Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Tell A Tale in 500 Words

“A day wasted on others is not wasted on one’s self” Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens is celebrated as one of Britain’s greatest writers. With novels such as Oliver Twist, Bleak House, Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities he created some of the most amusing and enduring characters in fiction.

Dickens lived in the Victorian era, a time of change and moral responsibility where social problems such as poverty, rioting and poor working and living conditions were widespread. During his life, Dickens was an advocate for children’s rights and free public education and through his novels attempted to address the social inequalities he observed.

In A Tale of Two Cities, he explored his concerns that the troubles people were facing in England would lead to a revolution similar to that which had happened in France in the 1790s and drew attention to the inevitability of violence caused by the irresponsibility of people in power.


This project needs you!

In celebration of Dickens and to mark the Autumn 2016 theatre tour of Mike Poulton’s adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities, we want you to write a 500-word tale with the theme making change happen. Dickens wrote many short stories and believed doing so helped people release private emotions and fantasies that couldn’t be placed in longer narratives.


Get writing! 

Dickens created worlds and characters to bring wider attention to the issues he felt needed to be changed and to give a voice to the people of his time.

We want you to tell a tale with the theme making change happen. How you do it is up to you! Your tale doesn’t have to be set in Victorian England, or even England at all! It doesn’t have to be about people or politics. It could be about a lonely robot or a baby frog. Be as imaginative as you can!


All we ask is that you look at the themes from A Tale of Two Cities as your inspiration and think about what you would like to change and how.

Themes: inequality, revolution, sacrifice, violence, shadows and darkness, imprisonment.



A Tale of Two Cities premieres on 12th September at Royal & Derngate, Northampton. It then tours to cities and town across the UK until 26 November 2016.

  • At each city or town, Theatre Cloud and the Tell A Tale judges will select two tales to send to the cast of A Tale of Two Cities. An actor will then choose their favourite tale and perform a filmed reading at the theatre. Each reading will be available to watch online and makes it onto the shortlist.
  • In the final week of the tour, the Tell A Tale judges will review the shortlisted tales and decide which one comes top and receives a grand prize of £300. Judges will also choose a runner-up who will win £150. A third prize will be awarded to the tale that’s most popular with audiences online.
  • Everybody that participates in the project will receive an exclusive £10 ticket offer  (valid on 2 tickets) to see A Tale of Two Cities on stage at their local theatre.

Get Involved


Write a 500-word short story with the theme of 'making change happen'.

Register to and add your submission


Deadline: 6pm, 19 November 2016


1. Entry to this project is free and open to persons of all ages who reside in the UK.

2. Your story must be your own original work and must be unpublished at the time of entry. We accept no responsibility should entrants ignore these Terms & Conditions. Short stories should be fictional and must be no longer than 500 words in length.

3. Submit your story by registering to theatecloud and uploading your work via the online form. Unfortunately, we are unable to accept submissions by other methods. All submissions will be published here on the project page.

4. Submissions will be judged on originality, characterisation and enjoyment, in addition to the relevance to the theme and a consideration of Charles Dickens’ beliefs.

5. Entrants retain all rights to their entries but by submitting a story to the project, grant and acknowledge our right to publish the story as required in promoting the project and in the fulfillment of prizes.

6. Due to the large number of entrants, we are unable to respond individually to all submissions

7. Entry opens on Monday 8 August 2016 and closes on Saturday 19 Nov 2016 at 6PM. Submissions received after this deadline will not be accepted.


For more information or help, please email [email protected]

View submissions


Submissions are currently closed


The Raft
By Rachel Martin

I am slipping. I am powerless. I am tired. I am ready to fall. My eyes are heavy. I let gravity pull me. Someone grabs my hand. He pulls me in. I don’t know him, but he holds me. He talks to me,…

By Samantha K Collinson

It is a wet November evening. A man stands at the edge of the roof of a high-rise building in central London. He looks out over the edge and thinks about his life as it flashes like a showreel before…

The Best of Times
By Vanessa Horn

Twenty-three drew Fourteen away from the group. Spoke quietly. “Things need to change.” His friend raised his eyebrows. “Why?” “You have to ask?” Twenty-three indicated…

Death is a Casual cold
By ellie lachs

Cerise brickwork was pulverized by the Wolf’s breath as she sniggered at the mere beings who deemed themselves invincible. How wrong they had been. The brickwork was weak and crumbling; caving into…

A Tale of a City that went Backwards in Time
By Rhianna Bonsall

“You saw the news, I take it.” Tanya sighed, long and slow. “Graeme, the new mayor.” She let the silence fill the air while she continued to wipe the grimy cafĂ© table. But the…

Tick Tock
By Alissia blase

‘Tick, tock, tick, tock’ the timer sung against my chest. Time waits for no one, especially people who barely exist in society, a voice whispered in my head. I remembered ever so clearly the…

Ego Strip
By Sian Scott-Milton

v Ego Strip. By Rhianna Scott Letting out a desperate groan, as I clamped my hands to my head, I glared at the screen. Another page of alarming dross glared back. “I'm going to get a few short…

By Meghan Claridge

The scales creak with age as I place one and then two feet on them. The dial turns, but not much and it lands on five. Five stone, I haven’t weighed this little since I was 11. I don’t know…

Too Few to Mention
By Claire Wilson

For years I have been scared. Instead of striving for what I want, I’ve been content to sit back and hide in the gloom. Well, not content, but you know what I mean. It’s easy to assume that…

By Mumtaz Waliat

"No!" Shouted the father as his car screeched to a halt. He got out, opening the back door on the passenger side to where his daughter of six years sat stunned into silence. She looked at him…

By Helena Durham

On the days you walk down High Road you hear Big Issue, Big Issue! You play ‘guess the country of origin’ with these sellers, some regular, some occasional. You have a good ear for the low…

A ball rolls
By Kathleen Bell

A child rolled a ball down the road. It slid under a stalled car. The child’s face crumpled. Its thin hand stretched forward, then the child was on all fours, scrabbling its way across the street,…

Your Heart
By Emily Bye

Sometimes, you have to sacrifice the luxuries in life, for the people who desperately need you. If I had noticed the passion and kindness of others around me, he wouldn’t have gone. He was my world,…

Modern Alice
By Claire L

you could swear the clock is ticking backwards. every time you look up from your test, you see the second hand hover a moment, suspended infinitely in space, and then drop back to its original position,…

The Mouse and the Beggar
By Kezysblog

This is how it starts. You carelessly drop a crumb, forget to cover that hole, and they are in before you know it, clambering all over your food and your belongings before you wake. They huddle in the…

Traces of Smiles
By Nathanael Wheatcroft-Brown

Darkness usually beats with an irregular heart. A rebellious venom that stirs in the air, catching children’s throats and surrendering only to the will of human conscience. In a room that echoes…

The Watched Pot
By Annie Knox

When the door opened, she nearly dropped the spoon. It had been clenched in her fist for the past ten minutes as she switched her wide-eyed gaze from the clock to the pan. A watched pot never boils, she…

Last Chance Animal Shelter

“Pick me, pick me!” the chorus echoed around the Last Chance Animal Shelter, but it was only the keeper on his daily round, a high-powered hose in one hand, who appeared in the doorway. He…

By Andy Szpuk

Craig knows he’s got to keep digging, but it’s nearly midnight and they’ve been at it for hours, him and his dad. The spade sticks in the clay soil and is hard to budge. They’re…

It's Tonight
By Deborah Barrett

It’s Tonight Ahmed crouched and squashed himself between his mother and his little sister Amira, he could feel his mother’s breath against his face, hot and hurried, he could smell the sweat…