This weekend I participated in the NYC Madness Flash Fiction Challenge
, where you have 48 hours to write a 1000 word short story for an assigned genre/location/object
. My group got ghost story/a coffee shop/a light bulb. At first I was super excited because ghost story is right up my alley – the one time I was assigned the ‘open’ genre, I actually wrote a ghost story (which eventually became my short film High Heels & Hoodoo
But as soon as I started brainstorming ideas, my enthusiasm waned – everything felt so cliché or like it was going to be the same as everyone else’s story. I mean, that light bulb was going to be flickering in all of them, right? And it was either going to be a barista serving a customer who was actually a ghost or a customer being served by a barista who was actually a ghost. Eventually I came up with something I hoped at least started the story in a slightly original way and was also a fun kind of meta (the protagonist had to submit a short story for a competition’s midnight deadline, but her internet went down, so she was parked outside a coffee shop for wifi).
By the double halfway point (500 words in at 11:30pm Saturday night), I finally admitted I hated my story with the heat of a thousand suns. It was stupid and, worse, boring. I briefly attempted to fix it by rewriting it in the style of Edgar Allan Poe, but soon realized unless the judges got what I was doing, they were just going to think I was a terrible writer (so many adverbs, adjectives, and repeated words!).
As I was pulling out my hair in writerly despair, a new idea revolving around format popped into my desperate brain. I was intrigued but wasn’t sure I could make it work. I spent the next hour thinking and pondering (it might have looked like I was napping, but I was working, I swear) until I had a plan, and then I was off! By 5:30am, I had a rough draft. I finally grabbed some zzz’s and then spent Sunday afternoon rewriting it several times. I managed to turn it in five minutes before the midnight deadline on Sunday night. Whew!
It’s not one of my finer efforts, but it’s not the shame-inducing mess of words that was my first attempt. The big format risk is that the entire thing is an online chat, with a few tweets thrown in at the end. So if the judges don’t spend time hanging out online, they might not understand what I was doing, and I’ll be completely screwed. Plus, since it all happens online, they might decide I didn’t meet the coffee shop location requirement. We’ll see, but regardless, it was fun to stretch myself with something new.
Here's my title and synopsis: A Spirited Chat - Kerri meets an exciting guy online, but he might be seeking more than she's willing to give.
And now for my awkward segue… NYC Midnight is the group that originally introduced me to twitter fiction, so here are my 15 Minute Tweet Tales
for the week:
9/18 - She wants to play Dad's favorite song at his funeral. When the palinoia
makes her fingers bleed, she's ready - she slips him the cyanide.
9/19 - At fist day roll call, she sighs at a name. Had his four hellion brothers, so it's ineluctable
he'd be in her class. He hurls a spitball.
9/20 - Dr. More's wife had a jugal
jut that caused people to call her exotic. Accurate, since he created her in a lab by splicing cat and human.
9/21 - Never one for birthdays, he celebrates his 38th with a perfervid
energy that baffles his friends. Six months later cancer claims him.
9/22 - While the crepuscular
lighting in the room is appropriately symbolic, Jane wants to feel the sun on her face when it's her turn to die.
9/23 - She recites his evil acts seriatim
. Tied up, defiant, he says, "If you'd been this focused on housework, U wouldn't have needed discipline."
9/24 - Since his cube-mate has been hurt before, he plans a proreption
to win her heart. But she thinks he's gay and starts dating Stan from HR.
Play along and write tweet tales for the above words. If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them. Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales or #15tt words?