2015 YWA Guidelines and Q&A

If you are entering this year’s YWA contest – please read the following:

Writing Prompts

Please choose from one of the following prompts:

Perspective: Write a narrative or discussion paper which demonstrates how events can be seen from different perspectives. Or write about an experience or person in your life that caused you to see from a different point of view.

Place: Write a narrative or discussion paper which gives a strong sense of place and its impact on identity. Explore how environments contribute to who people are.

Helpful Tip #1: Make your paper interesting by using descriptions of people and places, dialogue, and careful word choices to create flow in the writing.  Your paper can be fictional or based on real events.

Helpful Tip #2: Make your paper come to life by trying to ‘show’ instead of ‘tell’ your story. Instead of writing “He was tall” we can show this by writing “Mr Eldar had to dip his head to enter the classroom. From his towering stance he gazed down at the children far below.” or “The teenagers looked like dwarfs beside the man whose legs seem to stretch to the sky.” 


Word Count:

Essays must be within the designated word count for your grade level. If you are below or above the word count, your essay may be disqualified or you may have points subtracted from your final score as a penalty. Disqualifications or penalty will be decided by the judging panel.

Grades 7-8:  700-800 words

Grades 9-10:  800-1000 words


Young Writer’s 2015 Q & A:

Q: Who should I contact if I have a question about this contest.

A: You can email xavier.mansa@shenzhenstandard.com  Xavier is our student organiser this year and has put together this Q&A to help you enter this amazing contest and help you write that winning paper. Your question may help others and may be included in the next Q&A update. Check back here for new updates.

Q: I want to write a paper about my favorite places to eat in Shenzhen. Would that be ok?

A: All papers must be written about one of the two writing prompts (Perspective or Place).

Q: Do I need to write about perspectives or places relating to Shenzhen or China?

A: No, you can write about any experience or place. There is no advantage to chose an experience or place related to any specific location. The world and perhaps the entire universe (if you have Alien friends) are just as good. Remember – it can be fictional.

Q: How would I write about the Perspective writing prompt?

A: When writing about Perspective, you should focus on one experience in your life (e.g. a special day, or trip) that changed the way you look at the world around you. For example, “When I was nine years old I went to a very poor side of town. This allowed me to put myself in the shoes of the impoverished people before my eyes and gave me a lasting sense of compassion for others.”

Q: How would I write about the Place writing prompt?

A: Place focuses more on how your personality may change when you are in a different environment. For example, “Every summer I go back to my home country. I see all my old friends and I feel very different. They do not understand what life abroad is like, so unconsciously I act like my old self. Inside I am trying hard to fit in to a culture that used to be my own. I do not mean to change my personality back, but the people around me and the environment influences me greatly.”

Q: I cannot think of an experience from my life that changed my perspective. Can I make up one and write about it?

A: Yes, your paper can be based on real events or fictional.

Q: I am in the 8th grade. Won’t my paper lose to older kids from grades nine and ten?

A: Papers will be judged according to grade level, so all competition is against students your own age.

Q: I’ve begun to write but I only have 500 words. How many in total should I have?

A: Grades 7-8 should write 700-800 words, while grades 9-10 should write 800-1000 words. To ensure that papers are judged fairly – we will be strict on these word counts and may even disqualify a paper or penalise the score in a way that would make it fair for students that did keep to their word counts.

Q: Do I have to write in first person?

A: You can write in first (‘I’) or third person (‘he/she’) for either prompt.

Q: Do I have to write a true story about my own life?

A: Your story could be fictional or based on real events.

Q: What do I get if I win?

A: Prizes vary based on whether you receive 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place for your grade level. We don’t have a final table of which prizes will go to which winner yet and are still collecting prizes but the current list of prizes include:

  • Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2
  • Apple iPad Mini
  • 2N Stay w/Breakfast at Hilton Shekou
  • Pizza Lunch Party from DVpizza.com
  • Dinner Buffet at Hilton Shekou
  • Backpacks from Airbac
  • HP Deskjet Printer
  • more prizes coming……

This year we are on track to raise RMB 20,000 in prizes!! We hope you will get the word out make this one of our best contests.


Rules and Regulations

  1. Free of cost for students and schools – no entry fee required
  2. Shenzhen Standard reserves First Rights on all submissions to be posted/published on ShezhenStandard.com and SWIC Magazine in both electronic and print versions. All other rights to the essay remain the property of the author.
  3. All entries must be original works, in English. plagiarism, which includes the use of third-party prose, characters or another person’s ideas, without written permission or proper acknowledgment will result in disqualification
  4. Students must choose their topic from the two provided prompts.
  5. Entries must not exceed the word range for your Grade Level (word counts that exceed the maximum may be disqualified or have points removed from the final score as a penalty).
  6. Entries must be submitted in electronic format via our submission form at ShenzhenStandard.com (visit website on May 1st for instructions on the submission process).
  7. All entries must be submitted between May 1st-May 15th. Submission window closes at 00:00 (midnight) on evening of May 15th and entries received after that time will not be considered.
  8. Each student may submit only one essay.
  9. The decisions of the judges are entirely their own based on a pre-determined scoring rubric and judging panel. All decisions are final.
  10. Prizes will be allocated by the judging panel and all decisions are final. Winners will be notified to collect their prizes.
  11. Winners will be notified prior to online publication on ShenzhenStandard.com as well as on the SWIC magazine.
  12. All winners are asked to participate in an interview and photo process for online publication, with parent and school consent. Winners may decline to use their photo or full name if they choose – no information will be published about the winners unless agreed to by the parents.


 Judging Panel:

Judges will be chosen from each of the participating schools and from the English teaching community. We will also include 2 high school students who show a strong aptitude for English writing to be 1st round judges this year. The judges will be blind to the author’s name and school as they grade the papers using pre-defined criteria.

Once the papers are scored – the top scoring papers are then sorted and the judges meet face to face in a 2nd round to debate 1st, 2nd and 3rd placements for each grade level.  These debates will conclude by May 29th and all winners will be announced on June 1at, 2015.


Good Luck!!

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