#MFM Contest Winner: Rory Hinshelwood!

Congratulations to Rory Hinshelwood, winner of last week’s #MicroFictionMonday contest!  There were lots of great entries to choose from for the “It’s About Time” theme but alas, there can be only one winner.  Please enjoy his entry below, and don’t forget to try your hand at the last theme of them month, due Friday!

Gold_winner

GOLD

I have this little ring with me. It’s a man ring, like a signet. Not that women can’t wear them, it’s just that this one has only been worn by men. It’s gold but could do with a shine. And there’s a wreath on it. It had been engraved delicately but ever since it’d been nicked and scratched. It was my great grandfather’s originally. His father, my great great grandfather, bought it for him on his 21st birthday. Like me on my 21st birthday I’m sure he was dazzled by it. Gold, it is made of pure gold. Just think of it! A piece of gold on your little finger. People used to sieve rivers for hours on end just to get gold like this.

This piece of gold had been to the Great War and back. My father told me that the glint of the shiny gold and almost killed my great grandfather. He’d been crawling in the mud across no mans land on a bright day. The enemy must have seen the reflection because the next thing he knew there was a bullet in his leg.  So it’s tradition to always keep it dull.

Now me. What shall I have done with it? Something I can tell my son about I hope. Something great. That’s right I’ll have to do something great. Something worth hearing.

About the Author:

Rory is 18 years old from London and always had a knack at writing since he started one lonely holiday. Recently shortlisted in the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation Author of Tomorrow award. Currently still at school and will spend his entire gap year in South America next year.  Follow him on Twitter @Roryhinshelwood.

Want to see your work published here?  Don’t forget to enter this week’s contest!
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#MFM Contest: …with Dinosaurs

calvin_hobbes_trex_jet

Prompt: …with Dinosaurs

Originally this prompt was going to be “Steampunk Dinosaurs” but I couldn’t find a picture I liked.  So let’s explain what we’re looking for here: no matter what you send, there must be dinosaurs.  Why?  Because dinosaurs are awesome.  Genre bending/mixing is encouraged.  Humor is highly encouraged.  Send me something outrageous.  Give me T-Rexes in F-14s.  Give me steampunk pterodactyls ferrying people around in the 19th century.  Give me stegosaurus heavy artillery during the Civil War.  That scene where Wash plays with dinosaur toys on Firefly is good.  The scene where Doctor Who rides a triceratops around a spaceship is better.  I don’t care, just so long as it’s “…with Dinosaurs.”

P.S. – If you send me a highly emotional tale of a grieving mother mulling over her son’s toy dinosaurs after his funeral I’m sure it will be beautiful, but you’re absolutely missing the point.

Rules:

Word limit: 300.

Schedule: Submissions accepted from 9:00am (EST) on Monday, through 5:00pm (EST) on Friday of any given week. The winning entry will be posted the following Tuesday.

Prize: Winners will receive publication on this blog and a bio that links back to the site(s) of their choosing.  This contest is non-paying.

Specifics: Please put MFM-Submission-[This week’s PROMPT]-[Your TITLE] in your subject line.  For example: MFM-Submission-Self Portraits-Me, Myself & I

Attach your entry as a .doc file or .docx  DO NOT include your name anywhere on your submission or file name as all entries will be read blind.  DO NOT send more than one entry per week.  No explicit or graphic content please.

Please do include a brief cover letter with a short bio written as you would like it to appear on the site.  Do include links to your blog, twitter, or however else you would like to promote yourself.

Send your submissions to: LizSchriftsteller (at) gmail (dot) com.

Feel free to post any questions in the comments below.

Happy submitting!

#MFM Winner: Amy Francisconi!

Apologies for the late posting, I had some technical difficulties last week in that I did not have a computer and everything was postponed a bit… So with no further delays, here is the winner of the Faces on the Train contest!

