Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

And Don't Call Me Shirley

Well, I did it again.

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.

Tick.
Tick.
Tick...

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.)

16 comments:

  1. Congrats to you! A second time. It's hard to imagine you being humorless, but I suppose all things are possible. Well written and sequel did flow quite nicely there. Hope all is well in the world of you, I've been not so blog hoppy lately!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Heather! Just look at it this way: By keeping this story humorless, now I have extra humor to pack into the next one. Everybody wins! (Although, to be fair, only I win a book.)

      And no worries. You may notice I also haven't been around the blogs much -- mine or others'. All's well with me; I hope the same goes for you.

      Delete
  2. Damn. I'm not sure I have time to go read a bunch of flash fiction, but if the majority are half as good as yours, they can't be missed.

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    1. Thanks, man. But what are you talking about? Everyone has time to read a bunch of flash fiction. The stories are all so short.

      Three hours later...

      Well, it was good in theory.

      Delete
  3. Congratulations, Nate! And you don't look like a pony to me.

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    1. I don't look like a pony? Phew. That's a load off my mind. It was stupid of me to think I might be one. I feel like kind of an ass.

      Delete
  4. Oh, well done! It's a great story. Is it a drabble? I own Divergence, but haven't gotten to it, yet. I really should.

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    1. I'd think the rest of my blog would be considered more of a drabble than the story, as it's pretty much half drivel and half babble.

      But yes, it is. Exactly 100 words.

      And yes, you should.

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. Thanks again, Janet! Looks like I'll have to raise my ghost writer's pay. (i.e. Two small tubs of Gerber per meal, instead of just the one.)

      Delete
  6. 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.

    DOOD! That is a powerful paragraph. Powerful in italics. *applauds*

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    1. Thank you, thank you. *bows, catches roses thrown on stage*

      You know, I wonder if it might actually be the most powerful (er, sorry... I mean powerful) paragraph I've ever written. Considering I normally pen lighter fare, it very well could be.

      Delete
  7. I didn't know you also tricked ponies...very nice story.

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    1. Oh, ponies are easy. Show 'em a carrot and you can get them to do pretty much anything. Unless they're My Little Ponys, of course. Then you have show them love or some such nonsense.

      Delete
  8. Impressive piece in short form...Congrats! But I wish you had included bacon in this one as well. Everything's better with bacon. :-)

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    1. Coming from you, that's quite the compliment. Thanks!

      And yes, everything is better with bacon, but I didn't want to show up all the other writers. By leaving out the bacon, I kept the competition close. :)

      Delete