Monster Mash – Round 2 – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge

This past weekend marked my 11th round of the NYC Midnight (NYCM) Flash Fiction Challenge (FFC). To be honest, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic to compete. I’m currently immersed in the latest draft of my novel, and shifting gears pained me. It pained me even more when I received my score for the first round of this year’s contest.

Two points!

Okay, okay. That’s not horrible considering I’ve never attempted to write pure comedy, and comedy is one of the most subjective genres out there.

Low score aside, I still had fun this weekend. Well, mostly…

As a quick reminder, NYCM FFC is a writing contest where writers from all over the world are given three prompts (genre, location, and object), and then 48-hours to write a 1,000 word story. All competitors get to compete in two of the four rounds. This past weekend was the second round, which kicked off at 10 p.m. (MST) Friday when prompts were released.

First impressions of my group’s prompts:

Genre: Fantasy

Location: Waterfront esplanade

Object: Animal horn

When I saw my prompts, I went through a myriad of emotions all at once: horror, amusement, irritation, confusion. I mean, seriously, what the heck is an esplanade? I had to google it before I could do anything else. (FYI, an esplanade is “a long, open, level area, usually next to a river or large body of water, where people may walk.”)

Once I had my location prompt figured out, I turned to the main matter at hand: brainstorming a plot.

Per usual, I talked things out with my favorite writing critic: my mom. For the first time ever, we didn’t banter back and forth on how to approach the prompts. I already knew the general direction I wanted to take.

Goblins!

Yeah, yeah fantasy lovers. I know Gollum isn’t a goblin. However, I decided a long time ago that if I ever received fantasy in this contest, I’d write about a Gollum-goblin-like character. So, I did!

Next, I had to figure out the “animal horn” prompt. Obviously, my first thought was, “Unicorn!” I’m sure it was everyone else’s too, so I stayed far away from that and brainstormed other possibilities. As I did, my seven-year-old nephew curled up next to me with his tablet and watched one of his favorite videos: “Giant God Warrior” (a Japanese short fantasy monster action film). I stared at the creepy creature on screen, studied its horned back, and voila! I had an idea!

Well, sort of.

I packed up my computer and went home. By this point, it was approaching 1 a.m. and I’d been up since 4 a.m. So…yeah. The second I got home, I collapsed in bed and stayed there much longer than I usually do during these contests.

Once I found the motivation to get up on Saturday and start writing, my internet crashed. GAHHH! That threw me for a loop since I needed to do some much needed research on goblins.

[Cue twiddling thumbs, cleaning house, texting friends…]

An hour later, the internet returned, along with my focus. I sat down and spent the rest of the day hammering out a first draft. Mid-afternoon, my mom showed up to read what I’d come up with and help me chop over 600 words (doh!).

My favorite part of the contest occurred when my mom and I tried to think of names for my characters and the fantastical world they lived in: Letchmo. Catastrafo. Fodhopper. Evilgore. Mcnasty!

After we pulled ourselves together (and found a few serious names), my mom left and I sent a draft off to my beta readers. On Sunday morning, I awoke to their feedback. To my surprise, they liked it–much more than I thought they would.

Hallelujah!

I fixed the big problems, chopped the remaining 200 words I needed to chop in order to meet the word count limit, and submitted my story.

Was fantasy my favorite genre? No. Did I like the story I came up with? Yes. It’s not my favorite NYCM entry, but I’m proud to present it to the judges, my competitors, and, maybe someday, a publisher.

For those interested, here’s my title and synopsis:

“Zili”

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Zili, a gentle goblin, wishes to walk in the light as a man. A horned creature grants his wish . . . and more.

If you’d like to read my entire entry, let me know and I’ll send you the password.

Congrats to all those who participated and submitted a story for NYCM’s Flash Fiction Challenge 2017!

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Protected: Red Sunset – 2nd Round – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge

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Mission Possible – Round 2 – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge

Hey, everyone! So, this past weekend I participated in the second round of the NYC Midnight (NYCM) Flash Fiction Challenge (FFC) 2016. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really in the mood to play this time around. Just the day before the challenge kicked off, I received the results from round one and found out I didn’t get any points for my story, “The Blue Divide.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve written a lot of stories in this contest that I could accept getting a zero for (ahem, “Operation Disney“). But this one wasn’t one of them. “The Blue Divide” received more positive feedback than I’ve ever received for a story. It also landed in my personal top favorites I’ve ever written. So, getting a zero hurt. What hurt even more was reading the judges’ feedback. Besides the storyline vaguely echoing the movie “Interstellar,” they had no complaints. Only positive comments…Ugh. Very frustrating.

BUT not frustrating enough to make me bow out of round two! I refused to let the judges get me down and embraced my next assignment. Which arrived, as always, at 10 p.m. (MST) on Friday night.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-3-05-10-pm

First impressions: 

Spy

A taxi

A voting ballot

I probably stared at my prompts for a solid thirty minutes with no clue what to do with them. I don’t know if I was completely uninspired, completely miserable, or completely exhausted. I think it was the latter. I’d been up since 4:30 a.m. that morning, and hadn’t taken a break all day (I’d gone from an intense spin workout, to a crazy day at work, to a fun night at the Rockies game).

With my mom’s help (who of course was there to help me brainstorm), I pulled it together and started throwing out various concepts. Most of my ideas were absurd (ex: a taxi driver/spy who careens off the edge of the Grand Canyon and parachutes James Bond style, while the bad guy plummets to his death). What gave me the most trouble was the voting ballot prompt. It screamed politics, and I’m not a big fan of politics. I also knew many of my competitors would go in a political direction, so I wanted to avoid that.

After about twenty minutes of hemming and hawing, inspiration struck.

I decided to give my story an old Hollywood twist. And I decided to have FUN with it. Why not? With zero points from round one, I had nothing to lose, so I decided to write something light, entertaining, and kinda silly.

I sold my mom on the concept, worked out the major kinks of the plot, and then went home to collapse in bed. On Saturday, I woke up and dove straight into research about the Cold War, old Hollywood, and, well, spies. I also watched this scene from the movie “Victor Victoria” about a dozen times to embrace the traits of one of my main characters (a ditzy, flirtatious pinup girl).

It took me most of the day to crank out a solid draft, but once I had it, I knew I had it. I went back over to my mom’s house to let her read it, and get her “Simon Cowell” judgment. Halfway through her first review, she started laughing. My heart sank, and I asked her if it was dumb. She said, “NO! Don’t change it. It’s great.” By the time she finished, I knew the hard work was over. She liked it and I liked it, so now it was time to edit.

We ran through the story a couple of times. Once to analyze the actual story, and once to cut words. I was about 100 over the competition’s 1,000 limit, so nothing too major.

Or so I thought.

Surprisingly, the story didn’t have a ton of fat to cut. I only managed to hack out 20 words before I slammed into a wall. I didn’t know what else to remove or reword to make it any tighter.

Beta readers to the rescue!

I sent my story to about six writers to help me find unnecessary, fluffy, redundant words (and, of course, get opinions about my actual story). When the reviews came back, I was both relieved and a little panicked by the lack of criticisms. Just about all of my betas didn’t know where I should cut words. It was a solid, polished story. But I had to cut 80, or I’d lose major points in the contest.

So, all of my betas rolled up their sleeves and helped me hunt down those 80 extra words. Chop, rewrite, tweak, slash…Ugh. The process was beyond painful! But by Sunday afternoon, I had a final draft that was six words under the word limit. Phew! I submitted it and then did a little jig.

Now, do I expect points for this story? HA! No. If I couldn’t get points with “The Blue Divide,” then I highly doubt this silly spy story will get me much of anything. But, I’m really proud of myself for giving it my all, and not letting my round one debacle deter me from doing my best.

Although I don’t think I’ll ever send this story out for publication, I’m going to play it safe and put a password on it when I post it. Sorry! But, if you’d like to read it, let me know and I’ll send you the password. For now, here’s my title and synopsis:

“Red Sunset”

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Georgi Petrov, Hollywood playboy and Russian dissident, is a hero to some and a traitor to others. A fateful taxi ride down Sunset Boulevard proves just that.

