Hello, Weary Wanderers and Will-o’-the-Wisps!
Looks like you’re a bit lost, my dear. Let me help you. Let’s see, you could go that way…but it would be dangerous. Or you could go that way…but it would be boring. Decisions decisions. Best make them wisely because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
The Man at the Crossroads
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!
Stories—especially of the fairy tales and fable variety—are full of strange roads, and mysterious men. Oftentimes, our intrepid hero will arrive at a crossroad to find someone pointing them in a certain direction. This person could be perfectly benign, or they could be a villain pointing them down the dark, dangerous path—perhaps down the road leading to their own castle.
A good example of this prompt is Alice in Wonderland. She is faced with many crossroads along her journey, and many creatures who direct her on her way. Some help her, others direct her poorly, and others simply want to talk there in the middle. But whichever direction she chooses, she faces only more strangeness and madness.
Crossroads don’t have to be roads exactly. A crossroad can be any sort of diverging path. In science fiction stories, a crossroad could be a crew deciding if they should go back for more fuel, or hope what they have lasts the rest of the way. A crossroad can be a difficult decision; our friends don’t always have the best advice.
Likewise, “man” doesn’t have to be a man exactly. The human race as a whole is often referred to as “man.” A silhouette could at first look like a man, but upon closer inspection prove itself a creature of mimicry. Maybe we don’t even see the man, but assume the lantern glowing in the dark, seemingly guiding us, hangs from a human hand…only to learn much too late that it was a hinkypunk leading us astray.
Demons and devils often prey on lost creatures. Perhaps a demon appears human, whispering the wonders of the darker path. Or perhaps it offers another path, with a higher cost, and a greater reward. In real life, people often end up joining cults, or getting caught up with addiction because of a single encounter when they were at a crossroad in life.
Or it could be something more benevolent. Maybe a scarecrow stands at the crossroad, its purpose and delight directing passerby. Or maybe it’s just the nice lady at the craft store directing you to aisle three.
Now, you best be on your way. And keep your wits about you. Not everyone on this road will be as helpful as me.
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 five stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and three 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.