Lionel Bowen Young Writers' Award

Finding the best writers in Randwick City

The Lionel Bowen Young Writers’ Award, named in honour of former Mayor of Randwick and former Deputy Prime Minister Lionel Bowen AC, seeks to uncover the writing talents of young people in Randwick City and its neighbouring suburbs.

Entries have the chance to win fantastic prizes including prepaid gift cards, vouchers and books supplied by Juvenilia Press. Award winners will have the added thrill of seeing their work in print, when Juvenilia Press publishes a book containing all the winning entries.

Eligibility

To be eligible to enter, you must be currently enrolled in school in years 3 to 12 or equivalent.

Divisions:

There are four divisions:

  • Years 3 to 4
  • Years 5 to 6
  • Years 7 to 9
  • Years 10 to 12

Categories

There are two categories of entry in each division:

  1. SHORT STORY
    Maximum of 2,000 words.
  2. POEM
    Maximum of two typed pages.

Theme

This year’s theme is “plastics – choose to re-use and reduce”. Randwick City contains spectacular natural features. With 29 kilometres of coastline it is a place where people come to relax, enjoy the coastal views and beaches, or take a refreshing dip in the ocean. Randwick City Council is proud to be a leader in environmental stewardship and we are continually implementing innovative strategies and projects to protect our precious and very fragile coastal areas.

What does “plastics – choose to re-use and reduce” mean?

It seems nearly impossible to escape plastic in our everyday lives. In Australia, we throw away millions of plastic shopping bags, cups and bottles per day. But where does all this plastic go? Quite a bit ends up in landfills where it can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, creating a risk to our environment. More plastic litter than you can imagine ends up polluting our beaches and oceans, posing a danger to our valuable marine life. The good news is, that there are many ways to help reduce plastic waste. For example, we can choose to re-use cups, bottles, bags and straws, or take our own to-go mug to smoothie or coffee shops. Switch your thinking and start imagining.

Build your story around the theme of plastics. Your entry can be based on your own personal experience or be purely from your imagination. It can be funny or serious; it can be set in the past, present or future, in the real world or a land not yet discovered. You are only limited by your imagination.

Judging criteria

The work that you submit will be judged in terms of several broad categories, including how original it is, how well you have constructed your story, your use of language (including creative expression, grammar, sentence construction, punctuation and spelling) and the way you have developed characters, atmosphere or setting.

How to enter (entries now closed!)

There are three ways to enter:

  1. Enter online
    Complete the online entry form and upload your submission (as a Microsoft Word document).
  2. Enter via email
    Complete an entry form and send it with your submission (as a Microsoft Word document) to: LionelBowenYoungWriters@randwick.nsw.gov.au. Be sure to include your name, school year and category in the subject line.
  3. Enter at any Randwick City Library Branch
    Hand a completed entry form and your printed submission to any Randwick City Library branch before 11.59pm on Tuesday 31 July 2018 Sunday 12 August 2018. Please note that submissions will not be returned.

Competition guidelines

  • Entry must be original, and you must be enrolled in a private or public school (or equivalent) completing years 3 to 12 in 2018.
  • You must reference the theme of “plastics – choose to re-use and reduce”.
  • Only one entry per person per category, additional submissions will be disregarded.
  • Entries should clearly bear the title of the entry, your school year category and your name.
  • For physical entries, each page must be clearly numbered. Physical entries will not be returned.
  • All winning submissions will be collated into a book, a copy of which will be made available to all award winners.
  • The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • For information download the information booklet or entry form.
  • For enquiries, call 02 9093 6400.

View the full competition terms and conditions.

Key dates

Opening date for entries: 15 May 2018
Closing date for entries: 31 July 2018
Closing date for entries has been extended to 12 August 2018.

Closing date for entries has been extended to 12 August 2018. Entries are now closed.

Winners will be announced at the prize giving ceremony at the end of this year (date to be confirmed). All shortlisted entrants will receive an invitation by post, email and/or telephone to attend the ceremony.

