The 250 Word Microfiction Challenge 2020: Crafting a Short Story in Less than 24 Hours Part 3
Updated: Oct 6, 2021
Did You Read Parts 1 & 2?
Now that you're caught up, I'm sure you are interested to find out how I did?
Before I announce the results, I want to quickly reflect back on the competition. When I first saw the ad on Facebook, I was honestly really excited to participate after reading everyone's reviews. Looking further into the competition I found out the judges give critical feedback for every story.
Growing up, I felt like I never received critical feedback, but instead would hear how horrible my stories were without any context. Not only was it unhelpful, the confidence in my story writing abilities sank greatly year to year. The situation was unfortunate as I was known as the story teller amongst family and friends who asked me to tell them a story. But somehow it was harder to translate on paper.
So when I saw critical feedback was involved in the process I knew I had to join the competition. Especially with an entry cost of only $25.
And so I did.
For a recap, here is the 250 word short story. And yes, I used all 250 words. I was placed in the fairytale/fantasy category having to use the word 'pressure' and the action 'stepping in a puddle'.
The 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.
Now I had to wait almost two months before I received feedback. I knew I'd written a pretty good story, but there were over 5,400 people I was potentially competing against. On the day they announced the next round competitors I also received an email with the judges notes on my story.
WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY
I appreciate the tension created by delaying the reveal that the animal shot is a unicorn. It is also a surprise when the gift back fires and disgusts the princess. The description of the hunter killing the unicorn is compelling and captivated me from the first lines. His devotion to courting the princess--to impressing her with his talents with the bow. I especially appreciated her sadness at her favorite beast's death, demonstrating his obliviousness to her love of animals and lack of acquaintance with her. Thanks for sharing your writing with us. Beginning the story with onomatopoeia is an arresting way to start the tale because it piques the reader's curiosity right away. The story's conclusion is surprising and ominous.
WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK
The last sentence of the story -- The hunter would not take no for an answer. -- is quite ominous. I have to admit that it feels somewhat out of character for a person who thanks the animal he's killed for their life. Could this be something to revisit? I wonder if readers might learn of the beast in the opening being a unicorn in the piece's beginning, because I found myself distracted by the lack of knowing what the hunter killed. I wonder what the hunter gave the princess before the unicorn horn, and if she ever mentioned a love of unicorns. You might cut down from here to stay within the required word count: "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 coming darkness is mentioned in the second paragraph and then elaborated upon in the fourth paragraph, giving the reader a sense of foreboding. Consider whether you could take advantage of this and bring the threat of the darkness to fruition in some way at the story's end.
Overall the feedback given is straight to the point. I could tell from the above statements the judge didn't understand the overall concept of "nice guys" which means I needed to be more clear with the idea throughout the story.
In the end, I enjoyed the review process and it was worth the wait!
The Final Results
After reading the feedback, I nervously clicked on the link to see if I had gotten past the first round. The tension built as I had to keep scrolling to find my name.
There, I finally saw it.
And beside my name it read....HONORABLE MENTION.
Ten were moving onto the next level and I'd gotten the 11th spot. I honestly couldn't be happier! I'd read honorable mentions are very infrequent. So receiving honorable mention while coming in 11th place felt great!
So would I do this again? Totally!
They have several other competitions throughout the year as well. I unfortunately was too busy publishing and promoting Princess Gabriella and the Never-Ending Kiss to participate in the short story competition, but I hope to do so next year along with participating in the 250 word challenge this year.
If you've participated in any writing competitions please let me know in the comments below. Tell me about your overall experience and if you would do it again.