2022 Exercise Your Write Short Story Contest for Teens

December 23, 2021 | By Baltimore County Public Library

The world is in a period of enormous social change and teens have the opportunity to express their views—and share their experiences—more than ever. What’s more, their voices are being heard. 

Baltimore County teens currently in grades 6 through 12 are challenged to submit an original piece for the library’s “Exercise Your Write 2022” short story contest. 

The competition was designed for teens to utilize their creativity and voice while writing about social justice, inequity, civil rights and the experiences of marginalized communities. 

Choose a Quote 

Entrants select one quote from the list below—or choose a quote, lyric or phrase of your choice from a book, poem, short story, essay, article, song, speech, etc.—and create a short story based on their interpretation of the quote and its meaning to them.

  1. “The most addictive drug known to America. Racism. It causes wealth, an inflated sense of self and hallucinations.”―Jason Reynolds, “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You”  
  2. “That which doesn’t kill us will only try harder next time, so you might as well make the most of the space in between.”―John David Anderson, “Finding Orion” 
  3. “Nothing good can come of a place that refuses to see the pain of the people on whose backs it was built.”―Roseanne A. Brown, “A Song of Wraiths and Ruin” 
  4. "If I go to war for America, if I kill for America, if I support an America that doesn't support me, am I supporting my oppressors? Am I killing their enemies so they can later kill me?”―Traci Chee, “We Are Not Free” 

Entry Requirements

Learn more about how to submit entries. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, January 31.

  • One entry per participant. All entries must be written by one author. 
  • Participants must be under 18 years of age.
  • Entries are not to exceed 1,000 words and must be typed or written legibly in English. 
  • A title page must be included with author’s name, grade, title of work and chosen quote. The author’s name should not appear anywhere other than the title page. 
  • The title and page number should be included in the upper right-hand corner of every page, except the title page.  
  • The written entry can be a complete story or the first chapter or segment of a longer story. 

Judging Criteria and Categories

There are two judging categories: middle school and high school. Judging is based on:

  • Content
  • Style
  • Voice
  • Word choice
  • Structure
  • Clarity of story
  • Deliberate use of the contest theme and quote

Announcement of Winners 

Winning authors will be notified by phone and email by Friday, February 18. Winning short story authors and titles are announced on Baltimore County Public Library social media platforms. Winners will receive a bound book that includes all the winning short stories.


There are first, second and third place prizes in each category, as well as a “staff pick” selection. All entrants receive a certificate of completion. Each winner receives a VISA gift card. 

  • First place: $100 
  • Second place: $75 
  • Third place: $50 
  • Staff Pick: $25  

More Information  

Email yfe@bcpl.net for more information. 

Category: News