The 250 Word Microfiction Challenge 2020: Crafting a Short Story in Less than 24 Hours Part 2
Updated: Mar 2
For anyone who did not read Part 1 of this blog please click here to see what all the excitement is about!
There in my lap I watched the countdown get closer to midnight. “5 minutes! 2 minutes!” I kept yelling to my roommate who was cooking us dinner in the kitchen clueless to what was going on.
Finally, it hit zero. I hit refresh and BOOM! The site was updated with the challenge assignments. I couldn’t click fast enough.
There I had to scroll through the 5400+ participants to find my name. At last, I spotted KUZMA. Clicking, a window popped up. It stated, I was in Group 54 with the genre of Fairytale/Fantasy and had to incorporate the word ‘pressure’ and the action of ‘stepping in a puddle’ somewhere throughout the story. The clock was ticking, and 250 words now seemed impossible.
The Thought Process
I opened a Windows Doc unhappy with my Fairytale /Fantasy genre. Fairytale seemed easy as long as you threw in some magic. Then I sat there blank.
Yep that’s right… blank.
What the heck was I going to write about?
The action and word would be easy to slip in once I had the concept down. But capturing a genre in 250 words was going to be difficult! I started making a list of nouns related to fairytales. Villain, goblin, witch, magic, etc.
From the list, I picked a few words and started coming up with concepts. Next thing I knew I had a story.
The Story- A Love of a Hunter
Twish… Thunk. An all too familiar sound of an arrow flying and hitting the target echoed. The animal staggered for a moment but finally gave in, collapsing to the ground. Stepping in a puddle of blood, the hunter watched the chest become heavier with each breath until the beast decided to let go. The body, once a dirty white, was now deep crimson.
Kneeling, he pulled out a blade. With a little pressure and one swift slice the horn fell into his hands. In the right light the natural twist of the horn would gleam, but not today. Darkness was in the air.
“Thank you, my friend,” the hunter whispered. Gently, he closed the creature’s eyes. Even though lifeless, they still held a wild sense of fear he did not wish to see.
Placing the horn into a worn leather satchel, the hunter turned toward the silhouetted castle taking long strides. The sun was setting, and the forest would be getting dark soon. Unknown creatures of the night would begin to stir.
The next day, the hunter presented his prize to the princess. Out of all the endless gestures and elaborate gifts the horn would win over her affection.
“Don’t you see?” the princess asked. “I will never love you; no matter what you give me. For you have killed my one true love in life. The last unicorn.”
He trekked back to the forest tossing the horn to the side. The hunter would not take no for an answer.
The Meaning Behind the Story
Now the meaning behind the story will probably be longer than the story itself. But as I outlined, I thought about the ideas I wanted to capture.
· First, the eerie seriousness of The Brothers Grimm fairytales.
· Second, love.
· Third, a beautiful sense of possessive power seen through animals or a magical
· Fourth, a villain in plain sight.
These four concepts could ultimately make a perfect short story.
The Brothers Grimm always nailed it on the head capturing the reality in a story. Life isn’t all about smiles and happily ever after’s… 2020… *cough cough*. So, to stay on theme for the year, I went with a serious fairytale.
I also love LOVE stories. Whether they be happy or sad. The emotion is so raw and real. Everyone at one point in their lives dealt with love on some sort of level meaning it's easy for the reader to be invested.
Of course, fairytales have magic and/or animals. In this case, I went with the unicorn, the perfect fairytale animal, because it holds a magically beauty people seem attracted to. The animal is famous for it’s horn which that, in itself, could be seen as a magical talisman- something indicated when the hunter thinks it will win over the princess’ love. So using the unicorn in the story was like getting a two for one deal.
Last, the villain. I love when the person who you thought was the good guy was the villain all along. Hench “the nice guy”. I’m sure we have all meet one. One of those guys who seems like he will do anything for you until you say ‘no’. They are the worst kind of villain because they don’t seem to understand what ‘no’ means and keep coming back. For example, I have had friends harassed by the same guy for years because the guys think their behavior is acceptable since “I’m being nice.”
In the story you see the hunter’s true colors when you see he only cares about by killing the last unicorn, tossing the horn to the side, and then going out to kill another creature after the princess told him “no.” This shows he does not respect the princess as a person because, in the end, he thinks he is doing the right thing for her. See I told you the explanation would be longer than the actual story lol.
Making Words Count
As I typed I watched my word count. I knew I would go over if I didn’t pay attention from the beginning. I had to keep thinking to myself “Does this move the story forward?” This simple question really made me think as a writer. What specific word could I use to represent the ten I am thinking about to get the idea across?
A quote by Kurt Vonnegut was also swirling around in the back of my head, “Start as close to the end as possible.” I find this quote helpful in finding the unnecessary fluff and eliminating it from the story. Get to the good stuff. Which is exactly what you have to do in a 250 word challenge.
In the end, I hit 250 words exactly and included both the action and word the challenge requested.
Final Thoughts on the Challenge
In the end, I had tons of fun doing the challenge. It really made me conceptualize and bring to life the every lasting problem of “The Nice Guy.” I do wish the entry fee was a bit cheaper, but I know that money goes back to the winners and the time is takes to put this event on. I will definitely be joining again and fingers crossed I go on to the next round!