Lionel Bowen Young Writers' Award

Entries now closed

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.

It is a joint program in partnership with Randwick City Library, UNSW and Juvenilia Press.

Eligibility

To be eligible to enter, you must be currently enrolled in school years 3 to 12 or equivalent and be either a resident or a student attending a school in the Randwick City local government area or neighbouring local government areas (Bayside Council, City of Sydney, Woollahra Municipal Council, Waverley Council)

Divisions, Categories and Prizes

There are three divisions (senior, junior and primary) with two categories (Short Story, Poetry) in each.

Short Story - Maximum 2,000 words

DivisionPrizes Short Story (Max 2,000 words)
Senior – School Years 10-121st Prize — $350
2nd Prize — $150
Highly Commended — $100
Junior – School Years 7-91st Prize — $200
2nd Prize — $100
Highly Commended — $75
Primary – School Years 3-61st Prize — $100
2nd Prize — $75
Highly Commended — $50

Poetry  -  Maximum 30 lines

DivisionPrizes Poetry (Max 30 lines)
Senior – School Years 10-121st Prize — $250
2nd Prize — $100
Highly Commended — $75
Junior – School Years 7-91st Prize — $150
2nd Prize — $75
Highly Commended — $30
Primary – School Years 3-61st Prize — $75
2nd Prize — $40
Highly Commended — $20

All winning submissions will be collated into an eBook, a copy of which will be made available to all award winners.

Theme

This year’s theme is “The Next Step”.

What does “The Next Step” mean?

We can all take steps, big and small, to protect our precious environment. From using an overripe banana in a delicious smoothie instead of throwing it away, to avoiding single use plastic. We just need to take the next step.

Build your story or poem around the theme The Next Step. Let your creativity flow in words, your short story or poem can be based on reality or be completely out of this world and imaginary.

Important Information

Judging criteria

Each work submitted will be judged across several broad criteria including:

  • Originality of storyline, characters, atmosphere and/or setting
  • Construction of the story or poem
  • Use of language (creative expression, grammar, sentence structure, punctuation and spelling)

How to enter

  1. All work submitted must be original and created by the person submitting the entry
  2. Work must be submitted as a Microsoft Word document or an editable pdf.  Entries must be typed, handwritten work will not be considered.
  3. Complete the online entry form and upload your submission (as a Microsoft Word document).

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 2022
  • You must reference the theme of "The Next Step”.
  • Only one entry per person per category, additional submissions will not be considered.
  • Entries to clearly bear the title of the entry, the division (school year), category (short story or poetry) and your name.
  • Entries to be submitted as a Microsoft Word document (font Arial, size 11, single spacing).
  • Eligible entries must be submitted online no later than 11.59pm on Wednesday 31 August 2022 to be considered.
  • All winning submissions will be collated into an eBook, 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 enquiries, call (02) 9093 6400.

View the full competition terms and conditions.

Key dates

Closing date for entries: Wednesday 31 August 2022, 11.59pm

Shortlisted entrants informed: November 2022

An email to confirm completion of the judging process will be sent to all entrants. All shortlisted entrants will receive a separate invitation by post, email and/or telephone to attend the prize-giving ceremony.

Prize-giving ceremony: December

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.

Writing Tips

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 on 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. You don't have to tell all of this at the same time, but make sure it 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.
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