A few days ago I wrote a short short story (under 1,500 words) because a) I am very bad at writing short stories and need the practice and b) Writer’s Digest is having a short short story contest and I am a sucker for contests. I don’t normally write outlandish scenarios but for some reason when I force myself to write a short story, it emerges from some ridiculous premise. I can’t bring myself to tell you about the latest one just yet, but the last time I wrote a short story, it was about plague survivors being bred for the purpose of harvesting their organs. Ok, I’ll pause here for you to wonder, WTF?
I typically write mystery novels and although I love to add weird characters, the world they live in is recognizable. I am working on my next novel while a handful of agents and editors consider the novel I finished a couple of months ago. I am considering, however, forcing myself to write short stories once a month at the very least. Apparently, I am a lot freer in my creative brain when I force myself to contain the story to a set number of words. I imagine that the practice will only help my novel writing. Too bad for me that Ben H. Winters has already written a trilogy with the very best premise imaginable (a very large asteroid is going to hit the Earth and a dedicated policeman struggles to carry out his work). After a few more short stories, I might have come up with that one. (A girl can dream.)
In the meantime, I may troll the internet for other reputable writing contests. Apparently, I am very motivated by visions of grandeur. You can’t win if you don’t enter and you can’t lose until, of course, they tell you that you lost. While you wait, it’s like carrying around an unscratched lottery ticket. (I might win! I might win! I might win!) If you’re a writer, I highly recommend that you give this a try too. It’s a great exercise and it gives you something to dream about as you go to sleep at night. Good luck!