How do you tell a compelling story in 42 words? My #1 piece of advice: don’t be cheesy.
We know: there is no story that has not been told in some manner or shape. Tropes are useful things, especially when your story is limited to a mere handful of words. However, it is all too easy to slide from trope to cliché. What’s the difference?
According to TVTropes.org, tropes are “devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations.” A trope becomes a cliché when it is predictable–predictable is boring. It’s a fine line, and a subjective one, but just for kicks, try taking a familiar trope and twisting it. Turn it upside-down or inside out. The down-on-his-luck boxer who needs to throw the fight to protect his family–doesn’t. The third son sets out to win the princess’ hand–and decides to become a professional dragon-slayer instead. Take that familiar story and do something new with it.
Answer the ultimate question in exactly 42 words: who stole the cheddar?
This week’s question requires two things to make it to the voting grid: cheddar (literal or colloquial) and the identity of the person who stole it. Note that we don’t mean “borrow” or “was given.” Someone took it without permission or authority. By the way, if you go with colloquial or metaphorical cheddar, make sure you give us enough information to understand what the cheddar is.
Don’t get disqualified on a technicality
READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. Take us seriously so we can take you seriously.
COUNT YOUR WORDS. Use your eyes, not your word processor. Your post may not be eligible for voting if you go over or under 42 words. And remember, any words surrounding your microstory — explanations, references, footnotes, shout-outs, etc. — will be counted against your 42-word limit. (The only exception is photo credits.)
PROOFREAD. Nothing is easier, and nothing will get you bumped from the voting grid faster than typos, spelling or punctuation mistakes, or grammatical errors. You’ve only got 42 words; mistakes stick out.
ANSWER THE QUESTION. We try to give you some basic guidelines with every question; pay attention to what we’re looking for. Keep in mind that your post has to make sense if your reader doesn’t know the question. Don’t use the question as your title or anywhere else in your piece.
The top 42 entries will be open for voting on Thursday
You may enter only one gargleblaster microstory. Submissions are moderated. All entries will show up on our submissions grid, and up to 42 entries will be moved to the voting grid, which opens on Thursday. Everybody: read, comment, vote! Participation is the key to making this community work.
If you don’t make the voting grid, don’t despair – you’ll get a detailed love letter from our wonderful submissions editor, Rowan G., letting you know what needed improvement. Email us or head over to our pages on Facebook and Twitter with any questions.
Winners will be announced on Friday
Look for Friday’s combined winners’ post to see the crowd favorites and editors’ picks from across all of our challenge grids.
What else is happening around here?
We’ve got the nonfiction challenge opening on Mondays, the fiction and poetry challenge on Tuesdays, the microstory challenge on Wednesdays, and the come-one, come-all moonshine grid for the weekends. We’ve also got a great hangout space over at the coffeehouse. Make sure you subscribe to our weekly e-mail blast so you don’t miss out.