14 September 2023

BUDDING authors are being invited to write terrifying tales and scary stories as a popular North East competition returns.

Entries are now open for Sunderland’s annual Spooky Stories contest, when youngsters across the city show off their writing skills by penning a Halloween- themed short story in just 500 words.

The annual event, organised by Sunderland BID and supported by Sunderland City Council, is open to authors across three age groups - five to nine-year-olds, 10 to 13- year-olds and 14 to 18-year-olds.

And stories will be judged on originality, plot, characterisation, language and the level of enjoyment that the judges feel reading the story.

The competition is part of Sunderland’s Halloween Fear on the Wear programme, which will run from 20-31 October, in conjunction with Sunderland Libraries Services as part of the Sunderland Libraries’ Literature Festival held next month.

It is being launched alongside a spooky creative writing session with Washington Young Writers Collective on Wednesday, 20 September, between 4.30 pm and 6.30 pm at The Pottery Room at the Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.
Washington Young Writers Collective, based at Washington Library, is part of the Creative You project at Arts Centre Washington and led by Sunderland Culture in partnership with Washington Mind. Creative You is supported by Sunderland City Council’s Washington Area Committee.

The session will be led by poet, writer and fortune teller Kym Deym, who will set creative writing exercises to stimulate some spooky story plots, which organisers hope to see entered into the competition.

Daniel Appleby, Learning and Engagement Assistant with Sunderland Culture, said: "The aim is to hone your creative writing skills in a friendly, laid-back environment."

“We are delighted to open up this session to other like-minded young writers to learn and try out different forms, styles and genres as part of the Sunderland Spooky Stories Competition.”

The deadline for entries is Monday, 9 October, with a winner’s presentation night being held on Thursday, 19 October.

Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive of Sunderland BID, said Spooky Stories is one of her favourite events of the year.

“We have such a wealth of talent here on Wearside,” she said, “and every year we’re just blown away by the creativity and skill of our young writers.

“I can’t wait to see what they come up with this year.”

The Creative You session is for those aged between 10 and 18 and is ticketed as places are limited.

Tickets are available HERE

To find out more about the Spooky Stories competition and to submit an entry visit -