Congrats to all those who participated and submitted a story for this round of NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2016!

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Friday Funny with Lots and Lots of Stories

Look at that! We made it to Friday.

So, I don’t know about you, but this week flew past.

Er, actually, I’m suddenly questioning whether it is, indeed, Friday. Hold on…Okay, double checked. It is. Phew!

Overall, my week mostly revolved around the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. I know, I know. Bad Jenna! I’m supposed to be working on my manuscript, not reading my competitor’s stories and critiquing them. But…ugh.

Okay, this is what happened.

On Wednesday, I received the green light from NYC Midnight to post my story publicly and on their private forum. The forum is where all of the competitors get to connect and read/evaluate each other’s work. Really, it’s one of the main reasons I even participate. Not only have I learned so much about my writing from the valuable feedback I’ve received there, but I’ve also made some great friends.

On the forum, there’s an unspoken rule: If someone reads/critiques your story, you should read/critique theirs in return. No, not everyone does this, but most of us consider it a basic courtesy.

So, usually, after I get the go ahead from the competition to post my story on the forum, I like to block out a few days to hunker down and read/critique as many stories as my eyeballs and brain can handle. I do this because 1) I enjoy it, and 2) I hope to drive people to my story to receive feedback. Give and take, right? I read yours, you read mine. Win-win.

Well, this round I decided to approach things differently.

With my manuscript “yelling” at me to finish it, I decided I couldn’t be proactive on the forum and read people’s stories unless they read mine first. So, when I posted my story, I wrote a disclaimer that basically said, “If you read my story, I’ll read yours.”

HORRIBLE IDEA!

By Wednesday night, I had over 20 stories to read and critique. By yesterday, near 35.

It’s like people freaked out I wasn’t going to be seeking out stories like I normally do, so they made sure to read and comment on mine so I’d read and comment on theirs.

Doh!

I decided to the best way to deal with the overwhelming situation was to barrel my way through the towering stack of work yesterday and today–you know, the whole pulling off the band-aid strategy. That way I can go into the weekend focused completely on my manuscript.

I made it over halfway through the stack yesterday, so hopefully I’m able to finish things up today!

As for my entry for the Flash Fiction Challenge, the feedback has been surprisingly positive so far. Although most people don’t seem to know exactly what qualifies as political satire, they think Operation Disney is funny.

Now, to be honest, I think most people are probably being nicer with their reviews than usual. Most everyone knows by now how much I dreaded writing a political satire and how little faith I had–have–in my story.

Yes, yes. Despite the nice words I’ve received about Operation Disney, I’m still not sold on it. I’ve read it a couple of times this week and every time I’m more and more bothered by it. Ugh…I know I’m being hard on myself, and I know I did an okay job considering I was way out of my element, but I just can’t bring myself to love it like I’ve loved my other stories.

Oh well, oh well. I’m going to let it go and move on.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. 😉

 Anyway, in honor of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge, and the political satire I had to write, here is today’s Friday Funny. I’m sure I’ve posted this one before, but I had to use it again since it’s exactly how I felt while penning Operation Disney. Enjoy!

1013603_290902797768942_2264126418497184260_nHow was your week? Anyone else finding themselves buried in piles of work?

P.S. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on Operation Disney. I know I might sound like I’m complaining above, but I value each and every piece of feedback I’ve received. Thank you, thank you!

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

In case you missed my posts from earlier this week, here you go!

