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 Regime
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Every day bears fruit to similar structures yet holds no semblance to time. Joy evades me. The more life appears to settle into place the unease, ever familiar, burrows into the darkest fringes of my…

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She is a child. She is running. The air is choked with ashen smoke, the sky a pocket of mottled blue. Around her, the world seems to move like clockwork: ticking and chiming with gunfire, with screaming.…

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By Daisy White

There was a smear of blood on the tomato, spoiling the ripe, juicy perfection of the pile, which lay in a white dish on the sunlit windowsill. How annoying, but whoever knew that blood could gush and…

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By louise hall

“When will it stop?” screamed Amelia to George clutching on to Amelia and gently rocking her back and forth. Slowly comforting her. Amelia gazes into her brother eyes, looking for support…

The Dirty End of the Stick
By Peter Astle

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“Hello, Charlotte from the letting agency: how can I help?” a high pitched voice beamed out of Max’s cell phone. “Hello, I’m calling regarding the room to rent in Hackney,…

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The woman on the stage speaks softly but confidently in slightly broken English. There is no trace of self-pity as she describes her situation dispassionately, her voice cracking a little only when she…

The Loss of Beauty
By Andrew Ough-Jones

Snow. Brilliant white snow. Untouched. Untainted. A beautifully free landscape. Free of life. Silent. Cracks appear. Snowflake upon snowflake seems to fall beneath into a void. Something is burrowing…

Ian Boyd
By Ian Boyd

Pigeons, they owned the streets. They strutted.boldly, arrogantly. They had no fear. They combed their environment with an ability to detect food that bordered on telepathic. A dropped crisp was spotted…

By Lauren Butler

I was awake before she even came into my room and shoved her clammy hand firmly over my mouth. My heartbeat synchronised with her pulse that I sensed in her palms. The only source of light was the dull…

Invisible Mending
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Julian wiped the blackboard clean of its crude drawings and obscene messages, then stacked it with its easel, the headmaster’s lectern and the rest of the evening’s props. Desmond held a blazer…

An Unforgettable Day
By Freya Monks

It was this day that kept replaying in your mind. You wished you could make it stop. 

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