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Creative Writing Festival

Virtual Creative Writing Festival

This event was cancelled.  We will be in contact with particiapants via the email address used in the online registration.  Contact if you do not recieve an email from us.

Virtual Creative Writing Festival

The 36th Annual UW-Whitewater High School Creative Writing Festival is going virtual for 2020!  Each year approximately 750 high school students (grades 9-12) and teachers participate in the festival, offering them a chance to hear their work discussed by their peers and writing professionals in a college setting.  Please note the widespread disruption and uncertainty of caused by Covid-19 present certain challenges. While our goal this year is to maintain all components of the Festival that you've come to expect and enjoy in years past, we reserve the right to alter the Festival format dependent on registration. However, all paid submissions *are* guaranteed written feedback and eligible for judging.    The Creative Writing Festival is available to those in grades 9-12.

Date: Wednesday, December 2, 2020 | 12 noon - 8 pm


Register Online cancelled

Registrations with submissions accepted online until 10/30/20; without submissions 12/1/20, noon.
We do NOT accept day of registrations. 

$25.00     Students with Submission

$35.00     Teacher with submission 

$15.00     Students/Teachers without submissions

Students who do not wish to submit a manuscript for evaluation in a workshop are still welcome to attend the Festival. These students are encouraged to participate in discussions of the work being considered in the various workshops. Students may not submit a manuscript for evaluation if they do not attend the Festival. Please submit one check from the school or adviser to cover all students attending.

Prizes and Refunds

Prize money has amounted to approximately $800 in previous Creative Writing Festivals.  Awarding of prizes will depend on the number and quality of submissions per genre. We regret that it will not be possible to give refunds to those who are unable to attend.

What You Will Need to Attend

  • A computer, tablet, or smartphone
  • A reliable internet connection 
  • If you have an external microphone or webcam, plan to use them, but these are not required.

Web Ex will be the hosting platform for this event.   Meeting links for joining your select sessions will be available a week prior to the event.  We will email you and provide the link to access sessions.    

Confirmation Emails

Once you register, a confirmation email will be sent to your email account. Contact if you do not receive this confirmation email. Historically email accounts used from and are blocked from receiving notifications from us or may end up in your spam folder. You are able to register using these accounts; however, you will not receive emails from us. Please make sure you have a working email address on file with us to be able to receive important announcements and updates about this event.

Received an Award, Sponsorship or Discount?

For those participants who will be receiving a sponsorship to attend this event: Register and use the promo code your sponsor gave you. The sponsorship will be deducted from your invoice.  Any remaining balance remains the participant's responsibility. Any cancellations will result in the sponsorship funds being returned to the supporting organization.

Any qualifying discounts given by the event will not be applied after you have paid in full. Be sure to use the promo code at check out to receive your discount. You will be charged if you do not qualify for requested discount at the start of event.

A processing fee will be assessed if a refund is issued due to overpayment on your account.

Questions, received an award/scholarship without a promo code or want to use two promo codes? Please call Continuing Education Services at 262-472-3165 or email

Want to Sponsor a Registrant?

You can sponsor a registrant and cover all or partial fees. We have received requests in the past from schools, companies, organizations, friends and family members that would like to send their chosen registrant to a specific event. If you would like to sponsor a registrant, you can request a promo code that you may give to your chosen registrant. Click here for more details.

