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Plotto: The Master Contest of All Plots – Student Edition – Week 1

“FIRST AID TO TROUBLED WRITERS,” the Boston Globe announced in September 1928—“GRINDS OUT PLOTS WITHOUT ANY FALSE START.”

Calling all undergrad and graduate writers (no matter your major) —we want you!

THE RULES:

Every Wednesday we post a prompt from William Wallace Cook’s classic how to manual Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots. Use the prompt below to write your own original 500 word (or fewer) story.

In the book, {A}= a male protagonist. {B}= a female protagonist but for our purposes, feel free to write from the point of view of any gender.

Mini-Plottos, 500 words or fewer, must be submitted by the following Monday at 5:00pm PST. Send to: theopenbar@tinhouse.com. Please include a brief author bio (including where you go to school) with your entry (which should be pasted into the body of the email).

The Week’s Prompt:

{B}, through befriending a needy stranger becomes involved in an unpleasant complication.

THE RICHES:

Winners will be announced each Wednesday and will receive a hardcover copy of Plotto, online publication on the Tin House Blog, and be entered in the Final Master Plot Challenge.

Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots

A classic how-to manual, William Wallace Cook’s Plotto is one writer’s personal method, painstakingly diagrammed for the benefit of others. The theory itself may be simple—“Purpose, opposed by Obstacle, yields Conflict”—but Cook takes his “Plottoist” through hundreds of situations and scenarios, guiding the reader’s hand through a dizzying array of “purposes” and “obstacles.”

Read a posthumous conversation with “the man who deforested Canada” William Wallace Cook here.

*Tin House is now accepting flash fiction (under 1,000 words) for FLASH FRIDAYS. Please send to theopenbar@tinhouse.com with FLASH FRIDAY as your subject line.

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Comments: 3

(3) Comments

  1. Masie Cochran says:

    We’ve opened submissions for FLASH FRIDAY! Please send your flash (under 1,000 words) to theopenbar@tinhouse.com with FLASH FRIDAY as the subject line.

  2. Masie Cochran says:

    We love Plotto, and the Plotto contests. It’s great to have free, weekly contests and so far we’ve been lucky, getting great stories from all over the world. After the first two contests, which ran for twelve weeks, we received interest from teachers at universities and community colleges about using Plotto in the classroom. In our open contests we did not receive a lot of work from students, so we decided to encourage students to submit to this round of contests. We hope this effort prompts students (english, math, nursing, history, you name it) to write flash fiction. Of course, this is meant to be a fun contest, and we never want to turn writers away–we just want to give writers who haven’t had a platform a chance to have editors read their work. We will continue to offer more Plotto contests in the future, which will once again be open to everyone.

  3. Richard Osgood says:

    “Calling all undergrad and graduate writers, scribblers, fabricators, deep-thinkers, and plot-obsessives—we want you!”

    Uhm, do the modifiers “undergrad” and “graduate” only modify “writers,” or do they also modify “scribblers, fabricators, deep-thinkers, and plot-obsessives?” Does “undergrad” and “graduate” apply only to enrollment in writing programs within academic institutions or if I like to write but my major is history, can I enter? Or better yet, I graduated in 1990 but still consider myself an “undergrad writer” because I haven’t published anything of significance, so do I qualify to enter? And will these rather amorphous criteria apply only to this week or the complete round?

    Sincerely,
    Many more than me . . .

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