The 30th OTP mini-contest was held in May 2016. This mini-contest asked contestants to use no more than 50 words to begin a short story that started with the kind of plot twist a much worse story would save for a “twist ending” that modern readers would see coming a mile away. The idea is, why save a plot twist for the end, where it will surprise just about no one? Why not start the story with the twist and develop it from there?
Here are our winning entries, then our honorable mentions. Four of the six winners are new to OTP.
Third Place by Ayame Whitfield (new OTP author)
Her eyes widened, hand clenching around the railing. Was it true, then, that her mother had driven the car over the cliff herself?
Second Place by Alyson Faye (new OTP author)
There had only been the three of them in the house when Sophie’s Dad had broken his neck.
“Poor little deaf Sophie” was exempt from suspicion. That left her mum, who everyone knew sported a black eye every other week.
Only Sophie could hear the other voices. The dolls plotting.
First Place by Wayne Scheer (published in mini-contests 16 and 18)
I’m not proud of it, but I’ve been screwing my brother’s wife. So when he wanted to hire me to find “the bastard,” I tried turning him down.
Then he flashed a roll of hundreds.
“That’s enough to get me started,” I said.
Honorable Mentions (no money, just fame)
Three other entries scored highly enough to earn honorable mentions.
Her lips pursed, Emily carefully examined the honeymoon suite. Since she planned to kill her new husband—her eighth—everything had to be perfect. She hummed pleasantly as she pictured herself as the new widow once again, never imagining that her husband had something far worse in store for her.
(by Jennifer Ridge, published in mini-contest 21)
I sorted through the stack of cards as my new bride slept. Among them a handwriting I recognized immediately. A card from my father. We had broken ties three years ago. A blank card with these words: “You can’t marry her. She isn’t a family friend, she’s your half-sister.”
(by Kimberly Jones, new OTP author)
I stole glances over the years, watching the chubby-cheeked infant grow into an exuberant girl, embraced by her adoptive parents. I watched and wished that she was still mine to hold. I dreamed of telling her that she had been my daughter first. But I couldn’t do it.
(by Elisabeth Ogrin, new OTP author)
Now It’s Our Turn
One of our judges wanted to try this one. Here is his entry.
When Julie’s boss turned into a kangaroo that afternoon, she understood why her life had been so strange lately. She was dreaming. Her last normal day–a day without UFOs, or being chased by spies–had been a week ago.
A week of dreaming, and she couldn’t wake up.
(by Tarl Kudrick)
Congratulations to the winners and our sincere thanks to everyone who entered the mini-contest.