2020 Keynote TBA Soon!

  • A participant may submit in only one category (poetry may have up to three titles per submission). See category chart below.  
  • Participants will submit  one file online using the Creative Writing Festival - Submission and Proof of Originality Form.  A link will be available in the confirmation receipt and email once registration is completed.
  • All manuscripts must include author's name, title of piece, be double spaced and adhere to file name requirements, and to category page lengths.
  • Submission must be saved as a pdf or mp3 file (not to exceed 25,000 KB) with category code, last name and first name as the file name.  Codes are found next to categories below.  Example:   P.Doe.Jane would be the file name for Jane's poetry submission.  
  • Files exceeding 25,000 KB must be posted on a website and link provided in a pdf for submission.  YouTube can be used.
  • Song Lyrics entries must submit a recording of the song with song lyrics. We suggest posting the recording on a website (YouTube or other) and provide a PDF of song lyrics for submission.
  • Drama/Screenplay entries must submit a video of the screenplay. It is suggested to post the recording on a website (Youtube or other)  and provide the screenplay in a pdf for submission.
  • Submissions must be received by Friday, October 30, 2020. Entries submitted after the deadline will not be considered for review. 
  • Participants should prepare a PDF or Google Doc link (with sharing permissions enabled) of their submission, which they will post in the workshop chat for those auditing to read. 
  • Submitting students must attend the session they are assigned to and listed in the program available one day prior to the event.
  • Students will receive their feedback via email from the festival organizers after their workshop sessions.
  • At times, a facilitator is unable to attend their assigned session, due to unforeseen circumstances or technical difficulties.  We will do everything possible to find a replacement and prevent needing to cancel a session.
  • UW-Whitewater is required to report any submissions that indicate neglect, abuse, violence towards others, or self-harm.
  • Children's Literature (CL)- Maximum: 10 pages
    • Works written and appropriate for children ranging from toddler to roughly age 10. No topic restrictions other than appropriateness. Work may also include illustrations.
  • Drama or Screenplay (DR)- Maximum: 15 pages ; submit recording/videos
    • A work (fiction or non-fiction) written in a fashion that can be performed; i.e., primarily comprising dialogue and some stage/screen direction and exposition.
  • Essay Expository or Personal (EE/EP) - Maximum: 5 Pages
    • Non-fiction, non-poetical short works. Genres generally include, but are not limited to: Personal Narrative (tells a story), Descriptive (paints a picture in words), Expository (factual explanation or definition of a specific topic), and Persuasive (attempts to persuade reader to a specific point of view).
  • Humor (H) - Maximum: 10 pages
    • Can be in virtually any format (fiction, non-fiction, short drama, essay, etc.) as long as its primary aim is to provide humor and/or humorous entertainment.
  • Poetry (P) - Maximum: 3 poems (one pdf file for all three)
    • A piece of writing that employs some combination of lyrical, metrical, rhythmic, illusory, or imaginative power, frequently employing vivid or suggestive language/imagery or literary devices like similes and metaphors.
  • Prose Poem/Flash Fiction (PF) - Maximum: 3 pieces
    • prose poem is a non-poetical piece that still embodies certain poetic qualities such as prominent rhythms, imagery, compactness, and intensity, though without necessarily rhyming or following a set metrical pattern.  Flash fiction is an extremely brief (generally no more than a few hundred words) piece of prose fiction.
  • Fan Fiction/Science Fiction/Fantasy/(FS)- Maximum: 10 pages
    • SciFi (science fiction) is prose fiction based on imagined future technological and/or scientific advances, frequently employing significant social or environmental changes, space travel, time travel, and/or alien life forms.  Fantasy, also prose fiction, employs magical or supernatural qualities of the characters, plot, setting, or theme. While fantasy can employ any time setting, it is frequently set in worlds resembling ancient or medieval Earth.  Fan Fiction, a new but growing genre, is a work of fiction set in a pre-existing world created by another author. For example, popular  fan fiction works use the characters from a TV/movie series like  Star Trek or  Harry Potter, but use those characters in new ways or takes them on new adventures that are imagined by the  fan fiction author.
  • Short Fiction (SF) - Maximum: 10 pages
    • Prose writing that presents imaginary people and events.
  • Song Lyrics (SL)- Submit recording/videos
    • Words set to music, often resembling a poem that can be sung.  Submissions must include music.  Post music to website and provide link in song lyric submission.
  • Tales of Terror & Mystery (TT)- Maximum: 10 pages
    • Like fantasy fiction, tales of terror often incorporate supernatural beings, events, and settings, but differs in that its primary intent is to induce horror or terror. Tales of terror need not employ supernatural elements, though in a non-supernatural setting, the genre still creates an aura of eeriness or fright. Tales of mystery can employ many of the same elements as tales of terror, but its impact is intrigue rather than terror, or it offers an outré tale, or it can simply be a piece of crime fiction like a murder mystery.
  • Teacher (T)
    •  All creative writing by teachers

Festival Schedule

Time Event
12:00pm Welcome and Opening Keynote
1:00pm Workshops
2:00pm Workshops
3:00pm Workshops
4:00pm Workshops
5:00pm Workshops
6:00pm Workshops
7:00pm Workshops
8:00pm Awards Ceremony

For the Students

  • Workshops are designed for students in grades 9-12.
  • Students' work will be discussed in assigned workshops.
  • Workshops are limited, and student writers will be assigned in advance to the workshop in which their work is critiqued.
  • Non-submitting participants may attend any session.
  • Each submission will be carefully read and considered.
  • A professional writer will make written comments on the original manuscript.
  • Because of the great number of entries in some categories such as poetry, our faculty cannot always discuss every work submitted.
  • The schedule designating the workshop assigned and meeting link will be available via the link in your registration confirmantion, one day prior to the event.
  • Deadline: Tuesday, October 20, 2020.

For the Teachers

UW-Whitewater staff members and visiting writers will coordinate special teachers' writing workshops to be held concurrently with the students' workshop. A session on the teaching of creative writing will be conducted and a workshop for teachers will be offered if there is sufficient interest. Teachers who want to submit their own work for consideration in a Teachers Writing Workshop should submit their work by submission deadline. 

Identification & Proof of Originality

Each applicant submitting work will verify proof of originality through online registration system.  Students attending Special Workshop: Lorine Niedecker will also need to submit work, in addition to submission to primary workshop.  The online registration link will be provided to you in your registration confirmation.