Prompts for 2008/09
Here are the writing prompts for the 2008/09 YWP Newspaper Series.
The deadline for these prompts has passed. Submissions to these prompts cannot be considered for publication.
1. Historical Photo. Tell the story of the two people in this photo from the 1941 Vermont State Fair in Rutland. Or tell a story about a time when you went to the fair.
Alternate: I ran through the woods ... Tell a story or write a poem in which you use those words.
2. Super powers. You have a choice; you can have special powers to fly or to read people’s minds. Which would you want? Why? What would you do with those powers?
Alternate: Letter to the editor. Find an article in a newspaper or magazine that you feel strongly about. Do you agree or disagree with the views expressed in the article? Write a 100-200 word letter to the editor of the publication to let them know what you think.
3. Discovery. Write about a moment when you discovered something new. You found something or you understood something or you came upon something or some place you had never seen before. You can also do this as a history project; relate the idea directly or indirectly to the “discovery” of Lake Champlain by Samuel de Champlain. Winning essays will receive a cash award and potential additional publication as part of the Lake Champlain Quadricentennial Project.
Alternate: Poetry. Write a limerick or write a poem that forms a shape.
4. General Writing. Send in your best work – poems, short stories, essays. (Feel free to do it throughout the year, but this gives you a deadline.)
5. Haunted. Have you ever been in a house where things go bump in the night? Do you believe that some buildings or places are haunted? Is there one in your town? Tell us a story about it. Make it believable.
Alternate: Lockers. What one thing do you wish no one to know about in your locker? Or what is the most important thing in your locker?
6. Voting. Why should people vote?
Alternate: Inventions. What one thing needs to be invented? Who or what would it help?
7. Elections. – You have been elected President of the United States. What is the first thing you are going to do when you take office in January 2009?
Alternate: Facebook. What’s the attraction? Why do you spend so much time on it?
8. Winter Tales. Tell a story about winter; it can focus on the season or the holidays – the weather, the outdoors, or the emotions. A dozen selections will be given dramatic presentations by Vermont Stage Company in early December.
Alternate: General Prose. Send in your best prose – stories, essays, vignettes or anecdotes.
9. Friends. Write about a moment in which someone you know and care about proved they were a friend. What did they do? How did they support you or what you believe?
Alternate: Perspective. Choose an object and describe the world from its perspective.
10. Vermont. This is a special prompt in partnership with the Council on Vermont’s Future. Five essays will be selected for cash awards and special presentation and publication of the work. Write a 500-750 word essay that answers any, some or all of these questions:
1. What is a Vermonter?
2. What is the one thing you would change about Vermont?
3. If you could live here in 10 years would you? Why or why not?
4. What is the most important thing to you about life in Vermont?
5. How has growing up in Vermont affected your life/your outlook?
11. Close call. Write about a time when you had a close call with something unexpected. Did it lead you to learn new skills or change your attitudes?
Alternate: Silver. Write a story or a poem in which the color silver plays a part.
12. Hunting. Share your favorite hunting stories, or tell us how you feel about hunting.
Alternate: The Big Loss. Describe a moment in which your team lost and what happened. What did you do to get over it?
13. General Writing. Send in your best work – poems, short stories, essays.
14. Procrastination. If you had more time, you’d be able to put it off longer. What do you put off to the last moment? Why? Tell a story about how you just barely got something done in time – or didn’t.
Alternate: Splat! Use that word in a story or a poem.
15. Historical Photo. Write about this photo. Tell a narrative story. Who are these three girls? What was their life like?
Alternate: Family story. Talk to someone in your family – could be a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin or sibling – and get them to tell you a story they’ve never told you before and then write about it. If it’s related to Lake Champlain, we’ll consider it in the Quadricentennial Project/Challenge.
16. Op-ed piece. Is there one thing in your school or society that you feel is not handled well or that makes your blood boil? How would you change it? What difference would it make? Use factual, researched or first-hand information to support your opinion.
Alternate: Scared. Write about a time when you felt very scared. Set the scene: Give the reader the details we need to understand and to feel afraid as well. What happened? What did you learn or how did you get stronger as a result?
