Spine-Chillers 2021 |
Creative Writing Competition

11-18 Years

Spine-Chillers 2021 Video

Engage your students with creative writing!

Let's get writing today with Spine-Chillers!

What Lurks In Your Students' Imaginations?

There’s nothing better than reading a thrilling story, one that grips you so tightly and puts your senses on alert simply through the power of words.

Spine-Chillers is a fantastic way to get your students writing in this way by using tension, suspense and atmosphere – the optional lesson plan covers these techniques and more. Inspire students to create their own original mini saga, a story told in just 100 words, and become published writers!

For students who are remote learning (or if you want to go paperless), log in (or create) your free teacher account here: https://www.youngwriters.co.uk/teachers to use the fantastic Online Writing Portal.



Young Writers Socials Feed
Young Writers Socials Feed

Rules

To make sure your entries are valid, please follow the rules listed below:

  • Only one entry per student, there is no limit to the number of entries per school.

  • Mini sagas can be on the entry form or an A4 sheet of paper or typed.

  • Mini sagas must be your students' own work.

  • Ensure that all students include their name and age on their entries.

  • Mini sagas must be told in no more than 100 words (the title isn't included in this)

  • Where possible, please send in your students' entries altogether.

If you are unsure on any rules or have any queries, please don't hesitate to Contact Us.

For Schools

1st Prize

The Young Writers' Award of Excellence and a book bundle for the school with the best selection of entries overall.

2 x Runners-Up

Each receives a framed certificate and a bundle of books for their school library!

(Winners will be chosen from entries received in the 2020/2021 academic year.)

PLUS

Every participating school receives a complimentary copy of the book their students feature in.

For Students

Student Prizes 

3 x our favourite published writers will each receive £50 & a trophy!

The student winners will be chosen from entries received in the Spring/Summer Terms 2021. 

Online

Send your entries by uploading them:

Enter Now

Enter through our student writing portal:

Writing Portal

Alternatively, you can email your entries to [email protected].

By Post

Send your entries, along with your school entry form, to:

FREEPOST RSLY-AUJA-RAHY
Young Writers SS
Remus House
Peterborough
PE2 9BF

Writing Tips


Get FREE writing tips sent straight to your inbox!

Subscribe

Tip #1

The age-old idea of good vs evil has inspired many a brilliant novel, but we love how The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde battle this concept within one person.

 There are lots of themes in the plot that make excellent story ideas:

  • Do we all have good and bad in us? Jekyll and Hyde – two personas in one body, both battling for dominance.
  • Science and the supernatural don’t usually mix, can students write their own original mini saga where these two cross paths again?
  • The importance of reputation; showing people what you think they should see rather than the real you
  • Communication – the characters in Jekyll and Hyde are often silent, unable to express themselves verbally

 Students can take one of the themes and develop it into their own mini saga utilising suspense, tension and atmosphere to create an original piece of work.

Tip #2

Ask your students to write down their greatest fear and use this as a basis for their mini saga.

What would they feel and do if their greatest fear became reality? Ask them to make notes. As this is quite a personal exercise students don’t have to share their work with the class!

Can students symbolise their fear as something else? For example, if the fear is death, the mini saga could portray a ruthless survivor that will do anything to stay alive, or if the fear is rejection the mini saga could be about someone who’ll settle for a partner that isn’t right just to avoid being alone.

 This is a great way to explore fear and how it can inspire creative writing.

Tip #3

Having a character that shape-shifts into an animal is a fun idea, but well-used, so how can students make this original…

 Create a new species with a new purpose:

  • Use the animal to symbolise something else
  • Write a tale with a twist; does the reader expect the character to be evil because of this ability or to act a certain way? Surprise them by proving their assumptions wrong!
  • Write from the animal’s point of view rather than their human self
  • Write a prologue or epilogue
  • Use the power of suggestion; is the character an animal? Can they shape-shift? What do you want the reader to believe without you telling them?

Tip #4

The power of suggestion – can students make the reader believe something without saying it? Can they persuade the reader to read between the lines, to make an assumption?

• Utilise the reader’s natural curiosity
• Use the weather to set the scene
• Use a simple noise, like creaking or a dripping tap, to create atmosphere
• Describe the character’s physical reaction to fear
• Describe what the character thinks is causing the noise …

Tip #5

Once students have an idea for their Spine-Chiller, ask them to write the synopsis of the story in just two sentences. Can they strip away their ideas to the bare bones? Can they extract the very essence of their mini saga?

Once they have their 2 sentences, students can then think about how to use atmosphere, tension, and suspense to create their mini saga. Feedback tells us it’s easier to build the story up than edit it down to 100 words!

Tip #6

Ask your students to write their ending of their story first.

Can they write a couple of sentences that have an interesting ending? Then add a twist... the ending is the beginning of their spine-chilling mini saga!

Your students can then write their story as a flashback or using a narrator to fill in the event that led to this dramatic tension-filled ending.

This technique helps remove the stumbling block of writers’ block as the ending is written and that can be the hardest part!

Tip #7

In our opinion, one of the greatest spine-chillers ever written is ‘The Tale-Tell Heart’ by Edgar Allen Poe. Having a fantastic example really helps set the bar for your students to work towards.

Play this video of the story to students. 

Next, as a class discuss the story. Can your students identify where atmosphere, tension and suspense are used? (The last paragraph is almost a spine-chilling mini-saga on its own!)

Suggest your students consider the use of paranoia, guilt and fear in their writing to help create suspense, atmosphere and tension.

Tip #8

In our opinion, one of the greatest spine-chillers ever written is ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ by Edgar Allen Poe. Having a fantastic example really helps set the bar for your students to work towards.

Play this video of the story to students. 

Next, as a class discuss the story. Can your students identify where atmosphere, tension and suspense are used? (The last paragraph is almost a spine-chilling mini-saga on its own!)

Suggest your students consider the use of paranoia, guilt and fear in their writing to help create suspense, atmosphere and tension.

Tip #9

Download our complimentary presentation (available in both PowerPoint and PDF versions) from our website and discuss the types of narrator with students:

  • First person – The Protagonist: The hero narrates the story

  • First person – A Secondary Character: Someone close to the protagonist narrates

  • Third Person – Omniscient: Knows details about all the characters and their dilemmas etc that other characters don’t know about each other. A bit of a busy body or know-it-all!

  • Third Person – Limited: Knows about the main/secondary characters and only knows what those characters know

  • Third Person – Objective: Tells the story from an outside voice, never has own opinion or says ‘We’ or ‘I’ when narrating

  • Third Person – Intrusive: Isn’t a physical character in the book but, gives their personal opinion on what is going on

  • The Unreliable Narrator: has a biased point of view

Tip #10

Suggest your students research gothic fiction writers before they start writing their mini sagas.

Your students are likely to be aware of classic gothic fiction such as ‘Dracula’ or ‘Frankenstein’ – but can they find modern gothic fiction or discover an author they aren’t familiar with?

Reading is one of the most important tools a writer can use to hone their craft. Research helps find a writing style and their writing ‘voice’.

If students need pointing in the right direction, they’re welcome to start with our top 5 modern gothic fiction novels:

1. The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James, published by Walker Books
2. The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis, published by Egmont Modern Classics
3. The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane by Julia Nobel, published by Sourcebooks
4. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke, published by Faber & Faber
5. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, published by Faber & Faber

Get In Touch

Post
FREEPOST RSLY-AUJA-RAHY
Young Writers SS
Remus House
Peterborough
PE2 9BF

Email
[email protected]

Tel
(01733) 890066

Closing Date: Friday 30th July 2021