For the last four years, Narrative Magazine has hosted a nationwide story-telling contest for high school writers, hoping “to discover, mentor, and publish the next generation of amazing writers.” Officially part of that “next generation” is GFA sophomore Cayla Bernstein, whose short story won third place in the contest.
“I thank [Narrative Magazine and its] team for this inspiring opportunity,” Bernstein wrote in an email accepting the award. “I feel so honored and grateful to have my work recognized in this contest.”
This year’s contest asked the student writers to consider what it means to make a life-changing mistake. According to Narrative Magazine editor-in-chief Carol Edgarian, “In the hands of skilled writers, mistakes are gold. They are opportunities for drama, reflection, reversals of fate and fortune; at bottom, they are grim reminders of life lived and suffered. Who better to address the subject of ‘The Mistake’ than students in high school, where every day looms as a minefield of potential blunders?”
Berstein’s story “Nothing to Hide” tackles the psychological and physiological effects that take hold when one decides to try shoplifting. Setting a driving pace in the span of just 600 words (per contest rules), Bernstein allows her readers to delve into the psyche of a “confident and ambitious” overachiever who makes the pivotal decision to break the rules. Read the story here.
Adhering to the theme and word limit is just the first step. Winning authors then get a chance to work one-on-one with Edgarian to “edit, refine, and record their work—in other words, to be mentored and to engage in all aspects of a professional publishing process,” according to the contest outline.
The final works have been published on the website, along with an audio version, recorded by the authors themselves, as part of the magazine’s podcast, Narrative Outloud.