Thanks for your patience, gang! If you haven’t been patient, thanks for not sending me hate mail. If you’ve sent me hate mail, you’re grounded, mister.

The first story will be due next Sunday at 8pm Central. First, though, let me run through some of the basics of the season.

SCORING

There are 21 of you, and 11 will score medals from each of the three judges each week: each of us will give three golds, four silvers and four bronzes. If there are people who fail to submit, as there always are, those numbers will not change. If anyone officially pulls out, I’ll reassess the number of medals given out. If you screw up and don’t submit, you get one free pass. If you do it a second time, you lose two points. For each non-submission thereafter, you lose points equal to the number of your submission failures.

Golds are worth five points, silvers are worth three and bronzes are worth one.

You will always send your stories to playwiththeprose@gmail.com. Don’t send them directly to me. Some of you will do this, as always, but we’ll break you eventually.

THE JUDGES

Me. I hate on-the-nose dialogue, especially when characters say things out loud that the other characters in the scene would already know. Get your exposition out in other ways, people!

Tanya Laumann. I’ve known Tanya since college. She is extremely creative in a number of ways. I don’t know what she loves and hates when it comes to writing. I guess we’ll find out.

Matthew Gilman. Because every season of PwtP needs a villain, and it’s nice that I don’t always have to be that person.

We will be reading the stories anonymously, as always. I don’t have a gatherer yet, so if you are typically free on Sunday, let me know. If you’ve gathered (and can do it fairly quickly) in the past, that’s even better.

THE THEME

Matt Novak suggested a Twilight Zone theme to me a while back, and I rather liked it. Let me be clear that you are not being asked to write twelve thrillers. I’m going to be giving a prompt based on one of the show’s more famous episodes, and you’ll run with it from there. These are meant to be inspirations, and not hamstrings.

THE PLAYOFFS

At the end of the season, the top six scorers will reach the playoffs. The top two will receive a bye into the semifinals while the 3rd-6th place finishers will do a challenge. The top two performers in that challenge join the top two overall in the next week. Those four will do another challenge, and the top two performers will reach the finals. The winner of the finals will win the title of PwtP champion along with the one million high-five prize.

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So, let’s make with the first prompt.

The Hitch-Hiker.

In the episode, a woman is greeted by the same hitchhiker several times on a road trip, despite the fact that he is traveling on foot. I’m actually going to avoid spoilers here, as this is a pretty good reveal and the actors do a good job, so hey, maybe you’ll be inspired to see it.

For your purposes, the idea of hitchhiking is all you need to include. The rest is all you, you crazy cats.

The word maximum is 500.

See you next Sunday.

We will not be quick to post results. There are a ton of you, and on top of that, Sunday isn’t always ideal for me. However, my aim is to always have results (and a new prompt) up by Monday.

Cheers, Prosers.

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