The New York Times Personal Narrative Writing Contest

The New York Times Personal Narrative Writing Contest invites middle and high school students ages 13-19 to tell a personal narrative, specifically a short, powerful, true story about a specific experience, event or incident from your real life

Competition Details

Introduction: The New York Times Personal Narrative Writing Contest invites middle and high school students ages 11-19 to tell a short story in 100 words or less

Contest Guidelines: To help you brainstorm a story, start with our writing prompt “What Story From Your Life Can You Tell in 100 Words?” and this  list of prompts taken from our step-by-step guide. 

Contest Judges: Your work will be read by New York Times journalists, Learning Network staff members, and educators from around the United States. Your story is judged based on four elements:

  • Story: The narrative tells a short but memorable story about a life experience and communicates some larger meaning or universal message.
  • Language: The narrative uses vivid details and imagesto makethe story come alive for the reader. The writing avoids clichés
  • Voice: The narrative demonstrates a unique personal voice, style and point of view. The story is fresh and original
  • Narrative Arc: The narrative presents a clear conflict an obstacle, problem or tension that is resolved in some way
  • Guidelines: Entry follows all contest rules and guidelines, including being no more than 100 words, not including the title

Prizes: Winning work will be published on The Learning Network and being eligible to be chosen to be published in the print editions of The New York Times.

Competition Website: For more information about the competition, click here.


Students ages 13 to 19 who are in middle school or high school around the world.

Submission deadline


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