Young Writers Project weekly writing challenges

Photo Challenge “Rescue Book Shop”; by Alexandre Duret-Lutz
Photo Challenge "Ghost"; by Matt Wilson
Photo Challenge “Ghost”; by Matt Wilson

Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit that engages students to write, helps them improve and connects them with authentic audiences through this newspaper; YWP’s web site,, and digital magazine, The Voice; and other partners, including and

Young Writers Project has just launched a new web site at designed to provide more opportunities for youths to exercise their writing and digital media skills and interact with peers and mentors. YWP’s team of editors and writer leaders will choose the best each week for publication—including submissions to the weekly challenges for September through January listed below, as well as daily challenges on the home page of

Students in grades 3-12 are encouraged to submit their best writing, photos, audio and video from inside or outside school for publication and/or presentation. For information on how to sign up for an account, submit work, and get published, go to

General writing

Your best writing from the summer in any genre. Due Sept. 4


Who has influenced and encouraged you most in your life – in or out of school? Why has this person been so powerful for you? Alternate: Photo-Bookshop: Write a story based on the photo, “Recursive Bookshop,” by Alexandre Duret-Lutz. Due Sept. 11


Tell a story that you think shows your essence, your most important trait(s). You can write or use visual media or sound. Or a combination. Alternate: Sound-Engine: Click on the audio link for this challenge on and write the story you hear, or use the clip and add more sounds to create a soundscape (or sound story.) Due Sept. 18


Has your first impression ever been totally wrong about someone or something? Tell a story about a first impression that was wrong OR how someone had the wrong impression of you. How did it turn out? Alternate: Photo-Nuclear: Write about the photo, “Morning Glory,” by David Blackwell. Due Sept. 25


What’s it like to be a teenager in Vermont? In words, images and/or sound, describe your life in this rural state. Share your best and worst stories. Do you want to stay or flee? (This is part of a project with Alternates: Loyalty: Tell a story where loyalty plays a key role, either in a heroic way or by getting your character in trouble (going along with a friend’s bad idea or not heeding warnings). OR Sound-Cheering: Click on the audio link for this challenge on and write the story you hear, or use the clip and add more sounds to create a sound story. Due Oct. 2


Your character can hear only one side of a phone conversation, but it sounds important; tell the story using one-sided dialogue. (If you have trouble with this, eavesdrop on a conversation and create the other side. Also, go to and try a Lab about creating dialogue). Alternate: 35: Who will you be when you are 35? Will you be living in your home state? What will you be doing? (This is part of a project with Due Oct. 9


Explore a town forest in Vermont — and write to win cash prizes. All information at Alternate: Spooky: Write a story that makes your readers scream! Can be real or imagined. Due Oct. 16

Winter Tales

What is your experience of winter? Tell a story in short descriptive or narrative poetry or prose. No clichés, please. The best will be selected for presentation by the Vermont Stage Company at its annual Winter Tales production at FlynnSpace in Burlington in December. Alternate: General writing. Due Oct. 23


Write a complete poem/story in six words. (Write as many as you’d like.) Alternates: Photo-Ghost: Write a story in response to the photo above, “My Ghost,” by Matt Wilson; OR Art: Call for visual artists! Send us your very best photos and scanned  art. Due Oct. 30


You have to move out of your house suddenly and are allowed only one small box for your things. What would you put in the box and what do these things say about you? Alternates: Fame: Write about a character who is suddenly famous. The paparazzi are outside the window and the character’s face keeps flashing on the TV screen, but s/he has no idea why! What happens? And why the sudden fame? General: Send us your best work of any category or type. Due Nov. 6


What sport would you create if given the chance? You could explain the rules, the history, describe an amazing match, tell why it was invented … anything! Or, tell the story of an epic sports moment you were part of. Alternate: Embarrassed: What’s the most embarrassing (true) story that you’re willing to share? (If it involves someone else, change the names to protect the innocent!) Due Nov. 13


Click the audio link for this challenge on and write the story you hear or use it to create a soundscape (or sound story). Alternate: Monologue: Write a monologue of a person who is troubled or conflicted about something. Reach a resolution. Due Nov. 20


Using the photo,“Three Different Reactions Facing a Photographer,” tell a story about the women. Alternate: Foil: Create a foil or an opposite for a character. Throw both characters into a story. How do their differences conflict or complement each other? Due Nov. 27


“It was the eyes, chocolate brown and always searching, that warned me to …” Finish the scene. Alternates: Persist: Describe a character who persists — and succeeds — despite the doubts and jeers of others. Focus the story on how the character moves forward with an idea. OR General: Send us your best work. Due Dec. 4


You overhear a startling story and retell it to others, only to discover you’ve misheard some key points. What happens next? Alternate: Fanfiction: Extend one of your favorite fictional tales. What kind of trials are you and your beloved characters facing today? Due Dec. 11


Use the photo by Los Paseos, “Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co.,” to tell a story. Alternate: See: Write a story that begins with this phrase, “Can’t you see it?” Due Dec. 18


Your character observes a confrontation in a school hallway in which there is a blatant injustice. What happens and why? Alternates: Resolution: What is one New Year’s resolution you want to tackle this year? OR General: Send us your best work. Due Jan. 8


Use this phrase in a story: “Never forget this moment, my child,” the old man said … Alternates: Photo-Veggies: Some people like their vegetables to look just so … Use the photo, “Artisan,” by Apionid to tell a story. Due Jan. 15


You open a love letter that isn’t addressed to you, and the writer seems so familiar it’s as if the letter was written just for you. What do you do? Alternates: Ad: Create a commercial advertising any product, real or imagined, in any format (words, sound, images). OR Sound-Ice: Click the audio link on and write the story you hear or use multiple sounds for a soundscape (or sound story). Due Jan. 22


Invent the wackiest urban myth you can think of. Alternate: Love: They said I shouldn’t love you, but I can’t help myself… Why? And what happens next? Due Jan. 29

YWP is supported by this newspaper and foundations, businesses and individuals who recognize the power and value of writing. If you would like to contribute, please go to, or mail your donation to YWP, 47 Maple St., Suite 106, Burlington, VT 05401. Contact Executive Director Geoffrey Gevalt at or 324-9537 or Publications Coordinator Susan Reid at or 324-9539.