Recently—not like I don’t have anything better to be doing (like working on DH or the IPS sequel, etc…)—I’ve been delving into the world of short story contests. It started sort of as an extension of the writing classes that I took via Coursera last year, where, at least for a period of time, I had relatively short deadlines in which to write a somewhat cohesive story (or fragment thereof). I also liked the idea of potentially getting some direct feedback on my writing, which not all contests provide but some do, so it’s definitely a great perk (almost better than winning, in some cases) if you can find those that offer it.
In any case, the first one I did was the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge 2019, in which they send you a set of parameters (genre/subject/character) and from there you have a specific length of time to hit your wordcount and submit. In the first round we had eight days to produce a 2,500 word short story. My group got sci-fi/summer school/fork-lift operator to work with—which was pretty much universally met with cries of anguish from all involved, and at least one other participant (in another group) actually chose my story as her favorite “making due with terrible prompts.” Unfortunately, I didn’t make it past the first round, which to be fair, I didn’t really expect to, but I did get some really great feedback from my judges. So, especially given that it was my very first time submitting, I wasn’t too disappointed.
Undaunted, I decided to try the Spring 24-Hour Short Story Contest, which—like it says on the tin—gives you one single day to write and submit your story. The topic and max wordcount is unknown until the day of the contest so you can’t cheat. In this particular case we had 925 words or less with which to write our masterpieces. There (literally) aren’t enough words to express to you how hard that was for me to accomplish. I was initially WAY over my wordcount and it was rough cutting everything down while still maintaining the the emotion and detail and cohesive plot (on the given topic). But, not only did I manage it… I just found out that though I still didn’t win, I did make Honorable Mention this time!!!!
Anyway, I promise I am still working on my major projects (slowly but surely), however at the same time, I’m finding that doing these contests is a fun way to keep the creative juices flowing. All while (hopefully) helping to make myself a better writer!!
If you know of any other short story contests, feel free to post about them in the comments. I’m always looking for new ones!!