Thinking Sideways Contest with Meg Rosoff

Ever look at something and think, “Hmmm, that might look better flipped on its side or covered in glitter or sporting a killer ‘stache”? It takes a little creativity (and sometimes a little crazy) but looking at the world through new eyes can yield some seriously great writing.

Printz Award-winning author Meg Rosoff wrote her latest book, There is No Dog, (which you can start reading here) by doing what she calls “thinking sideways.” To do this Meg says, “You have to train yourself to tilt your head a little bit to the side and squint at the world; to see it from a slightly different angle.”

For the Thinking Sideways Contest, we invite you to look at one of your favorite stories (fiction or non-fiction) from a different angle.

Your task? Choose one of the following prompts and write a story in no more than 1500 words.

  1. Retell an existing story through the eyes of a minor character.
  2. Retell an existing story by changing something significant about the main character–gender, age, country of origin, or even species.
  3. Retell an existing story in an entirely different setting.

You have until April 16, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. EST to post and tag your story. Voting will run until April 23, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. EST, at which point the 10 most-hearted entries will go to the Figment editorial team for judging. One grand-prize winner will receive a class set of 30 copies of There is No Dog for his or her school AND a personal set of 20 awesome YA titles from Penguin. Nine runners-up will each receive smaller (but still super exciting) sets of 4 teen titles from Penguin.  NOTE: You must be currently enrolled in school (junior high, high school or college) to win.

How to Enter:
1. Read the full rules here.
2. Create an account on
3. Start a new writing of no more than 1,500 words.
4. Tag your writing with ThinkingSideways on the Details tab.
5. Press “Publish Now.”
6. You should receive a pop-up confirmation of your entry, and in about two hours or so, your piece should appear among the submissions.

Educators, using this contest with your students? Be sure to check out our additional resources here.

Contest Entries

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131 thoughts on “Thinking Sideways Contest with Meg Rosoff

    • Hi Rosy,

      Yes, you can enter. If you’re the grand-prize winner, you’ll be asked to choose a community or educational organization to receive the set of 30 copies of There Is No Dog

    • Hi Melissa,

      Yes, you can enter. If you’re the grand-prize winner, you’ll be asked to choose a community or educational organization to receive the set of 30 copies of There Is No Dog

  1. If I was going to write about The Vampire Diaries, would it be okay if I changed the fact that Damon wasn’t Stefan’s brother? Or could I tell the story through Klaus’s eyes even though he was only in one book?

  2. Could I enter something that I’d previously entered in a different contest? It didn’t place in the other one, but I think the prompt for this one fits it better than the other one did.

  3. So if i’m homeschooled, that doesn’t count? I mean, i’m enrolled in a school, just not a public school. Because i think i could totally do this contest…

    • Hi Laina,

      Yes, you can enter. If you’re the grand-prize winner, you’ll be asked to choose a community or educational organization to receive the set of 30 copies of There Is No Dog

    • Hi erin,
      Simply “untag” your first story and put a “tag” on your new story. Just make sure you don’t have more than one entry submitted at one time.

    • Yes, you may. If you’re the grand-prize winner, you’ll be asked to choose a community or educational organization to receive the set of 30 copies of There Is No Dog.

  4. Can we please, please have contests which are open to people in all – or at least more – countries? There are so many things I’d love to enter, but I can’t because I’m not in America or Canada.

  5. Does it count if I sort of superimpose the characters from one book (let’s say Pride and Prejudice) onto the setting of another (for example, Doctor Who)?

  6. Question: I’m currently between high school and college, not enrolled in either. Would I still be able to win one of the runner-up prizes?

  7. *CRIES*

    AAuuughh dumb Homeschooling…

    I’m highly involved in my youth group at my church, may I still do it if I have them?

    • As far as I can tell, you can still enter if you are homeschooled, you would just choose some community place for the books to go if you win

  8. Hi! Can I change the gender of mulitple characters AND the era?? If not, can I just change the gender of the main character and the era??

  9. hey, I was reading through the rules, and it never says that we can only submit a story once. Are we allowed to submit more than one story to this contest? Sorry, it’s just that I have two ideas that I really like, but I can’t decide which one to actually submit.

