NYC Midnight FF from NL
Well, I decided to enter the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction contest this year. The way it works is, you have 48 hours to come up with a story under 1000 words following whatever guidelines they give you at the start. Living in BC, it has the advantage of getting the story at 9PM instead of Midnight so you can start something, play around a bit, then sleep on it. Then you still have all day Saturday and until 9PM Sunday to get it in. I like getting those two sleeps to think about it. The first round was in August and I was given the genre or mystery, the setting of a creamery and had to include a fake beard as a prop.
I racked my brain for hours, not wanting to do the obvious of someone wearing a fake beard with a murder happening inside the creamery and came up with a totally off the wall twist, thinking that if I were a judge, I'd look for something that stood out and as fate would have it, I lucked out and it placed 2nd overall in my category!
Round two was this past weekend and I'm currently staying in Newfoundland, which means a big difference on time zones. Instead of getting the story at 9PM PDT on Friday, my assignment arrived at 1:30AM NDT and as I'd been out hiking all day up here in Gros Morne National Park, I didn't look at it until I woke up Saturday morning at 9AM NL time meaning I'd only get to "sleep on it" once.
My assignment this time was to write a romance that takes place on a scenic overlook with the prop of a wheelchair. Again, I thought the obvious would be some guy staggering up the hill carrying his mobility challenged girlfriend so I steered as clear of that as I could.
By the time I went to bed Saturday night I had three stories on the go, none of which I was really keen on, but when I woke up Sunday, I narrowed it down to the best of the three and carried on. I thought I'd written a pretty good story by the time I submitted before heading off to bed, until I woke up Monday morning (after the contest ended) and felt like I'd been sucker-punched when I realized the most important detail I could have added to push the story up from good to awesome. Because it's always in those tiny little details that we find out what the real story is it. I had created the perfect opportunity but didn't see it in time. Oh well.
I have done other contests before that are on a tight timeline -- most notably, Geist magazine's three-day novel writing contest each Labour Day weekend. I've done it twice now. Although I don't believe it is technically possible to write a good novel in three days, what the contest does is force you to sit down and write and figure out the story you want to tell. In both instances, I ended up with a great first draft. Which is actually why I'm here back in Newfoundland again for the third time since August 2017, as I'm just ironing out the final draft of the novel that started with a three-day writing streak a year ago, about a woman traveling through Newfoundland. It's been a long haul, certainly nothing flashy, but something I'm able to sleep on when I need to. Something I hope that will make it to print and not, at midnight, be gone in a flash.