Congratulations on making it to the final round of the YeahWrite Super Challenge! This round you’ll have a new kind of prompt: a sentence. Each writer will incorporate that sentence into an essay about… well, about wherever that sentence takes them for inspiration. The essay could be personal or persuasive. The catch is that the sentence shouldn’t stick out or sound unnatural. Words should flow, nuance should be on-point, and our judges shouldn’t be able to tell where your writing ends and our prompt begins.

Here’s a quick piece of advice I wrote a while back about sentence prompts:

If your prompt is a word or sentence, it should sound like you wrote it. That seems backward, right? But the only piece of writing of yours the judges have is the one in front of them. So the way to really incorporate that prompt is to write the rest of the story as though you were a writer who would also use that word or phrase or structure. I used to write for a challenge that gave you a sentence to use as your opening sentence; so many people would just put that sentence at the front of their piece and then write something that had nothing to do with the sentence. Sometimes the rest of the story was in a completely different tense than the sentence. Sometimes the sentence was something like “but soft: what light through yonder window breaks?” and then the rest of the story was written in colloquial modern English. When I started judging that challenge instead of participating in it, I discovered my suspicion had been right all along: those stories were losing points on prompt use.

Don’t lose easy points! Put the whole prompt in.

This weekend, starting right now and ending at 10:00 pm US Eastern Time on Sunday, you’ll be writing a personal or persuasive essay that contains somewhere within it:

He fled; I followed.

Remember: you can use the sentence in quotes, but you can’t change the tense or punctuation.

Wait, wait, there’s more!

Don’t post your story anywhere on the Internet until after our judges are done and you get your feedback! But if you want to talk up the competition or live-tweet your writing process, use the hashtag #YWsuper. Just remember not to include identifying details about which story is yours!

Your essays are due Sunday at 10pm US Eastern Time. Remember to check the rules and your email for formatting, including all those fiddly details like title page, font, and filename. Don’t get disqualified on a technicality! We know it seems really useless at times, but all those rules have a purpose, from helping get your file where it needs to be to making sure you’re read anonymously and fairly.

Email your questions to—we will not be reviewing other email addresses or social media for your questions over the weekend and we want to make sure you get the answers you need!

We hope you have as much fun with the prompts as we had picking them out. Good luck, and good writing!

About the author:

Rowan submitted exactly one piece of microfiction to YeahWrite before being consumed by the editorial darkside. She spent some time working hard as our Submissions Editor before becoming YeahWrite’s Managing Editor in 2016. In real life she’s been at various times an attorney, aerialist, professional knitter, artist, graphic designer (yes, they’re different things), editor, secretary, tailor, and martial artist. It bothers her vaguely that the preceding list isn’t alphabetized, but the Oxford comma makes up for it. She lives in Portlandia with a menagerie which includes at least one other human. She blogs at textwall and CrossKnit.

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