Have you ever participated in a writing contest? How about a flash fiction one? How about a flash fiction challenge with only 48 hours to write, edit, and have beta read a story, in an assigned genre you may or may not be familiar with? You should, it’s a great teaching tool.
So this past weekend, for the second year in a row, I participated in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. (they also have a short story and screenplay contests that are fun too)
These contests have been absolutely invaluable to me. They’ve taught me to tighten up my verbiage, write from a deeper character point of view, have stronger dialog, and to trust the reader to imagine my story. You’d be surprised to know how much of a story you can pack into a thousand words if you get out of the way and let the reader use their imagination.
This time I was assigned Fantasy… *head-desk*
But therein lies the beauty of these contests. You absolutely cannot have any scrollwork or ornamentation–as Hemingway called it. So I wrote my story, hacked away at it like I was mad at it, and got out of the reader’s way. I didn’t love the final product it felt flat and lifeless to me… *headdesk again* But I went ahead and sent it to a couple beta readers and they actually loved it. Said it was one of my better works.
So if you really want to improve your writing skills, forget the “How To” books and sign up for time-crunched, unfamiliar randomly assigned a genre, flash fiction challenges. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and your writing.
Bren Kyveli is a stay at home mom of a spirited two year old little girl and a couple of rescued mutts. She’s been happily married to her high school sweetheart for twelve years now. She’s had a deep love for the written word since she was a toddler; reading everything she could get her hands on and writing in a fancy journals with a pretty pens. Bren writes contemporary Romance and Erotica in the hours left at the end of the day when the house has gone to sleep, some of which you can find over at thepolkadotcoffeecup.com