Writing competition

30 Apr 2018

In 2017 we were inundated with entries for our writing competition. We will run the competition again in 2018.

Thank you to the following schools and your wonderful students who participated. We were very impressed by the quality of the entries.


We received nearly 300 entries in our 2017 Countdown writing competition, from 32 schools. The challenge? To write a story opening no longer than 80 words, using at least four words (or variations of them) from our word list, with the beginning:

Who would ever have thought that something like that would be able to fly!

The words:

  • Apparel
  • Bale
  • Balmy
  • Breeches
  • Embroidery
  • Gadget
  • Garmet
  • Plentiful
  • Plume
  • Symbols

Here are two of the winners:

That Crazy Chicken by Lachlan

It’s morning on the farm and all of the pigs, cows and donkeys are sleeping with that crazy chicken. The chicken is eight years old and his name is Max. He plans to fly to Neptune while the farmer is having his tea. Max makes a garment with symbols of eggs and chicks and a rocket! And on July 10th he is in position and takes gadgets and—zoom—they’re off! A big plume of smoke is behind Max.

My Bunny Can Fly! by Makenzie

Bang! Crash! ‘What was that?’ thought Phoebe. She had a flying bunny called Hop. She told him to go and get her a garment and a gadget from the shops, and that’s when Phoebe heard Crash! Bang! When she got to the shops she saw Hop eating plenty of hay out of a bale. She called out to him and said, ‘Are you okay? I heard you from home.’ Then he shot up in the air! Everyone stared.

Blast Off

We received 527 entries in our 2017 Blast Off writing competition, from 48 schools. The challenge? To write a story opening no longer than 100 words, using at least six words (or variations of them) from our word list, with the beginning:

‘Don’t open that!’

The words:

  • Beagle
  • Encounter
  • Fled
  • Glove
  • Gruff
  • Hoisted
  • Rocket
  • Saucepan
  • Swarming
  • Wobble

Here are two of the winners:

The Ghost of the Orphanage by Maddison

‘Don’t open that!’ said the manager. ‘It is locked and it stays that way!’

I slunk away to the kitchen where the orphanage cook Ms Gruff was cooking rocket leaves in a saucepan. It was disgusting.

We went to bed early that night but I was absolutely terrified when I saw something scuttle across the floor. It looked like a glove.

I thought I heard music playing from that weird room. I hoisted myself out of bed and walked down the corridor. I had no idea what I would encounter. I opened the door to that forbidden room …

Border Security by Chloe

‘Don’t open that!’ yelled a little girl named Chloe. She had just got off a plane from England. She was very tired and her legs felt wobbly.

‘Why?’ exclaimed the customs officer with his three cute beagles sitting happily. The officer was putting gloves on. Then he looked through the girl’s bag but by the time the officer started looking Chloe had already fled as fast as she could.

‘No, no, no, this is not happening,’ muttered Chloe, scared.

‘Come back here,’ shouted the police officer gruffly. The girl had already encountered a police officer …


We received over 540 entries in our 2017 Orbit writing competition, from 54 schools. The challenge? To write a story opening no longer than 120 words, using at least eight words (or variations of them) from our word list, with the beginning:

The secret meeting was about to begin, and I was running late.

The words:

  • Damp
  • Deflated
  • Exotic
  • Fog
  • Hovered
  • Howling
  • Ivestigate
  • Scattered
  • Tales
  • Whispers

Here are two of the winners:

Lost by Chloe

The howling wind scattered the dense fog that was blocking my way. Whispers of the scrawny trees hovered above my head, sending icy chills up my spine. Slowly, I trudged on along the damp, squelchy forest floor. I sucked in a breath of musty pine air mixed with exotic smells. Like a deflated balloon, the adrenaline pulsing through my veins disappeared in a blink of an eye. No stars to guide me. No moon for light. No map for directions. Thoughts whirled in my head like a storm. The shadows seemed to move as I swivelled my head, looking for a way out. Then it dawned on me. I was alone … scared. I was lost.

Murder in Paradise by Luc

My helicopter hovered for twenty minutes above the thick fog that blanketed this dangerous, yet exotic city. I took off my damp coat and scattered the crime photographs out in front of me. I was already nervous, when I overheard the pilot talking in whispers over the radio. I knew I wasn’t paranoid. I had every reason to be suspicious. We needed to land urgently so I could start the investigation, but with my suspicions rising, I wondered if I would actually land alive. The rain was now pelting down and the wind was howling. I had to get out of here.


We received 999 entries in our 2017 Orbit writing competition, from 75 schools and individuals. The challenge? To write a story opening no longer than 150 words, using all ten words (or variations of them) from our word list, with the beginning:

The wind whipped through the trees as I climbed the path to the old, abandoned cathedral.

The words:

  • Bloodthirty
  • Branches
  • Crushed
  • Island
  • Legend
  • Perfect
  • Shadows
  • Snails
  • Wooden
  • Work

Here is one of the winners:

The Trapdoor by Jonathan

Twisting branches wrapped around the ruin like muscular arms holding the building in place as if it were a condemned prisoner, never to be let go. I jumped suddenly as bloodthirsty vultures searched the nearby forest. A legend claimed if one found the derelict cathedral, it would contain powerful forces which would break the world in half. Perfect. I laughed nervously.

The temple lay on the spacious island, and was the skeleton of a forgotten civilisation. A fallen sycamore tree had crushed the cloud-piercing spire, and mossy stones were everywhere. As I had a quick glimpse inside, amorphous shadows could be seen, despite the mammoth-sized windows. Snails crawled on the window ledges, leaving behind a map of trails, or rather, a work of art. I spotted a wooden trapdoor in the solid ground. It called to me, pleading and beckoning. Everything happened in a flash. Then I fell …

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