Prose That Blows

General Rules

I’m not a huge fan of long lists of rules, but having said that it is important that Prose that Blows remains true to it’s original intentions of encouraging good writing skills, encouraging creativity and originality, encouraging good readership, encouraging new talent and being welcoming to authors of all abilities and persuasions. For us to achieve this, Prose-that-Blows can’t be a free-for-all, so some rules have been put in place.

These rules apply to all contests however some contests may have special rules which will be announced with the contest.

Word Limit

One of most important parts of any Prose-that-Blows contest is the word limit. This serves to encourage good writing by making forethought about your story a must since you have to think about how long each part will be; it also encourages creativity while discouraging lazy and rambling writing; it ensures a level playing field by not pitting cameos against epics, and finally it keeps all entries down to a manageable size in order to encourage people to read all stories before voting.

The following rules apply to the word-limit, though the limit itself will be set on a per-contest basis.

  • The title doesn’t count towards the word-limit, but it in itself should be no more than one sentence long.
  • Stories shouldn’t come with descriptions, prologues and abstracts. If you absolutely need a paragraph to explain your story before it begins then I suggest you read up on improving your exposition. If you do go ahead and submit a story with such a block of text at the beginning then this will be counted towards the word-count. The same goes for epilogues.
  • All words, including short words like ‘a’ and ‘the’ count towards the limit (this may seem obvious, but people have been known to ask)
  • Stories which are heavily over the word-limit won’t be accepted; stories which are slightly over the word-limit may be accepted but flagged as ‘OVER-LIMIT’ in the title when posted. It is at the organisers’ discretion where to draw this line and may be different for different contests. Being flagged may naturally cause voters to be biased against your story, this is the intention of flagging it so.

Original Work

The point of Prose-that-Blows is to encourage original work. Certainly we take a dim view on plagiarism, but also we want to encourage stories which stand alone and do not either break the contest’s anonymity by being a continuation of a previous story by a known author, fanfic, or require characterisation and scene-setting which takes place in a different story.

  • Your entry must be an original work by you.
  • It may not have been published anywhere else before the end of voting
  • It may not be a continuation of a story you have previously written
  • Theme of the Contest

Each contest has a theme, this won’t necessarily be a theme which forces you to set the story in a certain place, but rather themes will be chosen to test a specific aspect of inflation writing. All entries must follow the theme, but entrants are open to interpret the theme however they wish. Awards categories will also have been chosen specifically to reward work around theme, so the actual rules about following the theme are fairly relaxed, however you can still get disqualified on this aspect of your story.

  • Stories which show little or no regard to the theme will be disqualified and returned to the author for re-working at the organisers’ discretion.

Each story may be judged on it’s own merits as to what it takes to be considered as ‘paying regard to the theme’, but generally if you only show your regard to the theme in one small block and nowhere else then this isn’t paying enough regard. In a similar vein, if you lay out your reference to the theme in one scene-setting paragraph at the start and expect this to carry you through the rest of the story then you aren’t paying enough regard. More generally speaking, your reference to the theme should normally be frequent and occur throughout the story unless in setting the theme we have made it clear that this isn’t the case.


The main thing here is that Prose-that-Blows is an anonymous competition so ensure that people don’t favour authors they’ve liked int he past.

  • Any writers identifying themselves as being the author of their story before close of voting will be disqualified.
  • Checking of spelling, punctuation, appropriate paragraphing and grammar are the author’s own responsibility.
  • Entries are to be made by sending an email to
  • Entries will be posted to this blog on the day before voting opens.
  • Only one entry per author. Any authors found later to have submitted two stories will be publicly named and shamed in the forum and will have to give up any awards they won in the competition (metaphorically).

The Spirit of Prose that Blows

This is a difficult one to put down as a hard and fast rule, but since the spirit of prose that blows is to encourage good quality writing within the community, stories which clearly aren’t buying into the spirit of the competition may be returned to the author for reworking. This includes but isn’t limited to:

  • Fragments of stories lacking in adequate development and structure.
  • Stream-of-consciousness and other writing styles which lack grammar and syntax.
  • Stories which are blatantly trying to subvert the point of the contest, for example attempts to disguise unoriginal work and attempts to get around the word-count.
  • Stories which contain excessively poor spelling, punctuation and grammar to the point of being unreadable.
  • Stories which are clearly intended to upset or to exclude particular members or sections of the community.

It is our intention that we’ll never have to disqualify a story for not being in the spirit of the contest but you never know.

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