powered by your voice
Jul 22

WEEKLY WRITING CHALLENGES 2016-17


These weekly challenges have been created by young writers, summer interns and YWP staff to inspire YOU to write! They are scheduled each week with a Friday deadline and are sent to schools as part of our regular publication process in more than 20 VT newspapers, on vpr.net & VtDigger.org. However, ANYONE from ANYWHERE can respond to these challenges and will be considered for publication, particularly in our digital magazines, The Voice, and The Crow on medium.com, as well as cowbird.com, and our Anthology of best work, which have no geographic restrictions. (PDF version at bottom)
 
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General. Your best writing in any genre and/or photos. Due anytime, all year!
 
 
17. Photo6-Balloons. Write a story or poem based on this photo (by Josie Elderslie, Creative Commons license).
Alternate: Laughter. “I knew I shouldn’t laugh, but …” Finish the story. Due Jan. 13
 




18. Opposite. We think a lot about who we are and what we want to be. Now think about what and who you are not – and create a character, your alter-ego. (It could be physical attributes, emotional states, abilities, skills, etc.) Alternate: Erase. You are given the chance to erase something you have done or a memory that haunts you. Do you take the chance? If so, what do you erase and why? If you don't want to take the chance, why not? Due Jan. 20
 
19. It. Write a story or poem that begins or ends with the phrase, It changed everything …” Alternate: Me. What is one thing that people might be surprised to learn about you? Tell the story with plenty of details! Due Jan. 27
 
20. Photo7-Window. Write a story based on this photo (by Alagich Katya, Creative Commons license).
Alternate: Thingamabob. Write a love letter, or a love poem, to an object. Here’s an example: http://archive.youngwritersproject.org/node/97347Due Feb. 3



 
21. Lies. Create a fictional story about a parent's "little white lie" that gets out of control. What prompts the parent to tell it? What happens? Alternate: Lamp. “A lamp flickered on in the house …” Write a story or poem that includes this phrase. Due Feb. 10

 
22. Sound4-Chimes. Listen to the sound and write a story or poem. Alternate: Bully. Write a letter to a bully or from a bully. The story can be real or imagined. Don’t use real names. Due Feb. 17
 
23. Art. Think of your life as a piece of art. What’s in the picture? Are you viewing it -- or are you in it? Describe the size, medium, colors. Alternate: Awkward. Write the dialogue of an excruciatingly uncomfortable meeting or experience. Due Feb. 24
 
24. Photo8-Stairs. Write a story or poem based on this photo (by Carmella Clark of Essex High School, Vermont.)
Alternate: Mistake. Sometimes we mess up, pretend nothing happened and hope no one notices. Write about a situation in which this backfires in the worst possible way. Due March 3
 



25. Gym. Write about your most memorable experience in gym class, good or bad, funny or sad. Alternate: Door. You’re left alone at home one night and you discover a door that you have never seen before. Of course, you open it … and then what? Due March 10
 
26. Letter. Write a letter to someone who has had a big effect on your life. Or write a letter to someone you want to meet and convince them that they should meet you. Alternate: ER. Write about an experience in a hospital emergency room, real or imagined. Due March 17
 
27. Attic. In the attic of your grandmother's house, you find a box labeled with your name. What’s inside? Do you tell anyone else about it or keep it a secret? Is it surprising, shocking, heart-warming, disturbing? Does it change your opinion about your grandmother or someone else in the family? Alternate: Invention. Create something outrageously wacky that makes life so much more fun! Let your imagination run wild! Due March 24
 
28. Photo9-Hoodie. Write a story or poem inspired by this photo (by Bailey Danforth of Essex High School, Vermont.)
Alternate: Illegal. "I know it's illegal, but it's the weekend!" This is a real quote! (Check it out here: http://www.vice.com/read/american-hero-arrested-for-having-80-speakers-in-his-van-vgtrn?utm_source=vicefbus. Make your own story that begins or ends with this quote. Due March 31



 
29. Sound5-Thunder. Listen to the sound and write a story. Alternate: Technology. If you could create any piece of technology, what would it be and how would it be used? Due April 7
 
30. Perfect. Write about something that works out perfectly, real or imagined. Alternate: Crush. You've had a crush on someone for a year, but the person doesn't seem to know you even exist. How do you deal with that? How do you get the person to notice? Real or imagined. And no names! Due April 14
 
31. Backpack. One day you’re digging way down to the bottom of your backpack when you come across the most incredible thing. Describe it. What do you do with it? Alternate: Lucky. What is your lucky number? How do you know? Tell a story about your luck and the number. Due April 21
 
32. Photo10-House. Write a story or poem based on this illustration (by Ava Kendrick of Harwood Union High School, Vermont.)
Alternates: Peeves. What is a pet peeve of yours? (You can write about ALL your pet peeves, if you like!) What really gets to you? Write your best rant, make a rhyme, shout it out! or Road. Think about Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and write a story about two characters who stand at a crossroads and choose opposite roads/directions/options. Tell their story or focus on an aspect of the decision – their conversation, the outcome, the process of making the decision. Due April 28

 
33. Arm. You wake up to discover you have grown a third arm. How does the extra arm come in handy or get in the way? Alternate: Family. Write a story or poem that includes this sentence, “They sat at the dining-room table, the family of four…” (Origin: YWP writer Kyrridwen. Complete poem here: http://archive.youngwritersproject.org/node/114425) Due May 5
 
34. Today. Write about the most interesting thing you heard or discovered today. Alternate: Unsaid. We often put off saying what’s on our mind until it’s too late. Write about something that should have been said, but never was (real or imagined.) Due May 12
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The due dates for these challenges have passed. But that shouldn't stop you from writing to them! (Deadlines are for publication in the newspaper series only.)

