WriteNow! High School Writing Contest Categories:


Create a poem to express emotion and feeling with sensory description, imagery, and metaphor.

  • Your poem can also explore new ideas or express your ideals.
  • Poetry often uses powerful words, short phrases, and broken sentences.
  • Rhyming, metered poetry is welcome, but so is free verse.
  • Types of poetry include haiku, song lyrics, sonnet, limerick, and more!
  • Up to 3 poems may be submitted per student; no word requirement

Examples: Lucille CliftonEmily DickinsonNatasha ThretheweyRita Dove


Short Story

Write an original, creative, fictional story which uses setting, plot, and narration.

  • Setting appeals to the senses and transports your reader into the scene. Use descriptive, concrete language to create vivid imagery and bring readers into the world of your story.
  • Plot is the series of events or character decisions that bring your story from beginning or end. Plot is commonly developed through rising action, conflict, and resolution. Stories usually narrate a change over time to reach a conclusion.
  • Narration is how you tell your story. Your story may be told from first, second, or third person perspective and may include inner monologue, dialogue, stream-of-consciousness thoughts, etc.
  • Fiction sometimes fall into a genre such as science fiction, fantasy, mystery, but can also depict more commonplace circumstances. You are welcome to submit a piece in any genre!
  • One short story may be submitted per student; 1500-word minimum, 2500-word maximum

Examples: "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, "State Change" by Ken Liu, "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury


Persuasive Essay

Make an argument about the topic of your choice.  In your essay you can advocate for a cause, attempt to change the reader's mind or behavior, or assess the value of a policy, idea, or product. Please support your position with factual, research-based information and proper citations.

  • Your paper can vary in length, but the 5-paragraph format is a common and useful format for persuasive essays.
  • Paragraph 1: Introduce your argument with a thesis statement that supports your position.
  • Paragraph 2-4: Introduce opposing points of view and include evidence for these opposing points. Refute the opposing points of view and support these arguments with new evidence.
  • Paragraph 5: Summarize your thesis and reiterate your support for your position.
  • One persuasive essay may be submitted per student; 500-word minimum, 1500-word maximum

Examples: "In Praise of the F Word" by Mary Sherry, "The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life" by Jane McGonigal (TedTalk),  "Rules and Traditions; It Takes a Tribe" by David Berreby, "Why You Procrastinate" by Charlotte Lieberman


Creative Nonfiction

Tell a thoughtful story about someone or something real. You can also meditate on real events. Creative nonfiction comes in many forms.

  • Personal essays describe something that has happened in your life.
  • Journalism utilizes interviews, research, and facts to tell the story of current events and happenings in the world.
  • Biographies tell someone's life story, often someone famous or a figure from history.
  • Observational essays bring a meaningful place or event to life on the page.
  • Profile essays describe a person and their impact. This can be someone from your life or community.
  • One creative nonfiction work may be submitted per student; 500-word minimum, 1500-word maximum

Examples: "Black in Middle America" by Roxane Gay, "What You Are" by Katelyn Hemmeke, "Mother Tongue" by Amy Tan


Spoken Word

Perform an original spoken word piece and record a video of your performance. What differentiates spoken word from other forms of poetry? Spoken word is written with the intention of being performed.

  • Spoken word artists pay attention to rhythm, body movement, pauses, and facial expression when performing their pieces.
  • Spoken word poetry has no rules in terms of meter, length, or rhyme scheme. But it often uses literary techniques like rhyme, alliteration, repetition, and more.
  • The performance style can vary depending on the artist, but it often draws from theater, standup comedy, jazz, hip hop, and oral storytelling.
  • Spoken word can be about any topic! But it often comments on social issues, or shares the speaker's story or perspective.
  • Up to 3 poems may be submitted per student; each poem should be recorded separately, and should be no more than 4 minutes in length

For more about the history and definition of spoken word, watch this artist talk from Kyle "Guante" Tran Myhre!


See some optional writing prompts HERE if you need more inspiration!


Questions? Call 651-407-0597 or email wbca@whitebeararts.org if you need assistance.