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Micro-Fiction: brevity and punch, rolled into one

This June, I entered a micro-fiction contest. I never go into a competition with the expectation of winning. I do go in with the knowledge that sometimes an unusual prompt will kick start the creative process. This particular contest gave you the genre, an action, and a word that you had to incorporate into the submission.

I had fun with the <100 words challenge, because it forced me to fit a story arc into a nice, neat box. I've written in long form, and while the word counts are vastly different, I think micro-fiction and novels have a lot in common. I approached them in the same way, at least - I know how my story will start and end, I add some interesting dialogue, and I try to show not tell.

Did I achieve that? I'll let you decide.

1. Stories one and two prompts -

Genre: action/adventure

Action: Brewing tea

Word: improve

Eighth Time's a Charm (The story I submitted. It got me to the second round.)

An unassuming door marked her journey’s end. She crossed its threshold.

“Not bad, Mel.” welcomed Dean’s voice. “3 years, 62 days, 19 hours. That’s quite an improvement.”

He gestured toward a steaming tea kettle. “Would you like a celebratory cup? It’s just finished brewing.”

Mel cut him off. “You know why I’m here and it’s not for refreshments.”

“To avenge your wife, of course.” He laughed and approached her. “Trite.”

“It’s over, Dean.”

“I think not.” He grabbed her arm and pain overwhelmed her.

Dean’s words mocked her as she blacked out. “Eighth time’s a charm, eh? See you soon.”

The Count Must Fall (wrote a second story, because why not? This one was not submitted.)

The air strike was advancing. Colin’s men were tired, but they were loyal. A speech would help.

“I know this war has been hard, but we must keep going. We want our lives to improve. We want our country back. Count Dracula must fall!”

His men fought the bats bravely, but they were eventually overwhelmed.

A shrill whistle brought him back to reality.

“Colin, dear, time for tea!”

He followed the scent of biscuits to the kitchen, and found his Mum pouring Earl Grey into his mug. Perfect. It was just the replenishment he needed to fuel the next battle.

2. Story three prompts-

Genre: comedy

Action: whistling

Word: power

Feminism for Breakfast (This submission did not get me to the third round, but I feel that I have uncovered a conspiracy in the breakfast cereal world :))

It was time to shine. She tugged her tail for luck.

“Franken Berry, Count Chocula, Tony the Tiger – what do they have in common? Well, they’re all males! Women have no power in the breakfast mascot world.”

Voices exploded around her. Roars, shouts, and insults filled the chamber.

A shrill toucan whistle quieted the chaos.

“What’s your proposal?” Sam squawked.

She took a deep breath. “Pinkie’s Porkies. Porkchop-flavored cereal!”

Sam sighed. “You make it easy to say no, Pinkie.” He banged a gavel. “Next case.”

“But, but…” she snorted.

“Try again next year. Less dinner, more breakfast. Bacon, perhaps?”

I did enjoy the challenge, and it reminded me of how fun it is to write. But unfortunately my motivation to do so has remained stagnant. Maybe tomorrow?