Disaster Strikes – Round 2 – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014

You Know You’re A Writer When…Frustration

Operation Disney – 2nd Round Entry – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge Entry

Photo credits: 

http://www.celebuzz.com/2013-06-15/20-high-five-gifs-for-neil-patrick-harris-birthday/

http://gifrific.com/did-we-just-become-best-friends-step-brothers/

http://blog.wedeliver.us/wedeliver-news/5-reasons-you-didnt-get-into-techstars-y-combinator-or-any-other-accelerator/

http://armenatoyan.buzznet.com/user/journal/8187041/liz-lemon-gif-party-tina/

http://s284.photobucket.com/user/Bigsteve87/media/Gifs/HighFiveSnowWhite.gif.html

http://rebloggy.com/post/1k-spoilers-disney-spoiler-myedits-5k-frozen-let-it-go-disney-frozen-elsa-frozen/69317844213

http://www.funniestmemes.com/funniest-memes-the-writer-haha-this-is-funny-maybe-not/

Friday Funny with a Birthday and Woot Woo

Happy Friday to one and all!

Well, I had one heck of a distracting week. In fact, I was so busy, I didn’t even get one word written for my manuscript. I didn’t even think about it that much. Eeks!

First off, I had my birthday on Tuesday.

Overall, it was a quiet celebration this year. Actually, most of my birthdays are on the quiet front. Believe it or not, I’m not a fan of the spotlight. Opening presents in front of people, having a group sing happy birthday to me, getting a cake with my name on it…Yeah, I pretty much burst into flames and go up in a flare of mortifying smoke every time. If I could, I’d happily hide in my house all day on August 19th, and then– slowly and cautiously–creep back out on the 20th.

Don’t worry. I didn’t do that. I went over to my family’s after work for my favorite home cooked meal–breakfast for dinner–had some cake (best part of a birthday in my opinion), and opened some great gifts. My family knows me way too well. They gave me a book, gift cards for more books, my favorites snacks (Craisins and granola bars), and a hilarious card.

unnamedI have a few other plans with friends, but they’re aware they’re not allowed to make a big deal about my birthday, so we’ll just be going to dinner and hanging out like we’d normally do…And if my friends are reading this, I mean it. This is your warning: No singing waiters or I’ll put you into one my stories and give you the boot! 😉 )

The other big part of my distracting week was the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014. On Wednesday, I received confirmation for my entry, Inevitable, and was able to post it to both my blog and the competition’s forum. For the past couple of days, I’ve been doing nothing but reading and reviewing other people’s stories, and also receiving feedback for my own.

So far, the reviews for Inevitable have been positive!

Here are a few comments from my fellow competitors:

Suspense is right, I actually held my breath at one point.  And that ending!!

Damn! Just…damn.

I felt like I was there! It unfolded like a suspenseful movie, and I was totally on board with being along for the ride.

Amazing! Everything about this moved me.

The biggest compliments I’ve received thus far have been about my dialogue and character development. Everyone seems to agree I nailed both, and that makes me so happy! I’ve been working my booty off lately on improving those aspects in my stories, so it’s awesome to see my hard work paying off.

Of course, there have been constructive criticisms as well–which I’m more than happy to hear. One of the main reasons I do this competition is to learn and grow, and I can’t do that unless I hear what’s “wrong” with my story.

Anyway, that’s about it. Busy week, but a good one. I will be plunging back into my manuscript this weekend to get back on track with that. It shouldn’t be too hard. I’m right at the juiciest chapters of the book, so it’ll be fun once I rev up the creative engines again.

In honor of my birthday this week, here is today’s Friday Funny–well, Funnies. I couldn’t decide, so you get two!

aeb97696b7c0bbe74cd13230d11ead11

633d5e26caa8877ac29ef931b73abf3fHow was your week? Distracted? Focused? Anyone else have a birthday? August seems to be a popular month for them, so I’m sure someone out there had one.

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

In case you missed my posts from earlier this week, here you go!

I Made It – Round 1 – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014

Inevitable – 1st Round Entry – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge Entry

5 Things to Know When Pitching to Literary Agents

Photo credits: 

http://imogenpoots-rph.tumblr.com/post/29738573493/did-i-really-hit-200-followers-within-a-week

http://verymerrydisneybirthdays.tumblr.com/post/28191748051/happy-birthday-alice

http://bitsofada.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/hugh-laurie-at-the-annual-sag-awards/

http://hellogiggles.com/amy-poehler-life-coach-15-things-shes-taught

http://imgfave.com/view/2106241

http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/ae/b9/76/aeb97696b7c0bbe74cd13230d11ead11.jpg

Inevitable – 1st Round Entry – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge Entry

Here’s my entry for the 1st round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014. If you’d like to read about my experience writing this story, click here! Thanks in advance for reading, and thanks for any feedback you might have.

