How about a contest that is free to enter and offers prizes for your cleverest twenty-five words? I received this announcement recently for the Gotham Writer’s Workshop, “Hint Fiction Writing Contest.”
As they define it, “hint fiction” is a complete story of no more than twenty-five words that hints “at a larger chain of events.” The word limit does not include the title. Here is an example given in the announcement:
Corrections & Clarifications
It was Fredrick Miller, not his murdered son Matthew, who was executed Monday night at Henshaw Prison.
The deadline for entries is October 11, one entry per person. It’s anything but easy, of course, but the interesting thing is, one can begin with almost any image or phrase that comes to mind, and create something complete from it in one sitting – who knows, perhaps the seed of something larger. After reading the announcement, the phrase, “ends of the earth” popped to mind and I sat down with a cup of coffee and a pencil and came up with a credible first draft. Beats crosswords any day IMO.
One caution: last fall I entered a “first hundred and fifty word” contest from these folks (you would already know if I’d won) and I continue to get periodic announcements from them. I’m sure there is a way to opt out, but I haven’t looked for it, since additional interesting tidbits like this come along, and there is a delete key for the rest.
LATE BREAKING NEWS:
While we’re at it, this arrived in my inbox this morning, an announcement for a more traditional (5000 word) short story contest from Writer’s Digest:
For those who delight in short fiction, why not?
Fascinating contests. I’ve never entered one myself. Have you found them to be a good way to focus on writing?
Focus is always a difficult thing. I blame my own poor discipline.
Thanks for sharing,
To date, I have only submitted a few times when a contest has matched some writing I’ve had on hand. That’s mostly because the majority of contests are for shorter fiction, and I am working on a novel – taking the time to craft a good 5000 word story right now would unfocus me, but twenty-five words will not.
So I think focus is entirely personal and likely to change over time.
A friend who writes a lot of short stories submits to contests, and wins with some regularity. He sends notices of a variety of competitions, grants, and the like which I’ll post here as they come in.