Congratulations to Amy Francisconi, winner of last week’s #MicroFictionMonday contest!  Please enjoy her winning entry below!

subway_arm

The Good Son

My brother and I sit back to back on the train. We don’t speak now – we said more than enough back on the platform. Turned heads and invited stares when our voices rose. Now we sway in silence, the good son and the other, on our way to say goodbye to our mother.

I’ll continue to live in the brownstone we grew up in. Phil will fuck off and do his own thing. He’ll visit Ma’s grave a couple times to leave flowers before it becomes too inconvenient to make the trip. It will fall on me to tend hers the way I’ve looked after Pop’s since he passed. And what’s the difference, after all? It’s just as easy to tend two as it is one, side by side as they’ll be.

Phil and I were close, years ago. There was a time when the three years between us were nothing. We played like friends just as often as we fought like brothers. We’d been a team.

Somehow, together, we convinced Pop to let us have a dog. Not a puppy – Pop wanted to give a shelter dog a chance.

Jenny loved us all, but she took a shine to me. She slept between our twin beds, right below mine so I could reach out and stroke her when she whined in her sleep. Phil began to protest when I wanted to bring Jenny along to the park or to play ball. No longer novel, she was inconvenient. He forgot to feed and walk her. And then he made new friends and we grew apart.

“Remember Jenny?” I ask. My throat is tight. For a moment I think he didn’t hear me over the noise of the train. Then he answers.

“Jenny who?”

About the Author:

Amy lives in Delaware with her husband, one elderly, cantankerous cat and two young, enthusiastic pups. Books have always been her favorite form of travel. After a long hiatus from writing, Amy has pulled out her word crafting tools once again. She hopes to create places and construct adventures for others to enjoy and give back to an art form she adores.

#MFM Contest: It’s About Time

prompt2

Now the years are rolling by me–
They are rockin’ evenly.
I am older than I once was,
And younger than I’ll be.
That’s not unusual;
No, it isn’t strange:
After changes upon changes
We are more or less the same;
After changes we are more or less the same.

The Boxer, Paul Simon

Prompt: It’s About Time

This week we’re going to talk about time.  Time travel, nostalgia, growing old, birth and renewal, decay – hit me with whatever you’ve got that inspires you.  I’ve included the above quote and photo as a jumping off point, but as long as you stick to the broader theme of “Time” you should do just fine.  No limitations on genre.

Rules:

Word limit: 300.

Schedule: Submissions accepted from 9:00am (EST) on Monday, through 5:00pm (EST) on Friday of any given week. The winning entry will be posted the following Tuesday.

Prize: Winners will receive publication on this blog and a bio that links back to the site(s) of their choosing.  This contest is non-paying.

Specifics: Please put MFM-Submission-[This week’s PROMPT]-[Your TITLE] in your subject line.  For example: MFM-Submission-Self Portraits-Me, Myself & I

Attach your entry as a .doc file or .docx  DO NOT include your name anywhere on your submission or file name as all entries will be read blind.  DO NOT send more than one entry per week.  No explicit or graphic content please.

Please do include a brief cover letter with a short bio written as you would like it to appear on the site.  Do include links to your blog, twitter, or however else you would like to promote yourself.

Send your submissions to: LizSchriftsteller (at) gmail (dot) com.

Feel free to post any questions in the comments below.

Happy submitting!

The Diana Woods Memorial Award in Creative Nonfiction

Since we just posted our winner for this week on the topic of Self Portraits, let’s expand on that by giving you a Creative Nonfiction contest to submit to in August!

  • In their own words: “The Diana Woods Memorial (DWM) Award in creative nonfiction was established in Diana’s memory by her family, friends, and the Antioch University Los Angeles MFA community. DWM serves as a special opportunity for authors worldwide to be published in the literary journal Lunch Ticket.”
  • Genres they accept: Creative nonfiction
  • Word count limit: 5,000
  • Number of Entries I can submit: One per reading period.
  • Entry Fee: None!
  • Prize: The winning submissions will be published in Lunch Ticket and the recipient will receive $250. One author will be chosen for the Summer/Fall issue of Lunch Ticket and one in the Winter/Spring issue.
  • Schedule:  The next reading period is the month of August for the issue that publishes in December.  They open again in February for the issue that publishes in June.  (So check out the published entries next month and work on your piece to submit in August!)

