Writers’ Week Writing Contest Rules

To kick off Writers’ Week 2011 here on Suess’s Pieces, we’re starting with a few weird writing prompts. Well, 50 to be exact. But be forewarned: these are not your typical, lame writing prompts. None of that “write about something that inspires you” junk here.

I mean, what’s with writing prompts that don’t actually give you a place to start anyway?

The goal here is for you to finish what I’ve started. At the same time, you’ll meet other writers and hopefully find some inspiration for future projects. The contest is open internationally to writers at any level. (Please note: if you live outside the US or Canada I reserve the right to substitute T-shirt prizes, due to shipping costs.)

Whether you’re a business writer, a blogger, a high school journalist, a poet or an aspiring novelist, you can and should participate in this writers’ community event.

Writing Contest Prizes

amazon gift card 1001st Place Prizes

Total Value: $380

  • Winning entry will be published on Moxymag.com.
  • Amazon.com Gift Card ($100 value)
  • Literary critique of your work by Natalia Sylvester of Inky Clean. Includes critique of query letter + first 30 pages of a book-length manuscript. This service is more of an evaluation than an edit. It’s an honest, critical analysis of the writing you’ve done and what can still be done to improve it. It includes: a read-through of your work, with comments and suggestions for changes along the margins of the page; a letter that takes a “bigger picture” approach to giving feedback on your characters, plot structure, voice, pacing, and all the other elements of storytelling; and a 30-minute phone call to further discuss your manuscript and the feedback provided. Learn more about Natalia’s editing services here. The winning writer must submit their manuscript for evaluation within 90 days of being notified that they won. ($225 value)
  • Launching a Successful Freelance Web Writing Career, e-book by Jennifer Mattern of All Freelance Writing ($37 value)
  • T-shirt from Small Business Bonfire ($18 value)

amazon gift card 502nd Place Prizes

Total Value: $278

  • Amazon.com Gift Card ($50 value)
  • Professional business card design by KeriLynn Engel of Dreaming Iris Design. Standard US size (2 in x 3.5 in/51 mm x 89 mm). Includes initial design concept and two rounds of revisions. Completed design delivered as a hi-res, ready-to-print image file, along with backup Photoshop files for editing if desired. Does not include printing. ($200 value)
  • 30 Day Marketing Boot Camp for Freelance Writers, e-book by Jennifer Mattern of All Freelance Writing ($10 value)
  • T-shirt from Small Business Bonfire ($18 value)

amazon gift card 253rd Place Prizes

Total Value: $68

How to Enter

  • Pick one of the 50 writing prompts below. Start your entry with the words in the prompt, and then just keep going. There is no word minimum or maximum. Works can be fiction or non-fiction, haikus, essays, technical manuals—whatever!
  • Publish your response to the prompt on your blog or website. (Must be your original work.)
  • Include the “official entry” button somewhere in your post by copying and pasting the code below. (Entries without the button do not qualify for prizes. To participate in the link-up without entering the actual contest, omit this step.)
  • Link your post using the form below. One official entry per person. (If you don’t link up your entry, the judges will have no way of knowing you’re participating.)
  • Deadline for entries is Friday, September 16, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern.
  • The top 10 submissions will be selected by the Writers’ Week Judges and announced on September 26, 2011.
  • Online voting for the ten finalists will open on October 3 and end on October 7.
  • (Please note these dates have been updated, as we received more entries than expected!)

  • The top 3 writers at the end of voting will win 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes respectively.

50 Weird Writing Prompts

50 Weird Writing Prompts

  1.  I never did care much for…
  2. This is not a memoir, it’s a…
  3. You’d be much more attractive if you…
  4. When I was 13, I thought…
  5. Hot dogs are proof that…
  6. The difference between…
  7. It wouldn’t budge, so I…
  8. Poetry is for…
  9. I swear, if that…
  10. Another day, another…
  11. You’re a big, fat…
  12. You can learn a lot from a…
  13. I once shot a…
  14. Art taught me…
  15. If only I could find my…
  16. I’m not too* cool to admit that I…
  17. Hi, my name is ____, and I live in a…
  18. I’ll be honest…
  19. At 3:00 a.m. I turn into a…
  20. Life was easier when…
  21. College was supposed to…
  22. I once ate a…
  23. Tequila might be…
  24. In two weeks I have to…
  25. My unicorn…
  26. On Towel Day last year…
  27. I finally wrote my way out of a paper bag, but…
  28. Kevin Bacon once said…
  29. Elevators…
  30. If marijuana were legal…
  31. By now, the people of L.A. are…
  32. I can’t stop…
  33. Macaroni and cheese doesn’t…
  34. I used to believe that…
  35. I refuse to spend all of my time…
  36. There’s only one cure for…
  37. Now that I’m remarried…
  38. In high school I got detention for…
  39. For $10, I would…
  40. The first time I wore makeup…
  41. It hurts when I…
  42. I tried flushing…
  43. Addictions are like…
  44. Families that play Scrabble…
  45. The train doesn’t always…
  46. I just bought a new…
  47. Have you ever…
  48. Oh. My. God. I wasn’t going to say anything, but…
  49. I’m filing this one under…
  50. Please don’t make me…


