Once in a while I daydream of a life where I’m a full-time writer. It’s when I’m not daydreaming of being a sculptor or a talk show host.
New York Midnight’s Flash Fiction Micro Contest found me in one of those moments, and without blinking an eyelash signed right up.
Contestants were asked to submit three 100 character stories today. Each entry had to feature a particular word, and we received that word at roughly 9am (my time) this morning. Entries were due at twelve hours later at 11:59 EST.
After I signed up I started thinking about it…100 characters. That’s less than a tweet! By 40 characters!! They obviously picked the length so that people could tweet their stories…smart.
Today faced with my word (“stand”) and a jam-packed day I got to thinking about the task at hand. What is a story? How can you fit a story in 100 characters?
Luckily I’d already discussed it with my best friend G. who’s an editor by trade and a voracious reader. She assured me that it was possible to write a story in a sentence, and that the best ones she had read were less-action packed and insinuated a larger and often obscure background story. I got that last tip too late to really incorporate it into my stories.
I didn’t have much time, but got to work.
Oh how I wished I’d practiced. Oh how I’d wished I’d given some thought to the elements that make a good story.
Oh how I wished I didn’t have the Twitter tag #NYCmidnight to read others’ brilliance as a way of procrastinating writing my own!
I pulled it together and spent a productive twenty minutes pulling out such crap as:
Decades later watching “Stand and Deliver” she realized her life had taken the same story arch. (95 characters)
He had aged with such grace until he ceased to be able to stand. She ached for him until no more. (97 characters)
And such otherwise unacceptable stories as:
Our life on the moon was gentle; drifting from place to place. If only Jo hadn’t been so determined to stand. (109 characters — too long)
Day after day, fighting with IE. I remembered the rope in the closet, and lost my will to stand.* (96 characters)
Though, looking back two hours and ten minutes after hitting submit, I’m not sure that what I submitted was much better than those…
“I’ll stand guard.” She knew he would, that she could count on him. It was the impostor she detested (100 characters and Days of Our Lives inspired)
It was her painting of the stand of trees that catapulted her to both fame & her drug-induced demise (100 characters)
She wished her dog could stand on his hing legs again, and bring back the riches, crowds and fame. (97 characters and pet inspired)
You might notice that I neglected to punctuate. The decision to punctuate and abbreviate was left to the author. I’ll save my essay on the demise of the human language for another evening.
* One half autobiographical.