Aug 07

Weekly Challenges 2015-16

Weekly Writing Challenges for 2015-16
Each Friday, YWP has a deadline for scheduled weekly challenges. These have been conceived mostly by youths and are scheduled and sent out to schools as part of our regular publication process. ANYONE from ANYWHERE can respond to these and will be considered for publication, particularly to our monthly digital magazine, The Voice, and which have no geographic restrictions. The majority of our newspapers as well as and generally have a Vermont focus.

Week Whatever. General. Share your best writing of any category (including images, sound, digital stories) from the summer. ANYTIME
All THE WEEKLY CHALLENGES FOR THIS YEAR -- Due dates for publication have passed, but feel free to use these challenges if they inspire you to write!

Week 2. Mentor: 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. (Creative Commons license. Must be linked and attributed.) Due Sept. 11

Week 3. Self-portrait: 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 sound button in this challenge and write the story you hear, or use the clip and add more sound to create a sound story or soundscape. Due Sept. 18

Week 4. Impressions: 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 this photo by David Blackwell, Morning Glory. (Creative Commons license must be linked and attributed.) Due Sept. 25

Week 5. 802. 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). Sound-Cheering: Click on the sound in this challenge and write the story you hear OR use the sound, combine with others and create a soundscape. Due Oct. 2

Week 6. One-sided: Your character can hear only one side of a phone conversation, but it sounds important; tell the story using one-sided dialogue. (If you are having 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 Vermont? What will you be doing? (This is part of a project with Due Oct. 9

Week 7. Forest15. Write for prizes! Do you know that your town probably has a “town forest?” Have you ever been in it? Do you know the story of the land? Explore a town forest in Vermont -- and it doesn’t have to be your town’s forest, but it needs to be one that inspires you. Write about it and win CASH prizes! All details here! Alternate: Spooky: Write a story that makes your readers scream! Can be real or imagined. (Here’s one to get you started.) Due Oct. 16

Week 8. 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; AND if you're having trouble getting started, check out this winter scene by Matthias Ripp, called Walking Home at Midnight. Alternate: General writing in any genre. Due Oct. 23

Week 9. Six: Write a complete poem/story in six words. (A couple gems from years past: Funeral flowers always smell the same; and Poor Atlas -- the world is heavy.) Alternates: Photo-Ghost: Write a story in response to the photo, “My Ghost,” by photographer Matt Wilson. (Creative Commons license. Must be linked and attributed.); or Art: Call for visual artists! You take photos. We know you do. Take a look at what’s on your camera or phone. Or go outside right now and take pictures! Send us your very best. (Please submit large, high-res versions and give us some info about the photos. Identify the people and/or places for potential publication. And check out these photos by Kevin Huang of Burlington High School and photos from the students of Essex High School.) Due Oct. 30

Week 10. Things: You have to move out of your house suddenly and you 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 she/he has no idea why! What happens? And why the sudden fame? General: Send us your best work of any category or type that you’ve created in or out of school. Due Nov. 6

Week 11. Sports: 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

Week 12. Sound-Footsteps: Click on the sound button on this challenge and write the story you hear OR use the clip and add others to create a soundscape. Alternate: Monologue: Write a monologue of a person who is troubled or conflicted about something. Reach a resolution. Here’s an example. Due Nov. 20

Week 13. Foil: Create a character and their opposite. Throw them both into a story; how do their differences conflict/contrast or complement each other? Is there a situation where their differences could benefit each other? Alternate: Photo-Women: Using this photo, “Three Different Reactions Facing a Photographer,” by Pedro Ribeiro Simoes, can you tell a story about the three women? (Creative Commons license. Must be linked and attributed.) Due Nov. 27

 Week 14. Eyes: “It was the eyes, chocolate brown and always searching, that warned me to …” Finish the scene. Alternates: Persist: Write about a character who persists -- and succeeds -- despite the doubts and jeers of others. (Think the Wright brothers.) Focus the story on how the character moves forward with an idea. Or General: Send us your best work of any category or type that you’ve created in or out of school. Due Dec. 4
Week 15. Misheard: You overhear a startling story and retell it to others, only to discover you’ve misheard some key points. What happens next? Alternate: Fanfiction: Place yourself in  one of your favorite fictional tales. What kind of trials are you and your beloved characters facing today? Due Dec. 11

Week 16. Photo-SpaceTravel: Use this photo by Los Paseos, “Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co.,” to tell a story. (Creative Commons license.) Alternate: See: Write a story that begins with this phrase, “Can’t you see it?” Due Dec. 18


Week 17. Hallway. Your character observes a confrontation in a school hallway between two students or a student and a teacher/or principal/or parent -- in which there is a blatant injustice. Does the character intervene or hold back? What happens and why? Alternates: Resolution: What is one New Year’s resolution you want to tackle this year? Try to avoid the usual suspects (more exercise, better grades...). General: Send us your best work of any category or type that you’ve created in or out of school. Due Jan. 8

