Losing My Microfiction Mind

As they say, “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions,” and my good intentions for keeping up with this blog have certainly fallen by the wayside. But getting back in the saddle when you get tossed off the horse is what counts, right? So, here goes nothing!

I recently entered the NYC Midnight Microfiction 100 Challenge. I've done other NYC Midnight challenges in the past, but never one with such a strict word count.


If you are not familiar with the Microfiction Challenge, this is basically how it works:

  • You are put into a random group with other writers and are given an assignment that consists of a genre, an action that must take place in the story, and a word that must appear in the story.

  • You are limited to 100 words maxium

  • You have 24 hours to write and turn in your story—you get your assignment at midnight on Friday and have until midnight Saturday to complete the assignment.

It is a little mind-blowing to say the least, and honestly it is a little stressful. So why did I put myself through it? First, I wanted to test myself on whether or not I could write something that short, and if I could write in genres outside my comfort zone.


As frustrating as the competition is when you’re in the middle of it, I’ve found I really enjoyed the process. I’ve learned a lot about how I approach a writing assignment (for me, it is worth staying up until midnight so I can let the assignment percolate before I start writing in the morning).

There are three rounds in the 2020 Microfiction 100 Challenge, and I’ll find out in August if I made the final round, but I thought I would share with you what my first two assignments (and stories) were…

Assignment 1

  • Genre: Thriller

  • Action: Walking Up Stairs

  • Word: Doorknob

  • My thoughts: This one wasn't too bad, actually. One of the reasons is because in the last Flash Fiction challenge (different than Microfiction, but I'll get into that another time) I was also assigned a thriller, so I was able to take the judges' feedback from that and apply it to this assignment.

Bitter Truth

My legs are dead weights as I finish walking up the lighthouse stairs. Trembling, my hand rests on the doorknob. I’m terrified, but can’t back out now.

After Jess’s suicide, I promised myself I’d unearth what that bastard Ken did to her. I’ve been warned to back off, to stop, but I can’t. Now, after two years, I’ll have the truth.

I open the door and my heart freezes in my chest.

“Jess?” I gasp in utter disbelief.

“I warned you, Jenna. But you just wouldn’t listen.” A tear slides down her cheek.

I barely even feel the knife.

Assignment 2

  • Genre: Historical Fiction

  • Action: Eating Lobster

  • Word: Reason

  • My thoughts: This one was much harder. When you only have 100 words, setting up the historical era is really difficult. I really didn't come up with my idea until lunch on Saturday, which gave me only about 12 hours to complete the assignment. The letter format seemed to be the best way to approach it.

Farewell

Dearest Catherine,

I have precious little time before Washington’s colonial rebels come for me. It pains me beyond reason to know I will never look into your gentle eyes again.

Do not weep, beloved. I weary of this cell, these chains, of eating lobster stew—peasant fare fit only for swine. But I would dine on it forever if only I could share it with you.

Alas, the gallows beckon.

Forgive me for leaving you, darling. Your face shall be my last thought, your name the last word I whisper. You are my heart.

Remember me well.

Eternally yours,

Christopher

I'm looking forward to finding out if I made the last round--and I hope you've enjoyed the submissions I've made so far.

I'm curious, what do you do -- writing or otherwise -- to challenge yourself and get outside your comfort zone?

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