Institute for Writers presents



Click Here to Enter

Show us a new world!  

YA and fantasy are two hot commodities in today's market. Now's your chance to show off your writing skills and pull us into your character's world, compelling us to know the whole story.  

This contest is a "first pages" competition. Register and submit the first pages (up to 750 words) of your YA Fantasy manuscript. 

Deadline: July 31, 2019

What is a YA Fantasy First Page?

If you can't get your reader past the first pages, they won't ever get to the rest of your story. The first page or two needs to be dynamic, grab our attention, and make us want to live in your main character's world for the remainder of the book (or series). 

Alternate historical versions, mysterious underworld figures, all-powerful societies, witch hunters, and worlds where dragons and humans live side by side ... these (and more) are all elements you might find in a YA fantasy. Recent books include The Hunger Games, Uglies, Divergent, and the Harry Potter series.

As a YA first page, your main protagonist should be a teenager or in their early twenties. Check out this post from Quirk Books on What Makes a Good YA Fantasy

Why Enter?

 $1,300 Cash Prizes 

  • 1st prize = $1,000!
  • 2nd prize = $200 
  • 3rd prize = $100 

Online Workshop 

All entrants are invited to a FREE instructional online workshop with our esteemed judge and the Director of Institute for Writers.

Free Critique

Winning entries will be workshopped by our judge to help writers understand what worked and what could be improved to make it submission-ready.

Here's what our judge will be looking for...

  • World building - Establish it early, make it believable, and stick to the rules you set up.
  • Characters - Well developed. Within the YA age range, which is roughly 12 to 18, and believable. Even if the protagonist has green scales or a forked tongue, give him or her human traits so readers can relate to them.  
  • POV - First person is big in YA, but close third person will also work. Be consistent.
  • Dialogue - Be true to your characters and their age range. A 15-year-old shouldn’t speak like an Oxford don. 
  • Magics - Set up the rules. Don’t break them or change them halfway through the story, unless the birth of a new magic is integral to the story. 

Here's what else you need to know...

  • Entries can be no longer than 750 words.
  • Entries must be previously unpublished and not currently under contract with a publisher.
  • Target readers are young adults, but we all know adults of all ages read YA too!
  • Entries must follow manuscript submission guidelines as stated on our Contest Rules page HERE.
  • Entries deemed pornographic or gratuitously violent will be disqualified.
  • Entries must be submitted via our online form by midnight Pacific Time on July 31, 2019.
  • There is a $19 reading fee per manuscript to enter the contest.
  • You may enter more than one manuscript but each entry requires a $19 reading fee.
  • Every writer who enters will be invited to the online workshop for free where the winning entries are critiqued. (Non-entrants pay $7.)

Submissions will be judged on clarity, originality, potential in the market, and your ability to match standard manuscript format (double spacing, clear contact information, no creative use of fonts).

The winning entries in this YA Fantasy First Pages contest will be announced at a live online workshop within 90 days after the contest closes. All contest entrants will be invited free of charge. (Non-entrants may attend for a nominal fee of $7.)

Second Story members of the Writers' Block get to enter IFW and ICL contests for free. Click here to find out more about the Writers' Block.

This is a great opportunity to build your writing and submitting skills!

I'm In, Let's Do This >>

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