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The BBC Young Writers' Award is open for 2019

Are you an avid writer aged between 14 to 18? If so, the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University is for you.

The award returns for it's 14th year with Life Hacks' very own Katie Thistleton heading up the judging panel.

What's more, the five writers shortlisted will have their stories broadcast on a special BBC Radio 1 Life hacks podcast, and published in an anthology. The winner will also receive a personalised mentoring session with an author.

So what are you waiting for? All you have to do is submit a short story (up to 1,000 words) on a topic of your choice.

Once you have your finished story, you can upload it via our entry form here. The deadline for entries is 9am (GMT) Monday 25th March 2019.

Joining Katie on the judging panel will be former teacher and Betty Trask Award winner, Anthony Cartwright; Waterstones Prize and YA Bookseller Prize winning-YA writer, Patrice Lawrence; winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year children’s author, Kiran Millwood Hargrave; and writer, rapper and world-record breaking human beatboxer, Testament.

The full 'Terms and Conditions’ for the awards can be viewed here.

5 Top Writing Tips From Philip Pullman

Author of over twenty novels, Philip Pullman has been writing for most of his life. Throughout that time, he's masterminded a tricks which will help you get started.

1 | Write what you want

"Publishers will be very keen to tell you to a write specific type of book, namely something similar to the current literary craze or bestseller. Write what you want to write, be the next big thing and not another iteration of a phase that will pass. People don't know what they want to read until they actually start."

2 | Don't get distracted

"The question that every writer invariably gets asked is ‘where do your ideas come from?' While no one can provide the definitive starting point of inspiration, Pullman knows exactly where they end up. The end of the line is at your desk. Resist wandering off, checking social media or making yet another cup of tea. You wouldn't to miss a brilliant idea because you weren't there to receive it."

3 | Find a way of writing that works for you

"Everyone works differently. Sitting at a desk in silence might be best way for you to write or it might fill with you with dread. If you find that curled up on the sofa with your laptop and music playing motivates you to write, then curl up on that sofa! If a plan clarifies your thoughts, then great, but if it's more of a hindrance than a help, just start without one. The most important part is the writing; don't be tied to how you think you should write if it doesn't produce anything."

4 | Let the main character drive the plot

"There are just as many ways to structure a novel as there are to write one. A good steer, however, is to let the actions of the main character drive the plot. It's useful emotional shorthand for getting your readers invested with your lead. Even if the story begins with them committing a murder, by having the protagonist be the instigator, your audience will care about them regardless of their terrible actions."

5 | Explore different formats and genres

"Ideas might not necessarily fit into what you're currently working on. If you know something is a good idea, but just isn't working, don't necessarily throw it out. Try it out in a different format, it might not fit in your novel but would work perfectly in a play or a poem. Likewise, your idea might not be suitable for a kitchen sink drama about a family reunion, but for your science fiction epic about reuniting a family of kitchen sinks might be its perfect home. Explore and experiment, you never know what you might find."

Listen to 2018's winning story: Under a Deep Blue Sky by Davina Bacon

Under a Deep Blue Sky (BBC Young Writers' Award 2018)

Listen to a moving short story from Davina Bacon, 17, from Cambridgeshire.

Listen to four more brilliant, shortlisted stories from 2018.

Footprints in the Far Field (BBC Young Writers' Award 2018)

Listen to an evocative and compelling story by Reyah Martin, 18, from Glasgow.

Unspoken (BBC Young Writers' Award 2018)

Listen to a powerful short story by Lottie Mills, 16, from Hertfordshire.

Firsts (BBC Young Writers' Award 2018)

Listen to a beautifully structured story by Jane Mitchell, 16, from Dorset.

Oh Sister, Invisible (BBC Young Writers' Award 2018)

Listen to a story of grief and courage by Tabitha Rubens, 16, from London.

Related Links

Cambridge University

If you are looking to getting inspired, head over to Cambridge University's virtual treasure trove of books. Here you can read books cover to cover, as well as check out 3D objects from the university's collection.

First Story

First Story, who lead National Writing Day, have gazillions of writing tips - there are even free writing activities that will help get your story started like this soundscape.

The Judges

Here's a bit more about this year's BBC Young Writers' Award panel


Testament is a writer, rapper and world record breaking human beatboxer. His most recent play ‘Black Men Walking’ for Eclipse Theatre garnered critical acclaim and sold out venues around the UK. Testament’s work includes the celebrated Hip-Hop album Homecut: No Freedom Without, several spoken word performances for BBC Radio (1xtra, Radio 4 and 6Music) and his acclaimed play Blake Remixed – a personal response to the work of William Blake. His work continually returns to the theme of human connectivity and trying to find the spiritual in the everyday. Testament is also a writer-in-residence at Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, a First Story writer-in-residence, and is currently touring his new spoken word beatbox show WOKE.

Katie Thistleton

Katie Thistleton has been a familiar face on BBC programmes since 2013 where she has been a live Presenter of 'the bits in between the shows' on CBBC for almost 6 years. She is the presenter of The CBBC Book Club, where she has interviewed authors such Jacqueline Wilson, David Walliams and Cressida Cowell to name a few. Katie is now also a regular voice on BBC Radio 1, presenting 'Life Hacks' on Sundays 4-7pm and previously presenting 'The Surgery’ as well as also covering for other Radio 1 DJ’s. She’s also an avid writer and reader and campaigns for getting young people to read and write. Katie is passionate about raising mental health awareness, and is an ambassador for children's mental health charities YoungMinds and Place2be.

Anthony Cartwright

Anthony Cartwright is the author of five novels, the most recent of which, The Cut, was commissioned in response to the Brexit vote as part of the Peirene Now! series. His work concentrates on the lives of working class characters in his native West Midlands, seeking, as a Guardian review of his 2016 novel Iron Towns suggests, 'a fictional enactment of communal identity and shared culture'. His first novel, The Afterglow, was the recipient of a Betty Trask Award, and his subsequent novels have been shortlisted for various literary awards, including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Gordon Burn Prize. He is currently a First Story writer-in-residence at Abbey Manor College, Lewisham, and Willowfield School, Walthsmstow and also a visiting lecturer at City University, London.

Kiran Milwood Hargrave

Kiran Millwood Hargrave writes bestselling adventure stories for children. The Girl of Ink & Stars won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017, and the British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year. The Island at the End of Everything won the Historical Association’s Young Quills Award, was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award, the Blue Peter Best Story Award, and longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Award. Her third novel, The Way Past Winter, came out in October 2018 and was named Blackwells Children’s Book of the Year. Kiran lives in Oxford with her husband, the artist Tom de Freston, and their rescue cat, Luna.

Patrice Lawrence

Patrice Lawrence was born in Brighton and lives in London with a cat called Stormageddon. She has been writing stories for as long as she can remember and reading them out to anybody who will listen. Orangeboy (Hachette) her first book for teenagers, was shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award and won the Waterstones Prize for Older Fiction and the YA Bookseller Prize. Indigo Donut (also Hachette) won the Crimefest YA Prize. Her published short stories include 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' in the Make More Noise anthology (Nosy Crow) and 'The Clean Sweep' in the A Change is Gonna Come collection (Stripes). She has also written short stories for adults.