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Here is the list of writing prompts for the 2009/10 YWP Newspaper Series. Note: Do not submit work to these prompts. The deadline has passed.
1. "If only . . ." "I could have avoided the whole thing if only I had . . .” Write a story that starts with this line. Alternate: Unplugged. Imagine living without a television. Actually, why don't you give it a try and write about what it's like. National TV Turn-off Week is Sept. 20-26; participate and write about your experience. (Deadline: Sept. 11; publication week of Sept. 28)
2. Photo Prompt: Write a story about this photo, taken by Dorothea Lange in California, March 1937. (Click on photo for link to download.) "Toward Los Angeles." Alternate: Back. “Oh gosh, they're back..." Write a story based on or using that phrase. Deadline: Sept. 18; publication week of Oct. 5.
3. Headline. Write an attention-grabbing news headline and then create a story about it. Alternate: Listening in. Take a moment to listen to conversations at school, home or in a public place such as the hallways, cafeteria, playing field, a restaurant or store. Take some of that dialogue and write a story or poem. Fill in the gaps. Deadline: Sept. 25; publication week of Oct. 12.
4. General Submit best non-prompt general writing you have created. This call for general entries is repeated each month and you can use the same "general" term when submitting each time. Deadline: Oct. 2; publication week of Oct. 19.
5. Ghosts. Do you believe in ghosts? Have you seen one? Tell us a ghost story. Make one up if you want, but make it believable. Alternate: Favorite character. Choose your favorite character from a book or movie and place them in a different story. Deadline: Oct. 9; publication week of Oct. 26.
6. Object. Write about one object that defines you – or someone you know. Tell a story about why it is important to you (or them). Describe it from as many perspectives as possible. Alternate: The bus. Write a story that takes place on a bus. Deadline: Oct. 16; publication week of Nov. 2.
7. The kitchen table. What happens at your kitchen table? Tell a story about a memorable moment at that table. If you don't have a table, or feel so inclined, create a fictionalized narrative of something happening at the kitchen table. Alternate: Door. Use these words in a story or poem: "I reached the door and knocked loudly ..." Deadline: Oct. 23; publication week of Nov. 9.
9. Sibling rivalry. Write a story about how you compete with a brother or sister. If you don’t have a sibling, write about what it’s like to be the lone child. Alternate: Anger. Rant about something that really ticks you off. Deadline: Nov. 6; publication week of Nov. 23.
10. Winter Tales. Tell a story about winter; it can focus on the season or the holidays – the weather, the outdoors, or the emotions. A dozen selections will be given dramatic presentations by Vermont Stage Company in early December. Deadline: Nov. 13; publication week of Nov. 30.
11. School. What experiences in school have really engaged you? Deadline: Nov. 20; Publish Dec. 7.
12. Super powers. You’ve been granted powers never thought possible. What are they and what will you do with them? Alternate: Excuses. OK, so here's your chance: Write an excuse as to why you didn't do something that is so outrageous that we have to accept it. Make it funny, too. Deadline: Nov. 27; publication week of Dec. 14.
13. General Deadline: Dec. 4; publication week of Jan. 4.
14. An elder's story. Interview someone in an older generation -- a family member or community member -- and get from them a story they've never told you. Re-tell that story. Focus on the details; 400 words and concentrate on the most memorable moment within that story. You can fictionalize the story if you'd like. No real names needed. Alternate: The big win. Write about a time when you won big. Deadline Dec. 11; publication week of Jan. 11.
15. Lost. Tell a story about losing something or getting lost. Write a story or poem about how you feel or how someone else felt because of a loss. Alternate: Utopia. What does your utopia look like? Provide images if you'd like. Deadline: Dec. 18; publication week of Jan. 25.
16. Stuck. Describe a time when you found yourself in a tight spot. Tell us how you got there and what you did to get out of it. Or write a story about someone who finds themselves in a difficult situation. Alternate: India. What images come to mind? Write them down and tell us where those images come from? Do you think the images are accurate? Deadline: Jan. 8; publication week of Feb. 1.
