I. The history of the Bulgarian Creative Writing Competition
In 2011, Bulgaria began participating in a competition called the International Writing Olympics (later, the International Creative Writing Competition), a contest created and run by Peace Corps volunteers all over the world since 2003. In its first year here the contest was a volunteer-run initiative, and students wrote over 300 creative essays; in 2012, the competition was opened to all public schools, and there were more than 800 submissions!
In 2012-2013 school year the CORPlus Foundation was able to create an independent version of this competition. This new incarnation, called the Bulgarian Creative Writing Competition in English, maintains the original spirit of the first competitions, but with a more sustainable outlook, and new possibilities for prizes and recognition of its outstanding young writers. In 2015 more than 4000 students from 180 public and private schools participated in the competition!
II. The process
The competition itself is simple. Firstly, all teachers of English in public and private schools are welcome to have their students participate (language centers are not eligible). The competition is open to students from 6th to 12th grades, although each grade level is separate from the others (that is, 6th graders only compete against other 6th graders, 7th with 7th, etc.).
Participating schools choose a date (from the officially announced writing days) and a time and date for their students to write. The day before the official topics for the competition are sent out by the organizers. Students are given one hour to respond to one of several creative, unusual themes (these are different for each grade level). Over the course of the hour, students may not consult dictionaries, grammar references, the Internet, other students, etc. The goal is instead to create their own unique pieces of writing (in English), to think “outside the box”. After the hour is over, the participants turn in their personal information sheets and essays to the teacher, who then mails them to the regional judges.
Once all the essays have been received, panels of regional judges (teachers, writers, native English speakers, and specialists) convene in their respective locations to read the essays, which remain anonymous during this process. Using various criteria (available HERE), the judges select the top three essays from each grade level in their region. Students whose essays do not qualify for the national round will still receive a certificate of participation. The finalist essays are sent on to national judging. At the national level, essays are again read and rated; first, second, and third places are awarded to the top pieces from each grade.
These students are invited to the national awards ceremony, where they are presented with prizes: high-quality English-learning and writing-related materials donated from supporting organizations (in 2016, these included the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, the American University in Bulgaria, Express Publishing, Klett and Macmillan Bulgaria). There are also several additional prizes provided for outstanding writing. In 2016, these included scholarships to English-language summer camps and autographed books.
Of course, prizes are only one reason to participate in the BCWC. Our main goal is to show students that every sort of talent deserves to be cultivated and shared with the world. Everyone’s voice matters! So join the fun.
BCWC by Month
School registration: October
Each school must create a profile and establish a contact person—usually an English teacher. After the registration and during the preparation period, various creative writing lessons and past topics will be available for download from the website.
Under the supervision of a teacher, students are given one hour to respond to a grade-specific topic. They may not use any dictionaries, textbooks, or other materials when writing. It’s the ideas that matter, not the grammar!
Judging and Awards: March and April
Essays are judged regionally, with the best progressing to the national level. The finalists are then narrowed down, with prizes awarded to the top three essays per grade level, as well as some additional prizes provided by outside partners. These are presented at a final awards ceremony.
BCWC judges can be teachers, writers, specialists, and native English speakers.
For questions regarding the Bulgarian Creative Writing Competition, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2017 competition calendar
Writing days February 13 – 14, 2017
Regional judging February 25, 2017
National judging March 11, 2017
Award ceremony April 22, 2017