Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Creative Non-fiction Contest

It's your path. Own it.

You are about to take a leap by entering university.

This year's theme is about uncertainty and opportunity. Tell us about a time you have taken a risk and how it has shaped your perceptions, values and goals.

2500 words could get you these words: First year tuition free.*

Contestants must submit a self-written creative non-fiction essay of a minimum of 1,500 to a maximum of 2,500 words on the broad topic of “a time they have taken a risk.”

Submissions must be completed through this form before the deadline of 11:55 p.m. Dec. 15, 2017.

If you have any questions about the contest, please email potentialwriter@tru.ca

Open contest submission form

What is creative non-fiction?

This genre includes memoirs, biographies, humourous writing, personal essays and travel writing. While the events must be real and the facts true, creative non-fiction conveys your message through the use of literary techniques such as characterization, plot, setting, dialogue, narrative and personal reflection. In works of creative non-fiction, the writer’s voice and opinion are evident.

Suggestions for potential contestants

Challenge yourself to push the essay from good to great.You have it in you to generate a well-written essay that truly reflects who you are and what is important to you. Be creative and thoughtful.

 2016 contest

Thank you to all writers who submitted an essay by Dec. 15, 2016.

Submissions were reviewed by TRU’s senior editing class under the guidance of a TRU instructor.

Eighteen long-listed submissions were short-listed by a panel of judges. The panel included instructor Susan Buis, who landed a spot on the 2016 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize Longlist with her latest work What Lies in Sight of the Teller; instructor Karen Hofmann, who recently took first place in the annual UBC Okanagan writing contest and was longlisted for Best Canadian Poetry in English in 2012; and Pete Smith, a Canadian poet whose poems, reviews and essays have been published widely in the UK, the USA and Canada.

The grand-prize (first year of tuition at TRU—the equivalent of up to $5,500) winner was selected from the short-list.

Congratulations to Bronwen Evans, a home-schooled high school student, graduating this spring, who plays cello, piano and enjoys writing code, she is excited more than ever about starting her dual degree in computing science and business next year at TRU.

 Judging process

Submissions will be judged at each stage of the process based on the creativity and quality of the writing.

Judging criteria are as follows (four categories, weighted equally):

  • structure—clear story and poetic arc; flows together as a whole
  • use of language—proper and appropriate grammar and spelling; complexity of sentence and vocabulary
  • theme—appropriateness; clear, well thought out; presented in creative way
  • original expression—vivid imagery, language; unique voice

TRU will contact the selected potential winner through the contact information provided in that entrant’s submission.

To be declared the winner and eligible for the grand prize, the entrant must be in compliance with these rules and must sign (or, if the entrant is a minor, the entrant’s parent or legal guardian must sign) and deliver to TRU (within any period that TRU specifies) a standard declaration and release form, which will include the following: a declaration of compliance with these rules, an acceptance of the prize as awarded, a publicity release, a liability release, and any other documentation that TRU may require. If TRU cannot contact the entrant within two business days after the selection date, if the entrant does not otherwise promptly respond to TRU’s communications, or if the entrant does not sign and return any required documentation within the time periods that TRU specifies, the entrant will forfeit the prize and the entrant’s submission will be declared void.

Except where prohibited by law, contestants agree that if they win, TRU may announce their name and particulars about them including their high school, home location, program of choice, title and topic of winning essay and a quote from them, all without further notification, permission, payment or consideration.

 Contest rules

By entering the contest, you agree to comply with the following rules, the decisions of TRU and any contest judges (which decisions are final and binding), and with applicable laws. The contest is void where prohibited or restricted by law. No purchase is necessary to enter.

This is a judged contest. The winner will be selected by the judging process described under the Selection Process.

Contest period

The contest opens on Oct. 20, 2017, at 9 a.m. PST (Pacific Standard Time) and closes on Dec. 15, 2017, at 11:55 p.m. PST (Pacific Standard Time). Entries must be received during that contest period to be eligible.

TRU’s computer is the official timekeeping device for the contest.

