We don’t care if you’re experienced or not. Your writing is what matters.
Submissions closed: next submissions period tbc.
We have slots for short stories of 1-2000 words, and flash fiction up to 350 words.
You can submit one story in each category.
Submit your story as a .doc or .docx attachment by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make sure the attachment includes your name and the title of the story.
If you want to send us a story, you must read the guidelines below.
We’ll know if you haven’t…
1) Never submit a story to us unless you know you can read it on the night of the show. Put it in your diary, don’t make other plans. If you say you can read and then you tell us you can’t, we might not ask you back.
2) Don’t resubmit a rejected story. Even if it’s been edited. Send us something new.
3) We don’t mind if your story has been performed before or published. But never submit a story that is already under consideration somewhere else, unless you know ‘somewhere else’ won’t mind you reading it at Rattle Tales. If you’re not sure, wait to submit or ask them.
4) When we say we want short stories from 1-2000 words, and flash up to 350 words, we mean it.
5) It has to be a story. Something needs to happen, and there needs to be an end. This does not mean that we only want conventional beginning, middle and end tales. Experiment if you like, but make sure it’s a story.
6) Surprise us. But not too much. We get some stories that build up to a punch-line – but we’re not doing stand-up. Hint at your ending (or you’ll end up like Bobby Ewing in the shower). ‘It was all a dream’ scenarios just don’t do it for us.
7) We don’t need a lecture. Don’t just give us pages and pages of philosophy, show us what you think of the world by telling us a story.
8) Watch the similes. Over-use of the word ‘like’ is the most common mistake we see. Use similes sparingly (if at all). Consider this sentence:
‘Then they set out along the blacktop in the gun-metal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire.’ Cormac McCarthy – The Road
The light is not ‘like’ gun metal it is gun-metal light, they don’t shuffle through ash ‘like’ dirty water or some such, it’s just ash, it is not ‘as if’ each is the other’s world entire, they just are. Simple descriptions often work best. Simple doesn’t mean your writing is boring; ‘gun-metal light’ is wonderfully evocative and it certainly isn’t ordinary.
9) Do not try to shock us. Rattle Tales has seen it all; profanity, drugs, sex, murder and mutilation. Extremes only work if they are essential for the story. We like edgy but we can tell if it’s authentic or gratuitous.
10) Cliché sucks.
11) Plagiarism sucks. Use your own ideas. If it’s too much like something else we won’t be able to use it. Having influences is fine, but give us something new.
12) We don’t do twee. Plenty of people do but we don’t. Make it challenging, thought-provoking and conversation-stimulating. If it’s too mainstream we’re not interested.
13) Keep it simple. Don’t have too many characters; an audience can only listen to one or two voices at once. Don’t have too many backstories; if they can’t follow the action people will give up and stop listening.
14) Make sure it works read aloud. We read work out loud as part of the submissions process. Read your work out to yourself before you send it: you’ll find out where it doesn’t work and where it does.
15) If you do get to read, you’ll need to practise beforehand. You will be spotlit on a stage: you don’t want to stumble over your well-crafted words. If you’ve practised, you’ll know where the tough bits are. But if you do slip up a little, don’t worry. Our audience is friendly and forgiving.
16) Be prepared for interpretations you didn’t expect. The audience may ask you questions you haven’t even dreamt of. If you are precious about what your story means do not submit it to us because often the audience (and us) will not think your story is about that at all.
17) We’ll say it again, please make sure you can make the date of the event. If you can’t, wait until the next submission period. It’s tough to organise eight readers into a balanced programme, and not much fun to do it and then find out some can’t make it.
18) If you don’t get in don’t give up, keep submitting. We can have 50+ submissions for each show, more for festival shows. All 11 of us read all of the stories and vote on them. We always offer feedback on submissions we can’t include.
None of this is meant to be negative. We want you to do your best and we hope these guidelines will help you do just that. Happy writing…