17. First encounters. Write about the first time you encountered something new. You can also do this as a history project and write something that relates directly or indirectly to the “first encounters” experienced when by Samuel de Champlain came upon Lake Champlain 400 years ago. Winning essays will receive a cash award and potential additional publication as part of the Lake Champlain Quadricentennial Project.
Alternate: Blue. Use this phrase in a story or a poem. “I have never seen such a brilliant shade of blue.”
18. Lyrics. Create lyrics that could potentially be put to music. This is a special prompt with details to be announced on youngwritersproject.org in early November. The deadline will be early February. This prompt may have two special rewards – cash and an opportunity to work with a musician to create the song. We will be looking particularly for ballads, lyrics with a story about Vermont or Vermont history.
Alternate: That is so annoying. What really annoys you? Write about a moment or tell a story about a time when you felt annoyed.
19. General Writing. Send in your best work – poems, short stories, essays.
20. Number 9. The number of lives a cat has, the number worn by an athlete or NASCAR driver, the name of a cloud or the number of judges who sit on the U. S. Supreme Court. Write about the number 9 and what it means to you.
Alternate: Last line poem. Choose a poem you really like. Use the last line to begin a new poem of your own.
21. Waiting rooms. Think about a time you sat in a waiting room and write about the people you observed there. Who were they with? What were they doing? Saying?
Alternate: A bedtime story. Write a bedtime story that explains how something happened – how the grass became green, how cats lost their speech
22. Being green. What one thing have you done to reduce your use of fossil fuels? Or what one thing would you change to reduce our dependence on oil?
Alternate: When I turned, it was gone. Use those words in a story or poem.
23. April Fools. Tell a story about the best April Fools joke you have ever played on someone – or write about one that someone played on you.
Alternate: Acceptance. Is it important to be accepted? Why? Tell a story about what you have done to try to get accepted that you now regret having done.
24. Embarrassed. Write about your most embarrassing moment. What happened? Why was it embarrassing? How do you feel about it now?
Alternate: Africa. Write about what comes to mind when you hear that word.
25. General Writing. Send in your best work – poems, short stories, essays.
26. Border crossings. Tell a story about a time when you crossed a border or some boundary – either real or metaphorical. You can also connect this to history and write something that relates directly or indirectly to the “border crossings” experienced during or after Samuel de Champlain’s exploration of the lake that now bears his name. Winning essays will receive a cash award and potential additional publication as part of the Lake Champlain Quadricentennial Project.
Alternate: There were 20 of them! Use these words in a story or poem.
27. Memorable moment. Tell a story about a moment – a minute or a split second – in which something happened that you will always remember. It could be on the sports field, on stage or in the woods. Use detail. Tell us why it moved you so.
Alternate: Humor. What’s the hardest thing to do? Tell a joke when you’re asked to tell a joke. What’s the second hardest thing to do? Write a funny story when you’re asked to write a funny story. But we want one. We want the story you told your friends that almost made them pee laughing. Or make something up. You know you’ve got one. And get in the right mood when you write it.
28. Neighbor’s view. How would your neighbors describe you in 100-200 words without using adjectives?
Alternate: An object. Choose an object that is important to you. Describe it without telling what it is (except in a note at the end).
29. Farming. Do you farm? Have you ever worked on a farm? Visited one? Write about it. Do you know a farmer? Talk to her or him and tell their story. Try not to romanticize. Tell a story that describes the reality of farming today. This will have a cash award.
30. Shopping. Admit it, you love it. Tell us why. Write a story about your favorite shopping expedition or thing you have bought.
Alternate: Video games. What video games do you play? Why do you like them? If you’ve stopped playing, or don’t play as much as you used to, tell us why.
31. Advertising. We are bombarded with ads in newspapers, on the radio, television, and on the internet. How does it affect you? How does it affect others? If you want, pick an advertisement that you find really annoying – or compelling – and write about it.
Alternate: Through the window…. Use these words in a story or poem.
32. General Writing. Send in your best work – poems, short stories, essays.