Rodeo #1: Dialog

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

October 3, 2018

By Geoff Le Pard, Rodeo Leader

Writers are notorious people watchers. It’s a small miracle we don’t get done for stalking more often. Part of that idea — thieving we do involves listening to what people say — phrases, the modes of speech, dialect, etc. People convey ideas and feelings with words. [READ MORE…]

So, those pesky rules:

  1. Every entry must be 99 words, no more, no less. You can have a title outside that limit.
  2. It’s dialogue only. Everything inside speech marks, please. (American and British styles both accepted.)
  3. Any genre, time, place, just let us know via words. If you can world build a fantasy, hats off! (Oh, by the way, I bloody loathe the overuse of the exclamation mark. Be very sparing or my prejudices may show through.
  4. It’s a conversation so you need two characters at least. But can you have a conversation with yourself? With an inanimate object? Go for it. There’s a prompt at the end for you to use, but use your imagination. It doesn’t have to be anyone in the picture who’s speaking, does it?
  5. I don’t mind what English spelling or slang you use, just make it recognisably English.
  6. I want emotion, but I want fiction. Not memoir, not a personal narrative and no non-fiction, though dialogue non-fiction sounds a challenge in its own right.
  7. You must enter your name and email with your entry using the provided form below. If you do not receive an acknowledgement by email, contact us at
  8. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on October 10, 2018. Entries are judged blind and winners announced November 9, 2018 at Carrot Ranch. Please do not compromise the blind judging by posting your entry before the winners are announced.
  9. Go where the prompt leads, people.
  10. Have fun.

JUDGES (read full bios at SPONSORS)

Geoff Le Pard

Find Geoff’s books at Amazon US or Amazon UK. Follow his blog at TanGental and on Twitter @geofflepard.

Esther Chilton

Whether it’s an edit you’re after, some advice about a market, writing in general – in fact, anything and everything, you can get in touch, and she’ll try and help you. To find out more, visit her blog: Or contact her:

Chelsea Owens

When not cleaning (an infuriatingly large amount of the time), eating, sleeping, parenting, driving, reading her blog feed, budgeting, and cooking; Chelsea breathes in and sometimes out again. She also writes daily on her blog:

In judging we will apply the following criteria:

  1. Word count: 99
  2. Pure dialogue.
  3. Use of the prompt.
  4. Emotion: does the piece convey feeling? Do you generate a reaction in the reader?
  5. Ideally we want a story, something that makes us think. Where’s this going? What’s happened? Engage us in your tale.
  6. We love any clever tricks, to make us go ‘ah ha’. Include something to make us wonder and up the slippery pole you go.
  7. Just remember, in real life, we don’t say everything, we finish each other’s sentences, we talk over each other. Use that. Make it feel real. Make us hear it, and you’ll be a winner.

And the picture prompt?

Oh come on, it’s me. Wadyaexpect? The inside of Starbucks?

Thank you for entering! The contest is now closed. Winners announced November 9, 2018, at Carrot Ranch.

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  1. Charli Mills

    Ha! Great photo prompt for Dialog, Geoff! Good luck to all entering (and judging). Have a fine ride this week!

  2. Norah

    Hahaha! What a photo prompt, Geoff. I think you’ve set yourself up here for some fun conversations. I wonder which one is the sage and which the student. 🙂 This is a fun contest. I think you’ll have many joining in.

    • Charli Mills

      It’ll be fun to read the different takes on that pondering, Norah. Thanks for sharing the post at your place!

  3. Norah

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    And so the rodeo begins. Geoff le Pard has introduced the first contest: Dialog. You won’t believe who are conversing. Will you join in?

  4. TanGental

    Thank you Charli, and Norah for you instant support. One entry already and Dog hasn’t abluted yet. I hope people enjoy this. As for the pic there are so many possibilities here, esp. off camera. I hope my mind is twisted out of shape!

    • Charli Mills

      Off to a good start on a mind-twisting adventure!

  5. Lisa L.

    What a great photo, Geoff! This should be fun.

    • TanGental

      look forward to your entry Lisa!

    • Charli Mills

      With a photo like that, fun comes to mind!

