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Story Writing Competition

Story Writing Competition


About The Competition

The Story Writing Competition is held annually by the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature for school and university students.

The inspiration for 2022 is Here comes the sun.

This year’s story writing competition is focusing on themes such as hope, optimism, overcoming challenges and how changes in our lives can be viewed in a positive lens.

Constant change in our daily lives creates deeper meaning and gives us a new perspective of the world around us. Change is an inevitable part of life and with it comes the opportunity to SHINE!

This past year was a challenge for the world. Our normal routine in life has suddenly changed and regardless of that we still see the sun burning bright promising the world better days ahead!

How to Enter

  • Write your story – use your imagination and creativity to the full, but do remember that your inspiration is Here comes the sun.
  • You may choose your own title in keeping with Here comes the sun.
  • Complete all sections of the online entry, attaching your story as a word document.
  • Entries can be in Arabic or in English.
  • You should submit under the appropriate age category, which relates to your age 3 November 2021. Please note the word limit for each category:
    • Ages 11 and under (maximum of 500 words)
    • Ages 12-14 (maximum of 1000 words)
    • Ages 15-17 (maximum of 1500 words)
    • Age 18-25 (maximum of 1500 words)
  • Participants must be full-time students in schools, colleges and universities.
  • The deadline to submit your story is 3 November 2021.

You can find some tips on writing a story here.

Story Competition: Tips and Guidelines

Here Comes the Sun to Days Full of Hope!

The theme “Here Comes the Sun” is about darkness dissolving to make room for light. A good story often encompasses the outcomes of struggles, which are an essential element in any story.

Observe the environment around you and ask yourself questions that can assist you in identifying exciting and valuable experiences! You can always approach the story from different angles: What new insights have you gained as a result of your new experiences? What effect did it have on your life?

There is no one way to approach a story, remember to always use your creativity to tell your story. This year’s theme will allow you to share and express your vision of sunshine! Have fun with this theme and be as creative as you can!

Make problems for your characters

Which of these storylines is the better story?

    • Person 1 and Person 2 drive off into the sunset

    • OR

  • Person 1 and Person 2 are driving off into the sunset when a masked man suddenly appears…

Which story would you rather read? Most likely, you will want to read Story B. Why is that? Because Story B has a problem, something that may stop the characters from achieving what they want. Can they overcome it? How? What happens in the end? This is the basis of the plot. And if the characters and the plot are interesting, the reader will want to know how it ends.

All stories must have a problem or conflict. Check it out – take any story or film or TV series you already know and find the problem. (Longer stories may have several problems to be solved.)

Ideas for stories are always about asking questions:

‘Here comes the sun’ is the inspiration for this year’s competition, so the questions you must ask are varied:
  • What does ‘Here comes the sun’ mean in the context of your story?

  • How will you use ‘Here comes the sun’ within your story?

  • Does the specific ‘Here comes the sun’-themed you have created cause any constraints that affect your plot?

  • How would you use ‘Here comes the sun’ as a metaphor?

… And finding answers:

In a short story, it is sensible to only have one problem and a maximum of 3 characters.

This will make asking and answering your questions more straightforward.

  • What actually happens in the end? It is always good to know how the story ends when you start writing.

  • Don’t be afraid to write more than one draft or to discard bad ideas (or even good ideas, if they don’t fit – they might end up fitting another story!)

  • ‘He woke up and it was all a dream’ is NOT a good ending! Think about what the ending means:
      • Is it satisfying for the characters, and for the reader?

      • Is the ending earned, or have you taken the easy way out?

    • If you can’t think of a good ending, go back to your plan and find out what’s missing – or sometimes, what is complicating things and can be removed.

  • Keep the storyline simple.

The smaller the word limit, the simpler it must be. However ambitious you want to be, making the story over-complicated and rushed is never a good answer.

Plan: Write a brief 5-point outline for your story.

The better the planning, the easier the writing. A plan also helps with paragraphing.

