This Was Turning Tales 2022

Hundreds of submissions, and a thousand votes!

Turning Tales transformed Fall 2022 into a season of creativity

From our host’s perspective, Turning Tales looked like this: First, refine the prompt. Having an idea is easy. Making it make sense is hard. :sweat_smile: Be tired on Monday night and nervous on Tuesday afternoon. After that: euphoria.
Then read and be amazed – From week 1, it was mind-boggling to see in how many imaginative ways you made ideas into stories. Laugh, sigh, try to push a tear back into my eye, realize it’s already full. Notice the puzzled expression of the gentleman at the coworking desk opposite mine. Read on.

Every day, life gives us reasons not to write. Work, distraction, fatigue. Uncertainty about whether we have anything to say and whether anyone will read it. With Turning Tales we wanted to give ourselves reasons to write more. Or something different. And to just go for it.

We have the privilege to join you in a community of incredibly talented writers. It was amazing to see this community’s stories unfold, to write together, support and inspire each other. Every day.

The nuns were not sure about pleasure, it made them uncomfortable, caused anxiety which showed on their naked faces which stood out stark white against the black of their habit. It seemed for this reason that the mashed potato was deeply anti-pleasure: instant, and yet still inexplicably lumpy, saltless, tasting only of the water that reconstituted it.

The first week was all about food. :pancakes: :fried_egg: :sandwich: :watermelon: But that’s not even half the story! It was about remembering, in detail, what the meals of our childhood tasted and smelled like, and what it was like to be a child, and to transfer those feelings and perceptions to the minds of others as accurately as possible. The entries this first topic sparked were deeply personal yet universal, and the conversations around those pieces went far beyond the topic of food. We had gotten into storytelling.

We did our best and tried to eat as much bread as we could.

We dedicated the second week to finding the perfect first sentence. A sentence strong enough to grab your reader by the collar and pull them out of their everyday live.

Marilyn Smith never wanted to be a waitress. She wanted to be a movie star. Each night she rolled her bleached blond hair in pink rollers – 1 inch; they had to be one inch. Marlene Dietrich only used one-inch rollers.

In the third week, we painted from life. Now more than ever, we go through our everyday life in a tunnel of thoughts, music and online content. :headphones: But if you don’t see what’s there, you eventually start seeing what you expect and writing what you read somewhere.

Whoa! Did you see that?” Jack said, astounded.
“Stop messing about! It’s not funny!”
“It’s not me,” Jack said, “What should we ask it next?”
“Maybe, ask it who died?”
“Who died in this house?” he asked.

Many of the fourth week’s entries read like micro novels with their own plots and turning points. The topic was dialogue and the space was limited – two speakers, five lines – but it only takes a few beats to conjure up a story. :left_speech_bubble: :speech_balloon:

Every person has a place, a sanctuary, where they go to seek solace and refuge from the onslaught that is modern life. For some that may be a walled compound on a tropical island. For others, it might be a dark corner of a parking garage (…). Whatever shape it may take, everyone needs that one place that is uniquely, unapologetically, theirs.

In the fifth week, we explored rooms that no one had entered for a long time. An abandoned place can be a riddle for your readers to solve or a mirror for your character to see themselves in. A metaphor. Or a portrait of someone long gone. Almost always, they’re a challenge: Do you dare to come in? Are you prepared for what you might find?

Suspended in fear for an eternity, she briefly wondered if it was over when she felt the road beneath her. But her head bounced again. And again. With no other choice, she watched clouds sailing past her as she slid twenty more feet.

There are so many ways to stop time. You can describe all the things that happen, incomprehensibly, in the same moment. You can focus in on the details that are only ever noticeable when time slows down. In the sixth week, we let time run infinitely slowly, then suddenly sped it up. Always on our minds that a single moment can be crucial – for a plot or a life. :mantelpiece_clock:

I heard the locks start to work on the other side. I knew there were thirty. Thirty locks, and the old man moved in slow motion at best.

An alchemist, too much of a strange substance, an unannounced visitor knocking on the door. How many stories can be created from one and the same beginning? An infinite number, the seventh week’s experiment suggests. A door, it seems, is a magical device. :door:

When you need to get rid of a body … bury the corpse vertically, as search crews and police will be looking for recently disturbed ground about 6 foot in width.

In the eighth week, we dug deep in our search histories and found treasure. In case of the most popular entry: literally. Some of the knowledge this week yielded was outright weird, some practical, some disillusioning. :owl: :world_map: :old_key: As we write, we learn. And new knowledge inspires new stories. Perpetual motion.

I leaned forward over my keyboard again, feeling every vertebrae snap back into work position. It was then I heard it. Again. Every. Damn. Day I HEAR IT!!! It wasn’t enough having to sit under the fluorescent lights that made me look like I was forever trying on bathing suits in a cheap store, I had to listen to the idiot next door TALKING under his breath.

In the ninth week, we started fights. :boom: Conflict drives the plot. It gives us important clues about a character’s personality, circumstances, and values. Week nine provided ample opportunity for murder and assault. We saw apologies and arson and everything in between.

My first date in years and I was folding like a map. A big paper map like we used to have to read in the front seat of the car to help navigate, and then you couldn’t fold it up again so the front was at the front. God only knew where my front was right now.

If you love someone, chase them through an airport. :airplane: When there’s a serial killer in your house, run upstairs! :hocho: And the best armor in any fight is the plot. In the tenth week, we took the tropes and clichés we usually avoid, dressed them in colorful adjectives and absurd metaphors and made them dance. A fun one to end the season in a good mood, right?

I awoke, bleary eyed and
Totally unsure what day it was
Then, from out of the other room
I heard a yip a whoop and a crash.

Well. An 11th week of Turning Tales arose – a holiday week, a party. :christmas_tree: Like presents under the Christmas tree, the stories piled up: funny, thought-provoking, sad, chaotic, magical pieces of writing. Thank you.

We are not done! In the past weeks, we asked the authors of the most popular Turning Tales pieces for their secrets, and they agreed to share them. Watch this space for goodies to come.

We hope you had a wonderful holiday season and we wish you a great new writing year full of good ideas, lots of time, and a room of your own.

See you on the other side. :sparkles: