Show Don't Tell Contest Message Forum
This contest had a good run, but it's currently suspended. Check out our successor contest:
We'd welcome feedback while developing this new contest. We have high hopes for it.
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. This contest is all about showing and not telling.
March 2021 prompt
This month, we're returning to a conventional prompt. Any genre is acceptable.
Ruby is sitting on a park bench.
A man sits next to Ruby on the bench.
A small head sticks out of the man's coat pocket.
The head might or might not have winked at her.
In addition to showing the above elements, your story should give Ruby a goal, establish the stakes, and place obstacles in her path. In particular, every story should
GIve the each character a goal.
Establish why the goal matters--these are the stakes.
Establish obstacles to achieving the goal.
Use the goals, stakes, and obstacles to establish, increase, and resolve tension.
Goals, stakes, and obstacles are the basic building blocks of tension. The characters care about the outcome of the conflict between the goals and obstacles because of the stakes. You can increase tension by raising the stakes, increasing the obstacles, or refining the goals.
Obstacles could be internal or external. They could arise from other characters, from the physical world, the political or social world, the spiritual world, or a supernatural world. You don't have to choose from this list, but be sure that there are tangible obstacles to the goals.
This month's contest lets you establish your characters' goals, stakes, and obstacles. Maybe Ruby's goals have something to do with why she's in the park. For example, maybe she's there to meet someone, or to avoid someone or something. Whatever the reason and whatever happens, events should, by the end of the story, resolve the tension that arises from the interaction between goals, stakes, and obstacles. .
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? ▼
This contest had a good run, but it's currently suspended. We have a successor contest at
We'd welcome feedback for this new contest since it's still a work in progress.