Winners announced for Creative Writing’s high school competitions

Three female college students work collaboratively, sharing a laptop and printed zines at a white table.
Students from Ringling College of Art and Design’s Creative Writing program have the option to focus their studies in one of three areas — Game Writing, Scriptwriting, or Word and Image.

Winners announced for Creative Writing’s high school competitions

Three female college students work collaboratively, sharing a laptop and printed zines at a white table.
Students from Ringling College of Art and Design’s Creative Writing program have the option to focus their studies in one of three areas — Game Writing, Scriptwriting, or Word and Image.

Twelve high school students from across the globe have been selected as winners of Ringling College’s high school writing competitions. Ringling College of Art and Design’s Creative Writing program announced the winners of two writing competitions, Storytellers of Tomorrow and Anyone’s Game. Both competitions are exclusively for high school students, highlighting the College’s commitment to fostering young writers. 

“We’re the only commercial-prose-focused undergraduate creative writing program anywhere,” noted Head of Creative Writing, Dr. Ryan G. Van Cleave. “While all of our students spend their final year working on a longform narrative project of their own creation, students also have the option to focus their studies by choosing one of three concentrations: Game Writing, Scriptwriting, or Word and Image. We designed our curriculum to offer what students need to prepare for the writing futures they imagine for themselves.”

Now in its eighth year, Storytellers of Tomorrow invited high school students to submit 2,000 word entries in one of the three style categories: literary stories, which are short fiction set in the real world; genre stories, a category that includes horror, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and thriller; or nonfiction stories, which could be personal stories, autobiographical, or nonfiction that tells a story. The competition received submissions for 341 genre stories, 315 literary stories, 193 nonfiction stories, from 43 states and 11 countries. The top winners of each category will be published in the Creative Writing program’s literary arts journal, Shift.

In the lead up to the Anyone’s Game conference hosted at Ringling College, the Creative Writing department also announced the winners of the first annual Anyone’s Game High School Game Writing Contest. Contestants were asked to write 600-word micro-roleplaying games on the theme of “Tomorrow.” 

Storytellers of Tomorrow Contest Winners

Genre Stories

First place: Ricochet, by Julia Chen

Judges’ Notes: “This taut music-themed story powerfully crescendos before reaching a haunting, memorable ending. It hits all the best notes and has strong, evocative writing throughout.”

Second place: Bitter, by April Yu

Judges’ Notes: “This variation on Snow White’s story has just the right amount of humor, heart, and hurt. The care and precision of language, too, is what makes this so memorable.”

Third place: Dubious Desiderium, by Felicia Powell

Judges’ Notes: “In a series of transcriptions of audio/video logs, we learn about the pressures a young woman faces from a tormented past. This science fiction story delves deep into issues about identity, community, and trust.”

Honorable Mentions

(in alphabetical order)

  • Nightmare Monster, by Brigid Davis
  • A Light Through the Clouds, by Toby Davies
  • Always in Style, by Hannah Englander
  • Placebo, by Linen Golding
  • Elliot, Is That You? by Alexia Holliday
  • The Exiled, by Anna Hurd
  • Frosted Secrets, by Erin Hurd
  • Left and Right, by Fiona Jin
  • Solitaire, by Quinn Kennedy
  • Acidos Eros, by Lea Krow
  • Do You Dare? by Julia Lane
  • Wisteria, by Meaghan Levy
  • Shrooms, by Oscar Lopez
  • Attachment, by Raelie Loredo
  • Pandora’s Purgatory, by Christian Maloney
  • The Crime of Solitude, by Wareesha Qureshi
  • The Secret of Eyro, by Marley Stauffer
  • Starstruck, by Rebecca Tittl
  • Papa’s Friends, by Emma van Heerden
  • Lune (Insanity in 3 Acts), by Jagger van Vliet
  • Storm, by Ava Warford
  • Chimney Talk, by Asenath Wetzsel
  • Light and the Lack of It, by Angelina Yeung


Literary Stories

First place: To Make Music, by Abby Rosenfeldt

Judges’ Notes: “A love story told in a series of summertime vignettes. The author’s gorgeous restraint echoes the characters’ inability to fully comprehend what they are to each other and heightened my connection to their relationship.”

Second place: Quiet Stays the Matador, by Erik Herrera

Judges’ Notes: “Using bold, visceral descriptions and surprisingly playful language, this story provides a heartbreaking examination of family traditions, masculinity, and violence.”

Third place: Social Suicide, by Anna Parker

Judges’ Notes: “While conducting a funeral for dolls, two girls begin the painful process of growing up. The author’s quiet humor sharpens the story’s sense of melancholy.”

