NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge

NaNoWriMo is over for another year, and although I didn’t quite make it to 50,000 words (which I’m okay with, because of the whole ‘just picked up a second job’ thing), the month had some writing wins for me.

For starters, I worked on some short stories that I’m pretty happy with, but possibly more exciting, I pulled out a story I worked on for a previous NaNo and started dusting it off. That year I did get to the end of the 50,000 words (plus a few more), but I was busy with work, doubt set in, and I put the story aside. Looking at it now, it needs a hell of a lot of work – while I wrote an ending, I missed out a good chunk of the last third to actually get there. But the bones are solid, and I like the (anti)hero a lot.

There’s a two-week Christmas break on the horizon (woo!) and I’m excited about getting in some good writing time. I’m still not getting as much done as I would like during the week, or at weekends, but it’s not the same as my previous job where I didn’t even have the will – this time, the will is there, but I understand that it’ll take some time to get into the rhythm of both jobs, plus training and all the rest.

One thing I did write in the first half of this year – probably the only thing I finished in a couple of years – was my entry for the 2016 NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. I love the format of this competition. In the first round you have 8 days to write a story of no more than 2,500 words, for the second round you have 3 days to write a 2,000-word story, and in the final round you have just 1 day to write a 1,000-word story.

Challenging, sure, but you do have some building blocks to work from, because – as part of the challenge – participants are provided with a genre, subject and character that must feature in your story. And that’s harder than it seems.

Last time around, I had: drama, cyber bullying, organ donor.

I was baffled. I thought there was no way I could put something together, certainly not something I’d usually like to write. Then, my friend told me to think about it a different way, to think about it the way my favourite author might (that’s Stephen King, by the way) and see if that made a difference. It did, and – although I didn’t make it out of that first round – I ended up with a story I am a little bit in love with. I got positive feedback, as well as some constructive comments that helped me as I moved forward.

It does cost to enter – but the fee is relatively small and, in my opinion, totally worth it. Prices are in US dollars, but amount to around NZ$63 until 15 December, then NZ$77 until 19 January.

Having a challenge to look forward to is exciting. Plus, once the competition is over, it’s a repository of prompts that might catch your imagination. True, they can get pretty random, but that’s what makes it fun.

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