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And now, the results of our "Now What?" Novel Excerpt Contest!

Now What? Young Writers Contest

We asked for novel excerpts, and over 500 of you sent us your best. We read about twists and turns and heroes and villains and a few talking cats; we were thrilled and frightened and moved... and wildly impressed. From our special guest judge Kat Zhang, and all of us at NaNoWriMo, thank you for sharing your work!

And now, the winning stories! We'll be posting them on the NaNoWriMo blog and in Breaking News this week, and linking to them below.

Grand Prize (14-18 age group)

"About Tea" by Noelle H.

Kat Zhang said this about "About Tea": I’m a sucker for a bold, unique voice, and I kept thinking about this excerpt long after I read it. The words paint a lovely, vibrant scene.” 

Grand Prize (13 and under age group)

"The Phantom Mare" by Miriam G.

Kat Zhang said this about "The Phantom Mare": I love how tense this scene is! The build-up to the reveal is heart-pounding, and there’s a great rhythm to the sentences.

Official Runners-Up

Our guest judge selected these stories from a group of 18 Official Finalists. 

Official Finalists

These 12 stories stood out from hundreds of others, and we sent them on to our guest judge to choose from. 

  • "Ashes to Ashes" by Celeste; "Daughter of the Page" by Katherine; "Killer Instinct" by Bayleigh; "Murder at Sundown" by Grace; "saw your fall from the frying pan" by Charlotte; "Written by Firelight" by Lily; "Caught on the Border" by Coco; "Jefferson's Girl" by Alexander; "Not My Fault" by Suzelle; "Remember the Name" by Natalie; "The Gift" by Kai; "Witch's Cat" by Sophie

Finally, something we always say because it's always true: it was sooooo hard to choose just a few winners. Like, bite your fingernails, pull your hair out hard. If your story wasn't picked, it doesn't mean it was bad or that 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. 

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.

Guest Author Judge

Special guest judge Kat Zhang is an author of books for teens and children. Her Young Adult trilogy, The Hybrid Chronicles, is published with HarperCollins, and she has two Middle Grades, The Emperor’s Riddle and The Memory of Forgotten Things, as well as two picture books, Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao and sequel Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon with Simon & Schuster. She wrote her first novel for NaNoWriMo a great many years ago!

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