Photo credit: christgr
* updated 9/13/2011 @ 10:44 to be grammatically correct

About Emily Suess

Emily Suess is a technical marketing writer by day and a freelance copywriter by night. And, no, she's not related to Dr. Seuss.
  • http://www.literalmom.com Missy | The Literal Mom

    Gracious!  So many choices!  Thanks, Emily – can’t wait!

  • http://www.literalmom.com Missy | The Literal Mom

    Gracious!  So many choices!  Thanks, Emily – can’t wait!

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      Thanks for playing, Missy! Good luck.

  • http://www.dailymorningcoffee.com Praveen Rajarao

    Emily – The list looks very promising, i am sure you will get a lot of entries. I have one question – You say ‘Pick one’ of the 50 prompts, can I write more than one post for multiple prompts or am I limited to only one for the contest?

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      Praveen, great question! Only one official contest entry per person. However, you can link up other posts if you want to share them with the group — just leave off the “official contest entry” for any additional prompts you decide to link up.

  • Good Day Regular People


    I like the way they start you off, and the choices.

    I will be entering.

    And I am excited for this.

    So glad that Liz and KLZ brought you to me.

    I want to start working on my writing, and go the next steps beyond blogging.

    Thank you.

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      Fantastic! Can’t wait until we all have some entries to visit. :)

  • http://twitter.com/juliejordanscot Julie Jordan Scott

    I copied all the prompts into a file which I will use throughout the week. I am having difficulty getting the schedule to load right now, will check back later.

    The other technical thing is I wrote a blog post for the Twitter Chatter – I am not sure if that is what you were expecting, Emily – but it is what I did in response. I hope that is ok. I will link it up on twitter as soon as I am done adding some images.

    So grateful for all you do!

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      Excellent idea, Julie! 

      Writing a blog post for Twitter Chatter is perfect. Just make sure you tag it with #WritersWeek when you you’re ready so we can all find it easily. :)

  • Keri | Web Designer & Writer

    Wow, awesome prompts! Very excited to be a part of this =)

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      Thanks, Keri. And thanks for being a prize sponsor. :)

  • Lisa Nicholson

    These are incredible prompts!!  Some of them had me laughing out-loud!

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      Glad you like them. My goal was to make them fun, lighthearted and potentially hilarious/intriguing for writers and readers alike. 

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  • <3Lynn

    #16 is grammatically incorrect…but I can’t wait to dig into a prompt. This shall be fun!

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      Plenty of grammatically correct prompts to choose from. (Ooooh, damn it. Did I just end that one with a preposition?) :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OKTRWP7C7FDULNE45FNLH3PJU Antonio Angelo

    So you can only play if you have a blog?   ok i thought i was putting my mug where my avatar should be but i think i added it as an attachment. see why i dont have a blog.

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      A friends blog is fine. However, blogs are free to set up and you don’t necessarily have to maintain it afterwards. You just need a place to publicly host your entry that allows you to link up using the widget and add the code for the “official contest entry” button. I recommend wordpress.com, blogger, or tumblr if you need help with options.

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  • http://momgotblog.com Kelly

    I am so excited to try this!! I have been trying to improve my writing and this will be fun!

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      Great! Good luck!

  • Missy@Wonder, Friend

    Late to the party – stopping by to say I love the prompts! Looking forward to writing… something.

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      You’re only late if you miss the deadline! Welcome to #WritersWeek.

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  • http://www.michaelstuarttrimmer.co.uk Michael Stuart Trimmer

    Brief question. Can you turn these prompts into speech, so as to make them third, rather than first person, or first person other than the person speaking. IE, rather than

    It won’t budge, so I went downstairs looking for…

    it could be

    “It won’t budge, so I better go downstairs” I grimaced as I heard Tom say that.


