Friday, July 10, 2009

Writing Contests

I've been writing for ten years (yes, ten years...long story...for a different post), and I've never entered a writing contest. It's not that I haven't wanted to, and it's not that I think I'm not talented enough. Well, I take that back. Most contests are for short fiction, and I tend to write epics that need to be carved down from Mt. Everest proportions to that of, oh, Mt. McKinley.

So, I guess I never thought I was talented enough to produce a short, compelling story.

After putting my writing aside for life-gets-in-the-way ordeals, I've come back to it with a new mindset. And so, my first contest entry. For those of you who are not familiar with Jason Evans and his Clarity of Night blog and contests, you should stop what you're doing (after you finish reading this, of course), and head over there.

Each contest he sponsors, bless his heart, is based off of a photograph (the one pictured with this post). Here's the kicker, at least for me: your entry is limited to 250 words. Short story writers will scoff at my wariness, but remember, new galaxies are born while I write. Yet, there's a lesson to be learned from such word count limitations: you chose your words VERY carefully.

Now, this is not a new concept, writers should chose their words carefully- it's what we're best at. Yet, I found myself screaming at my computer when I couldn't get the blasted word count to my story down from 267 to 250. Just 17 words over. I needed those words, every single one of them. Removing them, switching them, changing them would have taken away from the story. Yet, it had to be done.

Who was it that said, "Kill your little darlings?" An editor, I think, but the name escapes me. I had to "off" 17 words. It took me three frustrating days, but I killed my little darlings. The title of my 250 (exactly) word short story is Divine Truth, and I hope to see it posted over at Jason's blog. I notice he isn't posting every single entry...not sure if that's a good or bad sign....I guess I'll have to wait and see....


  1. I could tell you put alot of time and energy into this piece. Every word counts. The reader has to really concentrate, but the payoff is worth it. Your flash-fiction piece stood out (I've read 125 entries so far).

  2. James,
    Just arrived home from a writers conference in D.C. and was without internet access for five days (now that was a challenge).
    Thanks for your kind comments- and I happen to think your entry is beyond superb. Jason runs a great contest...I'm really looking forward to seeing the outcome.