Students to write on the spot

Okanagan College hosts its second annual three-hour story contest at all its campuses Nov. 19.

It could be a word, a phrase, or even an object, but organizers know that’s all it will take for talented writers to emerge victorious at Okanagan College’s second annual 3-Hour short story competition.

“What we’re looking for is a strong sense of imagination and creativity, and by giving students that one item to ponder at the beginning of the contest, we know that will spark something that will captivate the judges,” said Sean Johnston, one of the English department professors organizing the contest.

The short story competition is open to students in Grade 11 and 12, and those attending Okanagan College. The contest takes place simultaneously from noon to 3 p.m., Nov. 19 at the college’s Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton campuses.

Writers will work on college computers, and will not be able to access any pre-written material or anything online.

Four prizes of $250 tuition credit will be handed out –– one for each campus winner. The grand prize winner will receive an additional $500 tuition credit.

Last year, more than 70 students took part in the contest, including Salmon Arm high school student Shvaugn Craig, who won with her story Poppies and Leaves.

“It was fun, and interesting,” said Craig, who is now enrolled in the writing and publishing program at Okanagan College. “When they gave us the prompt I wondered: ‘How on earth do I include battery cables?’ But somehow I did.”

Johnston, who has been one of the regular contributors to CBC Radio’s popular series A Verse to Summer, says it always amazes him to see what even novice writers can do with a single word.

“So much meaning can be attached to such small things,” he said. “It’s one of the signs that, as instructors, we know we are working with keen observers of life.”

There is no fee for the contest, which gets underway simultaneously at noon at all four campuses Nov. 19, however, students need to register by noon Nov. 18.

Visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/3hourwriting to sign up.