  6. floatinggold

    Not an easy prompt.
    But I gave it a go.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for giving it a go!

  7. robbiesinspiration

    I shall put my thinking cap on.

    • Charli Mills

      Have fun, Robbie! I think one day you should recreate this photo in fondant. 🙂

  8. Jules

    Thanks Geoff,

    OK. I’ve got my entry in. Might be back before the deadline with a challenge piece. Unless I like it enough for a second entry.

    Ooooh, off camera… I hadn’t thought of that.

    Good Luck everyone.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Jules! Have fun!

  9. Jules

    Geoff… I think my first entry has some errors… I sent a second with corrections. Please use that one. 🙂

  10. willowdot21

    Love the photos prompt, so many possibilities ????

    • TanGental

      I’m looking forward to reading them

      • willowdot21


    • Charli Mills

      It’ll be interesting to read those possibilities!

      • willowdot21

        Yes will we get to see them too ????

  11. Jules

    OK we gotta have a conversation in the comments, don’t we?
    (Use title as it is the link to post.)

    All the Glory and Then Some

    “Al get off my case. How many time do I have to tell you
    that I didn’t fix the race?”

    “My kids don’t believe me when I tell ‘em you got the
    drop on Bugsy.”

    “So bring ‘em into the shop why don’tcha. I got the trophy.”

    “Yeah, I know you display it proudly as the owner of this joint.”

    “So I got a degree in advertising too. You gonna wait until
    closing and offer me some concrete Wellies? Remember I
    also got Glinda watching out for me.”

    “If only you didn’t have the best carrot juice in town…”


    • Jules

      That should be : How many times… with an ‘s’.

    • Norah

      This is very clever, Jules. I read it on your blog and decided I had to submit mine before I read any more or I’d chicken out. You should have entered this one. I don’t know what Geoff thinks, but I think it’s mighty good, and like the tortoise, will be hard to beat. 🙂

      • TanGental

        um, not allowed to say, sadly… we judges are held hostage throughout this purdah of the rodeo…

      • Norah

        I know. I wasn’t implying you should comment. Just sayin’.

      • Jules

        Last year I did the same thing… I wrote at least one for the contests and one in the challenge sections… I’m actually racking my brains to come up with another entry. But it is tough to come up with that ‘Punch-line’.
        I was lucky I guess that the two I did write popped out 😉

      • Norah

        You are very lucky. I look forward to reading them, eventually. Mine just popped out too, but … oh, well, no further comment. 🙂

      • Jules

        Shhh…. we’ll get to see everything soon enough 😀

    • Jules

      Geoff ,

      ‘All the Glory and Then Some’ is just a challenge piece, not a contest piece. Like last year – I wrote pieces for both the contests and for the ‘comments’ section. I believe anything in the comments section is just for giggles for every one to enjoy. It is my understanding that only pieces submitted as entries are for judging.

      Yep, it was a fun piece to write. Now I gotta wonder if I shoulda entered it… but it’s all good. Since I’m just having fun. 🙂

      • TanGental

        That’s fine Jules

    • Charli Mills

      Fun challenge, Jules! I like the powered by Carrot Juice.

  12. Sherri Matthews

    Reblogged this on A View From My Summerhouse and commented:
    And we’re off! Geoff Le Pard is first through the gate at the Rodeo with contest number 1, ‘Dialogue’ All details below. Open to all, free entry, and a cash prize for the winner. Contest closes October 10 at 11:59pm EST. See you back here with next week’s contest, and best of luck to all.

    • TanGental

      Thanks Sherri

      • Sherri Matthews

        Welcome, Geoff. You’ve thrown me, though. I had an idea and then your photo…love it, btw. Back to square one…but I’ll be there with something…anything… 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Sherri!

  13. Billy Ray Chitwood

    I sent TWO. If the one is too ‘RAW’ (‘Paytreeotic’), enter the other one – “IT’S A SMALL WORLD”). Thanks. ??

    • TanGental

      they both can have a go, BillyRay

    • Charli Mills

      Much insprired to enter two, Billy! Thanks!