    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      #WritersWeek I believe you can put the original prompt in quotes as well (though it may be more of a challenge making it sound natural). Judges will be looking for the prompts as they appear in the original list. So I suggest working with it as is, or selecting something else that fits better with your writing style. There are lots of choices.

      • http://www.michaelstuarttrimmer.co.uk Michael Stuart Trimmer

        The problem is they all fit to first person narrative.

        • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

          Tequila might be just the thing Elise needs, but not Betty. Betty is a mean drunk with a killer right hook. Just ask Elise.

          How the two became roommates is still a bit of a mystery. 

        • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

          Also, Wiley Davis’s entry (see the link to entry #2) is an example not written in first person.

  • http://www.michaelstuarttrimmer.co.uk Michael Stuart Trimmer

    Also, not to be too pedantic, but do you believe you can put them as speech, or you know we can? Is there a definite rule of arbitration etc.?

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      The “believe” in my previous comment really only refers to one’s hypothetical ability to use quotation marks. Using the prompts in quotation is acceptable.

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      The “believe” in my previous comment really only refers to one’s hypothetical ability to use quotation marks. Using the prompts in quotation is acceptable.

      • http://www.michaelstuarttrimmer.co.uk Michael Stuart Trimmer

        So we can turn them into speech then, and it won’t be penalised as against the rules?

        • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

          How about if I say it this way: Start with the words in the prompt. Leave them in order. However, put punctuation anywhere you like, including setting the prompt off with quotation marks.

  • http://www.michaelstuarttrimmer.co.uk Michael Stuart Trimmer

    Also, not to be too pedantic, but do you believe you can put them as speech, or you know we can? Is there a definite rule of arbitration etc.?

  • http://twitter.com/SaidKristin What She Said

    So excited to be a part of this! I’m stepping outside my comfort zone by entering a writing contest, but if I want to work on my writing and turn it into a career, then that’s just something I’m going to have to do. I don’t even care if I win; I’m just proud of myself for entering. 

    Great prompts! The one I chose made my post challenging but fun to write. :)

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      Challenges are good. That means I did my job. :)

  • http://www.thefreelancerdiary.com Neeraj Sachdeva

    Awesomesauce! I am in! Sounds like an interesting platform, and 50 different prompts give it quite a variety. Though I do wonder how judges will choose!

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      The judges are going to have their work cut out for them. That’s for sure.

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  • Elena @CiaoMom

    This was so fun! And th prompts were fantastic!

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      Glad you had fun, Elena. Good luck :)

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  • http://profiles.google.com/shahwharton Shah Wharton

    I linked up and received a confirmation email but can’t see it in the linky list?  Help. :D http://wordsinsync.blogspot.com/2011/09/weekend-creation-blog-hop-plus-book_16.html

    Shah. X

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      I can see it from here, and that’s what matters most! Maybe you just need to try refreshing your browser?

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  • http://amandastclair.wordpress.com/ amandastclair

    I am so new at this. I submitted my entry, but there is a red x by my name. Did I do it right?

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      The red X appears for every contestant next to their own entry — it’s so you can delete it if you want. You did just fine!

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  • http://ineedaplaydate.blogspot.com/ Mary Johnson

    I realize I am coming in on this on the very last day but… I am proud of what I wrote this week and when I saw your badge on Galit Breen post I felt completed to enter…  I hope that it is okay and I am really learning a lot from your blog.  So glad I found this!

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      The more, the merrier. :) So glad you decided to play along!

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  • Corinne Rodrigues

    This is funny Emily. Loved taking part…

  • http://www.michaelstuarttrimmer.co.uk Michael Stuart Trimmer

    I am so gutted that I missed out. I just wasn’t disciplined enough to get it in. And I had a great idea and everything…oh well

  • http://twitter.com/johannthors Johann Thorsson

    I have had the unfortunate experience of reading some of the stories submitted along with mine, and am wildly disappointed by the ability of my peers (in that I consider so many of the stories better than mine).
    May the best writer win. 

  • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

    Just an FYI for all the contestants and readers:

    This week (Sep 19-23) the writing contest judges will be choosing ten finalists. On Monday, September 26, those finalists will be announced and online voting will open.

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  • http://twitter.com/AntonioAngelo21 Antonio Angelo

    are they announcing the 10 here or another page somewhere?

    • http://blog.emilysuess.com Emily Suess

      Finalists were announced yesterday in a new post.

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