I often have people ask me what the difference is between the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge (FFC) and Short Story Challenge (SSC). At the heart of it, there is no difference. In both FFC and SSC, you have a limited amount of time and words to write a story based on assigned prompts.
However, there are a few major differences you should know about.
NUMBER OF LIVES
SSC: Each round is sudden death.
In a nutshell: You bomb, you’re out.
FFC: You’re guaranteed two rounds.
If you bomb round one, then you can try and redeem yourself in round two.
WORD COUNT AND DEADLINE
Each round has a different deadline and word count:
R1 = 2,500 words, 8 days
R2 = 2,000 words, 3 days
R3 = 1,500 words, 24-hours
Each round has the same deadline and word count: 1,000 words, 48-hours
SSC: Genre, Character, Subject
Mystery, Tour Guide, Debt
Suspense, Chef, Wedding
Ghost Story, Waitress, Statue
FFC: Genre, Location, Object
Rom-com, Swamp, RV
Horror, Crowded Beach, Fanny Pack
Political Satire, Airport Security Checkpoint, Map
In both SSC and FFC, you are placed in a group of 25-40 writers. Your group is then given a set of unique prompts and must compete against each other to determine who advances. How you advance depends on the challenge:
SSC: Top five stories from each group advance to the next round.
Yep! It’s as simple as that. If the judges like your story better than the 20-35 others in your group, then you’re moving on. If not, sorry. Better luck next time.
FFC: Complicated…but not.
Okay, let’s see if I can explain this without over complicating it (because it’s not complicated, it just seems like it).
The top 15 writers in each group get points during round one and round two (and, yes, you stay in the same group for both rounds). 1 point = 15th place, 15 points = 1st place. If you place below 15th, you get zero points. After round two, you combine your total points. The top five in each group advance.
Example: During FFC 2014, I received 4 points for my round one story, and 8 points for my round two. That gave me 12 points total. Since the top five in my group totaled between 18 and 27 points, I didn’t advance.
Actually, earning points at all is awesome, so I was proud of my scores. 🙂 And even when I haven’t scored points, I still got a lot out of the experience.
However, some writers don’t share my attitude. In every FFC, I’ve seen people quit after round one because they received zero points. Don’t do this! Just because your chances of advancing diminish, you could still advance. I’ve seen people bomb round one and rock round two, and vice versa. So, don’t give up. Fight for it!
Plus, you paid for this contest, so why would you bail early? Get your money’s worth and write a second story and get it critiqued by the judges.
Plus, plus, you should enter FFC and SSC with more than winning in mind. Whether it’s to learn, meet other writers, think of a new plot for a novel, or something else, you should have multiple reasons for participating. That way if you don’t do well with the judges, you’ll still have something positive to take away from the experience.
Once you compete in both FFC and SSC, you’ll likely discover you have a preference for one or the other. Some writers like FFC more than SSC, and some writers like SSC more than FFC.
Personally, I’m a bigger fan of SSC. I’m not sure if it’s because of the extra time and larger word counts, or if it’s the added pressure of sudden death. Whatever it is, I tend to do better in SSC than FFC. But I know plenty of others who prefer FFC over SSC.
I guess you’ll have to enter to find out which one you prefer.
Or, who knows? Maybe you’ll love both equally? Both are equally worthy and provide excellent opportunities to writers.
So, go sign up for the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge 2016! If you’re not sold on it, click here to see why I think you should. You have until December 17th to take advantage of the early entry fee. There’s also a Twitter discount, so be sure to use that to lower the cost even more. Final deadline is January 21st.
Hope to see you all on the NYC Midnight forum!
To learn more about the NYCM Short Story Challenge 2016, click here!