  14. Colleen Chesebro

    Oh, this is fabulous! It has Geoff’s brand of humor all over it. LOL! 😀 <3

    • TanGental

      Fraid so… guilty as charged..

      • robbiesinspiration

        We need laughing likes on WordPress – like you get on FB.

    • Charli Mills

      So true, Colleen! It’s got the Le Pard Humor Imprint.

  15. Ritu

    Submitted, EEEK!!!

    • TanGental

      Brave, brave sir ritu!!

      • Ritu

        Always ready for battle!!!

    • Charli Mills

      Ritu unleashed her rodeo turtle!

  16. calmkate

    love the cheeky photo, great prompt and Jules entry is super!

    • Jules

      That was just my challenge entry. I also submitted a contest entry.
      There are so many ways one can go with that great photo.

      • TanGental

        I daren’t begin to think!

      • calmkate

        exactly it’s so inspiring … now to find the time 🙂

    • TanGental

      hope it stimulates your word flow!

      • Jules

        mmmm… you want more?
        I might have to put on my thinking cap 🙂

      • calmkate

        time is my issue Geoff but hope to submit something … is that you?

      • TanGental

        It’s me! Hopefully you’ll find a moment!

      • calmkate

        then your face paints a thousand stories, now I must make the effort even if I’m late 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I love the idea that Geoff has the face to launch a 1,000 stories!

      • calmkate

        oh he has indeed, count the number that come in, it’s an inspiring photo 🙂

      • TanGental

        as a judge that’s a terrifying prospect!

      • calmkate

        lol enjoy the infamy 🙂

      • TanGental

        being thought two-faced is bad enough but a thousand-faced? eeek

  17. Marje @ Kyrosmagica

    I think there will be a lot of humorous dialog given that prompt. Nice one!

    • TanGental

      hope so!

    • Charli Mills

      I think Geoff figured out how to tickle the funny pen of writers!

  18. dgkaye

    Oh this looks like so much fun. If finish my projects by weekend I’ll be hopping on this one. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      What a fun reward that would be. Good for your dedication to your writing priorities, Debby!

      • dgkaye

        🙂 🙂

  19. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Keepin’ It Real

    “Pal! The rodeo’s o’fictially begun.”

    “What’s up with the purposeful misspell, Kid? It’ll spook Shorty, git her all worried about errorists.”

    “Don’t mean ta worry Shorty; she’s got enough goin’ on. It’s jist that I ‘m always a might confused about fact an’ fiction. Like this rodeo… is it real? ‘Cause you an’ I ain’t, ya know that, right Pal?”

    “Kid, we’re real- an’ we ain’t… I mean, we’re real characters…”

    “Made up an’ hangin’ out in a made up place…”

    “Kid, folks keep comin’ here ta write an’ read an’ that’s real-ly a big deal. It’s all good.”

    Write Off

    “So, is our writer friend, D. Avery gonna do anything with this prompt?”

    “Her?! This is about dialogue. What’s she got ta say?”

    “Thought you’d be able ta speak ta it Kid. An’ I’m a might worried she might leave it ta you ta do the sayin’. So jist wonderin’ if she’ll be talkn’; jist sayin’.”

    Well I ain’t sayin’ if she’s havin’ me say anythin’ cause the facts (alternative as they might be here in our fictional setting) are that there’s plenty folks around with plenty ta say an’ they will relish the challenges presented each week.”


    • Norah

      “If these two, and their friend D. Avery, don’t enter the dialog contest, then …”
      “Then what?”
      “Well, I dunno. But they should!”

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for keepin’ it real with these two alternative factual characters! Hope their writer enters…

  20. pedometergeek

    Submitted, but are we supposed to put it in the comments, too, as well as our blog? Will wait for an answer before I post here in the comments and on my blog.

    • Norah

      My thoughts are that we don’t post here or on our blogs if we wish our story to be judged as part of the contest. We would lose anonymity that way. When judging is over, it will be fine to post on our blogs, and Charli will be sharing all the entries here. I’m looking forward to reading all the stories.

      • TanGental

        i agree, please keep private in case a judge comes across it, unannonymised – is that a word?- and rather distorts the judging process.

