Write Across Ontario is back!

Competition opens on October 3rd and closes on November 6th, 2017!
The winners will be announced in early December.

Write Across Ontario is a creative writing competition open to middle grade and high school students across the province, in collaboration between IFOA Ontario and Open Book. Students in grades 5 to 12 will write a story using the story-starter provided for their age group by one of four acclaimed Canadian authors. The story-starter is used as a place for students to begin their story, but where the story goes from there is in the hands of each individual.

Terms and Conditions:

  • You must be a student in Ontario to enter
  • Entries will be judged by IFOA, in conjunction with Open Book
  • There will be four (4) winners selected, one (1) from each grade category
  • One submission per student will be accepted and entries will not be returned
  • Only entries submitted online via will be accepted

 How to Enter:

  • Choose the story-starter that coincides with your age category
  • Stories should be between 250-500 words, not including the story-starter
  • All submissions should be emailed to
  • Please provide the following information with your entry:
    • Full name
    • Telephone number
    • Email Address
    • Age & grade
    • Teacher’s name
    • Teacher’s email address
    • Name of school
    • School address


Winning entries will be published online in the Open Book. Each winner will also receive a prize of $500, sponsored by Open Book.

Story-starter for Grades 5 & 6
By Drew Hayden Tayor

Missing in Action

Kneeling down to tie her shoe, Jillian noticed something many would find unusual. Her shoelaces were missing. In fact, it seems her whole shoe was no longer there. Worse, there seemed to be no sign of her entire foot. This was not good.  Not only would this make walking home difficult, it would no doubt lead to many awkward explanations.  In particular, Jillian doubted her father would be the least bit sympathetic.

Already, she could hear the man’s gravelly voice in his head.  “You don’t know where you left your left foot?!”

Jillian’s father had many good qualities, but things like this tended to bother the man.  Like most people who lived in Jillian’s town, rational Euclidean thought tended to be the political party or church everybody found salvation in. Random acts of illogic… dare Jillian say, inconvenient mystery, was frequently viewed as bad taste.  Downright rude.  Regardless, here Jillian stood, or more accurately leaned, without a left foot.  And it had been there only a few minutes earlier. The girl was sure of that.

Provided nothing else decided to disappear, Jillian was confident she could handle the situation.  She was sure another foot, real or otherwise, could somehow be obtained.  But there was still the issue of getting home.  Hopping seemed an ineffective method of transportation.  A walker by nature, her bus pass currently sat on the dresser in her room, next to her now obsolete collection of running shoes.

Story-starter for Grades 7 & 8
By Heather O’Neill

A girl named Lucy lived in the house. She had three brothers, so she never had any privacy as they were always going through her things. Lucy hid her journal in the hole inside the tree. In it she wrote all the wondrous and strange observations that occurred to her during the day. She was unable to make friends at her new school and she felt a great sense of sadness because of it. So she poured herself on into her journal, having no one to share her thoughts with. Then one night, while Lucy was asleep, a girl crept out of the hole. She had come from another world. She had heard dangerous tales of what went on on the other side of the hole in the vicious dimension called earth. But she had been reading Lucy’s diary and knew they were kindred spirits and that they had to meet.

Story-starter for Grades 9 & 10
By Gwen Benaway

Makwa is sick of school. Sick of waking up early, getting dressed, waiting for his mom to drive him to school, and shuffling up the steps into the grey concrete building. Everyone at his school is boring. They talk about television, listen to dumb music, and spend their time in class on Snapchat. He spends his time reading books about telepathic unicorns. It’s not a good combination.

The worst part of school is spending 8 hours of his life away from his dog. Neechie is a res dog, a mutt that his dad brought home one day from their community. Makwa is not sure of his dog’s breed. Neechie looks like a German Shepard mixed with a Golden Lab but somehow smaller than both breeds. Neechie is an Ojibway word for friend, but Makwa’s dog is not very friendly. He’s great with Makwa, but when Makwa takes him on walks around the neighborhood, Neechie tries to eat all of the other dogs. He even tries to eat the bigger dogs. Makwa’s dad says that Neechie is crazy, but Makwa likes how fearless his dog is.

Makwa wishes he was as fearless. Mawka means “bear” in Ojibway, but he doesn’t feel like a bear. His dad said they named him after the bear because bears are so strong. Makwa is 5’8 and weighs 120 pounds. He skipped gym class until they just passed him with a 50%. He is more interested in books than being brave or fighting. Some times at school, the other guys hassle him and push him around. He ignores them, keeps on walking with a book in front of his face. You can fight like Neechie or you can just disappear, Makwa thinks, disappear into a world entirely your own.

Story-starter for Grades 11 & 12
By Pasha Malla

How or when or where or why the conga line starts I have no idea, but one minute I am standing poolside, debating whether or not to take another swim, and the next I am swept up from behind, two hands on my waist, and find myself rocked back and forth to some saucy beat I’d been ignoring, but now can’t possibly. I look back to see the grinning face of a man behind me, a bearded man, and before I know it someone new has taken my hands and placed them on her hips, a woman in a dress with a zigzag pattern, an endless cascade of green chevrons slotting one to the next from neck to knee. The rhythm of the conga is two beats to one side, two beats to the other, everyone in perfect synchronicity as we shuffle along; some people are adding little kicks as well. The line is a dozen people strong, now fifteen, now twenty, twisting and slithering away from the pool and up through the resort, gaining more people as we go. It feels less like someone’s leading than we’re being taken somewhere. Where? Nobody knows. Two nods one way, two nods the other, even with the music fading behind us as we leave the gates of the resort, and into the streets, still shimmering wet from last night’s rain.

Write Across Ontario is presented in partnership with:

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