Show Don't Tell Contest Message Forum
Welcome to the SHOW DON'T TELL Contest!
Show, don't tell! How many times have you heard that? We all know it's one of the toughest things to do. Some editors and agents will decide whether or not to read your submission based only on how well your first sentence does this. Our contest is all about showcasing and practicing this important skill.
The most basic rule for our contest is that you must show all the facets of your story as opposed to telling them. Each month, we'll give you four or five sentences that will serve as a story prompt. Your task will be to write a story that includes the information in the prompt. You will need to show that information--along with all the other aspects your story. This contest is all about showing and not telling.
July, 2020 prompt
A soldier returns home after military service.
An old person offers the soldier riches in return for recovering a hidden treasure box..
The one condition is that only the old person may open the box.
After recovering the box, the soldier opens it anyway.
A brilliant blue light shines forth and changes everything..
We've deliberately omitted the names, and hence the genders, of the characters. Following the contest's traditions, the soldier would be Ruby and the old person would be Roscoe, but feel free to use your own names.
These are the bare-bones to the beginning of a classic folktale, the tinder box . The actual tale involves a King, a princess, magical dogs, and other elements. About half of the story happens after the blue light appears.
In all stories, all characters should want something or have a goal. What the character wants has to matter--those are the stakes. Finally, there needs to be an obstacle to achieving the goal. Goals, stakes, and obstacles are the basics of tension and hence plot. Tension arises from conflict. This could be conflicts between multiple goals, or between the goals and obstacles. Of course, the goals of one character could constitute the obstacles for another. You can increase tension by raising the stakes, increasing the obstacles, or refining the goals.
Note that the prompt leaves open the goals, stakes and obstacles for the soldier. We know the old person has a goal--recovery of the treasure box--but the stakes and obstacles are unknown. EIther soldier or the old person could provide the point of view and/or be the protagonist. The heart of your story is filling in these details, along with revealing the significance of the blue light.
In order to be sure all entries receive a fair reading, we will limit the number of entries in each round of the contest round to ten. Entries are first-come-first served, so enter early! You may enter only once in each round, but you may enter every contest round if you wish
What are the rules? ▼
Will my entry be disqualified if I don't follow the rules? ▼
What are the prizes? ▼
Is there a limit to the number of entries in each contest round? ▼
How often and for how long does the contest run? ▼
What is the deadline for entries? ▼
What are the judging criteria? ▼
I'm really pumped! Can I enter more than one story? ▼
What are the other rules? I've got this awesome, unfinished erotic poem in non-rhyming choriambic foots. Can I enter it? I know you'll love it! ▼
May I edit my story after I enter? ▼
Contest Judges ▼
LInks to stuff ▼
Past Winners ▼
Our Generous Contest Sponsors ▼
How do I enter? ▼
The July, 2020 round of the contest is now open!
As of 3:00 PM, July 2, there are 0 entries in the contest.
There are 10 remaining openings.
Contest closes for judging in
or when we have ten entries, whichever happens first.