Reminder, I had 48-hours to write a 1,000 word story based on these prompts:

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 8.46.08 AM

“Inevitable”

by Jenna Willett

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: While coping with the tragic death of her husband, Kate travels to Jackson Hole with her son. Along the way, they learn the true meaning of inevitable when disaster strikes.

“Ta-da! We made it!” Kate pulled the keys from the ignition and grinned over her shoulder. “See, I told you–“

Andy stared down at his lap. His pj’s were soaked. “Sorry, Mommy.”

Kate’s shoulders slumped. “Don’t be sorry, Boo. Sometimes inevitable things happen.”

He sniffed. “What’s invetable?”

“In-ev-it-able,” she pronounced for him. “It means out of our control. Sometimes bad things happen when we don’t want them to.”

“Like Daddy?”

Her heart constricted. “That wasn’t inevitable. That was an accident.” She twisted her wedding ring and squeezed the diamond against her palm. The pain felt good. Grounding. Calming. “Come on,” she coaxed. “Let’s clean up and get some food. If we don’t hurry, it’s inevitable I’m gonna eat you.”

Andy wiped his teary eyes. “You can’t eat me, Mommy. I’m a boy.”

“Yes, but you look so delicious.” She snapped her teeth.

He giggled.

Although it was past 8 p.m., Doug’s Truck Stop was bright and alive with families and truckers. Kate draped her jacket over Andy and dug fresh clothes out of his duffle bag. Hand-in-hand, they walked across the oil-stained parking lot.

“It smells weird, Mommy.”

“Weird?”

“Yeah, like–” He inhaled deeply. “Like band-aids.”

Band-aids? What do those smell like?”

“Blood.”

“Gross.”

Andy grinned. “Blood and poop!”

“Ugh!”

His triumphant smile lit up her world. She rumpled his hair and urged him through the door. Before it shut, she sniffed the air: Gasoline, trash, cigarettes, and…corrosion.

She wrinkled her nose.

Inside, the lights above her flickered. Frowning, she herded Andy to the bathroom. After he’d changed, and they’d negotiated dinner–“Snickers if you eat an apple first”–they got in line behind an old trucker.

He pointed at the candy in Andy’s hand. “Hey, that’s my favorite too!”

Andy pressed his face against Kate’s leg.

The old man chuckled. “You know, it’s a fact Snickers is the best candy in the world. If you don’t believe me, ask your mom and dad.”

“My Daddy died.”

Stricken, the old man looked at Kate. She bit her lip and caressed the diamond to fight back the tears. He mumbled his condolences and turned to checkout.

Again, the lights flickered.

“Damn things,” the cashier grumbled. “They’ve been doing that all day.”

“It’s aliens,” said the trucker. “I’m telling you. We’ve been invaded.”

“Bullshit.”

“Aliens?” Andy whispered to Kate.

She rubbed the back of his neck. “He’s kidding.”

“No, I’m not! I saw military movin’ in last night.”

“Zip it, Pete. You’re scarin’ the kid.”

A faint boom rumbled.

The lights winked off…on.

The cashier swore.

Kate tossed a ten on the counter and marched outside with Andy. The air smelled worse than before, like rotting eggs. Sulfuric acid, perhaps? Flashes of lightning sparked from afar, followed by thunder.

“Hurry,” she urged Andy. She wanted to get to Jackson Hole before the storm hit.

Once they were in the car, Andy asked, “Aliens aren’t real, right?”

“Right.” She put the keys in the ignition.

“But monsters are?”

“Of course not, silly.”

“But you told Grandma a monster killed Daddy.”

