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


You, Me, and the Sea
By Steven Hardy

A person I love stands at the precipice of a cliff. He does not know I love him, nor that I am here tucked behind this chalky rock, peering between tufts of thrift at him. He wears a mustard yellow cardigan…

It's Tonight
By Deborah Barrett

It’s Tonight: Deborah Barrett 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…

The prophet you overlook
By Hetty mosforth

It is a Sunday afternoon and I am stood on my soapbox in the city centre. My voice is one in chorus of hecklers, all of us getting in the way of shoppers reaching the mid-season sales. We clarion call…

By Bridie Banwell

Addiction By Bridie Banwell I should have listened to the warnings, when first we were introduced all those years ago. They told me you were not to be trusted. They told me I would regret having anything…

The Visit
By Aleksandra Rychlicka

She was in London. I had an email, a Skype message and a voicemail to confirm this information. She was in trouble. Invalid visa, a flight attendant kindly informed her before leaving behind at the Heathrow…

The Visit
By Aleksandra Rychlicka

She was in London. I had an email, a Skype message and a voicemail to confirm this information. She was in trouble. Invalid visa, a flight attendant kindly informed her before leaving behind at the Heathrow…


Enough to Make A Spider Cry Graham was absorbed in a computer game when an irrelevant spider abseiled into view. Game Over. He closed his eyes in silent frustration. In Graham’s house Mum and Dad…

A Tale of Expectations
By Gwendlyn Drayton

It was the best of Towns, it was the worst of Towns. A glowing metropolis of vibrant cultures, a cesspit of insufferable ignorance. Roads layered thick with a rich history, streets seeping with a growing…

A Tale of Two Creatures
By Cat Arn

“If only they could see that I am real,” thought the stuffed dog. He wrinkled his nose in his mind, but alas, on his white plastic face, there was no wrinkle to see. He watched through the…

Eternal Karma
By Thom Goddard

I knew it was wrong. No, tell a lie, I didn’t know it was wrong because I was too young to know. It is the innocence of youth. And you’re only young once, right? So when innocence is gone…

The Sadness of Gravity
By Thom Goddard

"Darling, do you know the worst part about being fired out of a cannon?" Rossa Richter took a sip of her pre-prandial sherry and placed a frail hand on my arm. “It’s the circle of…

The saviour
By Callam Thompson

The alarm rang loudly waking me for another day, I remember it clearly now sat here staring into nothing it’s easy to see everything as it really was. I stepped across to the diary on my desk and…

Law and Order
By Eloise Preston

United with her Uncle, a magistrate, last year, Alice had been taken away from the streets. Now both niece and uncle sat opposite each other. “When were you going to tell me?” the uncle spoke.…

Silent Footsteps
By Anthony Morgan-Clark

At the end of all things. I am the silent runner. I cross cities that crumble in my wake. I cross fields of grass wilting under my feet. I pass through forests, leave a carpet of leaves to rot, hear oak…

More Than Sustenance
By Margaret Lewis

The soup kitchen had been set up by reverend Boyd and was held in the church vestry. Louise’s occasional support at the unit became regular sessions which she enjoyed. It saddened her that the same…

Pensioner attacked in Sedlow Sands
By Samantha Dordoy

The victim was walking in the Docklands area of Sedlow at around 8pm when she was approached by two men. The men punched the lady in the face before making off with £20 and her watch. Sedlow made…

I'll Take You Far Away
By Melissa Boyd

“I’m scared.” I looked over my shoulder at my sister whose eyes glistened with tears that threatened to spill out over her rosy cheeks. There wouldn’t be much use in telling her…

By Louise Davison

“Josh kicked the bucket last week.” The girl sighed. “I knew he wouldn’t last long – too careless.” She stared emptily at the brick wall in front of her, holding her…

System glitch
By Anna Toombs

The waves of his silvery hair are held motionless, like a turbulent ocean in freeze-frame. Tap, tap. Tap, tap. He lords over the vast expanse of deep mahogany stretching out around him; he can’t…

People of a Revolution
By Katy Sheridan

If pressed to describe the scene, she might have said it was reminiscent of a Satie piano piece; sad, even depressing, but with a subtle beauty. And the beauty of the moment was not lost on the woman…