    • TanGental

      please keep private for now here and on your own platform, until judging complete. It will be done annonymously.

      • pedometergeek

        Thanks so much. I have just started writing here recently so this is the first attempt. I wasn’t even sure if I could enter.

      • TanGental

        yes, please have a go; we judges are v nice (I coo at pigeons in my spare time) and Charli’s space is very welcoming even if all that yee-haaing can get a bit noisy. Bon chance…

    • Charli Mills

      Glad you entered! The Rodeo is a bit different in that what we enter in the contest we don’t publish until after the judging (November 9 for this one). Some writers do “challenges.” That is, they post responses in the comments that are not entered in the contest. Have fun!

  21. Sarah Brentyn

    I was all set for this one, my friend. So excited to attempt a dialogue-only story. And then… Your photo. Oh, dear. It’s fun. Fun? I don’t know how I’ll manage that one. I’ll try but things tend to turn dark when I write so I can’t promise either of you will be alive at the end.

    • Norah

      I would expect no less, Sarah, and am looking forward to reading your story. 🙂

    • TanGental

      tortoise stew? the shell becomes a home for leprechauns?

    • Sarah Brentyn

      Aw, Geoff. Tortoise stew? That would just be gross. Leprechauns… Hmm… Perhaps.

      Thanks, Norah. 🙂

      • Annecdotist

        We — or rather the carnivores — had turtle soup (with a whole turtle) in China. Gave some people quite a shock.

      • TanGental

        so we can expect blood or at least gastronomy in your entry?

    • Charli Mills

      May fun drive you to the darkest side on the turtle shell, Sarah!

    • Sarah Brentyn

      Sorry. I think I messed up the entry form. Ah, well. I’ll post it in the comments here. That alright? (Not to be counted, of course, if I do that.)

  22. Annecdotist

    Ingenious photo prompt, Geoff. I’ve had a couple of ideas, but they’re more slippery pole than emotion. I assumed entries would be limited to one per person but an official clarification would be appreciated.
    And since I’m now in the habit of writing a blog post tangentially connected to the weekly prompt, I’ve done one about the start of the Rodeo (and not about tortoises) but stemming from my initial reluctance to compete:
    Does your inspiration come mostly from inside or outside? #amwriting

    • TanGental

      I’ll ask Charli but I think multiple entries are fine. Thank you for the link!

    • Jules

      I do remember that last year there were multiple entries to several contests as well as in the challenge (comment sections – which are not judged). Some folks did not want to enter the contests. But plenty entered in the ‘challenge’ /comments of each rodeo.

      • Sarah Brentyn

        I couldn’t figure how to do multiple entries. ??? But that works just fine as one was pretty bad. 😉

      • Jules

        For the contest you just have to enter with the submit section. With challenges (non-judged entries) just put your piece or link in the comments sections like any other Carrot Ranch 99 word prompt.

        Your entry couldn’t be ‘That’ bad… Any challenge just stretched us. Be one with the rubber band 🙂

      • TanGental

        pah, you couldn’t write rubbish is you wanted to

      • Sarah Brentyn

        It is that bad. But was fun. 🙂 I didn’t enter any contests last year (just wrote them for fun) so I know where those go. I *think* I managed the form submission but not sure it went through. All good. Fun challenge. Thanks, Jules.

      • TanGental

        yep received two entries from you, one twice!

      • Sarah Brentyn

        Two and one twice. Nice, Sarah. I did mess it up. Well, good on me for that! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Multiple entries are fine, Anne, and challenges are welcome too for those not wanting to enter a contest, but play along for the fun of writing.

      • Annecdotist

        As a contestant, I’m glad of the opportunity for multiple entries. As an assistant judge, I’m quaking.

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! Fair enough, Anne. I do think You helped Norah with some ways to pare down a shortlist.

  23. Darlene

    A fun competition. Entered.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for entering, Darlene!

  24. Jules

    OK – #2 has been Entered.
    Oy the pressure …

    • Charli Mills

      You are on a roll, Jules!