17. General. Deadline: Jan 15; publication week of Feb. 8.
18. Stress. What stresses you out? How do you deal with stress? Write about a time when you have felt stressed out, or create a story in which the characters have to deal with a stressful situation. Alternate: My story. Pick a memorable moment from your life. Something that happened, something you did, something you witnessed. Tell a story about it that will tell us about you. 400 words, no real names, please. Try to focus on something very specific, give us detail. Deadline Jan. 22; publication week of Feb. 15 or 22.
19. Faking it. Admit it, you’ve had to pull the wool over someone’s eyes when trapped at an unexpected moment. Write about it. Alternate: Four. Write about the number four. Could be the time on the clock, the number of people or your favorite athlete. Use the number in a story, poem or play. Deadline: Jan 29; publication week of Mar. 1.
20. General. Deadline Feb. 5; publication week of Mar. 8.
21. Cold. Hate it? Love it? Want to move to Florida? Write about an experience you have had with cold. Alternate: Rules. What's the silliest or most pointless rule you've ever encountered? Tell a story about it and tell how you got around the rule or got the rule changed. Deadline: Feb. 12; publication week of Mar. 15.
22. Elevator. You are in an elevator. The door opens and in walks an annoying type of person. Suddenly the elevator stops between floors...tell us what happens. (No real people, please!) Alternate: Peeves. What is your number one pet peeve? Or what are your top 10 peeves? Deadline Feb. 26; publication week of Mar. 22.
23. Blue. "It was the most brilliant color blue I'd ever seen..." Work that phrase into a poem or a story. Alternate: Photo Prompt Write a story about this photo, taken by Esther Bubley for the OWI, April 1943. This photo was originally in black and white. (Click on photo for link to download.) Deadline: Mar. 5; publication week of Mar. 29.
24. Avoidance. What do you avoid? What do you do to avoid doing it? Tell a story about a time when you avoided something. Make it funny. Alternate: Intolerance. In your life have you seen intolerance or prejudice or discrimination? Have you seen it in more than way? Is there intolerance towards students who look different or dress differently? Or who aren't in a popular group? Write about intolerance; tell a story about your own experience or observation. Deadline: Mar. 12; publication week of Apr. 5.
25. General. Deadline: Mar. 19; publication week of Apr. 12.
26. Pocket. You have found something strange in your pocket. Describe it to someone who has no sight. Tell the story of how it got there. Alternate: My Town. Write about your town or city. Tell us one story or one anecdote that reveals something about your community -- why you like it (or don't), what it stands for, what it's known for. You can tell a historical story. You can base it on an interview. Deadline: Mar. 26; publication week of Apr. 19 or 26.
27. Bullying. Have you been the recipient? What did it do to you? Have you ever bullied anyone? Why? Alternate: Cell phones. Make the case that cell phones should be allowed or should not be allowed in school. Deadline: Apr. 2; publication week of May 3.
28. General. Deadline: Apr. 9; publication week of May 10.
29. Farming. Do you farm? Have you ever worked on a farm? Visited one? Write about it. Do you know a farmer? Talk to her or him and tell their story. Try not to romanticize. Tell a story that describes the reality of farming today. Deadline: April 16 (south) or 23 (north); publication week of May 17.
30. Rain. Tell us a story about your best or worst experience in the rain. Alternate: Phobias. Heights, small spaces, thunderstorms, spiders. Do you have a phobia? How do you deal with it? Deadline: Apr. 23 or 30 (Chittenden and Franklin counties); publication week of May 25.
31. Dreams. Nightmares, happy dreams, daydreams. Write about a dream you have had. Or, write about your dreams for the future. Alternate: Poetry. Write an ode, limerick or a shaped poem. Deadline: May 7; publication week of May 31.
32. Success. At last! Write about a time you succeeded at something you worked really hard on. Alternate: Memorial Day. What does this holiday mean to you? Do you do anything special, or do you just sleep in? Deadline: May 14; publication week of June 7.
33. General. Send us your best work -- any genre. Deadline: May 21; publication week of June 15.