Hive Young Writers’ Competition


Hive South Yorkshire Young Writers’ Competition (FREE)
A photo-themed creative writing competition for 14 to 25s
Schools welcome to enter
Poetry | Flash fiction | Stories
Age Categories: 14 – 17 | 18 – 21 | 22 – 25
Deadline: 27th November 2017

Hive South Yorkshire Young Writers’ Competition is open to young people, aged 14 to 25, from across South Yorkshire. Whether stories or poetry (or both) are your thing, you can enter up to 3 pieces of work at any time before 27 Nov 2017.

The theme of the competition is to write something sparked by one of twenty photographs you will find linked from this page. The photos, along with the related prompts and tips, are there to trigger ideas and creativity rather than as something you must strictly stick to.

As well as 20 great photographs (linked below) to choose from, there are lots of prompt ideas and tips to get you started (see the Get Writing tab above)

First place overall prize: Kindle Fire HD.
1st, 2nd & 3rd place prizes include: writer kits [full of goodies for budding young writers] All winners will be offered professional feedback on their work (optional), and have their work published in Hive’s 2018 young writers’ anthology. 


Catherine Ayres is a poet and teacher from Northumberland. Her poetry collection ‘Amazon’ was published in 2016 by Indigo Dreams. She has been published in many print and online magazines. In 2015 she came third in the Hippocrates Prize and in 2016 she won the Elbow Room Poetry Prize. She teaches English and is about to start a PhD in Creative Writing at Northumbria University. (Photo: Phil Punton Photography)

Short story/Flash fiction

Kate Long is the author of eight novels, including Sunday Times number one bestseller The Bad Mother’s Handbook, which she also adapted for ITV. Her stories have been read on Radio 4, and she has written for national newspapers and magazines such as the Telegraph and Good Housekeeping. She runs regular writing workshops for young people in the West Midlands.

Click on an image below to view the photo gallery, or visit the gallery here on Flickr
(For Guidelines, How to Enter, Prompts and tips, see the top tabs within this page)
With massive thanks to all fabulous photographers that have allowed us to link to their work.
You can download a poster here or drop us a line ( and we’ll send you a poster and flyers.

Please note, the photographs linked to this competition belong to each individual photographer and must not be used outside of the competition without permission.
See the next (middle) tab above to get some great Get Writing Prompts & Tips!

Get Writing

The theme of the competition is to write something sparked by one of twenty photographs you will find linked to the main competition page. The photos, along with these related prompts and tips, are there to trigger ideas and creativity rather than as a theme you must strictly stick to.

We are looking for imagination, originality and a good flow to a piece of writing. Be it poetry or story, we want to be surprised by your ideas and how you bring them to life. Excite us! Make us laugh, make us cry, scare us, or simply make us think… Some of this might come about by careful editing to get it just right, or sometimes we are lucky enough to write something straight off with very little editing needed. Either way, after you’ve written something, give yourself time to make it as good as it can be by going through this final check list which you can download below.

Connecting with a photo
The creative process often begins in one place and ends up somewhere completely different, so we are not prescriptive about how a photograph might trigger or influence your writing. It could be that you want to tell the whole ‘story’ of a photograph, in front of or behind the eyes of the lens, or that the photo has sparked something else that you’d rather pursue. A photo could influence your setting, plot or character. Something from the photo could just make a cameo in your writing.

There might be very little of the photo influencing what you write. That’s perfectly fine and won’t affect the judging of your entry. Likewise, great if you found a photo a real source of inspiration, we’d love to read how.

Remember, this is fiction not fact. It’s about you and your imagination. You make the rules and you can even control the weather! Don’t worry about where or when an image was taken – you can decide that yourself. If you end up moving it to another country, or even another planet, that’s fine too. You might also be unsure what a particular image is about, which is not a bad thing because then you will interpret it in your own way. As a writer, you’re here to imagine your own conclusions about the themes and the contents of a photo and the bigger picture you can’t see.

Have fun and if you’re not sure how to start, check out the below resources to help you get writing!

1. Prompts, exercises & tips to get you started
2. Final Edit Checklist

Flash fiction & Short Story

In the words of writer Lorrie Moore – A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film.

The word count for flash fiction is 200 to 500 words and short story is 500 to 2000. Flash fiction tends to be the name given to stories under 500 words. For more about flash, see the further help links.

Although 2000 words is quite a lot, avoid trying to write an epic tale with too much going on and too many characters. Try focusing in and amplifying a small idea – a moment, a snapshot, a glance – something that you can give time and detail to.

