Annual Writing Contest

Write Here Write Now

Contest runs May 1 to 31

Do you have a story to tell? Then, get ready to share your talents with us! Burlington Public Library's annual writing contest is open to everyone ages 10 and up, including adults.

The theme for the 2024 contest is "Journeys of Discovery." You can interpret the word "journey" in any way you like. Your submission can be about physical journeys, emotional growth, self-discovery, exploration of new worlds or ideas, or anything else that fits the theme. To be eligible for judging, your written narrative must include the word "journey," or your comic artwork must represent the concept of a journey.

We start accepting submissions of your unpublished and original short stories, poems, and comics on May 1. Entries must be received by midnight on Wednesday, May 31, to be eligible for judging.

Burlington Public Library stands by the basic principles of intellectual freedom and the open exchange of information. The writing contest is an open forum for writers to express their ideas and creativity.

Judging Categories & Awards

  • Short story: Ages 10-12, 13-17, 18+
  • Poem: Ages 10-12, 13-17, 18+
  • Comics: Ages 10-12, 13-17, 18+

One winner will be selected in each age category and receive a $100 cash prize!

Contest Details

We want this contest experience to be a good one for you, so please take the time to read and follow all the contest rules and requirements.

Here are the general contest rules, mandatory requirements for entries to qualify for judging, and specific criteria for each type of entry: short story, poem, and comics.

General Rules

  • Entrants must live, work, or attend school in Burlington.
  • All short stories, poems, and comics must be unpublished, original work of the entrant.
  • Fanfiction, retellings, or work based on existing stories, video games, movies, and other media will be disqualified.
  • You may submit only one entry per category. If you submit two or more entries in the same category, we will accept the first submission by timestamp and disqualify the other submissions.
  • Entry must be complete, and not a fragment of a larger work.
  • Entries are judged anonymously; do not put your name anywhere on your work.
  • By entering this contest, you permit BPL to use your name for promotional purposes, including the Library’s print, visual, or electronic/online media.
  • We recognize generative AI (Artificial Intelligence) tools, such as ChatGPT, can be useful when writing. You must be transparent about using AI and acknowledge how and when you used AI in your submission: “I used AI recommendations to revise my wording when editing.”
  • All finalist and winning entries will be reviewed for plagiarism. Winners must sign an anti-plagiarism statement before the library officially announces the contest results.

Mandatory Requirements

In order to qualify for judging, your entry MUST:

  1. Include the theme word for the 2024 contest: "Journey;"
  2. NOT include your name anywhere on your work;
  3. NOT exceed the maximum length requirement for the category; and,
  4. Be submitted in the correct file format for the category.

An entry will be disqualified from the contest if any one of the above four conditions is not met.

Short Story, Poem, and Comics Entry Criteria

Please make sure your submission follows the appropriate category criteria and formatting guidelines. 

Short Story

  • Maximum 1,000 words
  • Must be a .doc or .docx file format. 
  • PDF is not accepted.
  • Do not include title pages or images.

Poem

  • Maximum 25 lines
  • Must be a .doc or .docx file format. 
  • PDF is not accepted.
  • Do not include title pages or images.

Comics

  • Maximum 8 pages 
  • Work can be with or without words, in black and white or colour.
    • If words are used, must include the contest theme word.
    • If words are not used, the theme must be represented in the artwork.
  • Computer-generated images are acceptable if they are original works (no clip art).
  • Submit as a PDF.

Formatting Guidelines

  • For short stories and poems: Use a typed, double-spaced, with a white 8½" x 11"-page layout. 
  • For comics: Use 8½" x 11" paper and submit as flat work and not as a booklet.
  • The text must be black, 12 pt type in Arial font.
  • Title must be on the first page of the work only.
  • Number the pages.

How to Submit Your Entry

Please complete the online form on this page and attach your entry. If you need help creating a digital copy of your work, please ask library staff for assistance using a library computer.

Short Stories and Poems must be docx format. Comics must be pdf format

One file only.
2 MB limit.
Allowed types: pdf, docx.
By entering this contest, I confirm that the submitted work is my own creation and solely based on my ideas and efforts; it is not copied from anyone else. If I used any AI tools, I have included how and when AI was used in my submission. I understand my entry will be disqualified if I am caught copying or hiding AI use.