Books

The First Page student writing challenge for 2022: Write the first page of a novel set in 150 years

The First Page student writing challenge asks students to imagine how present-day issues and trends — anything from climate change to cryptocurrency — have played out 150 years in the future.

Students can imagine how present-day issues and trends have played out 150 years in the future

The First Page student writing challenge asks students in Grades 7 to 12 to write the first page of a novel from 150 years in the future. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

Got questions? Email cbcbooks@cbc.ca and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

The First Page is coming back! The prize will be open for submissions from Feb. 1, 2022 at 9 a.m. ET to Feb. 28, 2022 at 9 p.m. ET.

The First Page is a national writing competition for Grades 7 to 12 students in Canada. Students are invited to write the first page of a novel, imagining how present-day issues and trends have played out 150 years in the future.

How will the world leaders of today impact the world of tomorrow? Who will be the biggest name in pop culture in the future? How will climate change impact the protagonist's life?

The book could be from any literary genre, from mystery or thriller to literary fiction, from adventure or romance to satire or science fiction.

Download a poster for your classroom: in colour, in black and white or send out this mobile-friendly version.

YA writer Sarah Raughley to choose the 2022 winners

The Bones of Ruin is a YA novel by Sarah Raughley. (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

The judge of the 2022 challenge will be Sarah Raughley. The fantasy novelist from southern Ontario is the author of several books, including The Bones of RuinFate of FlamesSiege of Shadows and Legacy of Light.

Raughley will select two winners, one from the Grades 7 to 9 shortlist and one from the Grades 10 to 12 shortlist. The shortlists will be curated with the help of YA and middle grade authors from across Canada.

Find all the details of the 2022 competition below.

WHAT YOU CAN WRITE: Your entry can be 300-400 words in length. Your entry also needs a title, but the title is not included in the word limit. Your entry can be written in any genre.

WHO CAN ENTER: This contest is open to all Canadian residents who are full-time students enrolled in Grades 7 to 12. Entries will be judged in two age categories: Grades 7 to 9 and Grades 10 to 12.

PRIZES: The winner of each category will receive a one-year subscription to OwlCrate, which delivers monthly boxes of books and literary-related goodies. The school library of each winner will also receive a donation of 50 books.

WHEN YOU CAN SUBMIT: The prize is open to submissions from 9 a.m. ET on Feb. 1, 2022 to 9 p.m. ET on Feb. 28, 2022. 

HOW TO SUBMIT: During the submission period, a link to an online entry form will be available on this page.

TEACHER GUIDES: Visit Curio.ca for discussion questions and writing tips from Canadian writers, like Cory DoctorowLinwood BarclayFonda LeeCherie DimalineErin BowKatherena Vermette and M.G. Vassanji.

HAVE QUESTIONS? Email us at cbcbooks@cbc.ca.

WANT MORE STUDENT WRITING CHALLENGES? Sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page to find out about our creative writing challenges.

You can read the complete rules and regulations here.


The 2020 winners

Burnaby's Sophie McGowan, 12, and Calgary's Caris Simmons, 17, have won CBC's national writing competition for Grades 7 to 12 students. (Submitted by McGowan and Simmons)

The 2020 winner in the Grades 7 to 9 category was Burnaby, B.C.'s Sophie McGowan, 12, for her story PollinatorThe story imagined a world where bees have gone extinct.

"I love it when a simple concept has such complexity underneath the surface. Pollinator is at once evocative, poetic, and succinct. And thematically and structurally, this story took a different approach that was ironic, and meaningful," said the prize judge David A. Robertson.

"I loved the whimsical tone and how rich the imagery was; contrasting a smear of yellow pollen against the black stripes down the drones' centres was particularly effective."

The Grades 10 to 12 winner was Calgary's Caris Simmons, 17, for her story Chasing 1%Simmons wrote about the growing wealth gap between upper and working class people.

"In writing, timeliness is important, but difficult to catch. Chasing 1% is a sophisticated meditation on the division of class through a literal separation; one class above, the other below," said Robertson.

"But as with any good story, it goes deeper than that, addressing, as well, a division of age, starkly contrasting not just the "haves and have nots" but the entitlement of one generation against the 'grit' of another."

You can read both McGowan and Simmons's stories, as well as all the 2020 finalists, below.

Grades 7 to 9 category finalists

Grades 10 to 12 category finalists

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