Written Work

Age: 8-12 yrs:

Short story:

  • Length: 200-400 words
  • Plot: Exciting beginning and satisfying conclusion
  • Mechanics: Spelling & grammar; structure & paragraphing
  • Title


  • Length: 4 to 6 lines of rhyming couplets
  • OR a haiku (3 lines)
  • Techniques: rhyme
  • Title

Age: 13-15 yrs:

Short story:

  • Length: 400-800 words
  • Plot: Exciting beginning and satisfying conclusion
  • Techniques: Dialogue between characters
  • Mechanics: Spelling & grammar; structure & paragraphing
  • Title


  • Length: 6 to 10 lines
  • Form: rhyming couplets OR rhyme scheme of choice
  • Techniques: Use of figures of speech like simile, metaphor; rhyme; alliteration
  • Title

Age: 16-20 yrs:

Short story:

  • Length: 800-1000 words
  • Plot: Exciting beginning, clear conflict & resolution, satisfying conclusion
  • Techniques: Realistic dialogue, vivid descriptions, believable characters
  • Mechanics: Spelling & grammar; structure & paragraphing
  • Title


  • Length: 8 to 12 or more lines (up to 20)
  • Form: sonnet OR free verse OR rhyme scheme of choice
  • Techniques: metre & rhythm; use of literary devices such as metaphor, simile, personification, imagery, musical effects.
  • Title

Tips for Written Work in General:

  • The best writing comes directly from the heart.
  • Write about what interests you and things you know about.
  • Make sure the piece has unity and clarity.
    • The purpose of writing is to communicate.
    • Does the work have a clear message? 
    • Stick to the central theme.
  • Review the areas of Evaluation on the Judge’s Form.
  • Is the work interesting and ”fresh”?
  • Be creative.
  • One entry per contestant.
  • Plagiarism of any kind will automatically disqualify the entry.

General Criteria for all Categories:

  • Godly Character
  • NO Swearing
  • NO Blasphemy
  • Modest Clothing
  • NO Suggestive Moves or Lyrics

Hints from the Short Story Judges:

  • Judges look for stories that are original and imaginative yet believable.
  •  It is important that your short story contains a balance of all the elements of narrative fiction: plot, setting, characterization, conflict and resolution. It should not overemphasize one to the detriment of the others. Because of space limitations, it is important that you develop each facet of your story carefully and thoughtfully, paying particular attention to your choice of words.
  •  Use words economically, that is, do not use several trite, colourless words when one strong, imaginative word could replace them and enhance the tone of your story.
  •  Neither should you waste good words. Make each one count. Consider it carefully. Is it there for a reason? Is it used accurately? Does it tell the reader exactly what you want him to know, or does he have to guess your meaning?
  • When you are satisfied that your story says what you want it to say, check it carefully to eliminate errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling.
  • Also check the word count, since judges will subtract points if you exceed the limits.

Hints from the Poetry Writing Judges:

  • Judges look for poems that are neat in appearance, complete in thought, and effective in message and impact.
  • The true purpose of a poem is to transmit in words a complete thought, and at the same time, to move emotions.
  •  A poem must have a reason for existence; there should be a message.
  •  If your poem is correct in form, yet is not logically correct or emotionally stimulating, the poem will not score well. A poem must DO something, not merely talk about something. The theme, then, becomes of utmost importance; for, if the poem is to do something, it must do something worthwhile. Second, but still important, is the form of the work. If the form is weak or inconsistent, it will not fall correctly on the ear, causing the message to be lost to the reader.
  •  Poems should also have a lyric quality, though they may not be intended for music. Remember, a poem can only do ONE thing, not several. Strive for unity of purpose and skill of execution.
  • Technical errors of any sort, especially those that might be thought of as minor, such as a misplaced comma or misspelled word, often represent major weaknesses in aspects that are less obvious to the trained eye and ear.
  • A meticulous writer always attends carefully to the smallest and most obvious detail. What is said is always at the mercy of how it is said. When this principle is ignored, the reader will not be guided by the writer’s thoughts but by his own. These thoughts may be counterproductive to the writer’s subject and intention and become an unconscious use of stock responses, formulaic phrases, hackneyed expressions, irrelevant associations and sentimentality rather than honesty.
  •  A poem that effectively treats a subject moves the reader to a place where he has never been before.

Judges Scoring Sheet: Short Story Writing

The Story:

  • Characters consistent, plausible and motivated (15)
  • Details of setting (place/time) woven into the action of the story (10)
  • Well-planned plot, with incidents that build to a main conflict (15)
  • All incidents build to a climax that resolve the conflict (10)
  • Story demonstrates an evangelistic, inspirational, Biblical, Christian growth, patriotic or historical theme (10)
  • Story indicates creativity on the part of the author (15)


  • Criteria met (5)
  • Spelling (5)
  • Punctuation (5)
  • Grammar is correct, tenses are consistent, subjects and verbs agree, and pronouns and antecedents agree (5)
  • Proper documentation submitted (5)


Judges Scoring Sheet: Poetry Writing


  • Unity and coherence (10)
  • Clarity (10)
  • Use of poetic material:
    • Sentiment and emotion—sincerity (10)
    • Vocabulary—exact, colourful and concrete (10)
    • Meter—established and effective (10)
    • Sounds—rhyme, assonance, consonance, alliteration, etc. (10)
    • Poetic devices—figures of speech, symbolism and patterns (10)
    • Creativity—originality and freshness (5)


  • Criteria met(5)
  • Usage, punctuation and spelling (15)
  • Proper documentation submitted (5)




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