Writing and Illustration Contest

Notice! Due to the unfortunate kerfuffle on February 29th, toothpaste, playing cards, and swalampary are no longer allowed in this building. Thank you for your cooperation.

The Duke TIP Writing and Illustration Contest has two parts—you may enter just one or both!

Part 1: Creative Writing Contest

Writing prompt: The Swalampary Incident

Create a story that explains the incident that led to the creation of the sign above. Who was involved, what happened, where did it happen, and what in the world is swalampary? The story must include interactions between multiple characters, and you get to decide what swalampary is (truly, it’s a nonsense word). Swalampary can be an object or an action, so let your imagination soar! The postmark deadline for the writing contest is January 20, 2018.

Keep in mind

  • The story should have a beginning, middle, and end.
  • All language and story content should be appropriate for posting on the Duke TIP website.
  • The story may be told in either first- or third-person.

Submission requirements

  • Your story must not exceed 1,000 words (excluding the title).
  • Stories must be typed on 8.5” by 11” inch white paper, double-spaced. A parent or other person may type your entry, but they must type it exactly as you have written it to maintain the integrity of your original work.
  • Your submission must include a cover sheet (details below).
  • You must submit two copies of your story, stapled only in the top left corner. No report covers or card stock, please.
  • Include the title of your story on the top of each page.
  • Do not print your name or TIP ID on the pages of your story. Your name and TIP ID should only appear on the cover sheet.
  • You may have a teacher, parent, or other adult review your story and make general suggestions (but not specific corrections) regarding format or grammar.

Cover sheet requirements

Your cover sheet must include:

  • your name
  • your Duke TIP ID number
  • your parent’s email address (required for submission confirmation)
  • your parent’s phone number
  • your grade
  • the number of words in your story (excluding the title)
  • the name, city, and state of the school you attended when you enrolled in Duke TIP
  • the name, city, and state of your current school, if different from your enrolling school
  • the title of your story

Do not worry about us losing track of your entry. Instead of your name, we assign a special receipt code to every entry to ensure that judging remains anonymous.

Writing tips

An excellent story will include the following:

  • appropriate vocabulary to create a visual picture of the events, location and individuals involved in the incidenta
  • clear beginning, middle and end
  • very limited punctuation, spelling or grammatical errors (computer spell-checks do not catch all errors
  • conclusion that brings the overall story theme together and events to an end, and makes sense
  • only your own original thoughts and ideas

Mailing your entry

Check these things before your mail your entry:

  • Have you included a cover sheet with all of the required information, including word count? See above for a full list of items to include.
  • Is the title of your story on the cover sheet and on the top of each page?
  • Is your story typed and printed on 8.5” by 11” white paper? Remember, only staple in the top left corner.
  • Have you included two copies of your story, both meeting the requirements?
  • Have you made sure that this story is your own work, that you did not copy anything from another source (a person, book, movie, game, etc.)?
  • Did you follow the rules of grammar and mechanics? Did you double-check your work for spelling and punctuation errors?
  • Have you made sure that your name does not appear in the text of the story or on the margins of the pages?

Once you have checked your submission to make sure you meet all the guidelines, please mail your entry to:

2018 Duke TIP Writing Contest
300 Fuller Street
Durham, NC  27701

The postmark deadline for the writing contest (Part 1) is January 20, 2018.

Part 2: Illustration Contest (opening March 15, 2018)

When the second portion of the contest opens in March 2018, 4th–6th Grade Talent Search participants will be invited to submit an original two-dimensional artwork that effectively illustrates the first-place story from the student’s same grade level. For example, if you are a fourth grader, your illustration should depict the fourth-grade first-place story.

Awards and prizes

Three winners will be announced from each grade for each part of the contest, and all winners and their enrolling schools receive cash prizes as follows:

  • $200 to first place winners from each grade and their enrolling schools
  • $100 to second place winners from each grade and their enrolling schools
  • $50 to third place winners from each grade and their enrolling schools

Winners from both parts of the contest will be highlighted in Navigator, the 4th–6th Grade Talent Search's online magazine, and first-place entries will be posted to our website. Writing Contest winners will be posted in the spring, and Illustration Contest winners in the early summer.

To be eligible to receive a cash prize, the student must be a US citizen or a US permanent resident with a Form I-551, I-151, or I-551C (Permanent Resident Card, Resident Alien Card, or Alien Registration Receipt Card), also known as a green card.

Additional contest details

The Duke TIP Writing and Illustration Contest is a benefit of participation in the 4th–6th Grade Talent Search and is open to current participants only. Students can only submit one entry for each part of the contest each academic year. Due to the large number of entries received, Duke TIP is unable to provide feedback or return individual submissions. However, we will provide a confirmation of receipt by email.

Students qualify for the 4th–6th Grade Talent Search by achieving a score in the 95th percentile or higher on a qualifying exam. Once enrolled, for a onetime fee, they receive access to benefits until the end of sixth grade, including optional above-level testing; enrichment activities like the book club, writing and illustration contest, and specialized publications; and eligibility to apply to TIP’s educational programs.