Lunch Ticket lists all their submission guidelines on their website, and their Submittable portal reopens again in August for the contest and other writing submissions.

Word Counts Part One: How to Budget

Ah, the dreaded word count limit. If you’ve ever faced a deadline this can often be the hardest part of the submission process.  If you’re too far over the limit the editing process can be hell – what do I cut?  How do I shave it down?  Well, we’ll get to the editing part next week later.  For now, let’s focus on new works.

If you’re writing for a contest or highly specific prompt, often times you’ll be coming up with a new piece rather than editing something you already have to fit the submission call.  For fresh works it’ll be much, much easier if you budget your story with the word count limit in mind.

For example:

1,000 words = 300 words x 3 scenes (Beginning, Middle, End.)

Dividing your word count is a way to keep everything manageable.  It doesn’t just have to be for flash – if it’s a 5,000 word limit you’ve got 5 scenes of a 1,000 words each.  If it’s a 300 word MicroFiction contest (don’t forget to submit!) you’ve got 100 words per beginning, middle, and end.

I personally like to think in 3’s and 5’s.  Three is easy: Beginning, Middle, End.  Fives give you a little more room to expand if you think of it like a 5 act structure, or follow the plot outline from my earlier post on vignettes.

But really, you can call those sections anything you want.  Sometimes they’re just scenes that I want to include, and I often stray from the plan once I actually get to writing my piece.  For example, I recently had to write a 1,500 word story for NYC Midnight’s Short Story competition.  Here’s how that went.

What my outline said:

5 x 300 words

  • Open with apartment, day to day life, interweaving neighbors.
  • Could try two flashbacks to break up the action, develop backstory:
    • Roommate convinces MC to participate in study
    • After it all falls apart, moving away
  • Middle: riding on subway?  Listening to selfish thoughts of other riders?
  • End: Returning the things to roommate?  Asks for a cure or cutting off completely?

Finished draft breakdown:

  • Day in the life (technically one extra-long scene before 1st line break)
    • Waking up/bedroom scene (289 words)
    • Transition to kitchen, MC leaves for coffee shop (335 words)
  • Encounter with a girl on the street on the way to the coffee shop (232 words)
  • Making coffee, meets former roommate (236 words)
  • Resolution, reconciliation (273 words)

The flashback scenes clearly did not work as I planned, but that’s fine, because they naturally fit into the day in the life scene, making it extra long.  The boring scene on the subway became a single encounter on the street.  Because of my outline I could see that I didn’t have time for my MC to go to her former roommate’s apartment, so I dropped her into the coffee shop to save time.

That’s the real benefit of an outline: not to restrict your writing, but to save you time.  Feel free to pants* your way through your first draft as much as you like – the outline works to remind you of your word limitations .  That way you stay on track instead of wasting hours writing subplots that you’ll eventually have to cut out to meet the word count.

If I’m way past my opening scene budget and haven’t gotten to the middle of my story, I know I’m in trouble.  I could keep going, but I find that I’m off my budgeted allotment, it’s easier to revise my first scene and get it back to a manageable length before moving on.

Don’t stress too much about over going over the word count in your first draft – I almost never make it under budget on my first pass.  The goal here is to get your writing no more than 20% over budget on the first pass, which will make editing so much easier.

Next week Later we’ll take a look at how trim down a puffy first draft, now that it’s not twice the allotted length.

Note: My schedule went a little crazy in May, so without further ado, please enjoy Part Two.

Got any tips for how you stay under budget?  Horror stories from drafts that came in way over the limit?  Post them below in the comments!

