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Creative Writing Competition Rules and FAQ

Rules: (updated for the 2022-2023 competition)

  1. The event is open to all students in grades 4-12. CISD students may participate for free. Students who do not attend CISD schools must have a CGA family membership to participate.
  2. All entries must be received at or before the deadline of DECEMBER 2, 2022, at midnight.
  3. All entries will be submitted digitally through our Online Entry Form (click link to access — link will be available September – Deadline).  If you do not upload your story/poem in the digital form box and just attach it, your entry may be disqualified.
  4. Your entry can be no longer than 10,000 characters, including spaces.  Do not include page numbers, headers, or comments (footnotes and/or endnotes may be used to provide source information if appropriate).  The Online Entry Form will limit your entry to 10,000 characters, regardless of formatting.  Copy and paste your story as text in the “entry text” field.  Your submitted text will be sent to the judges. Please maintain indents, paragraph breaks, punctuation, etc. Text should be single spaced.
  5. Drawings, photographs or artwork will not be accepted.
  6. Each student may only submit one entry per category: Story and/or Poetry.
  7. Students need not be “identified gifted” to participate. We are looking for passionate, creative writers.
  8. All entries must be the work of a single student.
  9. No foreign language submissions will be considered.  However, limited foreign language dialog is acceptable if it is understandable within the context of the entire work.
  10. Entries may not contain gratuitous violence,  profanity or explicit adult situations. Please remember that entries may be ready by students as young as fourth grade.
  11. Please use pseudonyms when appropriate to hide the author’s true identity from the judges.
  12. Each work must be the original work of the student author. No plagiarism. No parental assistance, embellishment or editing. Parent may type final work, but can not alter any content — we will be checking with the teachers of the finalists to confirm that the entry is consistent with the student’s work in the classroom. defines plagiarism as “the use of another’s original words or ideas as though they were your own.”  Examples of plagiarism are also available at the website. For instance, if you are inspired by another author’s story, a fable or parable, provide credit in a comment at the end.  If you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism, please contact your Language Arts teacher.
  13. CGA may contact the participant’s teacher to confirm that the student work is consistent with the writing ability of the participant as demonstrated in the classroom.
  14. To maintain the integrity of the competition, entries that are not clearly the original work of the student author will be removed from the competition.  The participant, the participant’s parents, and/or the participant’s school may be notified if an entry is removed.
  15. CGA reserves the option to establish a panel to pre-screen the entries or recruit additional judges.
  16. Entries selected as finalists will only be published upon written consent of the author’s parent or legal guardian.  This consent will be sought following the posting of results, so each entry form must contain valid contact information including a parent/guardian email address.
  17. Please note that if we receive multiple versions of a submission, the most recent version prior to the deadline will be submitted to the judges.
  18. A checklist has been provided in the entry form for the student to confirm that the entry complies with the basic rules. If the checklist is not completed, or the entry does not otherwise comply with the rules, it may be disqualified.
  19. The decisions of the judges are final.
  20. Submission indicates acceptance of the rules.


  1. Question: Can I tell a story that contains a brutal murder?
    Answer: See rule #10: no gratuitous violence. As a results, you may not include the extensive description and details of the crime. After all, the target audience is grades 4-12. However, if this is a necessary part of the story that you want to tell, you may focus on the emotional impact on the characters and provide a very brief summary of the crime.  Ask yourself, “is this appropriate for an audience that includes 9 year olds?”
  2. Question: How long is 10,000 characters?
    Answer: Approximately 6 pages of double-spaced text or 3 pages of single-spaced text, on a regular letter sized piece of paper.  You can check the number of characters through your word processing program.  Be sure that you include the spaces in your character count.  The story submitted in the text box on the Online Entry Form is the text that will be submitted to the judges and printed in the book.
  3. Question: I pasted my story in the text box and it did not load the entire story and gave me an error.  What happened?
    Answer: Your story likely exceeds the maximum length.
  4. Question: Why did you change the submission process?  I can no longer upload my document as an attachment?
    Answer: We changed the submission process to make it more automated. The competition involves several hundred entries, a few dozen judges, and a couple CGA volunteers. By copying and pasting your entry into the submission box, we are able to merge your information — with a few keystrokes we can send the stories to the judges and create the book of finalists. We may change line spacing and fonts. Otherwise, your entry paragraph breaks, indents, and punctuation will remain as entered. If you have any concerns, questions or feedback, please contact Carrie Clark.
  5. Question: I want to make changes, can I resubmit my story?
    Answer: Yes, see rule #17.  We will only consider the most recent version of your story submitted prior to the deadline.
  6. Question: I mistakenly entered the wrong category.  What can I do?
    Answer: If it is before the deadline, please resubmit.  If it is after the deadline, please contact Carrie Clark.  If the entries have not yet been distributed to the judges, your entry can be reassigned to the proper category.
  7. Question: Why do I have to pay for a book?
    Answer: Purchase is not necessary to participate in the competition. We are very proud of these awesome writers.  We publish the First Place and Honorable Mentions because we think that is a great way to celebrate and share the amazing talents of these young writers.  We provide a free copy to those students who receive First Place in each category (think of it as the “trophy” awarded to the top entry). We are unable to provide a complimentary copy to everyone who is published in the book because it is just too costly and we are committed to keeping this a FREE competition to enter.  If you procure a corporate sponsor who is interested in covering our costs, please let us know.
  8. Question: Who is in the book? How are the finalists selected?
    Answer: The book contains all of the entries that receive a First Place or Honorable Mention.  First Place is awarded to the entry that receives the highest overall ranking from the judges in that category.  Honorable Mention is awarded to those entries that receive a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd ranking from any of the judges in the category.  Each category is evaluated by at least 3 judges.  Thus, the most entries a category could have in the book is 9, the fewest is 3.  We intentionally do not provide a judging rubric as we embrace the expertise of our judges — the judges are encouraged to rank the entries based on whichever qualities are the most important to them.
  9. Question: I am a parent and I really want to give my child some help.  Is that OK?
    Answer: No, absolutely not.  See rule #12.  Resist the urge to help him.  The judges are prepared for age appropriate work and will evaluate it for its originality and content. The judges are expert educators and published authors and know what to expect and evaluate. Besides, this is a learning process for the kids and an opportunity to celebrate their abilities. Also, please note that we may contact the student’s language arts teacher to ensure that the work is consistent with the work in the classroom.
  10. Question: I do not participate in GT classes.  Can I still participate?
    Answer: Yes.  See rule #7.  We are looking for passionate, creative writers.

If you have any additional questions, please contact Carrie Clark.

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