Thursday, June 30, 2016

Columnist enters 35 word story contest

     Writers & Books invited submissions for a story competition of 35 words. Flash ideas burst forth from talented writers like an eruption leaving the judges breathless at the conciseness of character, plot and setting. (35 words)

     During the slow, dreary winter months, I make it a habit to practice writing 35 word stories. By springtime, I have quite a collection. I submit my best work, and forget all about the contest. (35 words)

    Here are a dozen or so examples of my writing. Writing short, tight and oh, telling a vivid story, also, is tough. It takes practice.


     An author’s ideal morning is a creative frenzy of locution. Words slip out in beautifully formed phrases faster than fingers can shift over the keyboard. Two hours later, the writer shuts down.

     A woman walks down the aisle of a plane and every person seated is a familiar soul from her past. She turns back. She is not ready for her final flight to heaven. Ticket refunded.

     Once upon a time a noun met an adjective and together they subjected a verb, which in turn, hung out with an adverb. All parts of speech lived happily ever after in a sentence.

     The horror movie scared the wits out of a woman and she left the theatre holding what was left of her head in her hands. Her comforting husband put his arms around her. The End.

     Once upon a time a prince went searching the kingdom for his latest conquest. He met a fair maiden and melted. She rejected his brutish ways. Truth be told, he discovered the meaning of love.

     Thoughts drive the writer’s fingers on a computer raceway. A distraction stands on the starting lane waving a caution flag. Fingers slow down. There is too much fuel left in the engine to stop writing.

     Once a man lost his toupee during a burst of wind. He imagined passer-bys were staring at him until he looked at his own handsome reflection in a storefront. He faced reality head-on.

      In the early morning frigid temperatures the woman leaves home, gets in her car and goes to work. In the dark afternoon she leaves work, get in her car and returns home. Winter blues.

     The desk feels weighted down like a repository for scraps of a writer’s valiant efforts. Its legs struggle to hold up under the pile of books and notebooks. The writer is not bothered one bit.

     A mature woman looks at her reflection in the mirror and turns away. She doesn’t want to see the wrinkles and graying hair. No sense crying over her lost youthful appearance. She’s going skiing instead.

     One time zone said to the other: I am more important in the eyes of the Creator than you. You’re behind me in seeing the sunrise. The other time zone was in darkness about it.

     A woman wakes her husband after she hears footsteps on the stairs. He gets up, grabs the baseball bat and goes to check. The two cats stop playing. The man has interrupted their evening romp.

    A kindle and a book were discussing which one of them has a bigger fan club. They decided to take a survey on Facebook. Results came in. Kindle: YES. Book: YES. To each his own.

     A woman inserts the toilet paper roll in the holder for pulling over. Her husband puts it in for pulling under. Opposite attract. War or peace? Love trumps the trivialities of co-existence every single time.

     A sentence didn’t want to make a full pause with a period. A comma is better for a partial stop before moving forward. That confused the writer, and he paused to check the AP Stylebook.

     The weather forecast is unpredictable. A woman dresses for the day in layers. A man wears a short-sleeve shirt and hopes for the best. The best ending is the one that makes each person happy.

     Accents, you give us away by letting our true identity out when we would rather hide behind our public personas. Our elongated syllables and regional vocabulary catch us every time. Pronunciation sentences us to hard labor.

     Girl meets boy. “He’s the one for me.” She sets her sights on him. Boy ‘s immediate reaction, “I don’t get what’s happening to me.” Venus and Mars in love meet for the first time.

     This is a true tale about an early spring arrival. The buds got a false start and pushed through the earth. A surprise cold snap arrived. The puckered leaves were encased in sheaves of ice.

     Your brain freezes when the employee makes you choose your pizza toppings quickly. What if you change your mind? The solution is selecting a regular pizza with no additional ingredients. Life in the fast lane.

     Spotting a bag of Oriole cookies in the men’s undergarment aisle at Wal-Mart reminds the lady that her priorities are in all the wrong places. She leaves the store and ends her unsatisfying relationship.

     A writer notices something odd about his habits. “I’ll be honest with you.” No matter what I write, my first pause in thoughts always comes after thirty-five words. Sometimes it is best to end there.


    And one more thing…my entry is one of the 35 finalists selected by Writers &Books in June out of 1200 submissions. I won a year’s membership.

      An unmarried teenager and her boyfriend are having an argument in front of The Dollar General. She’s clutching the baby stroller. He smokes a cigarette. She decides to walk away forever from his abusive ways.