The Tower Hamlets Creative Writing Competition is an annual event for schools in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets for students aged six years to sixteen.
- Pupils in years 1 to 11 may enter
- Categories for short stories and poetry
It has been run by Tower Hamlets Schools Library Service since 2011 with the aims of promoting wider reading and literacy, and to encourage young people to express themselves through the written word. Research carried out during the 2020 competition showed that pupils participating in the competition and in the author workshops benefited by gaining confidence in their writing ability and developing greater insight into the issues raised by the competition themes
Prize-winners at Clifford Chance with authors Helen Dennis and Adam Baron who were the competition judges.
We’d like to thank Clifford Chance for being amazing hosts again for this event.
Register for the competition
This section is for schools only. Parents/ students do not need to register separately
In order to enter the competition, receive posters, entry forms and flyers, and take advantage of these free author workshops, schools need to:
- enter the competition by “buying” it via SLAonline (Creative Writing Competition 2022. Just £40 to subscribing schools to cover administration)
- email firstname.lastname@example.org letting us know who is to lead on running this event in your school.
- use the form below to book your workshops
The grant also enables us to produce a book of the winning entries.
The competition theme : ‘In this, our city’
The theme is all about identity, our identity within the places we live, and finding the stories all around us.
You can interpret the theme in any way you wish. We’ve collected some possible ideas below.
- What genre and style do you want to write in? Genres include Adventure, Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Horror, comic book
- Will the story be illustrated? If so, how will the pictures contribute to the storytelling?
- Who are the main characters and what are they doing in the story?
- Because we don’t have long to get involved in your story – how do you make the reader interested in the characters or their situations?
- If it’s a poem, what sort of poem is it? Is it in rhyme, a narrative poem? Is it meant to be read aloud?
Ideas for working with the theme
What are the judges looking for?
- An original approach to the competition theme
- Good story structure (a beginning, middle and end)
- Engaging and interesting characters
- An original approach to the competition theme
- The power and passion of the poem!
- Creative use of wordplay and style
- Use of poetic forms and structure
- Something that the reader will remember
- The writer’s personality and voice
What are the judges NOT looking for?
- Spelling/ handwriting (as long as the work can still be read!)
- Craft skills. Please don’t send stapled/glued/folded/hand-made books. We scan in every entry to send to judge, so anything stapled, glued or sewn cannot be sent Spend the extra time writing or drawing!
- Exact word count – don’t worry if it goes over a bit
Hints for writers
- Short stories still need a beginning, middle and end, but they don’t always need a conclusion – they can leave the reader thinking…
- Read some short stories or picture books to get an idea of how to compress your writing and storytelling into the word limit
- Write a story or poem that you want to write and be famous for, not what you think your teachers would expect you to write in class!
Hints for illustrators
- Winning entries are published in standard paperback format (roughly 13cm x 20cm) so you should supply artwork suitable for this size and shape of page (vital if you’re drawing a comic book story).
- Illustrators generally draw the original art at least twice the size of the final print (especially important for comics).
- The paperback will be printed in black and white, so any colour art will be changed to grey
- Don’t trace, copy other writer’s characters or use online images or stickers – this is plagiarism and disqualifies you
- If you’re using speech bubbles, read a range of comics and look at how they fit around the artwork. Make sure you leave enough space and that you know what needs to be written in each panel before you draw them.
- Make sure that any artwork adds something that the writing couldn’t do on its own.
All entries must be received by the Schools Library Services by 5pm on Friday 1st April 2022
Prize Giving: Monday 20th June 2022
- Entries must be appropriate to the theme!
- Entries should not be adaptations of, or sequels to other writers’ or poets’ original published work (such as stories, comic books, games or films), however alternative versions of fairy tales/myths and legends will be accepted.
- Entries must not use existing characters from published work (e.g. Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, Dennis the Menace, Harry Potter), including illustrations.
- All entries must be the entrant’s own work, including all illustrations. All work shortlisted for a prize will be thoroughly checked and plagiarised writing and artwork will be disqualified.
Boring but important
- Entries can be co-operative efforts. Any prizes will be split equally between the named entrants.
- Entries without entrant’s full name, school name and year group and competition category will not be eligible for judging.
- Each page of printed work should have the entrant’s name written clearly on it
- Entries must be written or typed on one side of the page only
- Work should be in black or blue ink or text on white paper
- No decorative fonts unless they directly contribute to the writing/storytelling
- If you are illustrating your work, any colour artwork will be converted to black and white for the printed book
- We will contact all winners via their school (or parents/carers if home schooled) in May.
- Work will not be automatically returned to entrants but can be collected on request after the competition closes. The Schools Library Services can take no responsibility for lost or damaged work.
Commended and winning entries to be published in eBook and print formats. By entering the competition, entrants are giving permission for their work (including their name and school) to be published and distributed in these formats, and all supplied information including name and contact details to be held by the Tower Hamlets Schools Library Services. Copyright on poems and stories will remain with the author(s). Supplied information, including names and contact details, of competition entrants who do not win prizes will not be stored beyond the duration of the event.
By submitting your work for the 2022 Tower Hamlets Creative Writing Competition, you grant the Tower Hamlets Schools Library Services permission to publish this work in print and in electronic form. We reserve the right to edit any work (writing or illustration) for spelling, grammar or composition. Entrants retain full ownership over their submitted work. Entrants may request that any work or personal information published electronically (online or as an eBook) be removed or edited.
To request changes to any information provided, please email email@example.com