Essential Information

Please read this information carefully before you apply for a place on the What’s the Story? Development Programme.

When is the application deadline?

The strict deadline to apply is Monday 12 November 2018 at 12 noon. This can’t be extended, so we recommend you get your application in as soon as you can. All applications are read anonymously by a panel of arts workers and young people who all decide together who will be offered a place on the programme.

What is in the application form?

The application is five sections long. We recommend that you write longer sections such as the personal statement in a word document first, so that you can think carefully about what you want to say. You can save your progress at any time and return to the application later if you need to. We’ll ask for:

Your Details: We need you name, age and contact details. We also need to confirm you’re available for the retreat and library meet-up.

Your Creative Work: Let us know what kind of writing, illustrating or storytelling you like to do, and what you would work on during the programme.

Likes and Influences: Share your favourite books, songs, movies, videogames, art and more! Tell us what you like and why you like it.

Personal Statement: Tell us about why you create, why you want to take part in the Development Programme, and how you think things will change for you if you get to take part. Just be honest and tell us about you and why you think you’re right for this Programme.

Creative Work Sample: We ask everyone who applies to send us a creative work sample. This isn’t so we can judge how good your work is, but so we can see that you are already serious about writing and illustrating, and that there is room for you to develop further. Please follow these guidelines carefully before you send your work. You can submit work that is shorter than these guidelines, or something that is part of a longer piece of work.

If you are submitting poetry, we can look at up to 3 poems under 1000 words total.

If you are submitting drawings or illustrations, we can look at up to 6 images or 6 pages of a comic book.

If you are submitting a script (for TV, or for a stage play or radio play), we can look at up to 15 pages.

If you are submitting a recording (audio or video) of your work being performed we can accept anything under 6 minutes in length.

If you are submitting prose such as a short story, or a chapter of a longer work, we can accept anything up to 2000 words.

You can upload files in the following formats: .doc, .docx, .pdf, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .gif

You must stick to the word count and page count in the guidelines. If your word processing software does not include a word count function, you can use a site such as to count the words in your sample.

We can accept files up to 15MB – larger files should be hosted elsewhere. You will be able to submit a link to your work if it cannot be uploaded to us.

When will I know if I have been selected?

We will let the seven people selected for the Programme know by Friday 7 December 2018. If you have not been contacted by then, you were not selected this time. Unfortunately we can’t accept all the brilliant applications we receive, so please apply again if you weren’t successful this year.

What if I want to use a language other than English?

We would be very happy for you to apply and work in a language that is not English. We have one space on the programme that is especially for a Gaelic-speaking teen, but welcome applications from people creating in any language, including Scots.

If you still have questions about using a language other than English, please e-mail

I have additional support needs, can I still take part?

We are committed to providing an accessible and useful experience to all of Scotland’s teens. We have supported teenagers with additional support needs through various parts of What’s Your Story?’s different programmes in previous years, and want all teenagers to feel supported and encouraged to take part.

If you would like to discuss your support needs with us before applying, please e-mail Your discussion of additional support needs won’t be a part of your application, unless you mention it yourself in your answers to our application questions.

How does the creative retreat work?

The creative retreat is a six day (five night) trip to Moniack Mhor, a beautiful farmhouse in the Scottish Highlands, just fourteen miles from Inverness. The creative retreat will give you time to relax, work with your mentors and concentrate on your creative goals. It’s also a great opportunity to spend time with the friends you’ve made on the programme. This trip is completely free for all attendees. and we will cover your travel expenses too. The retreat will take place from Monday 18 – Saturday 23 February 2019.

We want to make sure you feel at home on the retreat. You will have your own private room and plenty of time for peace and quiet if you want it. We can work with your school, college or workplace to help you take time off if needed, and can help you schedule time for homework.

We’re very flexible if you think you’ll find it difficult to spend six days away from home. We can arrange for you to keep in regular contact with home, stay for a shorter amount of time or even pay to have somebody from home come out to visit if you want.

How much work is involved if I am selected?

The programme is designed to help you make the most of your spare time and develop as a creator. There will be three excursions over the course of the year (to places like the National Library of Scotland, Moniack Mhor, and StoryCon), and we ask that you spend an hour or two every week on your writing or illustration on top of that.

We appreciate that many of you are busy, and we’ll be as flexible as possible to accommodate that. The programme has a break in April and May to give you time and space to concentrate on exams, and we’ll work around your personal schedule as much as possible. You’ll never get in trouble with us if you can’t do something because life has got in the way.

If you know you will be very busy between now and August 2019 and won’t be able to regularly spend two hours a week on the programme, this isn’t the right opportunity for you at the moment.

Why is the Development Programme only for 14-17 year olds?

The programme requires a lot of work and travel which might be overwhelming for 13 year olds. We’d encourage anyone who is frustrated to be patient and apply next year.

For over 18s, we already have lots of fantastic opportunities for adult writers that you can take part in. Take a look at the Scottish Book Trust’s writer support programme.

Remember, if you’re 13-19 you are still welcome to join us at StoryCon and to send your work into our Online Magazine.

I have a question that is not covered here!

Please email with your question, or any concerns you have about applying. Remember, you must get in touch with questions by Thursday 8th November if you want a response before the deadline.

About What’s Your Story

What’s Your Story? is a Scotland-wide programme of support for teenage writers & illustrators – led by teens, for teens.

What’s Your Story? gives free support to all 13–19-year-old writers and illustrators in Scotland. We encourage and celebrate teenage creators by helping you to access professional support and opportunities. In our first three years of What’s Your Story? our teen writers and illustrators have planned StoryCon events, volunteered at Aye Write! in Glasgow, interviewed authors at Edinburgh International Book Festival showcased their work to hundreds of people and lots more.

For more information about What’s Your Story?’s partners and supporters, past and present, visit our Friends of What’s Your Story? page.