Earlier this week, LimebirdVanessa over at Limebird Writers posted the 25th edition of their Writing Competitions and Opportunities Digest. The series in itself is full of great opportunities for writers of all genres, interests, and skill levels, but one of them stood out in particular: the Confettifall Christmas Contest. Head on over to the Limebird Writers post to get the full details (and more!).
You back? Okay.
As you’ve read, the Confettifall Christmas Contest is to create a 140-character story. Confettifall’s site says there is no particular theme for this contest, so we could write whatever we wanted, with a few caveats (no profanity, no pornography, and no poems this time around). Ordinarily, these guidelines alone would hamper my ability to tell a story, but with only 140 characters to do the deed, I couldn’t waste my character count on foul words or play. I’m wordy enough as it is!
I wanted to have a very simple theme – romance/revenge – and a moment from my past struck me. On a lark, I’d gone to a palm reader with some friends of mine. We each had our pasts/futures read, with varying degrees of accuracy. The experience was mostly just a five-dollar jaunt into something silly we’d never done before, a fun way to pass the time while we waited for the guys in our party to show up. But, one line from my fortune teller stuck with me that night, and has continued to stay with me for many years. You’ll see what I mean….
Below is the process I took for this particular challenge. It’s pretty standard to my normal challenge process, though I’ve put in some of my internal monologue, just to keep things interesting:
Goal: Write a story in 140 characters.
The tarot reader had been spectacularly wrong on most counts: she had no children, no white picket fence, no important job. Certainly, the loving, faithful husband bit was a joke. But, the old woman had said one thing that had resonated with young Cecilia: “That which you cannot create, you are destined to destroy.”
Jace, her “loving” and “faithful” husband, never saw the shot coming.
Character count: 386. Okay, that’s way too long, but I’ve got an idea going. Now, to start whittling.
While wrong on most counts, the psychic had made one correct prediction: What Cecilia couldn’t have, she’d destroy. Shame Jace didn’t hear it, too, or he’d have known about the gun.
Character count: 181. Not bad, but it doesn’t punch. And, 41 characters too many.
What Cecilia couldn’t have, she would destroy. That had been her tarot reading.
Jace had called it cryptic nonsense. Maybe if he’d listened, she wouldn’t have shot him.
Character count: 167. I like this one better. It’s closer, but STILL too many characters. Need to whittle it down by 27.
“What you can’t have, you will destroy,” the psychic said.
Her husband called such advice money-grabbing malarkey.
Maybe. She still shot him, though.
Character count: 147. I’m drifting into slightly more black comedy territory, here. Maybe not a bad idea.
Fifth try (Starting to wear thin):
“She told me, what I can’t have, I’ll destroy.”
“Bull,” her husband said, swinging his wandering eyes back to her.
“Really?” she said, and shot him.
Character count: 146. I’m starting to hate this contest. And my writing.
“The psychic said, what I can’t have, I’ll destroy.”
“Bull,” her husband said, swinging his roving gaze her way.
Maybe. She still shot him.
Character count: 140 (tested in a Twitter window). Huzzah! Perhaps this isn’t prize-winning material, but I’ll leave this one where it stands. While fun in terms of a contest challenge, it’s not quite worth it to spend any extra time on.
The whole exercise took me about an hour, from first initial draft idea to what I came up with at the end. Even though this is an “official” contest with a prize and everything, I decided I wouldn’t spend more than an hour on it, just so it wouldn’t distract me all day from the rest of my writing projects. But, it was still fun.
What do you think? What sort of process do you go through for prompts/challenges like this? On a less writer-y note, have you ever had your fortune told?
Thanks for the shout out for the Limebird series Mayumi! And this was really interesting, seeing your process. I love what you came up with! Good luck 🙂
Limebird is such a great resources–these contests all sound awesome! I love your entry. Very cool. Captured a moment perfectly.
I have been to psychics who varied from charlatan to eerily accurate. 🙂
Thanks, Vanessa. 🙂
I’m not anticipating anything to come of this, but I enjoyed the process, and that’s most of the fun, for me.
I only went to a fortune teller once, but I did come away from that particular one with a mixed sense of amusement and dread. Of course, I’ve got a pretty active imagination, too. 😉
Agreed about the Limebirds. The site is full of helpful information for me, both personal and passed on. I like the groupwrite aspect of it a lot, too.
I really enjoy seeing the process you went through to reach the final version. It encapsulates the drafting and editing processes, even of larger works, in a neat nutshell. And I think your final version is great. 🙂
I haven’t been to a psychic, so I can’t say whether they would get a real read on me or not. I like to think I’m too complex for them to handle, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking. 😉
I love the Limebirds and all they do, and kudos to you for entering this contest!
Nice job, Mayumi. I think that to get your story in just 6 tries is amazing. And I really like the little “shot” you came up with. Good luck!
Thanks so for the shout for Vanessa Mayumi! I loved seeing your creative process and I love your story! Good luck! 😀 xo
Thanks, JM. 🙂
I’m mostly in the skeptic husband camp on psychics and fortune tellers. I think they probably know how to read people and give the most direct non-committal answer a client wants to hear. But it was certainly an entertaining moment from my past. And, it produced a few little stories, so it wasn’t a waste. 😉
Thanks, Kate. 🙂 I was a bit surprised, myself, by how quickly I got through 6 versions in an hour, let alone that the final one worked within the confines of the contest! As I mentioned, I don’t expect anything to come of it, but I do like moving out of my regular works in progress every once in a while. That’s one of the aspects of that digest that inspires me: seeing all the options out there.
Thanks for stopping by!
Thanks, Beth! 😀
The Limebirds deserve a shout-out for all the inspiration you’ve given me to keep pressing on and stepping past my boundaries. <3
It was fascinating to see your entry transform with each turn. Your patience to keep shaving is pretty inspirational. I would’ve hurled a meteor at my computer by the second try. 🙂 I think I liked your fourth entry best.
I’ve never tried prompts before. Wasn’t really interested in them. i do like to see what people manage to come up with for them, though. Maybe I’ll start trying this prompt by practicing on Twitter like you did!
I used to be much more involved with prompts. But, I had to come up with my 5/30/60 rule: I have to get an idea in 5 minutes, or I’ll leave it. I’ll only work on that idea for 30 minutes before I’ll move on. And, I’ll only give any prompt an hour total for writing and/or tweaking. That’s saved a lot of time, for me. They can be good for exploring different themes, though.
I liked the punch of that last line in 4, too. Pity I couldn’t get it to work quite right with the character count. 🙂
Thanks for reading!
I really like your 5/30/60 rule. I’m thinking I should start using that for when inspiration strikes out of nowhere, so at least any idea that comes won’t just disappear before I can do anything with it.
I’ve never had my fortune told.
Truth is, any psychic worth their salt would most likely burst into flames during the attempt.
This was fantastic, loved seeing the process at work. I think the 4th version was my favorite too, but the final product was very polished and expressive!
Ha ha, yes – v4 has the best suckerpunch of a beat to it. I wish I’d been able to make it work better!
Thanks, Neeks. 🙂
Now, that, I would like to see! A psychic freaked by a client. Would make for a good story, methinks, The Hook!