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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 24th day of Awakening, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 35 > Articles > Storytelling Made Simple

Storytelling Made Simple

by tdyans

One of the more common questions that I get after people look at my trophy case is, "How do you win the Storytelling Competition?" Well, I'm not one of the judges, of course, so I can't offer a foolproof way to win the competition on your first try or anything like that. But what I can do is offer some tips from my experience that will hopefully increase your chances of winning and help you to at least improve and have fun along the way.

First of all, although I don't know the exact process involved in the judging of entries, I'm convinced that timing is important. After all, the sooner you get your entry in, the better your chances that NeoPets will receive it before they've already chosen a winner. They've often already picked the winner hours before the winning entry gets put up on the site. So, if you're really interested in the Storytelling Competition, you should keep your eye on the news page every Monday so that you know when the latest contest starts and can enter as soon as possible. After you enter the first part, if you don't win, you can keep entering each time a new part comes out, so you should check back often to see when it's updated so that you can get each new entry in quickly.

Now you have to consider the actual writing of your entry. An important thing to keep in mind is that many other Neopians will be entering the contest also, so you need to make your entry interesting and different so that it will stand out among the flood of other entries. You might try to make your entry exciting, funny, sad, or scary depending on the particular contest. Use your own judgement and whatever style seems to come naturally to you in deciding. Often the type of entry you want to write comes to your mind right away. Other times, you might not have a clue what kind of story you want to make it. In that case, going through the list of the different tones your story can have (exciting, funny, sad, scary, etc.) and thinking about how you would write each one will help you come up with the one you think is best. It's also nice to end your entry with a good cliffhanger, something that will leave your readers guessing and on the edge of their seats, and that will offer a nice challenge for the next writer.

A great thing that you can do in order to make your entry stand out is to write something that the reader might not necessarily expect based on the previous part of the story. One of my favourite examples of this is my entry that won for the third part in Week 21 of the Storytelling Competition. In the second part of the story, four pets who are on vacation in Tyrannia see Tyrannian pets running around in a panic, yelling, "The beast is angry!" One might logically expect that in the next part of the story, some frightening beast, such as a giant pterodactyl or the Monoceraptor, would appear, and I'm sure NeoPets probably received many entries with a scenario similar to this. Instead, however, I made "The Beast is Angry" into the title of a Sticks N Stones song. I explained that the Tyrannians were running around screaming it because a local radio station was having a contest in which the first 102 NeoPets to tell them the name of the song would receive tickets to a concert. This plot twist was different and unexpected, and probably helped me to get my first storytelling trophy. Of course, you don't always have to write the unexpected, but besides being a good way to make your entry stand out, it's also a fun way to stretch your creative muscles.

Speaking of fun, another thing that you can do to improve your chances of winning the Storytelling Competition is to practice, and make sure that it's enjoyable. First of all, entering as often as possible is about as good a way to get practice as any. But even outside of NeoPets you can hone your storytelling skills. If you and your friends are ever on a long bus ride or just sitting around with nothing to do, why not use that opportunity? Just start telling a story with one or two paragraphs (written or spoken) just like NeoPets does--it's doesn't have to be about NeoPets if you don't want--and go around your group of friends, having each person make up another small part of the story. You can not only dispel your boredom and have a lot of fun making up silly or scary stories with your friends, but you can be practising as well.

My final advice may be a bit cliché, but it's still vital and true: if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Don't be discouraged every time you don't win. Remember that you're competing against many other players. I entered more times than I could keep count of before I finally won the Storytelling Competition for the first time. Meanwhile, there are lots of other contests on NeoPets that I enter all the time and still haven't won at, but I just keep trying, because I've seen that perseverance pays off. If you want to win the Storytelling Competition, you have to keep on trying too and just have faith that if you do, eventually you'll get what you've been working for. In the mean time, just have fun coming up with the most creative entry you can and take pride in each one even if it doesn't win. I hope that the tips that I've given you here have improved your chances of winning and at the very least given you an appreciation for the creative fun that you can have in just giving it your best.

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