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Once Upon a Time in Pet Central

by tj_wagner


Everyone has a game or contest that they prefer to all others. Mine has always been, and probably will always, be the Story Telling Competition. Why? Well, I enjoy writing and it’s almost as fun to read the developing story as it is to enter. Plus, you are allowed to enter as many times as you want, which gives you multiple chances to win. If you do win, you receive 2,000 neopoints and a rare item. The rare item can be a codestone or a paint brush. That’s why I decided to create this little guide so that everyone is aware and has a chance to enjoy my favorite competition.

What is the Story Telling Competition?

The Story Telling Competition is a competition in which a member of TNT begins a story with a single paragraph. Each day, 1-2 new paragraphs are chosen that best continue the story until the story is completed. Each contest begins on Monday and ends on Friday and there are approximately 9 paragraphs chosen each week (not including the first one). This competition can be found in the Games Room under Puzzles or near the bottom of the Pet Central page

Before You Enter

If you have never entered the Story Telling Competition, then I recommend reading a few of the past competitions. This will give you a good idea as to how the stories usually flow and what kinds of paragraphs are typically chosen. There is also an excellent list of FAQs that all new competitors should read.

Next, you need to fully read all the paragraphs that come before your entry. Now, this might sound painfully obvious, but it's so tempting to just skim if you are entering late in the week. Pay careful attention to names, pets' species, and personalities. It's also important to note the tone of the story. If it's been funny so far, then your entry should probably be humorous. There are rare instances in which a change in tone is appropriate.

If the story is telling with a particular character or place, it's always best to try and learn all you can about this individual or location. If you do this, you can add more detail and specific Neopian refrences which, in my experience, always help an entry.

Entering The Competition

Now, on to the most important part - entering the competition. Simply write what you think the next part of the story should be in the text part and click submit. However, it's not precisely that easy. The content of the text you enter will determine if your entry will be chosen or not. So, what should every entry contain?

The basic idea is your entry needs to move the story along. The entry before ended usually at a turning point, so start at that point and move it along. Unless you are writing the final entry, you don't want to 'solve' the problem. The day of the week actually has some determination on the exact content of your entry, so be sure to also check out the Daily Guide, which appears later in this article.

Each good entry should include a few things. First, you need to remember to begin with ellipses (...) and all entries but the final one should end the same way. You want your entry to be descriptive but it also needs to move the story along. Work hard to balance your description and action. Good spelling is also important. I'm a terrible speller, so I like to write my entries in a word processing program to check for spelling and grammar before entering. Also, use a thesaurus so you can use a variety of adjectives and adverbs.

Check back often to see if a new entry has been chosen. You will receive a neomail when you win. However, if your entry wasn't the one chosen, it's best to begin entering for the next post right away. You can enter as many times as you want for each section. I like to read and write the first one that comes to my head and then work on something else. Often, new ideas will occur to me, and I will go back to write another entry. The most important thing is persistence. I've won 5 times, but I've entered about 100 times. If you don't win, just keep trying.

Daily Guide

The Story Telling Competition begins on Monday and ends on Friday of each week (with the occasional exception of holidays). Because of this, there is usually a pattern of how the story moves along each day. By looking at the day of the week, you can better determine the content of your entry.

Monday - The story begins on Monday. The problem is introduced as well as the main characters. At this point, the problem has not been fully explored and there is no thought as to a resolution. New characters may be added.

Tuesday - The problem is more fully explored as well as complications of the problem introduced. There is usually a 'twist' in which the characters realize the problem is much bigger than it first appeared. New characters may still be added.

Wednesday - The entire problem is fully realized and there may be the first hint of a solution. Plot twists continue and this is the point where the obstacles are at their peak. This is the final day new characters may be added and you should do so only if there are not already 3-4 main characters.

Thursday - The main characters finally have an idea of what the solution is and are working towards obtaining this solution. Plot twists are minimal and no new characters should be added.

Friday - This is the final day of the story. The characters finally fully know what must be done to solve the problem and work towards the solution. There is a decline in the action. No new characters are to be added. The final post will end the story in a 'satisfying' manner.

Dos and Don’ts

Things You Should Do

*Proofread your own entry before submitting.

*Keep trying even if you don't win.

*Add all of the specific references to neopets, items, etc that you can.

*Follow the tone and direction of the story.

*If a new idea comes to you, enter it even if you have entered one post already.

*Check back often to see if a new post has been chosen.

Things You Should NEVER Do

*Ask someone else to write your entry.

*Use any language, subject matter, etc that you could not post on the message boards.

*Mention a specific user or pet other than your own.

*Send the same entry multiple times.

On average it's also not a good idea to let others read your entry to see what they think. While many are honest, some may steal your entry or your idea.

General Writing Tips

As writers we all have habits and styles that are almost like signatures. It is important to be aware of our signature to use it to your advantage while not letting it become a barrier. For example - I'm a descriptive writer who has trouble writing action. I also am not a good speller and my most commonly misspelled words are surprise (suprize) and recommend (reccomend). However, this doesn't mean I should always misspell those words or only write description. I know that description is my strength, so I should utilize it as fully as possible but I should not avoid stories with more action. Instead I should practice writing that comes hard for me. The stories may not be written well, but every time we write we stand the chance of improvement. Also, be aware of common errors so that you can correct them.

Don't be afraid of writer's block. It's not terminal. Give yourself permission to write whatever comes to mind, good or bad. Typing on a computer is good because then you can just erase everything if you don't like it. Also, try role-playing story ideas with friends and even strangers. Other people can come up with things you never even thought about.

Well, that's the guide. If anyone has anything to add (comment, feedback, criticism, etc) feel free to neomail me!

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