The Penguin Random House Creative Writing Awards are now open for submissions! U.S. public high school seniors are invited to apply in one of five categories: the Michelle Obama Award for Memoir, the Amanda Gorman Award for Poetry, the Maya Angelou Award for Spoken Word, fiction / drama, and the NYC entrant award. As students work on their submissions, we have collected tips and tricks on how to develop your voice and polish your work.
Here are some resources to get you started:
“The arc of the personal essay: I felt a certain way > then I had this experience (e.g., I changed my circumstances; I changed my mind over time; I saw a person/situation/aspect of myself in a new light; something happened that led me to admit I was wrong; OR something happened that led me to realize I’d been right all along) > then I felt a different way.” From Girls Write Now
“What are important parts of who you are that help shape how you interact with others around you, and how do those parts of yourself help construct or influence your understanding of the world?” From author Breanna J. McDaniel on Narrative Voice
Poetry & Spoken Word:
Consider trying a family history poem. “Ask [a] family member to share a story from his or her past. The story could be from the recent past—say a few weeks or months ago—or from a long time ago. While your family member is talking, have a pen or pencil and a piece of paper handy so you can take some notes on the story. Be sure to concentrate on the details.” From Poets.org
Read poetry to find out what you love, what you are drawn to. This can help you develop your own style. Check out this poem by Amanda Gorman:
Fiction / Drama:
“I’ve written about fashion shows, sample sales, private school, the Hamptons, all subjects that I am very familiar with. But I’ve also written about surfing, skateboarding, college radio stations, and other subjects I’m not so familiar with. I’ve always been interested in surfing, skateboarding, and college radio, but I didn’t know so much about them so I did research. I love doing research. … It widens my horizons as a writer. So don’t be afraid to tackle new subjects, writing about what you don’t know can be fun too.” From Melissa de la Cruz
“Ask yourself, who is my character at the start … and who is my main character at the end? … The more dramatic the change in your character from start to finish, the more satisfying it will be for the reader.” From Andrea Bartz
And don’t forget to check out these other resources on the WNDB blog: advice from CWA winners, YA authors , and WNDB anthology contributors. Good luck!