A 30-foot tall story in eight words

Ever tried to write a story in eight words?

That’s what the Queensland Writers Centre has challenged you to do, and if they like it, they’ll put it on a billboard! And not just any billboard, but an extensive network of digital billboards across South-East Queensland!

A few have already made it, plastered in orange and white on screens 30 feet high. Photos are popping up in social media and on the news. Want to see your own name in lights?

Romance is a common theme for the stories. There’s lots of comedy and surrealism, too. And don’t forget politics: if you have a statement to make about gay marriage or gender, the damage we are doing to the environment, or technological change, this could be your chance.

Already up on the ‘boards

Here are some of the best (from my perspective) that have been published so far:

– ‘Looking back, I was totally wrong about cryogenesis.’ @beneltham

– ‘He died doing what he loved: choking noisily.’ @furioushorses

– ‘…a time loop. The professor was stuck in…’ – Gary Kemble

And it’s not just for amateurs. Some well-known writers have also put together an octuplet that has been selected for broadcast:

– ‘He painted like a man in love. Self-portraits.’ – Sulari Gentill (@SulariGentill), author of the Roland Sinclair series of crime novels

– ‘Those leaves, those birds – what a graphics card!’ – Jack Heath (@JackHeathWriter), author of young adult action fiction.

– ‘Don’t go home. That car is following you.’ – Emma Viscik (@EmmaViskic), author of the Caleb Zelic series.

Want to give it a go?

The Queensland Writers Centre website has some tips to help you craft something competitive, but here are a few of my own:

  • It is just like writing a normal story. Make sure you have a beginning, middle and end. Something should change over the course of the eight words.
  • You should be evoking something in the reader—an image, a smell, a feeling. An opinion, at least. Even if they just hate it.
  • A twist never hurts. Whatever is read in those first three words can have an entirely different meaning by the end.

As for me…

Have I entered any? Of course I have. Here is my selection:

– ‘There’s no Uber driver by that name, detective.’

– ‘Hide and seek player found five years later.’

– ‘Drums beat. Volcano bubbles. Virgin shoved. God sighs.’

– ‘Three seconds left. Boot to ball. Goalie leaps.’

– ‘He chewed. Chomped. Swallowed. Ate words. In jest.’ (I’m really, really sorry about this one.)

Keep an eye out for my name in big orange lights!


Missed me? It’s been a while since I’ve posted. There’s a good reason.

Please welcome Gwendolyn Nora to the world, born in August.

She’s lying on my lap screaming as I write this…