Barbara Taylor Bradford joins forces with The Sunday Times to launch girls’ writing competition

The GSA has agreed to be one of the official supporters of The Write Stuff girls’ short story competition judged by, among others, Barbara Taylor Bradford. Other supporters are the National Literacy Trust, HarperCollins, The Girls’ Day School Trust, Association of State Girls’ Schools (ASGS), and teen story-sharing community Movellas.

The Write Stuff short story competition – aimed at girls aged 11-18 and who live in the UK – is being launched nationwide this month (22 March 2015).

The competition is being fronted by international bestselling author and young women’s champion Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE. Barbara is an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust, an independent UK charity that transforms lives through literacy, and is passionate about empowering girls to write and let their voices be heard through their stories.

Barbara is often described as the ‘First Lady of Female Fiction’ and ‘Queen of the Genre’. Over 88 million copies of the international bestselling novelist’s books have been sold to date. They are published in over 40 languages and in more than 90 countries. Barbara’s much-loved books always feature women who drive to succeed in life, often overcoming adversities along the way. Her 30th novel, The Cavendon Women, is published on 26 March 2015.

The competition has been initiated following research by National Literacy Trust of more than 14,000 girls revealing that only one in four girls aged 14 to 16 (23%) see writing as cool, and almost half prefer watching TV to reading (49%).

Barbara Taylor Bradford says: “I feel it’s critical to reach out to girls and young women who want to share a story they have created and inspire a new generation of female writers and readers.

It’s really important that female authors like myself take the lead as role models for girls and young women and encourage them to reach their full potential.”

The National Literacy Trust research also found that girls who enjoy writing are five times more likely to write above the level expected for their age than girls who don’t enjoy writing (29% vs. 5%). Yet, girls’ attitudes to reading and writing get worse as they grow older according to National Literacy Trust research . While two-thirds of girls (66%) aged eight to 11 enjoy writing this decreases to under half (43%) aged 14 to 16. In fact, twice as many girls aged 14 to 16 rarely or never write something that is not for school outside class compared to girls aged eight to 11 (28% vs. 13%).

Together with The Sunday Times, Barbara Taylor Bradford is asking girls to write a short, fictional story with a central theme of ‘friendship’. It should run to a maximum of 1,000 words, not including the title.

Barbara Taylor Bradford says: “Friendships are hugely exciting but also can be complicated, and sometimes difficult. All sorts of things can happen between friends…from rivalry, jealousy and competitiveness right through to someone undertaking an amazing act of kindness that helps a friend in a time of need. Whatever the scenario, there must always be a resolution to the story to satisfy the reader.

“If you don’t have trouble or a problem, you have no drama and you don’t pull in the reader. The theme can be quite dramatic in a personal way. It has to have emotions and real feelings.”

The competition will see a number of the final short stories produced in to an ebook by HarperCollins and their story published on The Sunday Times website. A number of the girls who create the best short stories will also receive an exclusive story-writing masterclass with Barbara Taylor Bradford and Eleanor Mills, Editorial Director of The Sunday Times.

Eleanor Mills, Editorial Director of The Sunday Times, adds: “We are delighted to partner with Barbara and really want the competition to inspire girls, and give them greater confidence in their creative writing abilities as we know research shows as they get older, they become less confident in this area. We hope to discover a new generation of female writers who will tell their stories and make sure their voices are heard.”

Barbara Taylor Bradford adds: “I regularly go in to schools and meet girls itching to write but often they lack the confidence or don’t know where to start. We hope this competition will help encourage them.

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