Eligibility

The contest is open to Canadian residents who, as of the entry date, are:

  • individuals of the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence or have a parent’s or legal guardian’s permission to enter the contest
  • graduates of a Canadian high school or eligible to graduate from a Canadian high school before Sept. 1, 2018
  • not currently enrolled at TRU or any other post-secondary institution and have never been enrolled at TRU or any other post-secondary institution
  • qualified for admission to a TRU undergraduate program (other than TRU Masters and Law programs) of their choice and available to start classes in that program in the fall or winter term of TRU’s 2018-2019 academic year (i.e., starting Sept. 2018 or Jan. 2019)

While entrants do not have to be accepted into a TRU program in order to enter the contest, winners must be accepted to start their studies in a TRU program in Sept. 2018 or will be disqualified, with the prize awarded to an alternate qualifying entrant.

Disqualification

The following individuals and their immediate family (spouse, parents, siblings and children) or household members are not eligible to enter the contest: TRU employees, staff members, faculty members, officers, governors, representatives or mandataries, or contest judges who are TRU English department faculty members, members of the special judging panel and the TRU editing class.

TRU may disqualify any entrant who does not meet the contest’s eligibility criteria; does not comply with or attempts to circumvent these rules; attempts to disrupt or undermine the contest; or attempts to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other entrants or TRU representatives.

Entry submission criteria

To enter the contest, a contestant must submit, during the contest period, a solely self-written creative non-fiction essay of a minimum of 1,500 words and a maximum of 2,500 words on the broad topic of “a time they have taken a risk.”  to TRU, via this form.

All submissions must meet the following requirements:

  • be in English
  • not have been published before
  • be entirely the original work of the submitter
  • be a readable and printable document
  • be typed, double-spaced, and include a cover sheet
  • cover sheet must include submitter’s name; contact details (phone, email, address); high school name and location from which the submitter expects to graduate by Sept. 1, 2018; date of birth; a 100-word biography of the submitter; essay title and word count
  • pages following the cover sheet must be numbered, display only the title of the essay and not include the submitter’s name or personal details

Contestants are solely responsible for ensuring that their submissions are properly submitted. Please keep a copy, as submissions will not be returned.

A contestant may enter the contest only once.

Selection process

Submissions will be reviewed by students, staff and faculty under the guidance of a TRU instructor, starting Jan. 4, 2018. This group will develop a long list of up to 25 submissions by Mar. 31, 2018. Long-listed submissions will be short-listed to up to ten submissions by TRU’s English department faculty members by Apr. 1, 2018. The potential grand-prize winner will be selected from the short-list by May 1, 2018, by a special judging panel to be appointed by TRU. Submissions will be judged at each stage of the process based on the creativity and quality of the writing.

Judging criteria: is as follows (four categories, weighted equally):

  • structure—clear story and poetic arc; flows together as a whole
  • use of language—proper and appropriate grammar and spelling; complexity of sentence and vocabulary
  • theme—appropriateness; clear, well thought out; presented in creative way
  • original expression—vivid imagery, language; unique voice

TRU will contact the selected potential winner through the contact information provided in that entrant’s submission.

To be declared the winner and eligible for the grand prize, the entrant must be in compliance with these rules and must sign (or, if the entrant is a minor, the entrant’s parent or legal guardian must sign) and deliver to TRU (within any period that TRU specifies) a standard declaration and release form, which will include the following: a declaration of compliance with these rules, an acceptance of the prize as awarded, a publicity release, a liability release, and any other documentation that TRU may require. If TRU cannot contact the entrant within two business days after the selection date, if the entrant does not otherwise promptly respond to TRU’s communications, or if the entrant does not sign and return any required documentation within the time periods that TRU specifies, the entrant will forfeit the prize and the entrant’s submission will be declared void.

Except where prohibited by law, contestants agree that if they win, TRU may announce their name and particulars about them including their high school, home location, program of choice, title and topic of winning essay and a quote from them, all without further notification, permission, payment or consideration.

About the grand prize*

There is one grand prize to be won: credit for one year’s tuition at TRU in an undergraduate program (excluding Masters or Law programs). Based on course load, the grand prize is valued at a possible maximum of $5,500.00. The grand prize may not be sold or transferred and is not convertible to cash and must be accepted as TRU course registrations for the equivalent of two semesters, starting either Sep. 2018 or Jan. 2019. The prize may not be deferred or held over to a later academic year or semester.

The prize is a tuition credit only. All other fees, costs and expenses connected with the prize and with being a TRU student (including the cost of books, accommodation, meals, insurance, transportation, student union fees and any other fees payable to TRU in connection with the winner’s program of study) are not included in the prize and are the winner’s responsibility.

