The Writers Studio Tucson- Write to Read Writing Contest

Enter our first ever Write to Read Contest
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The Writers Studio Tucson teachers are excited to announce our first ever Write-to-Read contest, featuring guest judge Adrienne Celt, whose debut novel The Daughterswas published earlier this month.

Past and current students are invited to submit a short story, creative nonfiction piece, or 3-5 poems in response to a special prompt provided by Adrienne Celt. All entries are due Friday, October 2, at 9 p.m. AZ time.

Winners will read their entries during a special event hosted by The Writers Studio Tucson on Saturday, November 7, 2015. 

Contest Rules

How it works 

Adrienne has crafted a special writing prompt just for our contest. Entries will be read blind, and judged based on how well the writer achieves the goals of the prompt and the overall quality of the writing and the narrative voice.

Who can submit 

Current students of The Writers Studio Tucson and students who have taken a class (including online) within the past five years (2010-2015). You may submit fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction for your entry.

Preparing your submission 

• Your entry must be 5,000 words or less, or 3-5 poems.

• Word or PDF documents (.doc, .docx, .pdf ).

• Please use 12 point, easy-to-read font. Prose submissions should be double-spaced.

• Include the title and the page number in the header at the top of each page.

• Do not include your name anywhere in your entry.


• Email your submission as an attachment to by Friday, October 2, at 9 p.m. AZ time.

• The name of your attachment should be the title of your submission (example: The_Red_Fox.doc). Please use the subject line “Write-to-Read Contest Submission” so we don’t miss it.

• In the body of your email, please include your first and last name, the title of your submission, your most recent Writers Studio Tucson class (example: Fall 2014 Intermediate), your email address and your phone number.

• Your submission must follow the guidelines above in order to be considered, so please read them carefully.

The Writers Studio Tucson will announce the winners by Sunday, October 18. 

Have a question about the submission process? Email Reneé at

The Prompt

A matryoshka is a Russian nesting doll, containing many smaller dolls – each smaller than the last. The dolls are all discrete objects, and yet they’re part of the same toy: a single matryoshka would not be complete without her sisters. She would be a shell, beautiful, but without meaning.

Stories can function this way, too. Yes, there’s often one big, identifiable arc of action that your characters follow, but sometimes there are smaller stories inside. These can be flashbacks, triggered by something happening in the story’s present. They can relate the content of letters that a character finds and reads. Or they can be fairytales, myths, ghost stories, gossip – any number of mini-narratives told either by your narrator or your characters. The trick is to connect these smaller stories to the themes of the major arc in a way that increases the importance of both. The nested elements aren’t extraneous, they aren’t fluff. They’re an important part of what makes the story tick. Call it the matryoshka effect: when small pieces add up to something greater than the sum of their parts.

This is your mission, should you choose to accept it: write a story or a poem that relies on nested narratives as a vital part of its construction.

One way to think about this is in terms of structure: how does the order of events in your piece necessitate each mini-narrative as it occurs? Another way to think about it is in terms of character: why would the person who tells this story find it interesting? And how do the listeners react to it, or change as a result? But of course those are just two suggestions. The beauty of nested stories is that they can happen in any number of ways, for any number of reasons. Sometimes the smaller elements are all there is, like a pixilated image: you don’t see the larger story until you take a step back. Sometimes it’s just one small but vital kernel. The important thing is that these mini-narratives help you communicate your story’s true heart.

More About Adrienne Celt

Adrienne Celt is the author of The Daughters, a novel (W.W. Norton/Liveright 2015). A writer and cartoonist living in Tucson, her work has appeared in Esquire, The Kenyon Review, EPOCH, The Rumpus, The Toast, Electric Literature, The Lit Hub, and many other places. Find her online at or visit her webcomic at

More about The Daughters

In this virtuosic debut, a world-class soprano seeks to reclaim her voice from the curse that winds through her family tree.

Since the difficult birth of her daughter, which collided tragically with the death of her beloved grandmother, renowned opera sensation Lulu can’t bring herself to sing a note. Haunted by a curse that traces back through the women in her family, she fears that the loss of her remarkable talent and the birth of her daughter are somehow inexplicably connected. As Lulu tentatively embraces motherhood, she sifts through the stories she’s inherited about her elusive, jazz-singer mother and the nearly mythic matriarch, her great-grandmother Greta. Each tale is steeped in the family’s folkloric Polish tradition and haunted by the rusalka-a spirit that inspired Dvorak’s classic opera.

Merging elements from Bel Canto and Amy and Isabelle, The Daughters reveals through four generations the sensuous but precise physicality of both music and motherhood, and-most mysterious and seductive of all-the resonant ancestral lore that binds each mother to the one who came before.

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