Entertainment & Arts

BBC launches Young Writers' Award

writing in a notebook Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The new strand of the competition hopes to inspire a new generation of writers

The BBC is launching a new Young Writers' Award to celebrate ten years of its National Short Story Award.

The contest, open to young people in the UK aged 14 to 18, is aiming to inspire and encourage the next generation of writers.

Both competitions have opened for entries and close on 25 February 2015.

Last year's National Short Story Award was won by We Need to Talk About Kevin author Lionel Shriver, who beat writers including Zadie Smith.

The competition promoting contemporary British short fiction has attracted entries from Naomi Alderman, Sarah Hall, Jon McGregor, Rose Tremain and William Trevor over the years.

Entrants to the Young Writers Award - also run in collaboration with reading charity Booktrust - must be British or currently live in the UK and they can submit stories of up to 1,000 words on any topic.

'Bolder and braver'

Young Adult author James Dawson, whose novels include Cruel Summer, Hollow Pike and Say Her Name, said young authors were often "bolder, braver and darker than many adult authors would dare".

"When it comes to talent, age ain't nothin' but a number, and the only difference between a 'writer' and an 'author' is a book deal," he added.

"I was about 13 when I started writing and I would have died for an opportunity like the BBC Young Writers' Award.

"The prize - the chance to have a story appear on BBC Radio - is incredible (and something most authors, including me, have never had!)"

A five-strong shortlist will be announced in September, with the winner revealed at the BBC National Short Story Award ceremony on 6 October.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption We Need to Talk About Kevin author Lionel Shriver won last year's BBC National Short Story Award

BBC Radio 4 will broadcast each of the adult finalists' stories during September, when each writer be interviewed by Front Row.

Entrants need to have a history of publication in creative writing, with £15,000 prize money up for grabs for the winning entry.

"Launching the first BBC National Short Story Award ten years ago, short stories seemed an endangered species - what a difference a decade makes," said Di Speirs, editor of Books at BBC Radio.

"Not only do we see short stories in the headlines - holding their own against novels in areas as diverse as the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Edinburgh and the Guardian First Book awards, but joyfully story collections are crossing my desk more and more frequently and finding new, young and enthusiastic writers and readers."

Speirs said it was "particularly exciting" to be launching the new strand of the competition for young people.

Ten schools across the UK will also get the chance to shadow-judge the award, reading the stories and voting for their favourite.

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