Her stomach turned. “That was a different kind of monster.” She shuddered and flipped the ignition. It’d been three months since Ryan had been killed by a drunk driver. If it hadn’t been for Andy…

“Don’t cry, Mommy.”

“I can’t help it. It’s inevitable when you’re sad and–“

A sudden harsh alarm blared through the radio.

Kate jumped.

Andy squealed and pressed his hands over his ears.

“We interrupt our programming,” a male robotic voice announced. “This is a national emergency–“

The radio snapped off and the engine died. The lights above the gas pumps went out and the convenience store fell into darkness.

“Mommy…?” Andy whimpered.

“It’s okay,” she breathed. “It’s just a power surge–“

A piercing wail silenced her. It was followed by a deep, bone jarring jolt that shook the car.

Kate gripped the steering wheel. What…What?

Someone slammed their hand against her window. She screamed.

It was Pete.

“Get inside! It’s coming!”

Kate followed his frantic gestures. Across the parking lot people ran, screamed, and clawed at each other to get into the convenience store. One girl stood frozen, her eyes fixed on the horizon.

“MOVE!” Pete yanked Kate out of the car.

The smell of rot stung her nose, making her eyes water. Howls and groans she couldn’t comprehend echoed around her. They seemed to be coming from every direction.

Pete shoved Andy into Kate’s arms. “Run, dammit!”

She hugged him to her and bolted. The sky shrieked with inhuman sounds, and the ground trembled so violently, she feared she’d tumble.

The sky went white.

Blinding, icy, horrifying white.

It was so bright and unexpected, Kate screamed and dropped to the ground to shield Andy. The wind stole her breath and the unearthly shrieks threatened to burst her eardrums.

“GET INSIDE!”

Strong hands heaved Kate off the ground and forced her into the convenience store.

“I’m scared,” Andy sobbed against her throat.

“Me too.”

“What is it?”

She scrambled for an answer. Aliens? Terrorists? A natural disaster? She shrugged. “I don’t know.”

A horrible realization dawned upon her.

They were going to die.

It was unfair and cruel, but it was inevitable. Whatever was happening outside was inescapable. She couldn’t run or hide. Just like her husband, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

She squeezed her ring and hugged Andy closer.

They were all together.

The earth began to convulse and heave. The building groaned and the windows burst. A cloud of ash swirled inside. The crowd screamed. Pete sobbed next to Kate.

Andy was silent in her arms.

She closed her eyes and kissed the top of his head. “Don’t be scared, Boo. It’s okay. I love you. I love–

*

A flake of ash from Yellowstone Park’s catastrophic eruption floated over Doug’s Truck Stop. It drifted down and landed on the only thing shimmering in the ruins.

A diamond.

To read more stories, visit my Jen’s Pen page.

I Made It – Round 1 – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014

I made it, everyone! I survived Round 1 of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014. I was able to set aside my fatigue/laser focus with my YA manuscript, and spit out a 1,000 word story in 48-hours.

So, for those of you who don’t know how the contest works, here’s a quick overview: There are 25 heats, each with approximately 40 writers in it. Each heat is then assigned a genre (drama, comedy, fantasy, romance, horror, etc.), a location where the story must take place, and an object that must appear at least once. We then have 48-hours to write a 1,000 word story.

As usual, I refused to look at my assignment when it was emailed to me on Friday night. If I would’ve looked, I would’ve been up all night brainstorming. So I waited until Saturday morning.

I woke up at 4:30 a.m., turned on my computer, and looked at my prompts:

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 8.46.08 AMI can’t tell you how relieved I was. Suspense is my FAVORITE genre to write, and it’s where my mind has been with my YA manuscript, so I didn’t have to shift gears too hard. And the prompts didn’t seem difficult. A truck stop can be made creepy/dark, and a diamond ring can be thrown in all sorts of ways. Easy peasy.

I sat back, closed my eyes, and started brainstorming. Surprisingly, I came up with a concept within minutes (rare for me). I called my best/harshest/favorite writing critic, my mom, and pitched it to her.

“Oh! I like that!” she exclaimed.

So I got to work.

…And, yeah. It did not go well.

