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For as long as Stone Soup has been around, we have been publishing nonfiction narratives and personal essays/memoir under the “Story” label. This has frustrated me ever since I became editor two years ago because, as a writing teacher, I spend much of my time teaching my students about the importance of understanding the distinctions between genres. The way we approach fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as both readers and writers, is drastically different. For this reason, I am very happy to announce that Stone Soup is partnering with  Society of Young Inklings in our very first nonfiction contest and that, in 2020, we will begin to publish all nonfiction under its very own label in the magazine.

But what makes this contest extra special is our partnership with Society of Young Inklings (SYI): we are very excited to share that their team of professional writers has designed a mentorship experience for both the youth and the educators who take part in this contest.

To start, SYI invites you to stretch your ideas and elevate the impact of your narrative using the games and activities provided in their quick video series: Spill Some Ink with Stone Soup

Finally, take advantage of SYI’s Tips and Tricks for Revision cheat sheet, which guides writers through specific strategies to bring their narratives even more vividly to life.

You can stay in the loop as they add material to further help write and revise your piece by RSVP'ing to their email updates here.

Finally, after submission, the first 150 submitters will receive a personalized note from SYI. These notes will highlight a strength in your piece and offer guidance about how to build on that strength in future writing.

We are so excited to be partnering with such a wonderful organization and thrilled to be able to offer personalized feedback to many of our writers!

Contest Details

For this contest, we are looking for excellent, innovative, moving, playful personal essays, or mini-memoirs. We want to hear about any of the biggest moments in your life—the scariest, the saddest, the happiest ones—as well as about some of the smallest—your walk to school or a regular Saturday at home with your brother. Make us laugh! Make us cry! Make us feel like we know you!

Length: There is no minimum length. The maximum length is 10,000 words.

Deadline: December 15, 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time).

Entry fee: $4 per personal narrative. You may submit as many narrative essays as you would like to the contest, but each must be submitted as a new entry.

Other specifications: Please make sure there is no identifying material on the .doc or .pdf you upload: your name should not appear on any of these materials. We will have your information through Submittable.

Age limit: The contest is open to writers aged 13 or younger, or those who are still in U.S. eighth grade or its equivalent.

To enter: All entries should be submitted here, via our Submittable site. We will not consider entries sent via email.


We will select and announce three winners, as well as a handful of honorable mentions, by the end of January 2020.

We will publish all three placing entries in a 2020 issue of Stone Soup.

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