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Announcing the winners of our 2022 Novel Excerpt Contest!

Now What? Young Writers Contest

In February, over 650 of you shared pieces of your NaNoWriMo novels with us as part of the "Now What?" Novel Excerpt Contest. We read about spies, dragons, and assassins, about magic powers, tragic heroes, post-apocalyptic worlds, and friends-becoming-something-more. We read dialogue that made us laugh, and plot twists that made us gasp. You all are so very talented and we had a blast basking in your genius. Please keep writing these novels, no matter what - we want to read the rest of them some day!


Now, the winning excerpts! Look for them next week in Breaking News and the NaNoWriMo blog.

Grand Prize (Age 14-18 Division)

"Demons & Detectives" by Asenath

Guest author judge Tashie Bhuiyan said this about Demons & Detectives: "This story really painted the scene well, describing both characters vividly. The interactions between them were compelling and made me want to keep reading. The final line felt a lot like a mic-drop in the best way!"

Grand Prize (Age 13 and Under Division)

"The City's Pawns" by Abigail

Guest author judge Tashie Bhuiyan said this about The City's Pawns: "Reading this felt like reading something from a published novel. The worldbuilding was so easy to get into and really helped set the scene. It was so immersive and captivating, and the main character immediately drew me in!"


Our guest judge selected these excerpts from the group of Official Finalists. Their authors crafted unique characters and rich worlds, and found the way to move us, even in such a short space. Congratulations!

Official Finalists

These stories stood out from all the others, and we sent them on to our guest author judge to read through and choose from:

  • "Agent Mae Millan" by Clara; "Arabella's Mortality Research Notebook" by Aoide; "Armor of Gold and Black and Blood" by Jonah; "Crownfall" by LC; "The Eleven Sisters Pierce" by Sadie; "Emperor" by Dylan; "The Final Stage" by Arushi; "Flower Girl" by Ava; "How to End a Life" by Ines; "Knockin' on the Door" by Anhad; "The Mage Den" by Emilie; "Maggi Crumbs, Laddu Gods, Other Forbidden Words" by Sai Sanjana; "Me, My Demon Girlfriend, and our Attempt to Save the Worlds" by Harper; "The Nightmare Keeper" by Maggie; "Notes from a World in Peril" by Alva; "This Magic Broke Us" by Calla; "Under My Mask" by Soph; "When the Touch-Me-Nots Open" by Prakruthi

Honorable Mentions

There were just so many wonderful excerpts to read! Here are a few more we loved and kept thinking about:

  • "Alliana Arya and the Soul Thief" by Lucy; "Anore; New Beginnings" by Gretchen; "Autumn River" by Esther; "The Battle" by Anika; "Boba" by Maia; "Camera" by Avery; "Emily M. Emmerson and the Secret Road" by Bracken; "Erasing Sentences" by Elizabeth; "Fractured Clouds" by Jasmine; "Hallowswift" by Isabel; "Hidden Gold" by Francisca; "Hope of the Wild" by Aanya; "Lilly and the Black Tiger" by Julia; "The Magpies" by Graciella; "My Left Behind Mind" by Olive; "My Radioactive Summer" by Maxim; "Our Planes of Existence" by Grace; "Peace Senate of the Sea" by Ainsley; "Skeuomorphic Bastardization" by Krys; "Song of Sorcery" by Maren; "Speake" by Aila; "Thyme Again" by Yusra; "To Rob a Bank" by John; "The Ultimate Gems" by Andrew; "Where There's Smoke, There's Fire" by Lauren

Finally, we've said this before, but it bears repeating because it's so very true: if your excerpt didn't get picked, it DOES NOT mean your writing is bad, or we didn't like it. Submitting stories to a contest is kind of like entering a lottery. At a certain point, it really comes down to luck. All writers—even professional ones, even famous ones—get rejected tens or hundreds of times before they get accepted. Among writers, a rejection is a badge of honor because it means you took a brave step: you sent your work into the world. 

We encourage you to post your story and read others in this dedicated forum thread, and most importantly, to keep writing and revising your work! Being a writer takes guts, and you've got them.

Special Guest Author Judge

Tashie Bhuiyan is the author of Counting Down with You, and a New Yorker through and through. She recently graduated with a bachelor's degree in Public Relations, and hopes to change the world, one book at a time. She loves writing stories about girls with wild hearts, boys who wear rings, and gaining agency through growth. When she's not doing that, she can be found in a Chipotle or bookstore, insisting 2010 is the best year in cinematic history. (Read: Tangled and Inception.) Her newest book, A Show for Two, releases May 2022 and is available for pre-order.

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