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Short story champ’s top tips for a winning entry

Kamahl Cogdon, August 15, 2021 3:00PM Kids News

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Reigning short story competition champ Amaeh Reed, 13, recommends writing about something you know and love. Picture: Steve Pohlner media_cameraReigning short story competition champ Amaeh Reed, 13, recommends writing about something you know and love. Picture: Steve Pohlner

short story competition

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The Kids News Short Story Competition is back!

And past winner Amaeh Reed has some great advice to help kids get their creativity flowing.

The Year 8 student, whose stories have won over the judges for the past two years, said her top tip was to write about something you know and love.

She also said writing was a great way for kids to find a positive in difficult times like the lockdowns and uncertainty caused by Covid-19.

“I feel like when you’re writing you can just really let your emotions out,” said Amaeh, who turns 14 this week.

“Whether you’re writing from your own or a character’s perspective, especially during Covid and times like that, it’s a really great way to be able to feel what you’re feeling and put it into something that can turn out really beautiful or really amazing.”

Amaeh said writing was a “place for me to go wild and free” and she loved to sit and write on the balcony of her family’s Brisbane home.

“I really love being outside and hearing the little noises of nature around me, they really inspire me as I’m writing. It makes me feel really calm when I’m writing as well,” she said.

My Alesky by Amaeh Reed, winner of 2020 Kids News Short Story Competition media_cameraAmaeh’s 2020 winning story, My Alesky, was published into a book by HarperCollins as part of her prize.

Amaeh’s story, My Aleksy, about young love in a Jewish ghetto in Poland during World War II, won first prize in the Year 7-9 category last year.

The year before she also picked up first prize in her age group for A New Beginning, a story about a refugee looking for a better life in Australia.

The Mount Alvernia College student plans to enter the competition again this year but is still deciding what she will write about.

This year’s competition is open to children from Kindergarten to Year 9 from August 16 to September 17.

More than 2400 stories were received in last year’s competition, which was judged by an expert panel that included award-winning author Jackie French.


1. Write about something you like
My first tip would have to be writing about something you are passionate about or interested in. Writing is so much easier if you genuinely enjoy what you are writing about.

2. Read and research
Reading books and doing some research is really important because you never know what you’re going to find and what might inspire you. I get great ideas for characters or even just phrases when I read books, they really inspire me.

Smart media_cameraAmaeh says reading lots of books inspires her writing. Picture: Steve Pohlner

3. Put yourself in your character’s shoes
Try to put yourself inside your character’s mind, their feelings, their heart. It really helps me get a perspective from the point of view of my character or even the narrator. A big part of writing is taking yourself out of your own self and your own life, and having a sense of what it would be like to be someone else.

4. Expand your vocabulary
Try using new and interesting words. They make your writing way more interesting. New words and description really bring your story to life.

5. Proofread
Proofreading is not the most exciting thing but I find that reading your story aloud or having a fresh pair of eyes, like your sibling, read over it really helps improve your story. The editing process is really important when I’m writing my stories, just to really get to that finished product that I’m really happy with.

6. Have a plan
Have a clear idea about the kind of story you want to write. Do you want it to be funny or sad, or set in the past or the future, or set in a foreign country or a made up world? Really have a clear sense of where you want your story to be going. Once you’ve got this base, you can then be really creative and just let our ideas pour out onto the page.


The 2021 Kids News Short Story Competition opens at 9am (AEST) Monday, August 16. See the entry form below.

There are four age groups: Kindergarten to Year 2; Years 3-4; Years 5-6 and Years 7-9.

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 a HarperCollins book pack.

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

Teachers can submit their students’ entries using the online entry form below. A consent form, signed by the student’s parent or guardian, must be attached to the entry form. Download the consent form HERE

Entries close at 5pm (AEST) Friday, September 17, 2021.

Extra Reading in short story competition