Write on!

Chinese Writing Contest

It’s time to be creative

Learning Chinese takes people into a wonderful creative field which is full of joy and pleasant surprises. 

Students toy around elements of Chinese language and create interesting conversations and great stories. It’s like playing with all those small pieces of Lego. We are only limited by our own imaginations. 

This creative field should be open to students from day one.

However, the theme of learning Chinese is often dominated by the question “how many characters have you learned?” This question has led many students to focus on accumulating Chinese characters. They spend so much time and energy either to look up characters or to memorise them. But these efforts hardly bring any intoxicating sense of delight. This is unfortunate. Accumulating characters for the sake of accumulating characters does not enhance students’ learning experience, nor help them develop their Chinese skills.

The real question we should ask is “how much Chinese reading and writing have you done?” With this question, students’ focus is turned into reading for ideas and writing for creation. Amazing learning results can be achieved. 

Therefore, in order to encourage students to read more and to write more, this first ever Chinese Writing Contest is launched, inviting learners of Chinese worldwide to show their creativity using 320 Chinese characters.

The prize

  • MSL Master

    The winner wins a Complete Beginner’s Chinese Reading and Writing Course Kit

The Complete Beginner’s Chinese Reading and Writing Course Kit helps beginner students build solid Chinese reading and writing skills, and experience the delight of reading and writing Chinese, from the very beginning.

  • DC

    The first runner-up wins one year subscription of Du Chinese

Du Chinese is a powerful Chinese learning app. Many built-in features help students practice Chinese naturally and provide assistance when they need.

  • MC

    The second runner-up wins two copies of any titles from Mandarin Companion

Mandarin Companion publishes Chinese story books written specifically for Chinese learners using carefully controlled characters and grammar.

  • MA

    The winner, the first runner-up and the second runner-up each win six month subscription of Maayot

Maayot is a graded reader for students to learn Chinese with bite-size daily stories.

  • IM8

    The best 10 to 15 submissions will be published by Imagin8 Press

Imagin8 Press is dedicated to publishing high quality and enjoyable books for people who want to read and understand Chinese. The best 10 to 15 submissions (depending on length) will be assembled and published as a collection of short stories. Each contributor gets two free copies, and wins the rights to tell friends that he or she is a published author!


Character requirement

Writings are limited to using 320 Chinese characters (see below).

19 of them are listed explicitly as special characters which have two pronunciations. There are other special characters in this selection. But they are not to be used as special characters. For example, the character “”, only one pronunciation “hé” is allowed to be used. Other meanings which are associated with other pronunciations are not allowed to be used.

The rest 301 characters are considered as regular characters with one pronunciation, even though there are occasions when their pronunciations are changed. For instance, neutral tone reading of a character in a word or a sentence is expected. 

All 320 characters and their related words/combinations are presented in these online video lessons, which are free to watch.

Words and combinations which use these 320 characters but are not included in the online video lessons are accepted.

These 320 Chinese characters are:

  • 19 special characters


  • The rest 301 characters


What to write

Anything. It could be a short story, a mini play, or anything else a creative mind fancies.


299 - 700 Chinese characters, excluding punctuation. Or poetry at any length.

Sample writings

Four pieces of reading exercises are available as sample writings.  

In the sample pages of Chinese Reading and Writing 5, in Exercise 2, the first reading uses 386 characters, and the second reading uses 525 characters.

In the sample pages of Chinese Reading and Writing 6, in Exercise 2, the first reading uses 128 characters, and the second reading uses 158 characters.

The average number of characters used in these four readings is 299 characters, which serves to be the lower limit of this contest. The upper limit of 700 characters is just something sounds nice, which also gives plenty of room for people to write in length! :-)

However, we make exceptions for poetry, where the length requirement does not apply.

The process

Time line

  • Submission starts - August 1, 2021
  • Submission ends - September 30, 2021
  • Announce the winner - November 1, 2021

Method of selection

  • The initial assessment is done at MSL Master, to make sure that the guidelines are followed and that writings are intelligible.
  • The best ones will be published on MSL Master website. 
  • The winner is selected by votes on Twitter.

(In the event of any unexpected scenarios, teacher April, the organiser, has the authority to make the final decision.)

Check your writing before submission

If you wonder whether or not you have involuntarily used one or two Chinese characters which are not included in the list, you can check it quickly. 

Contributed by two talented Chinese language learners, two alternative ways are available.

  • The Demonic-Duck character checker

Click this link https://regexr.com/60vqa 

Paste your writing under “Text”. Characters which are not included will be highlighted, as the example shows.

  • The Betty character tool

Click this link: https://bettyjj.github.io/limited-characters/ 

Paste your writing into the space provided, then click “Submit”. Characters which are not included will be screened out. If some punctuation marks also show up, don’t worry about them.  

  • Submit your writing

As featured on


April Zhang
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(852) 9739 8065


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