The American Boy Contest

In American Boy (which you can start reading for a limited time on Figment), Larry Watson crafts a story of heartache and ambition in America’s heartland. Sixteen-year-old Matthew Garth lives in a small, Minnesota town where he spends most of his time hanging around the Dunbars, his best friend’s seemingly perfect family. On Thanksgiving Day, 1962, a shooting victim, Louisa Lindahl, is brought to Dr. Dunbar’s home office. After that day, Matthew finds himself caught up in small-town drama, fighting his desire for the older (married) Louisa and his longing for the all-American Dunbar way of life. Yet at the same time, the anonymity and freedom of the big city is calling to him . . .

Matthew’s torn between love, ambition, and loyalty. That makes us wonder about the American Dream and how it drives us forward. Are we supposed to risk it all to make it big? Or should we hunker down and stick out the hard times?

Your challenge: In no more than 1,500 words, write a piece that explores the idea of the American Dream. Is it a hurtful fantasy or a life-affirming goal? How does striving for the dream affect your characters?

How to Enter:

1. Read the full rules here.
2. Email your entry in the body of an email to
3. Follow The American Boy Contest on Figment.

The entry deadline is October 13, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. The semi-finalists will be chosen by Figment staff and mods, and those semi-finalists will be posted for you to vote in polls. There will be one final poll to decide the three (3) winners. The first place winner will receive a copy of American Boy and a $30 gift card to Amazon. The second place winner will receive a copy of American Boy, and a $15 gift card to Amazon. The third (random) winner will receive a copy of American Boy and a Figment tote.

Happy Dreaming, Figs!

Click here to view the contest finalists and winners.

23 thoughts on “The American Boy Contest

  1. This is an awesome and relevant contest considering the current instability of the American economy. What does the American Dream even look like in a failing economy?

  2. Question: I have a short story I worked on from a while ago. I had a draft of it posted on Figment (under a different title than the current one) but then I deleted it a while ago. The story is done now and fits the American dream theme. Seeing as how it was technically published–in one form–on Figment already, does that disqualify it from the contest?

    it’s OK if it does, I’ll just repost the finished version if I can’t enter it in the contest.


    • Hey Benjamin!

      Since you’ve already published that work on Figment, you would not be able to use that version. You can definitely use elements of it, but would have to create a new piece. Feel free to email me at if you have any other questions.

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