The Women Writing the West High School Writing Contest

Go West, Young Writer!
Entries Open August 30, 2022 – October 1, 2022

All high school students in grades 9-12 are invited to send their unpublished short written works in nonfiction, fiction, or poetry/songwriting to the Women Writing the West® inaugural High School Writing Contest.

Entries should recognize women and girls’ stories and their contribution to the history, culture and growth of the American West, defined by WWW as anywhere in North America west of the Mississippi River, including Alaska and Hawaii. One Entry Per Student.

Monetary awards will be presented to the top three Winners in the three award categories and they will be recognized via their own video at the annual WWW Conference in Oklahoma City, OK, October 20-22, 2022.

Women Writing the West welcomes students living outside the US in grades 9-12 to submit their entries written in English. Entry fees are accepted in USD and awards are presented in USD. Rates of exchange apply.


Guidelines | Rubrics | Download Poster | Download Press Release

High School Writing Contest Award Categories

WWW WILLA Youth Award for Poetry/Songwriting

Poetry – 25 lines max, 3 lines max for Haiku – limit 3 Haikus
Songwriting – 2 verses & chorus; bridge optional

WWW LAURA Youth Award for Short Fiction

Short prose stories – 1,500-2,000 words

WWW DOWNING Youth Award for Nonfiction/Journalism

Articles, bios or event reports – 500-700 words

Guidelines for The Women Writing the West High School Writing Contest

These guidelines MUST be followed for your entry to be considered. Why, you say? First, if you are going to be a professional writer, you must follow standard formatting rules. And second, it’s difficult for readers if everyone uses a different font, word processing program, etc.

Click here for a formatting example.

Here’s what you must do:

  1. Use only MICROSOFT WORD (the files will be either .doc or .docx)
  2. Set your margins to 1 inch on each side, with a ragged right margin (do not right-justify the writing). If you’re not sure how to do this, have your teacher help set everything up for you.
  3. Use one of the following font types: TIMES, TIMES NEW ROMAN, or COURIER NEW.
  4. Use a 12-point Font size.
  5. Double Space; use the tab key once for a ½-inch indent on the first line of each paragraph; no indents are needed for poetry, haiku, or lyrics unless intentional.
  6. At the top left of each entry page, write your FULL NAME.
  7. On the next line under your name, write your email address so the contest coordinator can contact you.
  8. Write the word count on the third line. You may round the numbers to the nearest ten (2462 words would be 2460 for example).
  9. On the next line, write the name of your school and teacher, plus your teacher’s official email.
  10. Skip down about half a page and type the title of your entry. CENTER THIS. Each entry must have a title.
  11. Beneath the title, write “By ___” and write your full name. CENTER THIS LINE.
  12. Skip three lines, then begin your entry.
  13. Must be set in the American West (west of the Mississippi River, including Alaska and Hawaii) and have either a female protagonist or be written from a female perspective.
  14. No foul language, inappropriate slang, violence, hate speech, erotic content, or inappropriate word choice will be tolerated. Your entry will be disqualified without refunding the entry fee.
  15. Once you have written your entire entry, on the next line, write the word “END” and CENTER IT.
  16. That’s it! Now go back to the main page, find the “SUBMIT ENTRY” link at the bottom, and follow the instructions to enter your piece in the Women Writing the West High School Writing Contest. Best of luck!

Download a PDF of the Guidelines here

View the WWW High School Writing Contest Rubrics Here

Video Guidelines will be available to the top three Winners/Finalists following judges’ final decisions.

For more information, contact The WWW High School Writing Contest Coordinator at HScontest@womenwritingthewest.org