Hello, Monkey’s Paws and White Elephants!
You sure you want that prize? I know it looks shiny, but you might want to think twice before going after it, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
A Reward You Will Regret
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
Rewards are almost always good things. It’s in the name, right? The trophy, the prize at the end of the race, or for doing a good deed. But what happens when it’s not everything it’s cracked up to be?
Maybe a mad sorcerer seeks immortality, only to find that they’ve lost the life they could have lived in the process. Maybe a pop star, after reaching the top, realizes they hate being famous. Maybe someone goes out partying, as a reward for getting a promotion…only to regret it when the hangover comes in the morning.
It could be more literal than that. Maybe a character wins a trophy, only to find it’s cheap plastic. Or maybe they learn that the trophy is cursed.
Genies are a perfect example of this prompt. Being able to wish for anything you could possibly want sounds like an incredible reward, but, the vast majority of the time, those wishes end up leading to immense regret.
Revenge is another good use of this prompt. While plotting in anger, the cold dish of revenge seems like a tasty reward, but more often than not it comes with a side of regret.
This prompt has a lot to do with cost—on both sides. Sometimes rewards come with sacrifices, or exchanges. You’re offered everything you want…but for a price. The cost may be mentioned first, or you may only realize it cost you once it’s too late to get your old life back. Is the reward really worth it?
Like when King Arthur chooses Guinevere. He is warned up front this is a bad choice, but the reward is too alluring for him to listen. Or like Oedipus, who gets the reward of marrying the queen…only to later realize it’s his own mother.
Sometimes a character can be so focused on a mission or goal that they lose sight of what they were originally fighting for. Like Anakin in the Star Wars Prequels, or Rumplestiltskin in Once Upon a Time. Anakin goes to the Dark Side in order to save Padme’s life, and Rumplestiltskin becomes the Dark One to save his son, but they both end up becoming monsters in their loved ones’ eyes, losing the reward in the process of pursuing it.
(Speaking of the Star Wars Prequels…) You could write about how one character saves another’s life, and the second character decides they owe a life debt. But…it turns out they’re really annoying, and the first character regrets saving them.
Perhaps, rather than the life debt of another human being, someone receives an animal as a prize. Perhaps a child, who has been asking for a puppy, gets one as a reward for good grades in school…only to realize that their parents are right; they can’t take good care of it.
Maybe you could write about a kid (or any character really) getting a cake, or a bunch of candy from trick-or-treating, or some other big food as a reward, but getting sick from eating it all at once.
You could write about a villain tricking a child into a terrible situation with a reward they don’t understand. Like someone in a nondescript, white van offering candy to children. It might look like a reward to the child…but they will ultimately regret trusting this person.
The quintessential “the real treasure was the friends we made along the way!” could play into this too. What happens to the person who didn’t learn that lesson? Who pursues the original goal, no matter the cost? Perhaps one character of the party realizes that their friends were more important than the treasure too late, and regrets leaving their friends to pursue the original treasure.
Remember, kids, read the smallprint, use protection, and don’t snort that fairy dust!
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least four stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and two of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
- Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
- No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
- Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
- One submission per participant.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
- You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
- Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
- Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
- You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.