Write Across Ontario 2011

Terms and Conditions

  • Start date: November 1, 2011
  • Closing date: February 1, 2012
  • You must be an Ontario high school student to enter
  • Three (3) authors will write story-starters (What’s that? story-starter is a couple of sentences or a paragraph that provides students with a place to start their story, but where the story goes from there is in the hands of each individual student)
  • Entries will be judged by Authors at Harbourfront Centre, in conjunction with
    Open Book: Ontario
  • There will be four (4) winners selected, one (1) from each grade of high school
  • One submission per student will be accepted and entries will not be returned
  • Only entries submitted online via writeacrossontario@harbourfrontcentre.com will be accepted

How to Enter

  • Choose a story-starter and finish the story in 500 words or less (including the story-starter)
  • All submissions should be emailed to writeacrossontario@harbourfrontcentre.com
  • 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 Magazine. Each winner will also receive a prize of $500, kindly sponsored by our friends at Open Book: Ontario.


Story Starters

#1 Written by: Miriam Toews

My parents split up three months ago, in the fall, but they said the three of us would still go to this Mexican resort for Christmas because we already had the tickets and all that. By the time Christmas rolled around my mom said no way, she’d changed her mind and my dad said okay, it’ll just be me and him going to Mexico. Then, on the day we were supposed to leave, my dad wasn’t at his place and I couldn’t reach him on his phone and I said to myself thanks guys, you’ve really pulled out all the stops this year, and I went anyway. I mean I went into my dad’s spare room and took his “rainy day” money and my ticket and all the hotel information and I called a cab to take me to the airport.

#2 Written by: Ian Rankin

He was out there again. Except maybe ‘he’ was a ‘she’ – it was hard to tell in the dark. Three nights in  row, I’d looked down on to the street from my bedroom window and watched the shape standing there, almost hidden behind the tree that refused to die. I got the feeling whoever they were, they were only a year or two older than me… The first night I’d just stared for a while and then got bored. The second, I’d opened the window to shout something, but there’d been nothing there to shout at. Tonight, I was going to scramble downstairs and throw open the door. Really I was. Really.

#3 Written by Johanna Skibsrud

I don’t know which one of us saw it first. Suddenly—just—there it was. Glinting a little in the sunlight, half-hidden in the tall grass. A key. The old-fashioned kind. Parts of it rusted so badly it looked as though, if we picked it up, it might crumble away in our hands. How long had it sat out there, like that, I wondered. Rusting in the overgrown grasses at the edge of Mrs. Ellis’s front-yard. Ten years? A hundred? How many times had we just walked on by? More to the point, though—what was different about this time? Why had we both, all of a sudden, paused—our eyes drawn to the same, almost invisible fleck of light, just barely glinting on the lawn? At first, when Ben knelt to pick it up, I wanted to put out my hand to stop him. But then I didn’t. And he picked it up. And held it. It looked surprisingly heavy in his hands. He turned it in slow circles, so we could get a look at it from all sides, and when he did so all but the most rusted bits—even in the diminishing sunlight—seemed to glow. I am not sure how, but in that moment I knew: nothing, after that, was going to be the same.