Okay, okay. It wasn’t horrible, but during my first draft I realized I was taking way too long to get the story up and running. By the time the action/suspense began to unfold, I was already at 2,000 words.

2,000. Words!

BLERG!

I started over. I jumped ahead in my plot to get to the “good stuff” sooner. Unfortunately by doing this, I cut out all the details that made my characters likable/believable. Now they were just mannequins going through the actions.

I decided to email the story to my mom anyway. I had to. It was already past 1 p.m. 15 hours of my precious 48 were gone. I couldn’t waste anymore time on a story that was potentially useless. As I waited for her feedback, I began revising.

Write…Delete-delete-delete. Write…Delete-delete-delete…GRRR! I couldn’t get the story started. Something was off about it. I just couldn’t figure out what.

This was about the time I smacked into my standard, “I suck and I hate this story!” wall. I forced myself to take a break and walk away to clear my head.  As I ate a snack, my mom called with her thoughts. She liked it, but she had the same concern I did: the setup. It was off.

“I’m going to get DQ’d,” I muttered to her. “The story is supposed to take place at the truck stop, but most of it’s on the highway.”

“Then start it at the truck stop,” she replied. “Cut out the highway.”

Feeling kind of stupid, I made the change. And poof! Everything came together.

Within a few hours, I had a solid second draft. I liked my characters again and the suspense was there. Grateful I’d found a way to balance the two, I sent the updated version to my mom. She replied within minutes:

“I LOOOOOOVVVVEEE it!!!”

Ahhh, such sweet relief. I almost cried. Almost.

Of course, there was still a lot of work to do, and there was a major aspect of the story that bothered both of us. We brainstormed about it until we came up with a viable solution. I jotted it down and went to bed. It was almost 11 p.m., and I’d been up since dawn.

Seriously, my right eye wouldn’t stop twitching!

Yesterday was all about refining the story and chopping it down to the magical 1,000 word count. I screamed at one point, because with each revision, my word count went UP, not down: 1,300, 1,400, 1,500. I finally called my mom to come over and help me edit it. I learned from Round 3 of the Short Story Challenge that sometimes I need someone to sit with me and read my story out loud to find the flaws and unnecessary words/sentences.

After a few hours of debating, strategizing, and fine-tuning, we got the story down to 999 words. Wooooot! I sent it off to a handful of beta readers (thanks, Jess), tweaked a few things based off their feedback, and finally submitted it.

Then I collapsed!

Overall, I’m satisfied with the final outcome of my story. It’s not my favorite one, but I’m still proud of it. I promise I’ll post it for you all to read in a few days, after I receive confirmation from NYC Midnight it’s okay to share. Until then, here is the title and brief synopsis:

“Inevitable”

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: While coping with the tragic death of her husband, Kate travels to Jackson Hole with her son. Along the way, they learn the true meaning of inevitable when disaster strikes.

Did anyone else participate in this weekend’s Flash Fiction Challenge? If so, how’d it go for you?

…Okay, I’ve been debating about this all weekend, but I’m gonna do it. Remember that silly video I mentioned to you on Friday? Well, here it is. The photos I sent to my friend got lost in translation, but she used a couple of the video clips I recorded. It’s a little embarrassing, but whatever. More than anything, I wanted to show you what a wonderful/funny/weird/awesome writing community NYC Midnight has. I hope someday you can join in the fun. Enjoy!

…And, uh, feel free to laugh at me as much as you want. 😉

Photo Credits: 

http://hollygrass.blogspot.com/2014/05/hallelujah-its-friday.html

http://www.videogum.com/566121/this-week-in-gifs-60/webjunk/

http://www.india-forums.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=4014838

http://whatshadeofgreenshouldwecallme.tumblr.com/post/50511483768/me-during-noonans-class

http://glee.wikia.com/wiki/File:Duh_duh_duh.gif

http://imgur.com/gallery/wanzzxr

http://onlyfatrabbit.tumblr.com/post/58989099326/bunny-rabbit-sitting-at-a-computer-desk-then