SINGAPORE - Student Aisyah Lyana, 16, did not expect her Malay short story to shine in the national writing competition, Golden Point Award. The first version, written during a Malay language exam earlier this year, had scored poorly.
The National Junior College integrated programme student said: "I didn't answer the exam question. But my teacher said he really liked my writing style and if I published a book, he would be the first to buy it. That inspired me to want to improve."
She polished the essay, expanded it and entered the story in the biennial contest for short stories and poetry in each of the four languages - English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.
The contest, organised by the National Arts Council, is open to writers who have not yet published a full-length work.
Her work won an honourable mention in the Malay short story category, and as the youngest award recipient this year, she joins the contest's swelling ranks of winners in their teens and 20s.
This year, 40 per cent, or 19 of the 46 award recipients, belonged to this age group.
In the last contest in 2011, winners in this age bracket made up 30 per cent, or 13 of the 42 award recipients.
The tally includes first, second and third prize winners for two categories in each language - poetry and short story - as well as multiple winners in some categories and those who received honourable mentions.