Hey there, Survivors. We officially begin the game today with your first prompt. I was going to do a this team-builder thing, but I wanted to get people (new ones especially) used to the format before springing that kind of thing on them, so the team silliness will have to wait for now.

Here’s how the scoring will work this season (as it has for several now):

Half the field will be given a medal. If there are an uneven number of writers in the week, the extra medal will be given; i.e. 9 medals when there are 17 writers.

Medals will be given in an equal amount when possible. So, this time, each judge will give out nine medals: three each of gold, silver and bronze. When the number doesn’t work out that way, medals will be shaved from the top; if eight medals are being allocated, it’s two gold and three each of silver and bronze.

Medals are worth five points, three points and one point for G, S, B. The tribe with the lowest point-per-person score in a given week will vote out a member. BUT! If anyone fails to submit a story for a week, then only the team or teams with a non-submitter will vote. People who submit are always protected over those who don’t. This makes for a whimper of a results page, but it makes for a very easy elimination, which can make things less stressful for you. Well, unless you’re the one who didn’t submit. Also, if you don’t submit a story, your vote to eliminate will automatically be cast for yourself.

Send all entries to playwiththeprose@gmail.com.

From there, Bernice Nicaise will be putting the stories in a random order and we’ll be reading them without knowledge of who wrote which story. After Matthew and I make comments and allocate medals, I tabulate scores and announce which tribe has to vote someone out.

So, let’s get on with the prompt.

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For this first challenge, due Sunday night at 9pm Central, you will write a story about how a person/place/thing/whatever got its name. To be clear, we don’t want to feel like we’re reading a recounting of an ancient event in an encyclopedia; we want to be there as the story unfolds.

The word limit on this one is going to be 400. Word limits are enforced for our sake so you can get results in a timely manner; limits rise as the season goes on and there are fewer stories to read.

Note on word limits: I don’t actually count words. However, if I feel a story felt long, I’ll take a look at that story specifically. Therefore, there may be situations where I don’t disqualify a story that’s slightly over the word limit. If you want to chance this, go ahead. If anyone notices and whines about certain people doing this constantly, we’ll revisit the policy later.

So, there you are. You have your assignment, and Matthew and I wait with red pens at the ready. Cheers, Survivors.

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