Holly Bourne explains how YOU can win the BBC Young Writers’ Award 2017


What do YA author Holly Bourne, Radio 1 DJ Alice Levine and Editor of ‘Rife’ magazine Nikesh Shukla have in common? Other than being pretty damn badass in their own ways? They’re the judges for the BBC Young Writers’ Award 2017.

And guess what, famalam? We’ve got the top tips you need, straight from the judge’s mouth, to win that top spot.

We were there last year and had the absolute pleasure of interviewing the winner…


It’s a real celebration of young writers and the aim is get y’all inspired to follow in the footsteps of winners of the adult award. There are NEVER enough stories in the world and one of our all time fave authors, Holly Bourne, says:

“I’m passionate about young people feeling empowered to use their voices and tell stories that are important to them. Where that’s an escapist delve into a fantastical world of their imagination, or writing to make sense of the issues of today.”

There is room for every kind of writing. So you have no excuses really. Pick up a pen, fire up a Word document, and get going. Need a little nudge in the right direction? We’ve got JUST the advice you need right here…

From cake to manky pants: Writing advice from all your fave authors

Our ‘Writing YA’ series covers all the basic essentials you need!

Holly Bourne’s Short Story Writing Tips for BBC Young Writers’ Award

1.  Have a killer opening line

One that really grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read on. I can’t start a book until I’ve got my first line. My favourite is still ‘Don’t be sick on the children’ from How Hard Can Love Be?

2. Own your voice

We’re all influenced by writers we admire, but when it comes to telling your own story, remember no-one can tell it better than you. Really try to get your unique personality in there. Not sure how? Keep a nightly diary for a week, just to get in touch with what you sound like when you’re writing your thoughts down. It really helps, promise!

3. Don’t get overwhelmed

No-one can write a whole book in one go. If I tried, I’d end up crazy, malnourished, and probably wandering the streets in my pyjamas rubbed in peanut-butter. I manage to write entire books by only doing a little bit of writing every day. It really does add up. Start with only writing half a page a day – you’ll be amazed how much you will have written in just one week.

4. Tiny moments can make the best stories

A short story is the perfect opportunity to tell a story about the minutiae in life – the little moments that have big consequences. If you’re trying to think of a idea, spend some time examining the tiny details that make up a person – the way they have their tea and why, the posters they have up on their walls, even the subjects someone picks for GCSE. There’s a story behind each and every one of these seemingly-mundane topics.

5. It’s all about the edit

Your story is not finished the moment you type ‘the end’. In fact, that’s where the real work starts. Editing is the most important part of story writing and you don’t want to undo all your writing efforts by not giving it the edit it needs. My rule is that you need three edits before you show your work to someone else. One big read-through to ensure the story makes sense and everything is flowing nicely. A second, very thorough, read-through when you look at every sentence on its own to make sure it’s as clear and well-written as it can be. And a final read-through for spelling and punctuation.

I can’t wait to read your stories – good luck!

The deadline for entries is April 21st so there’s still plenty of time to get yours sorted. Click here for more details.

Are you entering? What is your fave genre to read/write? Tell us in the comments below.

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Written by Sarah Clare

Sarah is the Lead Writer and Design Queen here at Maximum Pop! Sarah holds an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University, and a BA in Creative Writing with English Literature from Marjon (BIG UP THE MARJON MASSIVE!). Sarah joined MP! after seeing an advertisement for writers on Instagram – because where else would a design master find their dream job?

Sarah is currently working on an expose on Draco Malfoy in her spare time. But not if his father hears about it.

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