  25. Marje @ Kyrosmagica

    I enjoyed doing this. I forgot to put the title in (sent to Leader Le Pard) . Will share on my blog after the judging is over. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for entering, Marje. Intriguing title! I emailed Geoff your title and then removed it from the comments since the judges will be doing a blind review of all the entries. We’ll all be in the dark for a month! 🙂

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica

        Thanks Charli I had fun with this!

  26. reading journeys

    I’m a very green greenhorn, but that terrific picture broke the ice for me!
    That “eye conversation” between the Tortoise and the Guy triggered ideas for my FF. Thank you!
    And my contest entry is in.

    Thanks to you, Charli & all Rodeo leaders & judges, for your hard work, and for your great enthusiasm — it’s very catching.


    • Charli Mills

      That’s fantastic, Saifun! Glad the turtle conversationist inspired an entry!

  27. robbiecheadle

    Mine is entered. I have never written a dialogue only flash fiction before. YeeHaw!!!

    • Charli Mills

      Way to stretch your writing skills, Robbie! You are off with a wild ride!

    • Jules

      I use dialog with rarity. But with this prompt – well who could resist?

      Just hope that Tortoise wasn’t part Borg (that’s a sci-fi reference… Borg is more AI than real).

      • robbiesinspiration

        I thought Tortoise was awesome and never gave AI a moments thought.

  28. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Reblogged this on ShiftnShake and commented:

    “Check out that old man talking to that tortoise.”

    “What do you think he’s saying?”

    “I almost didn’t recognize you.”

    “Why, I- you – I haven’t seen you since-“

    “- that kiss. When you said…”

    “I could change.”

    “Have you? Are you ready to come out of your shell?”

    “I still think we should take it slow.”

    “Really? Won’t stick your neck out? Take a risk?”

    “Well, uh, I, uh…”

    “Look, I changed. It’s your turn. Shall I kiss you?”

    “That man is still talking to the tortoise. Ugh! Now they’re kissing.”

    “OMG! He turned into a tortoise!”


    • Jules

      OOh – I like. A cool take on the Frog Prince fairy tale 🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Thanks jules. I don’t do well with photo prompts, wasn’t sure if I’d get anything. Got a little somethin’.
        You! Jeez you have a prolific pen.

      • Jules

        Too much time in my creative brain pan?
        Not all that rises is ‘edible’ 😉

        I’ve been doing this one photo prompt weekly for about five years. They can be fun.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Has it been five years already? Seemed like maybe five days… Must be tortoise time.

      • Jules

        The 5 year photo prompt Place I’ve been going to is called Sunday Photo Fictioner…. I was doing that long before I found Carrot Ranch.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I was joshin ‘ you!
        I’ve only written a couple times for Sunday photo. Photos are already a thousand words so I find them difficult, the pictures get in the way for me. I don’t think anything gets in your way!

      • Jules

        ….Sonnets and maybe writing a novel 😉

    • Charli Mills

      A fine freaky fairy tale of a conversation, D.! And yes, Rodeos get Jules’ pen revved up and rapid firing ink every which direction. I think that’s how we’ll get her to write a book! 😉

      • Jules

        I think I have enough material to fill several books… in verse or flash fiction. The longer novel… that’s just scary!

      • Charli Mills

        It’s like accumulating lots of yarn. Sooner or later you take up knitting sweaters!

  29. Jules

    I’ve just been having too much fun thinking of the different conversations that could be created from this prompt so here is a second challenge piece.

    The title is the link to the post:
    Lacking Commitment

    “Look deeply into my eyes… you are getting sleepy, very sleepy”

    “Didja want me to start counting back from ten or one hundred?”

    “Shhh,… just concentrate. Stay focused, please. Did you want to be cured
    of your coffee addiction or not?

    “And you really think trying to hypnotize me inside a coffee shop is the
    right location to do this.”

    “You are talking again. You are supposed to be listening.”

    “But I can smell the coffee and hear the machines brewing.”

    “You aren’t looking into my eyes.”

    “Wise Tortoise, I think I’ve changed my mind. You want some coffee?”


    • Charli Mills

      Jules, it’s fun watching you have fun! Coffee addiction is a fun twist.


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