Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Original Story

Writers Weekly runs a quarterly, prompt-inspired Short Story Contest, wherein participants receive a prompt and word-count requirement, then immediately have a mere 24 hours to conceive, write, and submit their short stories.

The prompt from the recent summer competition:

The bells on the door were still echoing as she stepped further into the old toy store. The owner winked at her and turned back to his black and white television set. She reached under the rack on the back wall and pulled it out. It was just where she'd left it last week. She approached the counter and put the item down.

He turned to her, grabbed the item with surprise, and said, “This is NOT for sale...”
The contest guidelines note that a story doesn’t need to include the prompt literally, it only needs to “touch on the topic in some way.” As far as judging: “While good writing is a must, originality plays a huge role.”

So -- take a few minutes to riff on some ideas from the prompt above. The contest is closed, you won’t have to write the story … just imagine something original that it could involve.

Then take a look at the commonalities that judges found when reading the submissions. Are your ideas there?

Now read the text of the three winning stories … not completely unique, but yes, distinctive -- due largely to the writers having followed some part of the prompt that resonated, rather than staying literal to all of it.

Are you still an original? Then you might be a great fit for the winter contest on January 23.

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