Start in the action – as close to the end as possible, that way we’ll be jumping in at the most exciting point. Very often our first few paragraphs of writing are warming up and contain too much description and explaining. When you edit you can check if you’ve implied enough in the course of the story for the reader to understand more than needs to be told?

Poetry & Spoken Word

All styles of poetry are welcomed. The only thing we’re not keen on is poems written for the sake of the rhyme rather than the content of the poem. Poetry, of course, can rhyme, but the rhyme should never be forced. Rhythm, on the other hand, and the sound of words, are important in a poem so it’s always a good idea to speak your poem out load and listen to the way it flows when you edit it.

You can write something more focused on it being heard/read aloud, or something written for the page, where line breaks are particularly important. Or you can write with both in mind!

Bringing ideas and concepts into the real world via concrete imagery will strengthen your poem and conjure visuals in the mind’s eye (one of the main aims of most poems). For example, you could make grief or anger or love (ideas that are difficult to pin down) into an actual person and describe them: what do they look like, how to they speak, what would they say, what do they wear?

Unlike a story, a poem doesn’t need a narrative structure but you can give it one. Read it aloud as you edit to help tune into the ‘voice’ of the poem, but never try to sound like a ‘writer’.

Have fun and do check out the below resources to help you get writing!

1. Prompts, exercises & tips to get you started
2. Final Edit Checklist

Also, we run free, friendly, supportive and relaxed young writers’ groups across South Yorkshire if you fancy checking one out to get you writing more. More info here.

Guidelines & How to Enter


  • We welcome submissions from young writers, aged 14 to 25s, living, based or with a home address in South Yorkshire. Students at universities outside of South Yorkshire can still apply.
  • You can enter online or by post, whether you’re entering for yourself or on behalf of a young person as a school or guardian.
  • Theme: The photos, along with the related prompts and tips, are intended as a way to trigger ideas and writing rather than a theme you must strictly stick to.
  • Submissions must be in English (but use of words from other languages is welcome)
  • You can submit up to 3 pieces of poetry, short story and flash fiction, in any combination, at any time before the deadline with each submission must be sent with the form on the How to Enter page
  • Poems can be up to 60 lines long / flash fiction 200 to 500 words, short story 500 to 2000 words.
  • Work must be the original work of the young person and not have won another competition.
  • Published winners will receive a free copy of the anthology and all winners and commended will be invited to read their work at an upcoming Hive event (optional).
  • The judges’ decisions are final. No correspondence will be entered into concerning decisions.
  • Other than the winners, we are unable to give feedback on individual pieces, but we’re keen to welcome young people submitting into the Hive network where there are loads of opportunities for 14 to 25s in South Yorkshire to develop their writing. Drop us an email to say hi with your interests. You can also follow us here on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or keep an eye on the Hive website for upcoming opportunities.
  • Expect to hear from us within 2 months of the deadline but likely before this.
  • Winning and Commended Writers will be announced between December 2017 and January 2018
  • The deadline for entries is 27th November 2017

Entering online

  • Read the Guidelines to check through the eligibility and competition details. And, if you’re new to sending work out, you might find the ‘Final edit checklist’ in the Get Writing tab useful to do a final edit of your work before submitting
  • You must download and fill out the entry form to send with your work.
  • You can send pieces separately or together any time before the deadline. If you are sending pieces together, you only need to fill in the Entry Form once. If you send work over a period of time, fill the form in for each separate time you enter work.
  • Submit up to 3 pieces (in line with the Guidelines), each in their own document named by the title of the piece (.doc |.docx. | .pdf | .rtf formats all welcome). (Times New Roman/Ariel, 11pt/12pt is fine)
  • Entries are read anonymously so your name must not appear anywhere in the document, nor in the document’s file name – call your file the title of your piece to correspond with the title/s added to your entry form.
  • Ensure before clicking send that you have attached your entry form AND your work.
  • Send to: If you don’t receive an acknowledgement within a week of sending, get in touch.

Entering by post, or as a school class/group

If submitting by post, for example a teacher sending entries from a whole class, read how to enter online above (ignoring the reference to file types or file names), and send entries with a printed form to: Hive South Yorkshire, C/O Alexis Filby Sheffield Children & Young People’s Library Surrey St, Sheffield S1 1XZ

Entry Form – Individual
Entry Form – Class/group/school
1. Prompts, exercises & tips to get you started
2. Final Edit Checklist