If you’ve never participated in the NYC Midnight Short Story Competition, you’re missing out on one of the writing highlights of the year. You’re too late to enter now, but start thinking about 2018. There’s a hefty entrance fee ($45 early/$55 by deadline), but you get access to forums where you can workshop your piece and the judges send an extensive critique to each writer regardless of whether you progress through each round of the contest. Oh, and the contest part doesn’t suck either. If you’ve ever watched an episode of the Food Network show Chopped, then you have a pretty good idea of how this thing works. There are three rounds. At the start of each round, you receive (via email) a prompt that tells you what genre your story should fall under, a character you must use, and a situation that must inspire the story. Then the clock begins. You have a week to finish a 2,500 word story and return it to the judges. All writers are placed in heats and compete against roughly 30 other writers using the same prompt. The top five writers from each heat move on to the next round, with a new prompt and only three days to complete a 2,000 word story. The finalists selected from Round Two are given the penultimate prompt and have 24 hours (that’s not a typo) to write a 1,500 word story. Bottom line, this contest is amazing. It stretches you to your limits as a writer, forces you to meet strict deadlines, and pushes you outside of your normal comfort zone (see: outside of that damn genre of yours).
On a personal note, my short story “Extended Stay” placed third in Heat 37 during the first round. I’ll be awaiting my new prompt for Round Two tonight at the stroke of midnight. I guess I know how I’ll be spending my weekend…which is pretty damn glorious. Keep your fingers crossed!
Here are the FIRST ROUND RESULTS.
To those interested (a few have asked), I will be making “Extended Stay” available for readers at the conclusion of the contest, which ends in May.