Youth Writing Contest

Submit poetry, short stories, comics, or other writing-based creative work for your chance to win the annual Surrey Libraries’ Youth Writing Contest.

Contest Details

The contest is now closed and will reopen in the summer of 2024. Young writers can submit once to each of four categories: short stories, poems, comics, and the random category. Entry is free! Winners are celebrated at an awards gala in October.

Get inspired by our 2022 winners and finalists.

Read Past Winners

Entries to the contest are judged by a select group of library staff and industry professionals. Points are awarded for originality and style, as well as grammar and spelling. Be sure to read all the contest details and rules below before submitting.

Short Stories

Short stories can be up to 1,500 words. No illustrations or drawings are allowed in the short stories category. Entries must be typed and submitted online as a Word document. Word is available on public computer stations at all Surrey Libraries branches. Your name must not appear anywhere on your work.


Poems can up to 36 lines. Write your poem in any form (sonnet, ode, haiku, etc.). No illustrations or drawings are allowed in the poems category. Entries must be typed and submitted online as a Word document. Word is available on public computer stations at all Surrey Libraries branches. Your name must not appear anywhere on your work.


Comics can be hand drawn or digital and must be black & white or grayscale. Comics can be 4-7 pages long, and must be on white, letter size (8½ x 11") paper, with page numbers. Comics must be submitted online in high resolution .pdf or .png format. Scanners are available to use for free at all Surrey Libraries branches except Ocean Park and Port Kells. Your name must not appear anywhere on your work.

Random Category

This category welcomes any work that is NOT a short story, poem, or comic. It can be creative non-fiction, essay, a play, a screenplay, song lyrics, a picture book manuscript, or more. We encourage creative entries, rather than assigned schoolwork. Please refrain from submitting school essays. We welcome any writing-based exploration that does not exceed 1500 words. Text-based work must be submitted as a Word document. Word is available on public computer stations at all Surrey Libraries branches. If your work contains illustrations or images, they must be scanned in high resolution .pdf or .png format.  Your name must not appear anywhere on your work.

2023 Rules For Entrants

  • Submit your work on this page starting June 1. Please bookmark this page and check back then.
  • To be eligible for the 2023 contest, you must have been born between 2005-2011. Absolutely no exceptions.
  • You must have your own Surrey Libraries' card, in your own name. Please visit a library branch in person with acceptable ID to make a library card. We do not accept library cards made from home.  
  • You must be a Surrey resident.
  • You can submit up to one item per category. That is: any combination of 1 short story, 1 poem, 1 comic, 1 random category. Please don't submit more than one per category or you will be disqualified from the contest.
  • All entries must be your own original work. Fanfiction, retellings, or work based on existing stories, video games, movies, and other media, will be disqualified, as will works developed by artificial intelligence.
  • Your work must not have appeared anywhere in print or online previously.
  • You are allowed to address mature themes, but we reserve the right to decide if overly explicit situations or gratuitous violence is not suitable for the 12-18 audience.
  • Entries must meet the criteria stated above (e.g., word count, page size, online submission).
  • Your name must not appear anywhere on the entry itself (not on pages, or in the file name). Your name will be submitted in the entry form only.
  • Entries will not be returned, so please keep a copy of your work for yourself.
  • This contest is not open to employees of Surrey Libraries and their immediate family.
  • All entries must be submitted by August 3, 2023 at 11:59 PM.
  • By entering the contest, you consent to having your name and work published in print and online. We are unable to make winning entries anonymous.

Plagiarism Policy

  • All finalist and winning entries are checked using a plagiarism checker before they are sent to the judges.
  • Winners must visit their local Surrey Libraries branch in person to sign a Plagiarism Contract before they are able to claim their prize.
  • If a finalist or winning entry is found to be plagiarized, the following will occur:
    • The entry will be immediately disqualified.
    • The writer will not receive any credit.
    • The writer’s parents/guardians will be notified.
    • A written record of the infraction will be made in the records for the Youth Writing Contest.
    • The writer’s name will not be included on the list of finalists and winners published on the Surrey Libraries website in October.


All winners receive a cash prize, gifts kindly provided by our sponsors, and free admission to the Surrey International Writers' Conference in October.

Category1st Prize2nd Prize3rd Prize
Stories, ages 12-14$350$200$100
Stories, ages 15-18$350$200$100
Poems, ages 12-14$350$200$100
Poems, ages 15-18$350$200$100
Comics, ages 12-18$350$200$100
Random, ages 12-18$350$200$100

Thank you to our 2023 Sponsors!

Champion Sponsors:

  • Khalsa Credit Union
Khalsa Credit Union Logo


  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University


  • Surrey International Writers’ Conference 
Text: Surrey International Writer's Conference


Guardian Sponsors:

  • ​CUPE 402 & CUPE 402-02
CUPE 402 logo
  • Whitehots Inc.
White Hots


Enthusiast Sponsors:

  • Guildford Town Centre
  • OverDrive
  • Staples Professional

Ally Sponsors:

  • ABC Recycling
  • FASTSIGNS Surrey
  • HomeLife Benchmark Realty Corp.
  • Imperial Hobbies

Have questions? Send us an email.