Long-time readers (all three of you) may remember I once won a writing contest on agent Janet Reid's blog using the devastating combo of bacon and bad puns. This past weekend, I did the unexpected and won a second time.
Sorry, let me rephrase that so my meaning is clear: I did the unexpected. And, I won.
If you've been here before, you know I try to incorporate humor into pretty much every post I write.1 It's the same with my fiction. Prior to last week, I believe I'd only ever written one story completely devoid of humor.
And then there were two.
My winning story contains no wit, no wisecracks, and no wordplay. See? I'm not a one-trick pony. I can turn all sorts of tricks.2 Okay, that came out wrong, but what I mean is when a story calls for it, I can be a serious writer. Seriously.
My prize: An ARC of Veronica Roth's Insurgent, the second book in her wildly popular Divergent trilogy, which doesn't hit bookstores until May. (After I won, I went out and got the first book, since I hadn't actually read it yet. I finished it in under two days.)
As per the rules of the contest, entries couldn't exceed 100 words, and had to contain these five:
choice - destroy - risk - sequel - allegiance
My winning entry:
Maeve's brother died the week she was born; her parents never quite recovered. She traipsed through life as a ghost, the sequel to a book never written.
Only Rakesh had been there for her. To his people she held no allegiance, but she was indebted to him.
In the packed marketplace, the bulky vest weighed on her body, though not her mind. She knew her actions today would accomplish little — you couldn’t destroy what was already ruined — but still, better her than Rakesh. Maeve didn't regret her choice.
She risked a glance at her watch. Ten seconds.
Oh, and one last thing. Reading this story, you probably assume I came up with the idea because of the choice-destroy-risk-allegiance grouping of words. You'd be wrong. It was the exact opposite; the entire story stems from the word sequel. I knew that would be the toughest of the five for me to fit into a passage and have it sound natural, so that's where I put my focus. Luckily, I hit on the phrase "sequel to a book never written;" the rest of the piece flowed from there.
But enough about me. The competition for this prize was fierce; Ms. Reid claimed it was her toughest contest decision ever. Thus, there's some fine flash fiction on display over at her blog, so go check out the other finalists. No, that's not a suggestion. It's an order. Go.
So, what have we learned today? Step outside your comfort zone. You may be surprised with the results.
1 Whether I succeed is a matter of some conjecture.
2 Also, I'm pretty sure I'm not a pony. (Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit biology.)