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Tell us a short, powerful, true story.• Remember: This is not an invitation to give us your opinion on a topic you’re passionate about — we have a contest for that later in the year.Instead, your challenge is to tell a meaningful and interesting story — something with a beginning, middle and end.We’re not asking you to write to a particular theme or to use a specific structure or style; instead, we hope you’ll experiment and tell a tale that matters to you, in a way you enjoy telling it.
You’re writing for a family newspaper, so, for example, curse words are out.3. Your narrative must be 600 words or fewer, not including the title.
But remember: personal narratives don’t have to be long to be compelling.
It’s all in how you tell it.• Though the word “narrative” might make you think “fiction,” this story should be true. We want your personality to come across.• We also want your writing to be vivid and engaging, so that readers can imagine the scenes you describe, and feel what the narrator is feeling.
Tell us about a meaningful event from your real life.• You’ll need to communicate not only what happened, but why it mattered to you. We hope you’ll edit until you’re happy with every word.• Please also remember, however, to keep your audience in mind.
In fact, over the years there have been columns dedicated to personal narratives on themes from love and family to life on campus, how we relate to animals, living with disabilities and navigating anxiety.
For this new contest, our main inspiration is the long-running New York Times Magazine Lives column.As always with a new contest, we expect there will be many questions.Please post them in the comments and we’ll answer you there, or write to us at [email protected] children and stepchildren of the New York Times employees, or teenagers who live in the same household as a Times employee, are not eligible to enter this contest.12.Finally, follow these instructions if you need proof that you entered this contest.Within an hour of submitting your editorial, you should receive an email from The New York Times with the subject heading “Thank you for your submission to our Personal Narrative Essay Contest.” If you don’t receive the email within an hour, even after checking your spam folder, then you can resubmit your entry. If, after two attempts and waiting over one full day, you still have not received a confirmation email, you can contact us at [email protected] the email address you used in the contest form.Use the subject heading “Please send me an email confirmation for my personal narrative essay contest submission.” Be sure to include your name and essay title (or subject) in your email.Many of our contests allow students to work in teams, but for this one you must work alone.7.For this contest, students in the United States and the United Kingdom must be from 13 to 19 years old to participate. If you have questions about the contest, feel free to write to us at [email protected] you’re telling a story rather than, say, simply reflecting on your feelings about a topic, there should be a conflict of some kind — an obstacle, problem or tension — that is resolved in some way.• Keep in mind, however, that story can work.It doesn’t have to be the most dramatic, life-altering thing that ever happened to you; it can, instead, be about baking brownies with your brother, or a conversation you had on Tuesday’s bus ride to school. Write it in your own real voice, with vivid descriptive language.• This is an invitation to open up and write in a way that feels natural.