Winners Announced

Historical Fiction Competition 2016

Short Story — Travel back in time.

This competition is now closed but you are still welcome to read through the published writing and blog posts.     

The Book Thief has been an international phenomenon since it was published a decade ago. What makes this novel so riveting? Put simply, the characters infuse a historical time period with life, making real events and tragedies feel, well… real.
 
And this is the power of historical fiction. “Novelists,” wrote the Italian writer Alessandro Manozoni, back in 1850, convey “not just the bare bones of history, but something richer, more complete…. [they] put the flesh back on the skeleton that is history.”
 
This month, dear writers, we invite you to put the flesh back on this skeleton that is history. In short story form, take your readers back in time through the eyes of a real or imagined historical character.
 
  
Guiding Ideas
 
The job of a historical fiction writer, says Hilary Mantel (whose own historical fiction won the Man Booker Prize) is to “unfreeze antique feeling, unlock the emotion stored and packed tight in paper, brick and stone." How does a writer go about this tremendous task? Here are some tips:
  • Historical Detail. Make the time period feel real to the reader through day-to-day details. If you’re writing about a 15-year-old in 1939 Paris, find out what she would likely eat for breakfast, how she’d get to school, what she’d listen to on the radio.  
  • Place. Invite the reader back in time by describing the setting. What does North Sydney look like in 1914? What does the air smell like in Liverpool during the Industrial Revolution? In 4000 BCE, how does the sound of the Indus River change with seasonal floods? Through sensory details, allow your reader to experience the physical world of your story. 
  • Influence. How did a historical event (or series of events) impact your character? As you develop your story, make sure your character is not only existing in this historical period, but that she or he is actually struggling with the surrounding world. This struggle (a.k.a. conflict!) will likely take shape internally and externally. An 18-year-old in 1943 might fret over whether to apply to university or join the war effort (internal), and this struggle may lead to an argument with his father (external).  Remember that the depth of human emotion has existed throughout history—let the reader feel how events impact your character’s spirit. 
  • Voice and Tone. Perhaps the trickiest task! After you’ve sketched out the feelings and thoughts of your character, begin to hone in on a particular tone appropriate to the character, his or her world and the historical situation at hand. If possible, read books, articles and diaries published during the time period of your story. Alternatively, find historical fiction or a film that takes place during the same era. As much as you can, research and immerse yourself in the period before trying your hand at crafting a convincing voice. 
  • Other Ears. Find willing readers! Getting feedback on the accuracy and authenticity of your historical fiction story will be of great help to you as you revise your work. If you’re lucky enough to know individuals who were alive during the period you’re writing about, ask them to read your draft. Better yet, get them to share their stories, listening for interesting details, characters, and events.
 
Length   
400-1,000 words.   
    
Guest Judge   
Gabrielle Wang is an award-winning author and illustrator born in Melbourne, Australia, of Chinese heritage. Her stories are a blend of Chinese and Western culture with a touch of fantasy. Little Paradise, her celebrated historical fiction novel, tells the love story of an Australian-Chinese couple during World War II. 

Prizes   
Best Entry: $100 (winning piece + author interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)   
Runner up: $50   
Best Peer Review: $50 (reviewer interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)   
    
What’s Different about Write the World Competitions?   
Prizes: The winning entrant will receive $100, and the runner-up and best peer-reviewer will receive $50.   
Professional Recognition: The winning entry, plus the runner-up and best peer review, will be featured on our blog, with commentary from our guest judge.   
Expert Review: Submit your draft by Monday April 11th and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.   
    
Key Dates   
April 4: Competition Opens   
April 11: Submit draft for Expert Review (optional)   
April 14: Reviews returned to Writers   
April 19: Final Submissions   
April 29: Winners Announced   
 
Upcoming Competition   
Profile Feature Writing Opens Monday, May 2.
Stay tuned for more details!  

Due Dates
  • Apr 11 - Expert Review

  • Apr 19 - Competition Deadline

Resources

Catching up with Historical Fiction Winner Portia May

May 25, 2016


Last month, young writer Portia May wowed Guest Judge Gabrielle Wang with her Historical Fiction entry, “Elephant’s Breath” Her moving piece on the arrival of a slave ship was described by Wang as “a story that lingers.” This week, we caught up with Portia to find out more about her writing process and what she hopes readers will take away from her winning entry.


READ HERE

Historical Fiction Winners Announced!

April 29, 2016


This month, writers from all over the world illuminated the past by penning imaginative and compelling pieces of historical fiction. Our young writers transported us from the trenches of WWI to The Black Death in 1948. Our guest judge, Gabrielle Wang, had the difficult task of choosing the top entries from this crop of outstanding works. Read on to find out which pieces the author of Little Paradise selected for Best Entry, Runner Up and Best Peer Review!


READ HERE

Q&A with Historical Fiction Guest Judge Gabrielle Wang

April 8, 2016


This week, we were excited to chat with Australian writer Gabrielle Wang—Guest Judge for our Historical Fiction Competition In her acclaimed novel Little Paradise, Gabrielle tells the story of a young Australian-Chinese couple during World War II. In our interview with the celebrated author, she shares how she achieved the perfect blend of fact and fantasy through careful research, interviews, and even a trip to Shanghai! She also offers fabulous advice on writing a standout piece of Historical Fiction and what she’s looking for in a winning competition entry.


READ HERE