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The Olive Woolley Burt Awards

For Creative Writing

The Olive Woolley Burt Awards are open to the general public for previously unpublished work. Discounts for entry given to members of the League of Utah Writers.

Winners announced at the Quills Conference Awards Ceremony
August 10, 2024

Welcome to the Olive Woolley Burt Awards Writing Contest 2024 as hosted by the League of Utah Writers!  


Entry Fees

  • $15 for League of Utah Writers Members

  • $25 for League of Utah Writers NonMembers

  • $80 per Screenplay



OWBA Prose and Poetry Categories

  • First Place: $50

  • Second Place: $30

  • Third Place: $20



  • First Place: $150

  • Second Place: $125

  • Third Place: $100

Rules and Guidelines


•       Submission period begins  March 11th and closes May 10th.


•       All entries must be the original work of the contestant.


•       The contest is open for non-published work only. Previously published works do not qualify for this contest. Self-published work is allowable provided you have sold fewer than 100 copies.


•       Works previously awarded a League of Utah Writers cash prize do not qualify for this contest.


•       AI Generated or Assisted Texts are not eligible.

Restrictions and Judging

Submitted entries are judged as initially submitted. Please reach out if your submission needs editing once it has been submitted.


Submissions claiming to be a member of the League of Utah will be verified for member eligibility. If membership will have lapsed or will be lapsed by September 2024, the submitter will be prompted to renew their membership. If a week goes by without their membership being renewed, the submission will be denied without their entry fee being refunded


The submission process, judging, and feedback will all be done via Submission Manager.



In no way does the League of Utah Writers share your personal information with any third party. Any information of such a nature is only for use in contacting the submitter, should you need assistance.


Award winners will be announced at the Quills Awards during the Quills Conference. Please make sure your submission provides a valid MAILING ADDRESS, along with your email address. You do not need to be present at the awards ceremony to win. If you are not present and you place in a category, we will mail you your award, but can only do so with a valid mailing address. 




All categories are judged on a scale of 1 - 10, 10 being the best score. Judges will also be required to leave feedback on your work. Please note that the specific rubrics judges will follow depend on the category of the submission. Judge feedback will be shared at the end of the contest.


Note: contacting a judge, editor, or agent regarding the contest (before, during, and after) will result in the contestant being disqualified from current and future participation in any hosted contests by The League.


IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN BLIND JUDGING, your name or any other identifying information should NOT appear anywhere on your entry: not in the header, not in the body of the entry, not in the file name, no URL references, etc. Names are tracked through the admin account info, to which the judges have no access. 





Each submission to the 2024 Olive Woolley Burt Awards may be entered into one category only. 


Each author is permitted TWO submissions per category.


These guidelines are meant to assist you in deciding which category is most appropriate for each of your submissions. 


Some submissions might be appropriate for more than one category, nevertheless, a unique entry may only be submitted to one category. For example, a funny 1,000-word story about a botanist and a flight commander stranded on Mars might be suitable for flash fiction, science fiction, or romance, but may only be submitted to one of these. It is ultimately up to you to decide the category in which you feel your submission will fare best. 


If you have two unique pieces that fit a single category, you can enter both pieces in that category. 




  • Narrative Poem - Poetry that tells a story. It is usually dramatic, with objectives, diverse characters, and meter. Form can be open or closed.

  • Freeform/Slam

  • Light Verse (Humor) - Verse with playful themes written primarily to please, amuse, and entertain.

  • Song Lyrics

  • Haiku

Prose - 5,000 Word Count Limit

  • General Creative Nonfiction - Factually accurate prose about real people and events, written in a compelling, vivid, dramatic manner. 

  • Science Fiction & Fantasy

  • Horror

  • Romance 

  • Mystery & Thriller 

  • General & Literary Fiction

  • First Chapter (Adult) - The first chapter of a novel that is intended for an adult readership, but of any genre or style. 

  • First Chapter YA/Middle Grade/Childrens - The first chapter of a novel that is intended for the young adult, middle grade market, or children’s market but of any genre or style. Please be sure to include one of these three labels in your text’s header.


Prose - 2,000 Word Count Limit

  • Nonfiction

  • Spiritual Essay


Flash Fiction - 1,000 Word Count Limit

  • ​Author’s Choice of Theme

  • Just Write!

Short Prose Scripts 

  • Short Comic Script or Screenplay up to 25 pages



  • Feature Length Screenplay up to 120 pages. 

New Writer (New Voices) - 5,000 Word Count Limit


To be considered a New Writer, you must not have any paid publishing credits via a traditional publisher or earned money with a self-published text. If you won an award in the New Voices category in a previous year's contest, you are ineligible to enter the New Voices category again. Please enter your work in one of the general categories instead.


  1. Creative Nonfiction

  2. General Nonfiction 

  3. Poetry 

  4. General & Literary Fiction

  5. Genre Fiction

  6. First Chapter (Adult)

  7. First Chapter YA/Middle Grade/Children’s




  • Use a 1″ margin on all sides

  • Begin numbering with the first page of the text of the story, usually the introduction, prologue, or chapter one.

  • Use a header on each page including the title of your entry, and the page number. e.g.  Once Upon a Time in Utah/12

  • Start each new chapter on its own page, one-third of the way down the page.

  • Begin the body of the chapter four to six lines below the chapter title.

  • Each new paragraph should be intended .5 inches from the left margin. 

  • Double-space the entire text.

  • Fonts should be Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier, in 12-point. 



  • Use a 1″ margin on all sides

  • Use a header on each page with the title of your entry, e.g. Thoughts of a Young Lyricist

  • The title of your poem should appear centered, six lines underneath your header.

  • Begin the poem one line beneath the title.





Contacting a judge, editor, or agent regarding the contest (before, during, and after) will result in the contestant being disqualified from future participation in any hosted contests by The League. 


Violation of the rules will result in a non-judged piece and forfeiture of entry fees. 


Categories may be combined if there are insufficient entries. 




$15 for League of Utah Writers Members

$25 for League of Utah Writers NonMembers

$80 for the Screenplay




OWBA Prose and Poetry Categories


First Place: $50

Second Place: $30

Third Place: $20




First Place: $150

Second Place: $125

Third Place: $100


For questions regarding the Olive Woolley Burt Contest, please email us!


Past Year's Winners:






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About The Olive Woolley Burt Awards


The Woolley Awards are named in honor of Olive Woolley Burt.


Olive Woolley Burt (1894-1981) was the founding president of the League of Utah Writers, serving in that role from 1935 to 1939. In 1927, she quit her job as a teacher to take a job as the children's editor at the Salt Lake Tribune and later went to work for the Deseret News in 1945 where she remained until her retirement in 1967. Burt wrote over 50 books for children and adults, though the most notable might be American Murder Ballads and their Stories in 1958. It won a special Edgar Award in 1959. She spent all of her years working tirelessly for the League, promoting writing as a profession and a hobby for all of the writers of Utah for almost 50 years. 

She was particularly fond of writing children's books that illuminated stories of possibility to children with an aggressively progressive bent. One book, First Woman Editor: Sarah J. Hale tells the story of the first woman in the United States to be the editor of a magazine. Another, Black Women of Valor, brought positive stories of Black history to white audiences who wouldn't otherwise hear them in times where racist attitudes ran rampant.

Read more about her here:

See a video here: 

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