Two Nights in NYC (19892)

How would you like to receive two round trip tickets, a two-night hotel stay in NYC, tickets to a Broadway play, and $3,000 cash? If you can write about your unusual divorce party, the shopping trip that ended in you getting wrongly accused of shoplifting, or the ordeal at the doggy hospital when your pup ate a tiny spool of thread with a needle still in it, these prizes could be yours.

Share your experience in the third annual Life Lessons Essay contest that is now underway and sponsored by Real Simple Magazine. You have until September 24, 2010 to submit your 1,500 word, never before published, essay. Win the contest, and besides the prizes mentioned, you'll also lunch with magazine reps and see your story in their publication.

What Kinds of Stories Are Winners?

Take a look at the last two that took the top prize:
• a very young woman overcomes arthritis and returns to the simple fun of her childhood
• an intensive care worker's emotional experience with organ donors.

Do You Have A Winning Experience?

Everyone has at least one. Look at your life and pick out an event to share. It's the story you tell to new friends that causes them to lean in closer as you recount it, to widen their eyes in astonishment, to become irritated when someone else interrupts it. It may be a comical situation or heart-breakingly somber. But the one important thing about the story is the fact that it is unique because it belongs to you. You're the only one who can tell it, because you experienced it.

How To Catch The Judge's Eye?

So how can you write a story that gets noticed and touches the heart?
• Use colorful descriptions.
• Get the reader involved.
• Delight readers with humor if it's appropriate for the subject matter.
• Be genuine - don't try to impress.
• Of course, be sure you use good grammar, and spell-check your work.
• Don't be afraid to submit a simple story as long as there are unexpected twists or surprises for the reader.
Many people have given birth, graduated from college, and gotten married. Unless your wedding was destroyed by a Tsunami and the ceremony continued in a storm shelter, or your wedding story contains another unusual twist, don't write about it.


Your essay can be forwarded online or by mail. While there is no minimum word count required (the suggestion is for at least 1,000 words), if you exceed the 1,500 limit, your submission will not qualify for the contest. Each entry must be double-spaced. You must be a U.S. resident 18 years or older. To enter the contest copy and paste the following link into your browser: