Submit Your Story
Next show: November, 2016 at the Miami Book Fair!
Submission deadline: Midnight, April 16, 2016 LATE SUBMISSIONS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED
Maximum word count: 1200 (not including title) SUBMISSIONS THAT EXCEED THE WORD COUNT WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED
To submit, just include your story in the body of the email or attach it as a Word doc to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DO NOT PUT YOUR NAME IN THE WORD DOCUMENT!
Stories must be true and must be fewer than 1,200 words.
Everyone has a story. What’s yours?
- STORIES MUST BE TRUE. (If you tell us the story is true, we believe you.)
- STORIES MUST BE PERSONAL. We don’t want you to tell us about your grandpa Charlie’s amazing life. We want YOUR story. How did Grandpa Charlie affect YOU?
- STORIES MUST BE 1200 WORDS OR FEWER. Stories that exceed the word count maximum are automatically disqualified.
TIPS ON HOW TO GET YOUR STORY CHOSEN:
First things first.
Your story must be a story. Stories are a specific thing. There is a main character who wants something (or wants to avoid something). Something happens to the main character—an event or situation—which challenges/conflicts with the main character’s original desire, and in the end, there is some sort of resolution. The main character gets what he wants, or doesn’t get it, but more importantly, the character learns something. That he could fly all along (All Women Scream), that it’s okay to let go (Shorts), or maybe she doesn’t learn a thing, but the audience learns something because of the story (Cycle). Don’t write a recollection, or a personal reflection. Write a story.
Not all situations make for a good story. In “The Situation and the Story,” Vivian Gornick explains the difference between situation and story this way—“The situation is the event itself, sometimes it is the plot. The story is the emotional journey the character [you] takes through the situation.” For instance in Life of Pi, the situation is a boy spends almost a year at sea, a castaway on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger aboard. The story is about how faith can sustain the human spirit through even the most desperate circumstances. Your submission should have both a remarkable situation and an emotional story.
- Write about something eventful, the kind of thing that happened where you rushed home to tell someone. But it’s not just enough to have a remarkable situation; your submission should also be a story.
- Write a story about YOU.
- Write about something different. Don’t tell us the story about how your boyfriend cheated on you. Tell us about how you were the mistress.
- Be vulnerable. Be evil. Be real. Sometimes the main character is the villain.
- Be Funny. People LOVE to laugh out loud.
- Take us inside a world we don’t know or haven’t seen.
- Be yourself. Let us hear your voice in the piece. Show us your personality—sarcastic, sweet, asshole. However you are in your story, own it.
- Be casual. Lip Service is not a reading, it’s storytelling. Try to tell the story the way you would tell it to a friend (or a room full of your 600 closest friends).
- Don’t sweat the grammar. We judge submissions based on the quality of the story, more than the quality of the writing. Sometimes we have to turn down beautifully written submissions because the story isn’t clear or isn’t working.
- Don’t be overly literary. Storytelling is a humble art. Of course any good story will have metaphors and lyrical writing, but remember that people will be listening to your story out loud, not reading it. Subtly does not work out loud as well as it does on the page. The ear can only retain so much information, and you want to be clear so the audience can follow your story.
- Don’t write too broadly. Less is more. You only have 1200 words, so try not to write about a long span of time like “my childhood” or “the years I spent in the military.” Rather, try to focus in on a specific event that captures your childhood or your military experience, like, “the day I confronted my bully,” or “first day of boot camp.” Zooming in on a moment can help focus your story.
- Don’t write a rant! We want stories, not political commentary. Unless you once spontaneously combusted, please don’t write about global warming.
Of course, the best way to get a sense of the kinds of stories we look for is to hear the stories for yourself. Come to every show. Click here to check out some of the stories from our last show.