It’s that time of year again — NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Contest time!!!
Please note… my story is not here. If you want to see why, you can read below. If you just want the good stuff, I’m asking you to please join my Short Fiction email list to read Lucky Three Strikes. I promise I won’t spam you. I have some exciting publications coming up, and I need a great way to keep everyone informed. So sign up, and you’ll get access to my latest story!
For those who haven’t been following along for the last three years, NYCM has become something of an addiction for me. I can’t forego the entry, no matter what’s going on in my life. I’ve even toyed with participating in their screenwriting competitions. Why? Because they get me off my ass. They push me out of my zone. They make me think.
NYCM contests give writers a set amount of time to write a fixed-length piece (flash-to-short, though I’d argue even their “short story” length qualifies as slightly-longer-flash). The kicker is, it’s prompted. You are given a genre and a set of criteria that you must write. The prompts sometimes seem boring, and at other times, they’re downright crazy. One time, I got a prompt to write a spy story in a pharmacy with a dictionary.
The trick is to write a compelling, full story, based off the prompt, within the word count, before the clock strikes midnight. It feels a lot like this:
Anyway, my prompt for this last weekend’s contest was “Crime Caper / A bowling alley / a raincoat.” Crime caper is an interesting genre. It’s different from crime thriller, because the focus is on the perpetrator and his/her escape or atonement. I’ve written a crime caper before, and it scored rather well (13 out of 15… 3rd place in my heat of 60 very talented writers).
When I got the prompt, I have to say I was less than inspired.
I’d just come off of running a super fun D&D campaign that was a solid 5 hours of sheer laughter and excitement plucked straight from my imaginative brain, and co-mingled with the awesome antics and random additions of my equally imaginative friends and family. This prompt was so blaaaahhhhhh!
I saw this prompt and my immediate reaction was: I was underwhelmed. I didn’t wanna and you couldn’t make me!
So I did what any reasonable person would do. I went to bed.
The next morning, I woke up with three names in my brain: Greta, Dimitri, and The Lucky Three Strikes. I had the loose outline of a plot, and a general idea that these would-be kidnappers would-be not-so-smart… but that it would all work out for them.
And I set down to writing.
Within two hours, I had a shitty first draft with a horrible ending. I bounced it off of a couple of my co-competitors (because seriously, we’re all friends now… like, these other NYCM people are some of my favorite people in the world), and one of them in particular worked through some possible alternate ideas.
And it clicked…. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS!
Long story short (pun heavily intended) I crafted what ended up being a fun, thrill-ride of just under 1000 words that’s packed with doses of humor, a dab of social commentary, and as one of my beta readers said, “a couple of characters that are endearingly inept.”
Normally, I share these stories publicly. But… BUT!!! I’m starting to get my works picked up by paying publishers more and more. So… if you want this story, do me a favor… sign up for my new Short Fiction interest list! Like I said before – no spam. Just the occasional message about publications, and maybe some random fiction in your inbox.