To Do a Thing

48 hours. 1000 words. Done. (Ok, I lie. I actually wrote 997 words and finished with 12 hours to spare.)

Over the weekend I participated in the first round of the NYCmidnight Flash Fiction writing competition. It was an interesting experience.

The challenge consists of 60 groups, each made up of 35 writers from all over the world. The assignment is to write an original piece of fiction using a specified genre, location and object. The assignments were published at 11:59 on Friday, and we had until 11:59 Sunday to write no more than 1000 words to fulfill the challenge. Submissions earn points during rounds one and two; writers who accumulate the most points get the opportunity to move on to subsequent rounds.

First and foremost, I have very little experience writing fiction. It’s a little outside my box. Secondly, I’m a fiddler; I’m almost never finished. I constantly tweak and revise – committing to being done in 48 hours and then submitting for judging is tough for me. Of course, the fact that I can’t pick my own topic, only adds to the difficulty.

My assigned genre was Ghost Story, set in a boxing gym. The item was a neon sign. (While the genre and setting must be featured, the item merely needs to appear somewhere in the story.) While I’ll admit, I’ve never written a ghost story before and know next to nothing about boxing, my assignment really was pretty easy. Could have been far worse -Group 3 got Thriller, on a frozen river, with a teacup.

I actually found that the most difficult part of the challenge was to remain under the word limit while still having a balanced story. Once I had laid a solid foundation, I only had enough words to resolve things pretty abruptly. I guess that’s why the first attempt is called a rough draft.

All in, I was pretty happy with my story. Until I submitted it. Once I pressed send, I became convinced that it was pedestrian and predictable. It will be interesting to hear what the judges have to say. One of the great things about the challenge is that the judges are all published authors and/or writing professors and all submissions will get feedback.

I’ll be posting my story here as soon as we are cleared to do so… stay tuned!




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