Transparent Narrative Writing Contest, Grand Prize: $300 + Free Tuition to MatadorU

by David Miller Sep 10, 2010

**UPDATE 9/11 – Thanks everyone who entered and/or helped promote this contest. We had nearly 150 entries, and are currently reading submissions. We will be announcing the winner on Friday, 9/17 here at the Notebook and also via Twitter. ***

The first writing contest Matador has sponsored in over a year, the Transparent Narrative contest prize is $300 plus tuition to MatadorU, and a chance for writers to explore new prose styles and subjects they might not write about otherwise.
Image source: National Library of Scotland

OVER THE LAST few weeks we’ve been seeing some really interesting new travel narratives, and we decided to to run a contest.

The winner gets $300 plus free enrollment to the travel writing program at MatadorU [worth $350]. The winning story, along with honorable mentions will be published here at the Traveler’s Notebook.

Even if you’re a professional writer who doesn’t necessarily need classes, consider this about the U: you get lifetime access to our forums and Market Blog, with leads and writing opportunities researched and curated by Matador editors, along with all future Pro Modules we publish on new media strategies, branding, SEO, and other areas of continuing education.


Part of the focus of this contest is to encourage “transparent” writing. This is a prose style where the narrator narrates events / scenes as he or she perceived them at ground-level. Example:

Disposing of my boxers in the bathroom garbage can, I free-balled through the rain . . .

This is opposed to language that attempts to explain or justify something, or suggest the reader feel a certain way about a place or culture:

I’d always dreamed of indulging in the diverse cuisine of India.

Transparent narration may be thought of as the opposite of codified writing, which we defined and analyzed here at the notebook last month in notes on codification.

All of this said, the form of your story , the structure, is completely up to you. It can be a series of notes or scenes. It can be a kind of virtual postcard or letter. It could be a bit of memoir. The most important element however is that the narrator tells what happens in a transparent style.


1. Stories can be any length, and super condensed sketches may be submitted, however, somewhere 500-1,500 words seems to work well.

2. Travel writing reveals a person’s relationship with a place. So that said, you don’t have to be traveling to submit a story. The stories themselves don’t have to be travelogues. They can be about something happening right now in your hometown, or something that happened in the past.

3. Deadline for submissions: 5pm EST Sept. 10, 2010

4. Multiple submissions are ok.

5. Stories previously published on your personal blog are welcome; stories published in other magazines or websites will not be considered.


There are three steps:

1) We’ll be announcing the winner at Twitter, so make sure you follow us @MatadorNetwork so we can get in touch.

2) a. Let us and others know you’re entering the contest by tweeting the following:

b. Also, please “like” this post if you’re on Facebook.

3). Submit your story to with:

a. “Submission: Transparent Narrative” and the title of your story in the subject line
b. a link to your tweet / Facebook “like”
c. a short (2-3 sentence) bio
d. your story either attached as a .doc or pasted directly into the email.

What Is MatadorU?

MatadorU is an online education center for the advancement of travel writers, photographers, and filmmakers. From writing and photography skills to social media, personal branding to preparing work for publication, our community of students and teachers offers support and guidance for those looking to begin or advance their careers as writers, photographers, and new media professionals.

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