Challenge Yourself, Even (Especially) If it Seems Impossible

Literary agent and dispenser of great advice for authors, Janet Reid, periodically runs a 100-word flash fiction contest in her blog. (Yippeee!!! I won the last one and got Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows ARC as a prize.)

This week’s flash fiction challenge was:

  • Write a 100-word story with an actual beginning, middle and end.
  • (Though it’s outside my YA fantasy genre, I’m thinking it’s probably also wise to write the piece as a suspense/mystery/thriller since this is what Janet Reid–the contest judge–typically represents.)
  • Include the words gape, chute, less, plunge, and eject. Pretty specific, frankly, kind of ugly words, but okay.
  • Other than the prompt words, don’t use the letter ‘e.’ Wait…what was that again? Not allowed to use ‘e’ anywhere in the story (except for the five required words).

Come to find out later, the ‘e’ thing is kind of optional, but I decide to go for it anyway.

Boy, is it hard! Without ‘e’ you can’t even use the most fundamental of storytelling words, ‘the.’ No ‘e’ also precludes most body words, pieces of furniture, close family members, numbers, and rooms in a house, plus all plural -es words and past tense -ed words. . .you get the idea.

But I did it. And I’m proud of myself. Whether or not I win, or even place, in the flash fiction contest, forcing myself to experiment with language under such restrictions helps make me a better writer and, ultimately, that is the goal.

— Eve Messenger

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