Honorable Mentions

(in alphabetical order)

  • Return to Grass, by Nikitha Anand
  • The Letter from Samarra, by Sonya Azencott
  • Afflicted, by Savannah Bell
  • The Milliner, by Maithreyi Bharathi
  • Cleave, by Izabella Blancaneaux
  • Highway Fog, by Kate Choi
  • A Conversation with Trees, by Cora Hanfland
  • Cinders, by Claire He
  • August, by Audrey Jung
  • The Final Judgement, or Independence Day, by Megha Khemka
  • Last Winter, I Learned How to Love, by Heather Qin
  • Ophelia Goes Down to the River, by Annalise Ross
  • Lobotomy, by LaVie Saad
  • Grapefruit Moon, by Emma Stapp
  • Cigarette, by Katherine Streepey
  • Tituba Speaks, by Arezu Kabuli
  • My Dad and His Overgrown Child, by Isabella Xu


Nonfiction Stories

First place: Ancestral Dissonance, by Kyo Lee

Judges’ Notes: “Through gorgeous imagery and striking metaphors, the writer probes the painful process of Americanization for a first-generation Korean immigrant. Everything about this deeply felt piece seems artful and intentional, from the segments titled with sounds to the snippets of dialogue. The language is breathtaking but never overstated. Here the writer describes extracting lemon juice to bleach her skin: I hollow the fruit the way I’ve learnt to excavate parts of myself, scrape murky yellow extract until all that remains is white walls bordering an empty shell. The tug of past and present, old country and new, inspires the writer and grips the reader.”

Second place: Peace of Mind, by Kat Davis

Judges’ Notes: “The writer captures the ‘monkey mind’ that so often bedevils anyone trying to meditate. You want to be like your teacher who goes on Buddhist retreats and speaks with a type of intelligence that either comes from decades of trying to articulate emotions like these into words, or parroting hippie articles online where people in the comments section do yoga and drink green tea & pretend to actually like the taste of kombucha. The spiraling prose is not aimless, however; it leads to a touching connection between sisters.”

Third place: For Naomi, by Jessica Bakar

Judges’ Notes: “Musing about a pseudonym, the writer describes how creative nonfiction writers work: We are explorers of the self, reverse engineers of emotion. This sophisticated example of ‘thinking on paper’ explores authenticity, friendship, and storytelling truth.”

Honorable Mentions

(in alphabetical order)

  • Visibility, by Yelaine Aquilar
  • Holding Onto My Mother Tongue, by Sophene Avedissian
  • Destructive Desolation, by Anna Bruner
  • Fight Song, by Sophia Hall
  • Maybe, by Hannah He
  • White House, by Kate-Yeonjae Jeong
  • Glass and Steam, by Quinn Kennedy
  • Growing Pains, by Vivian Liu
  • Under the Dewdrops, by Chiu-yi Rachel Ngai
  • Fire and Ash, by Xiaoya Williams
  • My Father Is an Analogy for God, by Sarai Winkler
  • Korean, American, or Korean-American, by Nicholas Yoo
  • The Butterfly, by Tiffany Zhang
  • Clench, by Lynn Zhao


Anyone’s Game High School Game Writing Contest Winners

First place: Time to Remodel, by Riona Duncan

Judge’s Notes: “A wonderful micro game about trying to deal with a less than totally helpful home AI. The premise is strong and instantly recognizable, and the elegant playing card mechanic for determining how the house does or (more likely) does not do what’s asked of it is great. The decision to limit the number of words used in the requests is very clever, and the player creation noun/adjective passing player creation systems adds another fun layer of interaction that resonates with the central theme of feeling out of control. A game I’m eager to play!”

Second place: Road Into Dawns, by Hunter Cornell

Judge’s Notes: “This tightly designed microgame of supernatural punk bands trying to make it big on the road does an excellent job squeezing theme and mechanics into every sentence of the rules. The core character attributes are perfectly thematic, and the way the system then pairs them with modifiers from the Instruments and Supernatural gives a wonderful variety of combinations. The three-part GM tables of Setting, Need, and Problem are all spot-on prompts for creating an immediately fun role-playing session that’s simple to play. Rock on!”

Third place: Reminisce: A Game of Leaving the Nest, by David Fadem

Judge’s Notes: “A family-dynamic spin on the social deduction game, the core concept of parents trying to figure out what is really going on with their children is immediately relatable. The “children” working together to create a set of unique memories that the “parents” must then match by only asking questions about the future is brilliant. The playing of the game itself is the reward, making for a structured but potentially moving cooperative storytelling experience.” 

Honorable Mentions 

(in alphabetical order by game title)

  • Backstabbing Besties, by Kallena Burroughs
  • Between the Trees, by Mya Tacey 
  • One More Step: The Paranormal Doctor, by Richard Vu
  • One Step, by Viola Torres-Cardoso – Xochitl Torres-Cardoso
  • Sleepless Tomorrow, by David Andino
  • Tomorrow Con, by Dalton Meador
  • Win Your Future, by Kimberly Duarte

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