Friends and young writers,

Thank you all for your patience as we wrap up reading all of the great stories and poems we have received. Due to your enthusiasm response, we need a bit more time before contest winners are announced. A million thanks and stay tuned. We will be reaching out to everyone who sent their writing. We feel like we have made many new, talented friends.

Thank you for your patience and creativity!

Can you give us goose bumps with your creativity?!
Make us nervously look around to make sure there are no ghoulish spirits watching us?
Give us thrills and chills with your imagination?!

That is exactly what we want you to do. As a part of our Ghost Light: A Haunted Night of Songs and Stories from KC’s Cultural Crossroads event, we are holding a celebration of the written word for young writers in our community. October is a terrific season for storytelling and a time to imagine other worlds and spirits beyond our own.

Who can participate

There are two separate sections- one for middle schoolers, grades 6-8 and one for high school students, grades 9-12.


What to share with us

Short Stories or Poems, or both! Oh, My!

Ghost stories, scary tales, Halloween adventures.

Short Story
You can submit as many stories as you’d like. They need to be your work- original stories in your words.

Or an adaptation of another story, retold or reinvented in your own words. Adaptations are common in story telling and theatre. For adaptations, remember you can take a folk tale or a traditional scary ghost tale and change it in an original way to make a new story told from your perspective and with your ideas and words. New place? New character? Plot twists? Can you take a story you
know and turn it into a ghost story?

Story Length: 3-7 pages, double spaced (maximum 2,000 words)

You can submit 1 – 3 poems, any style.

We’d love to know what inspired your story or poetry.

Your submission can be written in any language. Please include a translation of your work into English.



The top two submissions in each age group and in each category (4 winners!) will be posted on our website, highlighted via social media and the writers will receive a gift card and goodies.


How to enter:

Please send entries to Melinda at
With your writing, please include:
Grade in school
School (We’d love to let them know you participated.)
Contact email

Submissions have now closed! Check back later to see the winners!


Creative Writing Sparks and Prompts

Definition: Ghost story, a tale about ghosts. More generally, the phrase may refer to a tale based on imagination rather than fact. Ghost stories exist in all kinds of literature, from folktales to religious works to modern horror stories, and in most cultures. — a good article to get you started creating, some guidelines and the last guideline that you don’t have to follow the guidelines! some real life stories.
Visual Inspiration | One way to bring ideas to life is to find drawings or photos on the internet of just everyday groups of people or people engaged in activities (maybe old family portraits or photos) and assign one or have students pick one and write a ghost story about it. Who is the ghost? Why are they haunting? What’s the story, relationships, setting? You can also use truly scary images as an inspiration, but some of them are very scary, so beware!
Places | Spirits haunt places. You may want to start with the setting to your story and think about what kind of ghosts might haunt that specific place.
First Line Sparks | Here is a link to some first sentences that might help you get your story started.
Interview Spark | Talk to members of your family and see if they’ve ever had an experience with what they believe to be ghost. Listen to their story, and expand it into a new story, incorporating scary elements and happenings, twists and turns, from your imagination.
Scary Combos | — Combine a character with a setting and imagine how a haunted story might unfold. You can ask others for a place and a character. If you are working with a group, have everyone put a combo or individual prompts on pieces of paper and pull them from a hat!
Some possibilities:
an escaped prisoner/a cemetery
a teenager skipping school/an old abandoned church three
small children/your school in the middle of the night
a wise old person/ a house
Adaptations of traditional stories | Here are some to consider. You may use your own heritage to research a story from that culture and adapt it. An adaptation takes the story and can change it in a variety of ways. A new setting, a different time (update it too today? change the ending, change the gender of the ghost, etc.) Or you can use a scary folk tale that may spark a new idea altogether. Here is a resource of some traditional stories. You will find may more by googling “scary folk tales”
Scary Halloween stories can be sad, funny, terrifying, mysterious and can also be used to teach a lesson. Sometimes ghosts have something important to say to us. And, of course as you know, the usual elements of any good story apply- a beginning, middle and end. Have fun, delight and terrify us. Creativity has no boundaries. Except… please think family friendly in terms of language and please don’t send any writings with use of weaponry or racist, sexist or hate themes.

There are lots of ways to get inspired to write a ghost story. If you’d like some more prompts, or have any questions, please email Melinda. The deadline for submissions is October 27. Happy writing and we can’t wait to read your frightening work!!