*to pants: write by the seat-of-your-pants

 

#MFM Self-Portraits Winner: Jennie Brass!

Congratulations to Jennie Brass, winner of last week’s #MicroFictionMonday contest!  Please enjoy her winning entry below, and check out the links to her sites for more of her fantastic writings!

Enfatico

From birth, music flowed through me. The cadence of this world ebbed and surged like a branched river demanding to be explored. I became but a leaf carried on the tiny white crests of a call that developed into an insatiable wanderlust.

Some call me a drifter, a dreamer. I would hardly argue. The music is a blessing and a bane driving me to explore every nuance within reality.

Each place, each living being possesses a unique part in the world’s symphony, and I am privy to it all. Raw beauty shimmered in the sunlit day in stark contrast to the turbulent danger that lurked below the surface on moonless nights.

Yet, little was ever as it seemed.

How can so many not see that even the breathy pan pipe can push the feet into flight? Even the savage war drum can mimic a mother’s heat-beat to sooth her young.

We are, all of us, complex.

None truly good. None truly wicked.

Each capable of a score of music to aid, or to harm, others.

This world has taught me how a single voice becomes powerless with a shout, while it is the whisper that holds the sufficient strength to turn the heart.

 

About the Author

Jennie Brass was born with an appetite to create. From an early age she drew picture stories and made up entire worlds for these innumerable creatures. Some have managed to survive the ravages of growing up and their lives are being diligently cataloged in an epic journey some call being an author. You can follow her exploits through her blog, Journeys Through a Brass Quill or follow her on Facebook, the Brass Quill.

 

Want to see your story posted here?  Submit to this week’s contest!

#MFM Contest: Faces on the Train

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Prompt: Faces on the Train

Last week I asked about a very introspective topic, after all, who knows us better than ourselves?  This week we’re going to flip that on its head and talk about strangers.  Who is that person across from you on the train?  Where did they come from?  Where are they going?  Craft a story about one of the people in the photographs above, or mix and match several characters in any of them.  No genre limitations.

Rules:

Word limit: 300.

Schedule: Submissions accepted from 9:00am (EST) on Monday, through 5:00pm (EST) on Friday of any given week. The winning entry will be posted the following Tuesday.

Prize: Winners will receive publication on this blog and a bio that links back to the site(s) of their choosing.  This contest is non-paying.

Specifics: Please put MFM-Submission-[This week’s PROMPT]-[Your TITLE] in your subject line.  For example: MFM-Submission-Self Portraits-Me, Myself & I

Attach your entry as a .doc file or .docx  DO NOT include your name anywhere on your submission or file name as all entries will be read blind.  DO NOT send more than one entry per week.  No explicit or graphic content please.

Please do include a brief cover letter with a short bio written as you would like it to appear on the site.  Do include links to your blog, twitter, or however else you would like to promote yourself.

Send your submissions to: LizSchriftsteller (at) gmail (dot) com.

Feel free to post any questions in the comments below.

Happy submitting!

A Very Short Story Contest

“For Sale.  Baby Shoes.  Never worn.” – Ernest Hemingway

On the topic of Micro Fiction, let’s get as short as we can possibly get.  Ernest Hemingway’s short story ran six words.  You have ten to get yours right in the Very Short Story Contest.

  • In their own words: “It may be apocryphal, but the story goes that Ernest Hemingway won a bet by writing a short story that ran fewer than ten words…We would like to make a similar bet with you. Write a great short story in ten words or fewer.”
  • Genres they accept: Any
  • Word count limit: 10 words.  Yep, you read that right.
  • Number of Entries I can submit: Just one, please.
  • Entry Fee: None!
  • Prize: Winner receives a free Gotham ten-week workshop (excludes select premium classes.)
  • Deadline:  May 16, 2016 (EST)

They’ve got a list of finalists from last year you can read here to get some ideas going.  Good luck!