think some more
There is no such thing as inspiration! Just years of THINKING and looking and listening and analysing- then suddenly it all comes together and you know what your story is going to be about.
And then you REALLY start thinking.
Yes, there is a point when a story idea comes together — but if you haven’t done lots of thinking about all sorts of things first, it won’t happen.
Ideas don’t just drift out of the sky. I wish they did. They have to be worked for.

2. Don’t rush your story
If you hurry a book or story to finish it, you’ll be teaching yourself very bad writing habits that will be difficult to break.
One of the most common faults new writers make is to hurry their stories, and do too much in them too fast.
You need to take time to write details to really help your reader feel like they are part of the story and not rushing to tell them what happened.
Try ‘showing’ step-by-step how things happen, rather than just saying what happened
For example the sentence:
Last night a killer with a chainsaw jumped through my window but I escaped …
This could be made into an exciting 20 pages by adding lots of details and explaining things as they happen step by step.
This is called building the tension.

3. Be prepared to work hard
If you want to be a good writer, you need to put a heck of a lot of work into it — at least as much as if you wanted to become a doctor or teacher.
Talent is not enough!
It takes hours and hours of writing. You need to commit to the time to write, think and rewrite. The more you can do this, the better your story will be.
You will only learn how to create interesting stories by doing it yourself.

4. Writing a good ending
Write the ending first. I‘m serious.
It’s easy to write the beginning of a story and then stop, as you run out of ideas. But if you write the ending first you have to THINK about the story.

  • What is it about?
  • Who is it about?
  • What do they want more than anything else?
  • Will they find it?
  • Where will this story end up?

You may not stick to the ending you first came up with, but it WILL make you think before you write and give you an idea of where the story is heading.

Entry to the competition is free for children from Kindergarten to Year 9 studying in an Australian school.
NOTE: All entrants must obtain the permission of their school and parent/guardian before entering this competition. All entries must be submitted by a registered teacher from the entrant’s school and entries must be accompanied by a signed Permission to Publish and Consent form signed by a parent or guardian, which you can find at the end of the  TERMS AND CONDITIONS .

Entries can be submitted via a competition form at the end of this story.

The competition commences: 9am (AEST) on Monday, May 11, 2020, and ends at 5pm (AEST) on Friday, July 3, 2020.
Maximum one entry per person.

Age categories:
Kindergarten to Grade 2: entry must be between 250 and 750 words.
Years 3-4: entry must be between 250 and 750 words.
Years 5-6: entry must be between 500 and 1000 words.
Years 7-9: entry must be between 500 and 1000 words.

A judging panel will judge the entries.
Winners in each age category will award the following prizes:

First prize
10 copies of your winning short story published into a printed book with a personally designed cover
Apple iPad – valued at $529
HarperCollins Book Pack – valued at $100

Runner up
HarperCollins Book Pack – valued at $100

Highly commended
HarperCollins Book Pack – valued at $30


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