Prizes

Years 3 to 4 and Years 5 to 6:

  • The winner in each category of each age bracket will receive a prepaid gift card worth $200, a certificate of excellence, and a book from Juvenilia Press.
  • Second prize winners in each category of each age bracket will receive a $100 bookstore voucher, a certificate of excellence, and a book from Juvenilia Press.
  • Third prize winners in each category of each age bracket will receive a $50 bookstore voucher, a certificate of excellence, and a book from Juvenilia Press.
  • Highly Commended (if awarded) winners in each category of each age bracket will receive a certificate of excellence, a book from Juvenilia Press and a library bag.
  • The runners up in each category of each age bracket will receive a certificate of commendation and a library bag.

Years 7 to 9

  • The winner in each category will receive a prepaid credit card worth $300, a certificate of excellence, and a book from Juvenilia Press.
  • Second prize winners in each category will receive a $125 bookstore voucher, a certificate of excellence,and a book from Juvenilia Press.
  • Third prize winners in each category will receive a $60 bookstore voucher, a certificate of excellence, and a book from Juvenilia Press.
  • Highly Commended (if awarded) winners in each category will receive a certificate of excellence, a book from Juvenilia Press and a library bag.
  • The runners up in each category will receive a certificate of commendation and a library bag.

Years 10 to 12

  • The winner in each category will receive a prepaid credit card worth $350, a certificate of excellence, and a book from Juvenilia Press.
  • Second prize winners in each category will receive a $150 bookstore voucher, a certificate of excellence, and a book from Juvenilia Press.
  • Third prize winners in each category will receive a $70 bookstore voucher, a certificate of excellence, and a book from Juvenilia Press.
  • Highly Commended (if awarded) winners in each category will receive a certificate of excellence, a book from Juvenilia Press and a library bag.
  • The runners up in each category will receive a certificate of commendation and a library bag.

Writing tips

Writing tips provided by Dr Stephanie Bishop, Lecturer in Creative Writing at UNSW.

Tips for young writers in years 3 to 4 and 5 to 6

  • Creative writing should be fun for you, and also for the reader.
  • Who is your reader? Think about them as you write. It could be your mother or your best friend. What you are writing is a kind of gift to them, something that will both interest and amuse them.
  • Be observant. Look at the funny little things that people do, then describe them so that your reader can begin to see the character. Just a little detail helps a lot.
  • If you want to tell a story, try the story out by telling it to a friend, then start writing it.
  • Sometimes it can be hard to come up with the idea for a whole story. Start by writing about something that happened to you, on holidays, or at the weekend.
  • Write about something that feels exciting; swimming in the sea, catching a plane, staying overnight with a friend.
  • Try to make your sentences different lengths – short and long.
  • If you’re writing a story tell us why, where and when it happened. Although you don’t have to tell us this all at the same time. Just make sure all this is part of the story.
  • In fiction writing, you need both dialogue and narration. Put the funniest or most interesting parts in dialogue. In the narrative parts, fill in the background. Each new speaker starts on a new line.
  • How do your characters feel? Can you describe this?
  • For poetry writing, a structure is essential. Try an acrostic (ask your teacher what this is).
  • If you’re writing a story make sure it has a beginning, a middle and an end.
  • Give your piece of writing a title. This tells the reader what it is all about. The title should have some interest. ‘The Loaded Dog’ is more interesting (more explosive!) than ‘My Dog Rupert.’
  • Read over what you have written to check for spelling mistakes. Make sure sentences are complete and make sense. Reading it aloud helps too.

