03 October 2010

3 Minute Fiction: Round 5

I recently submitted a piece to NPR's 3 Minute Fiction. Tell a story in 600 words or less, so that it can be read on the air, in the allotted time. This is the fifth iteration of 3MF and the judge for this round, and setter of parameters was author Michael Cunningham, who has written several books, none of which I have ever read. His particular twist was that this batch of stories had to start with the sentence, Some people swore that the house was haunted. And it had to conclude, with, ..nothing was ever the same again after that.

I cannot post my story here until all the Round Five judging and selecting is finished. But if it doesn't get selected there, I will, of course I will, post my 600 words here.

Whether selected or not, I have to say, the challenge of writing a story in 600 words or less (I think I managed to whittle it down to 598) was vastly more difficult than I expected when I first took the project on. My first draft was nearly 800 words long. I went through several drafts before finally getting my paranoid tale down to 720 words. That cut, indeed all the cutting was no easy feat. From nearly 800 to 600 words meant that a whole lot of story, particularly pleasing turns of phrase, and character development was going to have to go. 3MF turned into a wonderful learning experience for me, and allowed me to focus on nuts and bolts of my story, and the open ended, unresolved mystery it tells.

At 720 words I was comfortable that I had the story details worked out, but I needed a fresh set of editorial eyes that weren't particularly attached to any of the writing. I asked Jessica to read it, and offer some editorial advice. She offered two incredibly helpful suggestions, and I managed to get the whole thing done, and submitted about an hour before the deadline.

Currently the NPR judges are reading through some five thousand submissions, so it may be a little time before I know whether or not my submission makes the cut.
Not to worry though, I will keep you posted.


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