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Deadline: 11:59 p.m. CDT, August 15, 2023

Every year, we run a free novel contest for our students. Any One Year Adventure Novel student under 20 who has a valid curriculum license and who finishes a novel that meets the course requirements can submit.

We don’t obligate students to enter, but writing contests for teens are great way for young writers to start sharing their writing with others—and stay motivated to finish their novel! We post every novel entry on the student forum for other students to read (unless the student requests to be omitted).

$500 +
• Crystal Award

• Custom pen

• A letter from Mr. S.

$200 +
• Crystal Award

• Custom pen

• A letter from Mr. S.

$100 +
• Crystal Award

• Custom pen

• A letter from Mr. S.

Finalists: Finalists receive a custom pen with rosewood & leather.


Students may enter multiple years.

Who May Enter

  1. You must have completed The One Year Adventure Novel course.
  2. You must be no older than 19 years old on August 15.
  3. You must not have previously won first place in this contest.
  4. You must have a valid curriculum license. Contact us at with your name and shipping address if you have lost your curriculum license number.

Please note that students DON’T have to have an account on our Student Forum to enter the novel contest.

Eligible Novels

To be eligible to enter this year, your first rough draft of the novel must have been completed in the past 14 months. If you completed your rough draft after June 15 of this calendar year, you can choose to enter this year or the following year.


If you finished the first draft of your novel after June 15, 2023, and entered it into the 2023 Student Novel Contest, you may choose to resubmit it to the 2024 contest, since it was still completed within 14 months of the contest deadline. Novels completed prior to the 14-month limit may not be resubmitted, even if they have been edited since the initial completion of the rough draft.

Novel Showcase

All entries will be posted on the Novel Showcase page of our Student Forum unless the entrant requests their submission be omitted. Finalist and winning manuscripts may also be posted on the main website Showcase. We reserve the right to refuse inclusion on our site at our discretion, for any reason.


You retain all rights to your work. A notice of your copyright will appear with the description of your novel in the Novel Showcase.

Manuscript Format

Manuscripts must be formatted correctly in order to be considered. Follow the formatting instructions indicated in chapter 77 of your textbook.* However, do not include your address, phone number, or email address on the cover page (as you would when submitting a novel to a publisher). Instead, your cover page should contain only the book title and your name (or pseudonym).

*In Edition Two (spring of 2014) we made two updates based on industry changes. Both Courier New and Times New Roman are now accepted. Use 12-point size for either font. You may italicize if you use Times New Roman, but you must still underline if you use Courier New.

Manuscript Content

Manuscripts must be under 125,000 words and follow the general guidelines outlined in The One Year Adventure Novel curriculum. This means:

• Your OWN Work
Your novel must be an original work in English.

• Not Violating to the Reader
Your novel must be free of offensive content (especially of a sexual or gratuitously violent nature). While we respect the right of authors to create honest stories, we also respect the right of readers to retain their innocence. We therefore reserve the right to disqualify any novel we deem to be offensive to a general audience. (We’re not saying it can’t be “PG-13,” but please email us if you have any questions about this.)

• “Heroic Quest” Model
Your novel must be based on the “heroic quest” story pattern, though that pattern may be expressed in many different genres. You may submit an adventure, fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, contemporary, or mystery/thriller novel—so long as the plot is built around a “heroic quest” model.

• First Person, Unless…

Your novel must be told in first-person point of view unless you have previously completed a novel with The One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN) in the first-person point of view. We will accept third-person point of view novels from students who wrote their first OYAN novel in the first person and are now submitting a second, third or fourth OYAN novel in the third person.

• One Author
Submissions must be the work of one and only one author. We cannot accept works by multiple authors.

• Novels Only
We cannot accept fan fiction, short stories, or poetry.

Submitting Your Manuscript

Please note that we no longer accept submissions by email or through the Student Forum. You must submit your novel through our online submission form.

As you will see in the entry form, your submission must include:

  1. A one- or two-paragraph synopsis of your novel. Feel free to use the synopsis you created during the first semester.
  2. Indication of the genre of your work.
    Adventure – Fantasy – Science Fiction – Historical Fiction – Contemporary – Mystery/Thriller
  3. Your electronic signature, testifying that the novel is your own work and no one else’s.
    My entry for the 2023 One Year Adventure Novel Student Contest is attached. The book I am submitting is an original novel of my own creation for which I own the copyright. You have my permission to post it with the synopsis above on your Student Forum, and/or post the title and synopsis on your website, until I ask you to remove it. I agree to respect the decision of the judge(s).
  4. Your novel attached as a .pdf file.


The decisions of the judges are their own, and are final.

The winner(s) are announced on this website and during our Contest Webinar (date to be determined).

Stage 1

  • Our panel of staff readers read the first ten pages of every entry. Those stories that fail to hold our interest are removed from the competition.
  • Then, from the remaining entries, the staff readers pick 10-30 of the strongest openings to be semifinalists.

Stage 2

  • Of the semifinalists, the most promising are read further, anywhere from the first chapter to the first 50 pages, to begin determining finalists.
  • We then read deeper into the remaining novels, this time setting aside those we feel merit a complete reading.

Stage 3

  • We choose finalists and the top three novels.

Stage 4

  • These three top novels are given to Mr. S. He reads and evaluates all three manuscripts based on the five categories listed below. He then chooses first, second, and third place winners.

What We Look For

Does the novel create emotion in you as you read it? Do you want to keep reading?

Value Changes
Is each chapter built around something important changing? (Or could one or more of the chapters have been omitted?)

Writing Quality
Is the author’s writing style clear and easy to read? Does the author use precise and unexpected details to create a vivid “movie” in your mind?

Does the author create a compelling conflict that is carried from beginning to end? Is the story goal clear?

Do you care about the hero? How about the secondary characters? Are the author’s characters interesting?

A Message from "Mr. S."

I would like to personally commend every student who enters. I am very impressed by the quality of work submitted, not just by the winners and finalists, but by many of the other students as well. It takes an enormous amount of work to complete a novel, and each of the students who completed the course has accomplished something many people only dream about. I am proud of you all.

~ Daniel Schwabauer

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

Cyril Connolly

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