Some writing competitions have a theme, a given title, words that must be included etc. or they stipulate that entries should be written in a specified genre, such as fantasy, magical realism or Gothic. The Bath Short Story Award does none of that ─ our rule is that stories should be written in English and not exceed 2200 words ─ as this allows writers complete freedom of choice in subject matter and style.
But … on occasion, too much freedom can be overwhelming, lead to paralysis or good old writer’s block as the writer is overwhelmed with ideas, an infinite number of possibilities and making a decision about which narrative path to follow: the comfortable familiar one or, as in Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Road Not Taken’, chose ‘the one less travelled.’
So, if you feel the need for less abstraction and a practical prod, try this prompt. Use ‘The Leak’ as a starting point, title and/or a theme for your story. What springs (ouch!) to mind?
- a visit from the local friendly/dodgy/robot plumber
- the leak becomes a flood overwhelming a community ─ an environmental/dystopian disaster ─ possibly Noah’s Ark? Nord Stream pipeline leaks for a political story?
- leaked emails, What’s App messages, Wikileaks
- or leeks (St David’s Day was only two weeks ago), national emblems, vegetables? A culinary theme
- check out definitions and synonyms: an intentional disclosure of something private, a revelation, a fissure, a rift …
A rift? Which might lead to a rift valley or the Great Rift Valley where two generations of the Leakey family (Louis and Mary with their son Richard) made discoveries that have shaped our knowledge of the evolution of man. It’s fun to play around with ideas so feel free to use or disregard our starting point to write a story of no more than 2200 words on any theme or genre. Just remember the closing date is Monday, April 24th ─ 6 weeks away!