When is the deadline to apply?

The deadline to apply is Monday 16 October 2017 at 12 noon. We regret that we cannot extend this deadline, as we will be shortlisting your applications right away on the morning of Tuesday 17 October 2017.

PLEASE NOTE: Even though the deadline is Monday 16 October 2017, you should aim to get your application in as soon as you can. We cannot give extensions for technical failures or other circumstances. Do yourself a favour and get it in early as you can.


When will I know if I have been selected for the Development Programme?

We will let the seven people selected for the Programme know by Friday 3 November 2017. If you have not been contacted by then, you were not selected this time, but if you are still eligible for next year, please apply again.


What if I can’t fill in the whole application in one sitting?

That’s fine! Just use the ‘save and continue later’ button in the application form to email a link to your application to yourself. Make sure your email address is correct, though! We can’t help you recover incomplete applications, if you do not successfully send yourself a link you’ll have to go back and fill in the application again.

We recommend copying your answers to each question in a text document so that you have a record of what you said in your application. This is good for you to reflect on while you fill in the application, so that you can make improvements and tell us what you really want us to know about you and your creativity. Reading and thinking about your application carefully will really improve how well we understand you. It also helps us to understand that you are serious about your application to join us.


Wait, is the creative retreat really five days long now?

Yes! The development programme participants from the first two years of What’s Your Story? had one suggestion to make both the creative retreat and the professional mentoring better – and that was to have more time at the creative retreat, and more time face-to-face with mentors. This is how we can make that happen.

We’re really pleased that our friends at Moniack Mhor have been able to arrange a longer window for us to use their beautiful farmhouse for our retreat, so that this year’s participants can have much longer to relax, engage with their mentors and each other, and create their fantastic work.

We know that almost a week away from normal life is a bit unusual, so here are 4 things to keep in mind when you consider if the development programme will be a good experience for you:

  • Teen participants will have met nearly everybody who is coming on the retreat before the retreat happens. They won’t be with strangers, but with their fellow teenage writers and illustrators, and with adults they’ve already gotten to know and who will be working hard to take great care of everybody.
  • All seven teens who come on the retreat get their own private room to stay in, and have plenty of time for peace and quiet. Teens will have lots to do as writers and illustrators on the retreat – like planning StoryCon, working with your mentors, and learning about Scotland’s literary scene – but also lots of time to do it in, and there will always be company available if you’d like somebody to chat with.
  • We know that nearly a whole week away from normal life is a bit unusual – we have tried to time this so that it sits over the February break for most Scottish schools, but if this falls in your school time don’t let that stop you from applying. If you are a successful applicant, we will work with your school to find a way for you to attend, helping you to arrange homework schedules during the retreat and slightly shift prelim exam dates, if needed.
  • If you think you’ll be a bit nervous or find it difficult to spend that long away from home, we can work out ways for teen participants to keep in touch regularly with home, shorten their stay so it is manageable, or even pay to have somebody from home come out to visit during the retreat. We probably can make it work for you, and we will do our very best.


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

We know this can be frustrating for some of you, but that is the age range that our development programme can best help. The Programme does involve quite a lot of work and travel, so it isn’t fair to ask 13 year olds to ‘level up’ that fast if we know that it will be a struggle – plus, you can wait a year and apply to take part then! For those of you aged 18 or 19, there are all the same brilliant opportunities for any other adult writer or illustrator and you don’t need the specific helping-hand the Development Programme can offer to access Scotland’s literary opportunities if you are under 18.

But remember, everyone aged 13-19 are welcome to come join us at StoryCon 2018 and send your work in to the Online Magazine! This is the only part of What’s Your Story? that is not for all 13-19 year olds, we hope you understand why.


How much extra-curricular work is involved on the Development Programme?

We know that all of you would be writing, illustrating or creating in your spare time anyway – What’s Your Story? is designed to tailor a package of guidance and opportunity around some of that spare time so that you can develop as a creator and explore what Scotland’s literary culture can offer you.