    • Hey Nat-
      “Limit of one (1) Submission per person during the Promotion Entry Period.”
      Only one story per person per contest. Pick your best idea! I bet it will be killer.

    • Hey Caroline-

      The character should be present in the original, but it could be a character so minor that she’s never named or seen, like Cinderella’s real mother or the evil step-mother’s first husband.

  10. I submitted my entry, Princess Hamlet, a couple of days ago, and it never showed up amoungst the entries. So, I logged out and checked and it still wasn’t there. I don’t know if it’s just my computer, but I’m a bit confused….

  11. What are the other sets of books? Do they include There is No Dog? And also, could we donate some of the books, not all?

    • The 20 YA titles have not been chosen yet. All 30 of the classroom books must go to a school or charitable organization.

  12. Hi,

    This sounds fun. I was just wondering can I retell a story from a minor character’s point of view AND change the setting?

    • Hey Helen-

      By entering this contest, you are agreeing to donate the 30 titles to a school or charitable organization. Let me know if I can help you with anything else!

  13. Hello. Would I still be eligible if I have an address in Canada and will be moving there in the summer, but am currently in another country?

    • Hey Talise-
      At the time of entry, entrants need to have a US or Canadian Zip code. So if you have an address in Canada as your legal residence, you’re all set.

  14. I am planning to retell the story of one of my one-chapter writings from the pov of a minor character. Do I need to create a new book for the contest entry, or can I post it as a second chapter in my book?

  15. So question, can we add in a new character who could have been in the background of a story? Like never actually mentioned?

    • Hey Katya-
      Yeah, while the voting week is just for voting, any hearts garnered during the run of the contest are counted.

  16. If someone asks for a swap, can you tell them that you want your entry read? And, can you even do swaps during a contest entry period, for chance that they might choose your entry?

  17. hey, so I wrote a story in the time period,and tagged it, and published it…it was 200 hundred words over, so I had to edit it…so now its under 1500 words, but it’s not showing up, and its been two days…what would you sugest i do??

  18. Hello!
    I have seen some of your other contests that it is restricted to American and Canada, is this one restricted to?
    Lorraine 🙂

  19. Hi

    Ithink something went wrong during my submission. I published my thinking sideways story that was tagged with”Thinkingsideways” as well, called “Ugly Little Secrets” yesterday and I didn’t recieve a pop-up confirmation nor did my piece appear among the submissions. Did I something wrong?


    • Hey Scarlett-
      Are you sure your piece isn’t among the submissions? I checked the tag and the date on your story, so you’re entered!

  20. Does the story have to be a book or can it be a movie? Also, do we have to strictly use the original characters or could we make up a few of our own and place them in the story?

    • Hey Ambrea-
      It can be from a movie. You can add your own characters, but you must also fulfill one of the prompts to be eligible to win!

  21. Is it “legal” to comment on someone’s profile and ask them to read your entry? Or is that considered self-promotion?

    • Hey Ayliesha-

      Sure! You just need to choose a charitable organization to receive the books in lieu of your school, should you win.

  22. Can I use quotes from the original story for dialog? I will put them in italics and give all credit to the original author in an author’s note before the story.

    • Hey Lexi-

      One piece can only be entered in one current contest, although we have some contests that allow past entries to be submitted. Most contests require a unique piece of writing.

  23. Hello–my entry, Nobody’s Fool, isn’t showing up. I submitted it yesterday at 11:58 EST, one minute before the deadline. Was I too late? If so, does that mean my entry is disqualified?

  24. Mentioning this is probably futile, but if the voting period could somehow be extended, I’m sure a lot of people would be very grateful, including myself. The thing is, the contest ran for nearly two months, but the voting period is only around a week long. Some entries had significant “head-starts” with getting reads. Since the voting period is so short, some entries only have a few days to get reads. Please consider my comment!

      • All right, I understand, and thank you for taking my comment into consideration, anyway! Sorry to bother you again, but is it possible, then, for the number of entries considered to be changed–instead of ten, how about, say, twenty?

        • Hey Line-

          No changes can be made to contests already in progress but this also something we’ll consider in the future!

    • Hey lilly-

      We don’t have a timeline established for announcing the winners but as soon as we know, we’ll post them!

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