Submission Guidelines

Eligibility Requirements

  1. Contestants are required to submit their portfolio digitally as a part of the application process. Please use application fee waiver code: WRITE21. The deadline for Virginia B. Ball submissions has been extended to 11:59 p.m. (EST) Monday, February 1, 2021. 
  2. The contest is open to students who are in grades 8-11 during the 2020-2021 school year. 
  3. Students currently enrolled at Interlochen Arts Academy are ineligible for this contest.

Portfolio: Your portfolio should include no fewer than five and no more than seven pieces of original work written or revised during the last year.

  • The pieces must represent at least two of the following genres: fiction, poetry, spoken word, personal essay/memoir, screenwriting, playwriting, comics, and experimental or unclassifiable writing. You may also include select submissions in other mediums that showcase your interdisciplinary interests.
    • Poetry: Your sample should include 1-4 poems.
    • Fiction: Your sample should include 1-3 stories, novel or story excerpts, or flash fiction pieces. Each piece should be fewer than 3,500 words.
    • Personal essay/memoir: Your sample should include 1-3 essays. Each piece should be fewer than 3,500 words.
    • Screenwriting: Your sample should be fewer than 20 pages.
    • Playwriting: Your sample should be fewer than 20 pages.
    • Hybrid genre: Your sample should include 1-3 hybrid genre pieces. Each piece should be fewer than 3,500 words.
  • Applicants who submit so-called "genre" fiction (science fiction, fantasy, etc.) are encouraged to also submit a sample of more realistic fiction. 
  • We are less interested in academic writing, like book analyses turned in for English classes. Include such work only if you think it shows us an important aspect of you as a writer, and avoid counting it toward your five required pieces.
  • No single submission should be longer than 4,000 words.
  • Work should be typed, in a standard format and font, double-spaced for prose, single-spaced for poetry—unless deviations are deliberate and integral to the text. 
  • Spoken word can be uploaded as standard audio or video files along with your written work.
  • Please submit all written work as PDF files. Video/audio may be submitted as mp3, mp4, .mov or YouTube links.

If you have any questions, please email:

  • The Virginia B. Ball scholarship will cover full tuition to attend Interlochen Arts Academy from matriculation through graduation and is contingent upon successful admission to Interlochen Arts Academy. 
  • The scholarship winner will be announced no later than April 1, 2021.
  • If submissions do not meet the standards set by the judges, Interlochen Center for the Arts reserves the right to designate no first prize winner and award no scholarship.