Dublin students might want to use their winter break to brainstorm ideas for PROUD's annual writing contest.

Dublin students might want to use their winter break to brainstorm ideas for PROUD's annual writing contest.

Parent's Resource for Outstanding Dublin Students, or PROUD, is gearing up for its fourth annual writing contest for students in grades four through eight in Dublin City Schools. The deadline for entries is Feb. 1.

Liz Soppe, group president, said the writing contest was created to help students improve their writing skills and to get them excited about writing.

"This is the fourth year to do the contest. I hope the kids are going to get really enthused about it," she said. "I think it's really increased the interest in writing over the years."

Students can get a few tips from the contest's four judges -- all professional writers and editors -- at a Jan. 11 workshop in the auditorium of the 1919 building.

"The writing workshop will (teach the students) how to get an idea for a writing piece, how to write it and how to edit," Soppe said. "The kids that have gone to this in the past have loved it. Last year, there was standing room only."

Soppe considered going for a larger venue this year, but said the students seem to appreciate an "intimate" setting where they can ask questions and meet the authors in person afterward.

"I think we'll get tons of attendance," she said. "We really like the intimacy of the kids being close to the professional writers so we kept the small venue. The whole thing is about getting the kids excited about writing."

The writers on tap for the workshop are Margaret Peterson Haddix, author of "Running Out of Time," the "Found" series and "The Shadow Children" series; Haddix's husband, Doug Haddix, a national training director for investigative reporters and editors; Nancy Roe Pimm, author of "The Heart of the Beast: Eight Great Gorilla Stories" and Jenny Patton, who took first place in fiction in the Best of Ohio Writers contest.

Categories for fourth- through eighth-grade writers are fiction, nonfiction, poetry and the new Dublin bicentennial category.

The group has secured $500 savings bonds from the city's bicentennial hotel/motel tax fund for the winner of each grade level of the bicentennial category. The new category is open to interpretation, Soppe said.

"We're going to have them be able to do any genre of writing. It could be a poem, a story," she said, adding that a Dublin Historical Society member will help judge the bicentennial category to determine historical accuracy.

The winners of the other categories will go on to a central Ohio writing contest, another new addition to this year's competition.

Soppe said the Dublin winners will face winners from nine other central Ohio schools that will hold their own writing contests.

Margaret Peterson Haddix will help judge the central Ohio contest.

"Because Margaret is such a superstar in teen writing, I wanted to make her a judge," Soppe said. "She is working to get other writers to judge with her."

The writing workshop is scheduled for 7 to 8 p.m. Jan. 11 in the 1919 building. Entries to the contest can be a maximum of 700 words and must be submitted by Feb. 1.

For more information, look online at dublinproud.org.