The NYC Midnight Micro-fiction 250 Challenge for 2021 is the third time it has been run and, in short, it’s a challenge to write flash fiction stories, in under 24 hours, to three specific prompts and no more than 250 words long. Each round you get a genre, action and word prompt that shapes what your piece looks like. If you’re in the top 10 of your group at the end of Round 1, you get to go through to Round 2. Then, if you’re in the top 5 after that, you go to Round 3 where you have a little more freedom as to what you write. Below I’ve included my Round 1 submission and the feedback I received on it from judges. The prompts for this round were:
Action: Sneaking into someone’s house
This story got me through to Round 2 and I’ll post that story & it’s feedback soon.
by Rai Furniss-Greasley, 2021
The first time I snuck into Dave’s house for a bit of extra food, it was easy. I could get in through the backdoor, no problem, and he didn’t even notice I’d been in. On my third trip, he had some chicken leftovers on the side cooling down before they went in the fridge and in my excitement I knocked the whole lot over. That tipped him off to my antics. On my next foraging foray to Dave’s kitchen, I crept through to the living room to find him snoring on the sofa. Poor sod, I thought, I’m doing him a favour, keeping him company.
I admit, we had a rough start but not everyone gets along straight away, do they? On one occasion he caught me mid-sneak – before I’d grabbed any tasty treats – and yelled,
“Bugger off! If I catch you in here again, I’ll wear you for a hat!”
I’ll have pissed on your biscuits before you caught me! I thought as I scarpered through the gap in the back fence.
I gave him a few days to cool off after that. Over my next few visits I noticed he would just hmph in my direction if he saw me. Then he surprised me by leaving a plate out for me. Finally! He’s repaying my charity, I thought.
“C’mere, you furry bastard.” he grumbles at me now, patting the sofa seat next to him. Humans are strange creatures but this one’s mine.
What the judges liked:
Judge A: I love that you don’t reveal that the point of view is from an animal and you trust that your audience is smart enough to figure that out on their own. You’re very economical in your writing as well adn [sic] it serves the story nicely. Also a good mix of dialogue and exposition.
Judge B: I thought you set up your story well by not revealing that the protagonist is a cat until partway through. I actually thought the protagonist was a neighbour until Dave threatened to wear him for a hat. I also thought you did a good job showing the personality of your protagonist. Cats certainly behave as if they are doing their humans a favour, just by being there.
I also think you have a good balance between showing and telling. This can be difficult in the first person so well done.
Judge C: Wonderful writing, and amazingly bold POV. Smart choice for a protagonist. You really know how to write mischievous animals, and it made for a delightful read. You’re not afraid to be unconventional.
What the judges feel needs work:
Judge A: One thing you might think about is how to reveal more of the animal’s personality. Are they always sneaking into people’s houses or do they do this with everyone. Are they mischievous or maybe picky about food? I think there are small and effective ways you can infuse some things like that.
Judge B: I felt that you could have tightened up some of your sentences. For example, you wrote, “On my next foraging foray to Dave’s kitchen…”. In this phrase, all you really need to tell us is that it is his next foray. That it is a foraging foray and that it is to Dave’s kitchen is understood. By tightening your sentences throughout, it would give you more room to include any other things that you may think are important.
Judge C: The ending is usually the weak point, but yours was fantastic, and even touching. One of my favorites, not much room to improve.