However, we appreciate that as 14-17 year olds, many of you will have school and exams to contend with during the 2017-2018 academic year. Many more of you have work or caring obligations that you need to plan around. What’s Your Story? is tailored to fit the circumstances of the seven teens on the programme, and of course you’ll never get in trouble with us if you can’t do something because life has got in the way. We are here to support teen writers and illustrators in the best way we can, and we hope that you are applying to the programme to have fun and develop as writers and illustrators – as that is what our whole approach revolves around.

Having said that, if you are already doing a lot of extra-curricular activities or know you will be very busy between now and August 2018 and think you would struggle to spend an hour or two a week on your creative development – this isn’t the right opportunity for you, at the moment. We trust you to know your own lives well enough to make this choice, so have a think before you apply.

Realistically, aside from three or possibly four opportunities to go on excursions with the programme over the year (to places like the National Library of Scotland, Moniack Mhor, and StoryCon) – you will be able to put as much or as little time in to the Development Programme as you wish. You’ll need to take a little time to help us plan things like your travel itineraries and talk to us about ways we can tailor the programme to you, and of course we hope that you will do your best to make the most of working with your mentor and try to complete a small piece of work you are proud of.

We also completely leave you alone during the month before and month during exams, to make sure you have no pressure on you to distract you from your academic studies. What’s Your Story? will be right here when you get back from exams, and so will StoryCon 2018. 🙂


What is in the application?

The application is five sections long. Here’s what’s covered in each section:

Section 1 – Your Details

We need to collect some basic personal information from you. Like your name, where in Scotland you live, and your contact information. We also confirm that you are able to make the first big dates of our programme where we will all get-together.

Those dates are:

Friday 8 – Saturday 9 December for our first meeting in Edinburgh at the National Library of Scotland.

Monday 5 – Saturday 10 February for the Creative Retreat in Moniack Mhor outside of Inverness.

We can help you to negotiate time away from work or school so that you can attend these events, if needed. It is important that everybody who is part of the Programme Team 2018 can attempt to make these dates.


Section 2 – Your Creative Work

What kind of creative writing, illustrating or storytelling do you like to do? What would you want to work on as your speciality if you joined us on the Programme? This is where you tell us about it.


Section 3 – Likes and Influences

There is a huge creative culture out there, so tell us about what you like and why you like it. These questions help us to understand how you connect with creativity when it comes from other people. Plus it’s a fun chance to tell us about your fave books, songs, movies, videogames, art and more!


Section 4 – Personal Statement

This is where you 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.


Section 5 – Your Creative Work

One thing you already need to be able to do before you join us at What’s Your Story? is be creating your own work, and be ready to show it to other people. That is why we ask everyone who applies to send us a creative work sample.

Your creative work sample is proof that you are already serious about writing & illustrating, and that there is room for you to develop further.

You aren’t being chosen for the Programme because of how “good” your creative work already is, but we want it to be the best you can do right now. It doesn’t matter if it’s “the best”, it matters if it is your best.

These are the guidelines for the size and types of creative work samples we can accept as part of your application. FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES! They are what makes it possible for us to accept everybody’s application and read it fairly.


Creative Work Sample Guidelines

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 http://www.wordcounttool.com/ 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.

REMEMBER: You can submit work that is shorter than these guidelines. If your work is longer than these guidelines, find a good place to stop that is within the guidelines and cut it there. You can put in the ‘notes’ that it is part of a bigger piece. We are happy to receive creative work samples that are part of longer works. 🙂


I have a question that is not covered in the FAQ!

Please email nicole.brandon [at] scottishbooktrust.com with your question! Remember, you must get in touch with questions by Thursday 12th October if you want a response before the deadline.



About What’s Your Story:

What’s Your Story? was created by Scottish Book Trust as part of Time to Shine in 2015. It 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 champion, showcase and encourage teenage creative efforts in literature, whatever form these efforts take. What’s Your Story? is run by Scottish Book Trust, and has been created with the help and advice of teen writers and illustrators.

In our third year (2017-2018) we are kindly funded by Big Lottery’s Young Start Fund and the generosity of several trusts and foundations.

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