Here is a very simple example of an outline:

Section 1. In her new home, unhappy Jane explores the attic & finds a parcel with a baby’s tiny gown and shoes.

Section 2. Jane is curious. Why is that the only thing left in the house? Who was the baby? Where is the family now?

Section 3. Asks the neighbours and gets a negative reaction from everyone. Why? What is the secret? She is even more determined now.

Section 4. Goes to the library. Gets the same reaction. Jane is frustrated. An old man in the library overhears, ‘accidentally’ bumps into her and whispers the name of the local newspaper and a date. Jane checks it out and learns the truth. Finds the name and address in the online phone directory.

Section 5. Jane takes the parcel to the owner, hears the full story. Both are now happy and Jane makes her first friend.

Now write your story.

Let your reader imagine making that journey with your character.

Use a mixture of good description, action and dialogue so they can feel, see and hear, even maybe smell and taste what your character can. Let the reader know what the character is feeling.

Show, don’t tell. 

Which one of these makes you feel the fear?

‘He was afraid.’


‘He could not speak, his heart was beating wildly in his chest and his feet felt glued to the floor.’

Don’t spell emotions out for the reader, instead let your characters’ words and actions describe whether they are happy or not with life and the way things turn out. The idea of ‘Show, don’t tell’ is particularly important when creating new worlds within your story, as your readers need to feel they can see, hear, touch and even smell the world to believe in it properly.

Well done, you’ve written your story. Now you have one more very important thing to do.

Read and Edit!

It helps if you wait some time before you read your story. That way you will read it more like a reader than a writer.

  • Read your story carefully.

Read what you actually wrote – not what you think you wrote. Find and correct the mistakes (the red and green underlines on your word processor can help, so don’t ignore them, but also don’t accept bad advice from a computer!)

  • Read your story aloud.

Hear where the pauses are. Have you used correct punctuation? Have you used speech marks and new paragraphs so your reader knows who is speaking now? Does it sound like real speech? If you are unable to say it, your reader will not be able to read it.

  • Edit!

As you read, look out for the following:

  • Have you used a good variety of sentence structure and the best words to do the job?

  • Are there sections you should cut or places where you need more detail?

  • How did you want your reader to feel or think? Have you achieved your aim?

  • Have you followed the rules about word count, and used Times New Roman, point 12?

Respect yourself and your readers and you will please the judges.

Enjoy! Submit! Good luck!

The Prize

Winners will be honoured at a prize-giving event during the Emirates Airline Literature Festival 2022, and all the winning entries will appear in a published book. Each winner will receive:

  • A plaque
  • Five copies of the book
  • The opportunity to attend a Festival session

Click here to see last year’s winners.

Terms and Conditions

  • Entrants must be in full-time education and resident in the GCC.
  • The competition is open to students of all abilities, including people of determination.
  • Copyright of material submitted remains with Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.
  • Do not submit work as your own when part of or all of it has been done by someone else; this includes material found online. It must be entirely your own work, and any stories found to contain non-original content will be excluded.
  • The winning entrants agree to the Emirates Literature Foundation’s and Emirates Airline Festival of Literature’s use of their name and photograph in relation to related publicity material and activities. Schools and students should be aware that they might need to obtain parental consent for this.
  • Stories should be submitted in a legible font, size 12 point, 1.5 line spacing.
  • Stories should be unpublished and not previously submitted to any competition.
  • Stories should be no longer than the word limit (entries exceeding the word limit assigned for each age group will be disqualified).
  • Entries must be received on or before the closing date of 3 November 2021.
  • Judges’ decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into with regard to these decisions.
  • In accordance with normal conventions for writing competitions internationally, entries which do not adhere to the said terms and conditions will not be considered.

Please check that you have followed all the terms and conditions before submitting your story.

All participants will receive a certificate of participation upon submitting their stories.

Only the winners will be notified in advance by email or telephone, by mid December 2021.

The award ceremony will take place in February 2022 during the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

Enter the competition

Register Here.


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