Students are encouraged to try screenwriting for the third Tim Long Creative Writing Competition

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Simpsons writer Tim Long and Stratford District High School English teachers have once again teamed up to give students the opportunity to write for a professional writer and learn from a writer professional in the third annual Tim Long Creative Writing Competition.

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Simpsons writer Tim Long is once again ready to share his knowledge with students at Stratford District High School through his third annual creative writing content.

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Launched in 2020 by Long and English teacher Isaac Moore, the Tim Long Creative Writing Contest gives high school students a chance to share their creative writing – whether it’s a short story, a chapter novel or screenplay – with Long and their teachers. From this pool of submissions, five finalists are selected in the prose and screenwriting categories to receive personalized feedback on their work from Long, as well as a small cash prize.

“It was so much fun,” Long said during a recent Zoom interview from his home in California. “First of all, it doesn’t involve any work for me, so that’s the best thing. Kids write these amazing plays – I think last year they got 30 (submissions) or something – and (the panel of English teachers) have to go through it all. And then they send me five and it doesn’t seem like an assignment. All five are always really cool and I always end up re-reading them and juggling them, ‘Oh, this one’s the best. No, this one is the best.

“It’s always great fun and then we do this little Zoom (meeting) with the five finalists in June. For me, it’s just a delight, so there’s no work at all.

During that Zoom meeting, Long said he and the finalists worked together — much like collaborating in a TV writers room — to offer feedback and constructive criticism of each of the student submissions. Long also sprinkles in tips and lessons he’s learned throughout his career as a professional comedy and TV writer, which includes more than two decades of writing for The Simpsons.

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Lily Webster, a Grade 11 student at Stratford Secondary School and the first place winner of last year’s competition, said the comments and advice Long offered after reading her winning short story, A writer’s inspirationnot only helped her improve this article, but also everything she has written since.

“It was kind of like horror news…about a failed author who tried to write several novels, but they all failed and he wanted some inspiration,” Webster said. “He needs stuff for a new novel that would really make him successful. It’s sort of one of those “be careful what you wish for” scenarios. … (Tim’s comments) were really helpful in making the flow more natural and kind of bringing everything back (to the beginning), and getting more detail and making it more logical as well. And I was able to apply that to other pieces I’ve done.

Laurie Craig, an English teacher at Stratford District High School, who is helping organize the competition this year, said Long’s willingness to share her knowledge and experience with student writers really adds another level of excitement. ‘excitation.

“It’s really exciting for me to see kids excited about something they do in their free time,” Craig said. “So as I’m walking down the halls and I’m stopped by all these students who just want to present an idea that they have, and see their eyes light up like this about something that really interests them outside from school, it’s really exciting.

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In an effort to introduce more students to the art of writing for television, film, and theater, Long and Craig decided this year to separate screenwriting as its own category.

“Laurie and I thought it might be fun to have two categories this year instead of just one. … I felt like (screenwriting) was a form that not many people had taken advantage of (last year) because I think screenwriting software was a bit intimidating. I also write a lot of prose, but most of my days are taken up with writing a lot of scripts, so I thought it would be fun for the kids to try their hand at it,” Long said. .

Craig said students interested in submitting in the screenwriting category will have access to free online software, as well as a number of TV pilot scripts that Long provided as examples of how to write for the screen or stage.

The deadline for submissions to this year’s Tim Long Creative Writing Competition is April 1. Students can ask their teachers how to submit their scripts and short stories using Google Classroom.

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