Tips for young writers in years 7 to 9:

  • Good writing comes from good reading, the more you do, the better you will write. It is quite OK to borrow techniques from writers you admire (techniques, not passages!). But make sure you use your own content. Listen for, or remember, good stories that you have heard people tell.
  • Keep a journal or diary where you record interesting things – things you see, funny stories, things that happen to you – this can help you find ideas for writing. Keep a notebook in your bag for when you have an idea.
  • Write about your dreams, or your favourite place. Write about something you remember from when you were very young. These are things that might help you find ideas for a story or poem.
  • Sometimes images can link the different parts of a story or poem together. Try repeating an image in different parts of a piece of writing.
  • Write about something you are really interested in, something you care about.
  • Try starting with a surprise or a shock – something to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Read your work aloud to someone. Sometimes hearing what you’ve written helps you recognize what works and what needs improvement.
  • Be observant. Look at the funny little things that people do. Why do they do them? Describe them so that your reader can begin to see the character. Just a little detail helps a lot.
  • A poem is a picture painted with words. There should be a harmony created in its composition (eg rhyme and rhythm).
  • Try different rhyming patterns in a poem. Rhyme the last word of every second line, for example. Or make words rhyme in the middle of the lines.
  • Reread what you have written. Rewrite it and reread it again. Then show it to someone else to comment on.
  • Try to think of a title fairly early on. It will help you focus on what your piece is about.
  • With dramatic dialogue the speech of each character must remain ‘in character’. It must sound like that type of person. Dramatic dialogue also thrives on conflict, so the scene you write will often have two characters in conflict over something.

Tips for young writers in years 10 to 12:

  • You are brilliant and talented, of course, but your writing is not really about you at all. It is about creating effects: ‘LOL’ effects, or other feelings. And it is about bringing news to people. News clearly comes in non-fiction genres, like reports. But there is news even in a short story, because there, too, readers are looking for novelty. Feelings are perhaps more difficult, because that means writing that is structured with foreshadowing (a hint early on that a drama will unfold), or structuring in other ways, as in the structure of a joke.
  • When you get to the end, or the end of a passage, ask yourself: has the reader felt something, and then, has the reader learned something? Rewrite until you can answer ‘yes’ for one or both questions. Then the reader’s response will not be ‘so what?’ You will have given them a reason for reading.
  • Think about using all the five senses from time to time: sight, smell, touch, sound and taste. Much writing sticks only to the visual. Some writing forgets about the senses, and just runs with the ideas. Such writing tends to be too abstract. The reader does not know when or where the story is taking place, or what the characters look like. Use adjectives, but sparingly.
  • Experiment with ways of representing speech. For example instead of:
    ‘Thank you,’ she said.
    ‘Don’t mention it,’ he replied sarcastically.
    You could try: ‘She’s thanking him but doesn’t mean it and he’s caught that and put a real hard edge on his voice when he tells her not to mention it.’That’s an example of Free Indirect Discourse.
  • What we call ‘depth’ in a literary text is often a reference to some mythic story: stories from fairy tales, legends, Shakespeare or the Bible are often alluded to in modern texts. Experiment with referring to these stories and texts.
  • Experiment with different points of view: ‘I’ or ‘she’ or ‘you’.
  • A poem is a picture painted with words. There should be a harmony created in its composition (e.g. rhyme and rhythm, or thematic unity created with an extended metaphor).
  • One place to begin is with character. Think about your characters. Write lists of what they wear, their favourite things, their strange habits. Use these lists when writing your story.
  • With dramatic dialogue, the speech of each character must remain ‘in character’. It must sound like that type of person. Dramatic dialogue also thrives on conflict, so the scene you write will often have two characters in conflict over something. No doubt the previous scene will have set up this conflict and the following one may resolve it, or the resolution could be put off for several scenes as you develop a sub-plot. Change of setting, or a change of characters present, often triggers a change of scene.
  • Don’t worry if you feel you lack imagination (it’s not about you!). The world is so full of strange and interesting things; try to get your text to respect that strangeness.
  • Be prepared to revise and rewrite your work until you’ve got it right.
  • Experiment with narrative structure. For example, you could start with the climax of a story and work back from this - what made this happen? Did anyone guess that this was about to occur? Or start with final event and go back to the beginning. You can always write a story from beginning to end and then cut it up and re-order it.
  • When you’ve finished check your work very carefully.

Entries now closed.

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