Alcott Writing Contest - Youth Short Story



Students in grades 9 - 12,

or 13 - 19 years old


30 September - 29 November 2018



No later than 1 May 2019


AWARDS:    $250 1st Place

$150 Second Place  |  $100 Third Place

plus online publication at


Find out details about contest theme, rules, and eligibility, then upload your entry and receive instant confirmation of receipt!

Questions?  Comments?   Get in touch with

Contest closed

More about the Contest

          My romantic period began at fifteen, when I fell to writing poetry, keeping a heart-journal, and wandering by moonlight instead of sleeping quietly.

          Any pen and paper do, and an old atlas on my knee is all I want.  Carry a dozen plots in my head, and think them over when in the mood.  Sometimes keep one for years, and suddenly find it all ready to write.  Often lie awake and plan whole chapters word for word, then merely scribble them down as if copying …  Used to sit fourteen hours a day at one time, eating little, and unable to stir till a certain amount was done.

          I can only say to you as I do to the many young writers who ask for advice -- There is no easy road to successful authorship; it has to be earned by long and patient labor, many disappointments, uncertainties and trials . . . 

In the last two decades of her life, Louisa May Alcott was barraged with letters from aspiring young authors asking advice about how they might also achieve fame and notoriety.  Although a writer since the age of eight, Miss Alcott needed to wait another 28 years before her first popular success, Little Women, was published -- a work that has continuously been in print since 1868, and now translated into over 50 different languages. 

Along her road to success, Miss Alcott tried her hand at poetry, plays, fairy tales, a poignant chronicle of her experiences as a Civil War nurse, and even stories written under a pseudonym filled with intrigue, infamous characters, exotic locales, and improbable plots.  By the time her publisher asked her to write a book for young girls, she had, indeed, paid her dues and was eager for the chance to not only become a well-known author, but help provide financially for her family as well.

In this age of internet blogs and electronic self-publishing, the honest advice Miss Alcott offered to fledgling writers may perhaps be even more valid today.  In honor of the 150th publication anniversary of Little Women this year, “Orchard House” in Concord, Massachusetts, where the cherished book was written and set, seeks to encourage the same spirit of creativity and persistence in young modern-day writers that Louisa May Alcott herself exhibited.

This year’s contest genre is the short story.  Students who attend public, charter, and private schools, as well as homeschoolers, are all encouraged to enter.  Stories must be written in English by students in 9th through 12th grades, or 13 through 19 years old.  Stories must be original, previously unpublished, and between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length.  Detailed information about eligibility, rules, and submission options is found here.

During the afternoon of Sunday, 30 September 2018, a Sesquicentennial Celebration will take place at Orchard House to commemorate the exact date upon which, a century and a half ago, Little Women was first published. We hope you will enjoy the festivities, and, consider entering the first-ever Alcott Writing Contest on the opening day of submissions, or thereafter through November 29th.

The  esteemed judges who will determine the three winners are world-renowned published authors!

Geraldine Brooks - 2005 Pulitzer Prize Winner for March (inspired by Little Women) and journalist

John Matteson - 2008 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Eden’s Outcasts and Professor at John Jay College

Joel Myerson - Professor Emeritus of American Literature at the University of South Carolina


1. Preferred method:  Use the online Submission Form.  Please make sure your story is in .PDF or .DOC format before uploading.  An email confirmation will be sent to you verifying that your entry has been received. 

2. Alternate method:  Send an email with your entry attached as a .pdf or .doc.  In the body of the email, include your name, phone, address, grade level/age, and acknowledge that your story has not previously been published and that you are not directly affiliated with or related to anyone who is an employee, Board member, Corporator, or frequent volunteer at Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House.  You will receive a reply confirmation.

3. If electronic submission is a hardship:  Entries may be mailed to Orchard House, PO Box 343, Attn: Writing Contest, Concord, MA 01742-0343.  Be sure to include all contact information and attestations noted in the previous method.

We wish all of this year's entrants the best of luck, and can't wait to read your submissions!

. . . I can say no more, but wish you success,

and give you for a motto Michael Angelo’s wise words:

"Genius is infinite patience."

~Louisa May Alcott

Writing Contest Eligibility & Rules

2018 Writing Contest Rules (pdf)