Week 18. Moment Quote: 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 this photo, “Artisan,” by Apionid to tell a story. (Creative Commons license.) Due Jan. 15

Week 19. Connection: 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 goes through your head? Do you write back? What do you say? Alternates: Ad: Create a commercial advertising any product, real or made up. Really sell it! Add a sketch of the ad or product if you like! OR Sound-Ice: Listen to the sound in this challenge and write the story you hear OR use the clip and add others to create a soundscape. Due Jan. 22

Week 20. Myth: Invent the wackiest urban myth you can think of. Alternate: Love: They said I shouldn’t love you, but I couldn’t help myself… Why? And what happens next? Due Jan. 29

Week 21. Voicemail: Write a poem in the form of a voicemail message. If possible, make it rhyme! Now record it! We want to hear it! Alternate: Superhero: Create your own superhero. Keep it classic with a comic strip. Make a slideshow or a dramatic soundscape. Draw a portrait. Or write a descriptive story. Check out labs for help. Due Feb. 5

Week 22. School: What is the best thing and the worst thing about your school? Suggest a practical solution to fix the negative. Be proactive. Take charge! Alternates: Sound-Typewriter: Listen to this sound and use it to inspire a story OR use this sound clip and add others to create a soundscape; or General: Send us your best work of any category or type that you’ve created in or out of school. Due Feb. 12

Week 23. Seuss. Write in rhyme! Create a cast of crazy characters! YWP honors the late Dr. Seuss, who would have turned 112 on March 2. Alternate: Perspective: Tell a story from the perspective or viewpoint of something unconventional: a chocolate bar, a houseboat, a spider, etc. (Here’s an example.) Due Feb. 19

Week 24. Before: Think of one of your favorite places -- an old building in town or a barn or a house. Now imagine this place 100 years ago or even 200 years ago. What did it look like then? Tell a story. Alternate: Sound-Train: Listen to this sound clip and write the story you hear OR create a soundscape using this clip and adding others. Due Feb. 26

Week 25. Clouds: Imagine you have the ability to float up to and walk on clouds -- and not fall through. What do you do with this newfound power? Alternates: Photo-SeaStairs: Use this photo, “Seapoint, Dublin, Ireland,” by Giuseppe Milo to write a story. (Creative Commons license.) or General: Send us your best work of any category or type that you’ve created in or out of school. Due March 4

Week 26. Wishes: You come upon a wishing well. What kind of magic happens at the bottom of a wishing well? Who handles all these wishes and how? Alternate: Sound-Stirring: Listen to this sound and write the story you hear or create a soundscape using this and other sound clips. Due March 11

Week 27. Fool. It’s April Fool’s Day and your character plays a trick that has everyone at school laughing -- including the teachers. What is it and why is it so funny?  Alternate: Photo-Station: What is the mood or atmosphere of this photo, “Fog at the Train Station,” by Tambako the Jaguar? (Creative Commons.) Due March 18

Week 28. Tweet: Tell a story in a tweet (140-character segments). Alternate: Sound-Shower: Click on the audio link on this challenge and write the story you hear or use the sound clip and others to create a soundscape. Due March 25

Week 29
. Humbling: “I thought I knew the answer, but …” finish the sentence in a story of a real or imagined experience. Alternate: Expectations: You meet your biggest idol, --insert celebrity/public figure here. Describe the meeting. Is the person everything you had hoped for or …? Due April 1

Week 30. Experiment: You’ve got a monkey in a cage, a basketball, a paperback of the latest YA craze, and a bottle of pomegranate juice … what kind of experiment are you doing? What do you hope to learn from it? (Feel free to imagine your own wacky scenario). Alternates: Gate: Use this phrase in a story: “She slipped out the gate and started to run …” or General: Send us your best work of any category or type that you’ve created in or out of school.  Due April 8

Week 31. Op-ed.
Write an opinion piece based on a current news story. Take a side and make a persuasive argument. Try to keep it tight. Try to write it to just three paragraphs. (Check out this persuasive essay.) Alternate: Awoke: “I awoke to the sound…” unleash a poem with this line. Due April 15

Week 32. Blue. “It was the most brilliant shade of blue I'd ever seen…” Work that phrase (or concept) into a poem or story. Alternate: Framed: You have a photograph of a meaningful moment. Describe it. But wait, there’s more … now tell a story about what’s just outside the frame. Post the photo! Due April 22

Week 33.
Passage: You find a secret passage in the basement of your grandfather’s house. Where does it lead? How does it change your perspective about your family/grandfather? Alternate: Surveillance: What do you think about government or military surveillance? When does it go too far? (Check this out for more info.) Due April 29

Week 34. Back. “Oh gosh, they're back..." Write a story based on or using that phrase. Alternates: Certain: Make a list of 10 things you know for sure. You can start your list with the words, “This I know…” It can be funny or serious; or General: Send us your best work of any category or type that you’ve created in or out of school. Due May 6