Once again, as every year at this time, our local weekly newspaper, the Chico News & Review, is holding their Fiction 59 contest. The rules are simple. You must write a piece of fiction in 59 words. Not one word more or less. Exactly 59 words is how long you get.
I’ve participated in this event several times in the past few years. The last time I did, two of my three stories were published. Here they are:
It’s the Little Things That Count
Vanessa ran into Ronnie, the cute UPS driver, outside Starbucks yesterday afternoon. He asked her to go out to dinner with him Friday night. As they chatted flirtatiously she tried to keep her eyes from straying to his gaping unzipped fly. Evidently he wasn’t a man who paid attention to detail. She wondered if he’d think of bringing flowers.
Taking a Break
Emma was lazing on the porch swing, reading People, when the white Caddie pulled up. Squinting, she took a sip of her beer. When her husband, wearing wraparound shades and a tight black leather jacket, got out, her heart stalled. Then his hoochie girlfriend joined him and Emma sighed, relieved. For a minute she’d thought he wanted her back.
Have you ever tried writing micro-fiction like this? It is truly an experience of crafting your words. Every single word counts, and you just can’t afford any empty ones. It is great…go ahead, try one or two. I bet you’ll be hooked, like I am.
You may submit up to 3 entries, each in a separate email, and hyphenated words count as two words unless the two parts can’t stand alone. So “One-stop-shop” is three words, but “re-examine” is one. Contractions are one word.
In case you decide you want to enter the competition, the details can be found here: www.newsreview.com/Fiction59.
If you don’t want to enter, but just want to share your efforts, my comments are itching to be used! I’d love to read your stories. I’ll share mine once I get them honed down to their best selves.
A strippet of snippets indeed, a snippet of a story is what you’ll create. Have fun!
UPDATE: Fiction 59 has come and gone. I did not win even honorable mention. It’s okay, but one always hopes. The thing is, I wrote these three little stories, and I worked and worked them, but really, their initial ideas were not all that strong. It was a good reminder to me of the importance of good bones. There will be another opportunity next year, and I will remember that.
I promised to put my final entries here, so here they are:
Joanie was Rocky’s caregiver. He confessed they were in love, and asked for advice when they encountered problems. Happy to be asked, I tried to help. Eventually I discovered it was all a lie. He said it was a practical joke. I never spoke to either of them again. I needed it to be true. For me, at least.
Colors of the Heart
The sky was a glorious explosion of color. My heart was broken and I lay on the riverbank, staring up, without seeing anything. When the Rosie the Rottweiler bounded up and licked my face I froze. I’d lost her in the divorce, and now she was here with them. Next time I’d take my heart to a different beach.
El Salvador, 1995
As I climbed the mountain to find a view, I came upon a milpa of dry corn. When I ran into the old man who carried a huge machete my heart faltered. Was the civil war really over? Then I came to the rows and rows of agave, pencas full and ready to harvest. It was time for tequila.
So yeah, there they are. Stay tuned for next year’s efforts. I promise (myself) they will be better!