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The 30-Day Memoir Challenge: How to Write an Exceptional Personal Story
We’re halfway through the 2023 Narratively Memoir Prize! Whether you’ve already drafted your first-person piece or you’re struggling to put pen to paper, here’s how to get started.
Happy Halloween, readers and writers! If you’ve been thinking about entering the 2023 Narratively Memoir Prize, we have some seriously spooky news for you: There are only 30 days left! But don’t jump away from your keyboard in fear just yet. Even if you haven’t started writing your submission, you still have plenty of time to create and submit a dynamite first-person piece. Here’s our quick guide for how to get going.
Wait, what is the Narratively Memoir Prize?
It’s a chance to write — and then submit — an essay about the most exciting and interesting part of your own life story. The winning piece will be published on Narratively AND win a $3,000 prize. For all the details, check out our 2023 Narratively Memoir Prize announcement post.
What kind of story should I write?
Short answer: The kind of story only you can tell. Long answer: The best way to understand what we’re looking for is to give some of our Narratively memoir pieces a read. Check out a few of our all-time favorites, like “The Adventures of a Pakistani in Texas”; “Diary of a Bachelor Who Suddenly Became a Solo Dad to a Teenage Girl”; and “My Coming Out Story, Starring a Priest, an Animal Sacrifice and Ricky Martin.”
Do you have any tips on how to get started writing?
Do we ever! If you want to write a memoir piece but aren’t sure how to get started, you’re going to want to check out our post, “Narratively’s 6 Tips for Writing a Revealing and Impactful Memoir Story.”
Who’s judging the Prize?
The incredible Stephanie Land, Narratively alum and author of the bestselling memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive. Check out my interview with Stephanie for more on how she wrote her first memoir and launched her writing career.
How long do I have left?
30 days! Submissions for the 2023 Narratively Memoir Prize close on November 30, 2023, at 9 p.m. EDT. If your story is already written, you can submit right now. Or you can pretend you’re me doing any assignment in high school and wait until the very last minute. Either way works.
Do I get to submit for free if I’m a paid Narratively subscriber?
Yes, you sure do. If you’re already a paid subscriber, first of all, thank you for supporting indie journalism! Second of all, just email us at email@example.com to request the subscriber-only free submission link. If you’re not a paid subscriber, you can sign up right now, and in addition to full access to all of our storytelling, you’ll get free submissions to each and every one of our writing contests.
What are you going to be for Halloween?
I don’t know! I wasn’t kidding about leaving things till the last minute. You? Comments open for questions about the Narratively Memoir Prize and/or storytelling-themed costume ideas.