Short Sharp Story Writing Competition for Teens


Escalator Press is celebrating the CYA Book Awards shortlisting of L.J. Ritchie’s exciting teen novel Like Nobody’s Watching – by running a short-story competition for high-school students.

The competition is open to students in the Canterbury and Wellington regions who are 12-18 years old. (Includes Kāpiti and the Wairarapa.)

Like Nobody’s Watching explores issues of surveillance and cyberbullying, so your challenge is to write a short story that looks into one of these themes.



The winner in each category will receive one free term of creative writing classes at the highly respected School for Young Writers, where the teaching staff is led by James Norcliffe and Heather McQuillan. Winners are able to take classes either in person, or by correspondence. Thanks to Dr Glyn Strange, the founding director of the School, for making this possible.



The school that sends the most impressive body of entries overall will win a set of 15 copies of  Like Nobody’s Watching.



12-15 years old

16-18 years old


Submission Guidelines:

Write a short story about cyberbullying or surveillance.

Stories must be no longer than 450 words. (But can be shorter.)

Write or cut and paste your story into the body of an email.

Make sure you give your story a title.

Provide your full name, age, school, postal address and email address at the bottom of your story.

Email your story to by September 11.

You can enter as many times as you like.

The competition will be judged by L.J. Ritchie, author of Like Nobody’s Watching. The entries will be read anonymously, and the judge’s decisions are final.

All winners will be notified and publicly announced by email by September 30.

Winning entries may be published online, but you retain copyright in your work.


About Escalator Press:

Escalator Press is an imprint set up by the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme, and publishes work by new and established writers associated with Whitireia.

The Writing Programme, founded in 1993, is a major contributor to New Zealand writing, with more than 220 publications from graduates as diverse as Alison Wong, Tusiata Avia and Mandy Hager.

With production and marketing by the Whitireia Publishing Programme – New Zealand’s highly regarded training course for the publishing industry – Escalator Press is built on traditional publishing values, whether in print or digital media, while developing its own distinctive model.


About L.J. Ritchie: 

L.J. Ritchie is a Wellington-based author of young adult fiction. He has a vocational background in education and the arts, and co-hosts local film podcast Never Repeats.

His interest in surveillance culture was sparked during his undergraduate study, and developed further during his teacher training when he observed how various forms of surveillance encouraged conformity in schools.

He completed the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme in 2013, and Like Nobody’s Watching is his debut novel.


About the School for Young Writers:

Since 1993 the School for Young Writers has offered children and young adults (ages 7-19) opportunities to go further with their writing than is usually possible in normal school time. In particular, we’ve encouraged students to understand how writing communicates with readers, and we’ve always been keen to publish students’ work in our bi-annual magazine Write On.

For 17 years the School for Young Writers has provided an opportunity for teenagers to display their talents in the national Re-Draft competition, judged annually by James Norcliffe and Tessa Duder. Publication is the prize, and the best entries are published in real books that can be kept for all time. Entry is free, and the winners receive a free copy. The 2017 entry form can be photocopied from the back of The Dog Upstairs, the 16th book in the Re-Draft series. The 2017 deadline for entries is 1st September.