Saturday, August 10, 2013


Janet Reid is running another contest, and I knew when I got that first sentence that I had to enter.

The Dangerous Fiction Writing Contest
The usual rules:
1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer
2. Use these words in the story:  fiction, slush, spade, hear, 262 
The word must be used in whole, but it does not have to be the whole of the word.
fictionalize but not friction; shear but not heather
Here's my entry:

I heard Janet Reid found 262 fiction manuscripts dumped in her slush pile one morning, all featuring Sam Spade, all different, and all written by one person. Some say it's an urban legend; I wanted to find out.

So I made my way to 115 West 29th Street, 3rd floor, and asked to see Janet.

"Is it true?" I asked.


"Two-hundred-sixty-two Sam Spade scripts? All different? All by the same person?"

"Yes. And one plot."

 "One plot?" 

 "Remember: 'There is only one plot--things are not what they seem.'"

 All by one person.

 I feel like such a slacker.


UPDATE:  Twenty-one hours after the contest closed, Janet has chosen a winner -- two winners actually, and I was not one of them. But my entry, along with three others, received recognition for cracking her up completely. Funny, I didn't think mine was funny enough to crack someone up completely. Whimsical, maybe, but hilarious? Hmmm, must be a literary agent thing. But hey, I gladly accept the recognition. Yeah ME!

I didn't expect to win because my style is not Janet Reid's, at least when it concerns her contests. But I love the contests because they fuel what creativity I do have. They're a lot of fun. I was hoping to receive recognition to have used all 5 words in the first sentence, so I was slightly disappointed, but only slightly.

A word about 100-word contests: They're really not that difficult to write as long as you have an idea for a story. Write the story first, without constricting yourself to 100 words. Then edit out every unnecessary word. Or as Strunk and White advise: "Omit needless words." Chances are you'll delete most, if not all, qualifiers (adjectives and adverbs). Flash fiction is a lesson in concise, precise writing. Writers who find it difficult are usually writers who lard their scripts with qualifiers. Adjectives and adverbs should be used sparingly.


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