2. Photo1-Feet. Write a story or poem inspired by this photo by August Spagnuolo-Chawla of Essex High School, Vermont. Alternate: Stars. Stargazing one evening you watch as a bright star disappears. Tell the story either from the perspective of the viewer or the star. Due Sept. 16



                                                    
3. Brainstorm.
Create a single blog post on youngwritersproject.org where you list all your story ideas. Start with a few from your own life, and keep adding as more come to mind. Use this blog to spark your creativity through the year. Need inspiration? Look here: http://archive.youngwritersproject.org/taxonomy/term/27264
Alternates: Learn. Tell a story about a time when you had to learn something you didn't know how to do, such as using new software, taking a photo, riding a bike. How did you learn it? Who helped? How did they help?; or Inanimate. Think about an inanimate object that has been thrown away. Write a story or poem following its journey after it is considered trash. Due Sept. 23

4. Never.
Create a story of 250 words or less using the phrase “never saw it coming.” Alternate: Cellular. Keep a log of how many times you look at your phone in a day (roughly 6 am-10 pm). Is it more or less than 46 times, the U.S. average for all age groups? Write about how your cell phone affects your life. What would you do if you lost it? Due Sept. 30
 
5.Photo2-Cabin. Write a story inspired by this photo (by Steve Mint, Creative Commons license).
Alternates: Scary. “On this black night …” Begin or end your story with this phrase. Make it terrifying! or  Mirror. What is your most defining feature? What do you like most about yourself and how does it define you?  Due Oct. 7




6. Sports. Write a story about one of your best sports moments or create a slideshow of your own images that show how a sport or sports affect your life. Alternate: President. What message would you like to send to the next president of the United States? Due Oct. 14

 
7.  Sound1-Witch: Listen to the sound (CAUTION: It's loud!) and write a story inspired by it; Alternates: Winter: Tell a winter story in short descriptive or narrative poetry or prose. Go for original! Avoid "seasonal" cliches (hot chocolate, mistletoe). The best will be selected for presentation by the Vermont Stage Company at its annual Winter Tales production at FlynnSpace in Burlington in December; or  Beauty: What is beauty to you? Do you have a unique idea of beauty, one that might not be shared by others? Describe someone or something that is beautiful to you. Due Oct. 21
 
 
8. Photo3-Lights. Write a piece inspired by this photo (by Alagich Katya, Creative Commons license).
Alternates: Silence. “The house was dead quiet ...” Finish the story; Five. What are five things you wish you could tell your 5-year-old self? Due Oct. 28
 



9. Ridiculous. Write a ridiculous lecture about anything – use nonsense words, make crazy connections, be silly. Record yourself delivering the lecture and post the audio on your blog. Alternate: Chocolate. Write a persuasive essay or poem in rhyme about why chocolate is the best thing in the world. (Replace chocolate with ice cream, liverwurst or any other favorite food.) Due Nov. 4

 
10. Sound2-Funk. Listen to this sound and write a story inspired by it; Alternates: World. Create a new world, either in words or drawings. You can go elaborate or simple -- it's your world! or Veteran. Interview a veteran about his or her experience. Write a story about the person's overall experience, or focus on one aspect of it. Due Nov. 11

11. Photo4-Chair. Write a story or poem based on this photo (by Gabrielle McKitty of Essex High School, Vermont). Alternate: Shirley. Write from this scenario: "Shirley stepped off the train with three things in her bag: a notebook, a picture, and a loaded handgun." Due Nov. 18
 
 12. Name. Write about the history of your first name (such as its heritage, its history in your family, why your parents chose it, etc.) Do you like your name? If you would prefer another name, what would it be? Alternate: Fable. Write a fable starting with a specific moral. How do the characters in the fable come to understand the moral? Due Nov. 25

13. Fear. Write about a fear you have that others might think is irrational. Why does it have a hold on you? Alternate: Embarrassing. Write about your most embarrassing moment. Can you laugh about it now or is it still too painful? Examples: http://archive.youngwritersproject.org/taxonomy/term/27270 Due Dec. 2

14. Photo5-Woman. Write a story or poem based on this photo (by Mario Mancuso, Creative Commons license). Alternate: Home. Where do you feel most at home, most confident, most strong, most you? A room, a park, a workshop, a sports field? Why? Due Dec. 9




 
15. Sound3-Talking. Listen to the sound and write a story. Alternate: Recognition. Tell a story about two characters who pass each other on a strange street and immediately recognize each other, but are not sure from where. Do they turn around or keep going? Describe what happens. Due Dec. 16
 

16. Catch 22: Pick 22 random words or phrases that you find on your phone or you see around you. Include all 22 in your piece. Alternate: Day. You literally wake up on the wrong side of the bed (perhaps you also bump your head), and it just goes downhill from there. Describe this bad day. Due Dec. 23