The prize does not give the winner the automatic right to be enrolled at any program of study at TRU. The winner must satisfy all applicable admission criteria, and TRU’s decisions in this regard will be final. If the winner is not admitted to TRU, then the entire prize is forfeited; if the winner is admitted to TRU but does not stay enrolled for a second semester, then the second-semester portion of the prize is forfeited.

The winner is not obligated to remain enrolled at TRU after the academic year to which the prize is applied. The winner’s continued enrolment at TRU, both during the academic year(s) to which the prize applies and any subsequent year, is subject to the winner satisfying the applicable academic standards established and applied by the TRU department responsible for the winner’s program of study, and with all other applicable TRU enrolment policies and criteria.

Publication

All eligible submissions that make the short list will be eligible for publication in a new TRU literary journal (set to launch in Fall 2017) for unpublished writers. By submitting a contest entry, each entrant grants TRU the unrestricted, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right to publish that submission in that journal, in any format or medium, and to identify the entrant as the author, all without further notification or permission. Prior to publication, submissions may be edited or modified at the discretion of the journal’s editors.

By submitting a submission, each contestant represents and warrants to TRU that: (a) the contestant is the sole author of the submission and that the submission is the contestant’s original work; and, (b) TRU will not infringe any third-party rights by using or publishing the submission as contemplated in these rules.

TRU will publicize the winner’s bio, photo and excerpt from the winning submission on its website (www.tru.ca), through a variety of other media, in its advertising or marketing campaigns and in TRU’s literary journal. The winner may be requested to appear at events sponsored by TRU to talk about the winner’s experience and to encourage interest in the contest in future years.

Personal information consent

Any personal information provided to enter the contest will be used only to administer the contest for the purposes described in these rules, or as otherwise required or permitted by law. Each entrant consents to TRU using and disclosing the entrant’s personal information for these purposes. Personal information will be processed in accordance with TRU's Privacy Statement.

Cancellation or modification

TRU reserves the right, subject to the approval by Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ), to cancel, change, extend or suspend the contest if for any reason TRU cannot run the contest as planned.

Disclaimer

TRU is not responsible for and does not accept liability for any loss or damage resulting directly or indirectly from: (a) any entrant’s participation in, or inability to participate in, the contest; (b) any lost, delayed, misdirected, illegible, incomplete or undeliverable entries, or any delay or failure to transmit, process, receive or consider entries; (c) any technical failures affecting any entrant’s participation in the contest or the operation of the contest; (d) any injury or damage to persons or property caused directly or indirectly from an entrant’s participation in the contest; (e) the receipt, use or redemption of any prize, or the inability to receive, use or redeem any prize; or, (f) human error, theft, destruction or other factors beyond TRU’s control.

Release and indemnity

By participating in the contest, each entrant releases and agrees to indemnify and hold harmless TRU and its employees, directors, officers, affiliates, agents and judges from any damages, injuries, claims, causes of action, liability or losses (including actual legal fees and expenses), known or unknown, absolute or contingent, arising from or related to: (a) the entrant’s failure to comply with any of these rules; (b) the entrant’s participation in the contest; (c) any misrepresentation the entrant makes under these rules or otherwise to TRU; or, (d) the entrant’s receipt, use or redemption of any prize, or the entrant’s inability to receive, use or redeem any prize.

Law and disputes

These rules are governed by the laws applicable in British Columbia. Any disputes, claims or causes of action arising out of or connected with the contest, prize or these rules will be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the appropriate court of British Columbia, Canada.

For Québec residents

If the contest is operated in Quebec, Canada, any decision to be made by TRU may be subject to a ruling of RACJ. Any litigation respecting the conduct or organization of a publicity contest may be submitted to RACJ for a ruling. Any litigation respecting the awarding of a prize may be submitted to RACJ only for the purpose of helping the parties reach a settlement.

Language

The parties have expressly requested that this agreement and any related document be prepared in the English language. If there is any discrepancy or inconsistency between the English-language version and any French-language translation of these contest rules, the English version will prevail, govern and control.

Les parties aux présentes ont expressément demandé à ce que cette convention et les documents qui s’y rapportent soient rédigés en anglais. En cas de divergence ou d’incohérence entre les versions anglaise et française de ces règles de concours, la version anglaise prévaudra, régira et contrôlera.