Saturday, 19 May 2012

Top Short Story Competitions – Literary Athletics

The only way to lose is by not taking part

There are short story writing competitions. There are international short story writing competitions. And then there's New York City Midnight Short Story Challenge.

The operative words are Midnight and Challenge, and they mean exactly what they say. NYCM competitions are not for sleepyheads or the faint-hearted.

This year the challenge consisted of three rounds of original writing challenges, set against the calendar and the clock. The challenges were presented, by email, at 11:59 EDT (New York time), which equated to 4:59 the following morning in the UK.

In the first round the 24:00/5:00am start was not too onerous, given eight days to write a story of up to 2,500 words. The second round was slightly more fraught with 3 days to produce a story of up to 1,500 words. Faced, however, with 24 hours to write a 1,000 word story in the final round, every second counted, so a 5:00 start was vital.

The 625 first round writers were placed randomly in 'heats' of 25. Each heat received a genre, subject and character assignment, for example: Comedy (genre), a family reunion (subject) and a pathological liar (character).

The judges chose 125 writers from the first round to progress to the second round. These writers were again placed in heats and given new genre, subject and character assignments.

From these entries the judges chose 25 writers to advance to the third and final round, in which all writers received the same genre, subject and character.

The over all winners were:

1 'Origin Story' by Jessica Zimmerman
2 'What We Left Behind' by Muthoni Kiarie
3 'Secret Sky' by Elizabeth Spencer
4 'After the Plague' by Betsy A. Riley
5 'Shiny, Pink Secrets' by Andrea Hannah

Me? I made it to the final 25, which is not so dusty. Close, as they say, but no cigar.

Perhaps my NYCM-inspired athletic training regime will stand me in good stead for future literary track and field events, who knows?

Whatever, I've submitted my three entries elsewhere. As I observed at the beginning: The only way to lose is by not taking part.