I recently signed up for a writing competition – The NYC short story challenge. http://www.nycmidnight.com/Competitions/SSC/Challenge.htm
It wasn’t my normal type of comp. Generally I stick to something that I know I can do and consequently I’ve recently started to achieve a little success – occasionally winning or being placed or shortlisted. However, I suppose I’ve been feeling restless. I know what I can do but am also aware of what I can’t, hence my reason for entering.
The challenge goes like this. All entrants are put in groups with about 35 people in each. For the first round they are given a brief consisting of three elements 1/ genre 2/ subject and 3/ character about which they have to write a story of under 2,500 words in a week. The top five in each group then go through to the second round and the challenge continues in a similar way.
My brief was:
Genre – suspense Subject – PTSD Character – X-Ray technician.
When I saw this, my heart sank. I’d never written a suspense story and knew little of PTSD and X-Ray technicians. However, I let the elements float around for a while in my mind and gradually ideas started to form. The next day I did a word sprint, (a spontaneous typing exercise, something I got into the habit of doing for NaNoWriMo and a great way of getting the words down), and this enabled me to come up with a first draft and the last few days I’ve been fine tuning the story so it’s ready to submit before this Saturday’s deadline.
Of course I’d love to get in the top five but even if I don’t, I can look back on this week and feel happy that I’ve learned something new. I’ve learned how (in theory at least!) to write a suspense story and I’ve realised that I have the ability to write about anything if I only trust my imagination.