I officially submitted my story for the Flash Fiction Challenge late yesterday evening. To give a bit of perspective, I’ll explain what this particular contest entails. Writers are placed into various groups, 45 this year, with over 25 other contestants each. The first two rounds everyone who entered competes. At the beginning of round 1, at midnight, contestants are given their group number and their prompts. Then you have 48 hours to write your story, polish it, and then submit it.
For this particular contest, the prompts are Genre, Location and Object, and Round 1 for my group was Suspense, A School Cafeteria and Lighter Fluid.
I seriously struggled with this one. I had a heap of ideas about what way to go, but I didn’t want to be too cliche either. An obvious option was a school fire, but I couldn’t bring myself to write that. I also considered maybe a hurricane with the cafeteria as a makeshift shelter. But I couldn’t do that either. I thought about a nightguard being terrorised by some kids. Nope. No thanks. I also thought about two spies chasing each other into the cafeteria. Yeah, that was bad too.
In the end, I wrote a story about a young girl being stuck in a closet outside the cafeteria where a group of terrorists had taken the rest of the school hostage.
I am quite scared I didn’t make the brief, but suspense is such a broad term, and if you look it up online, it gets lumped with thriller and mystery a lot. So I think I’ll still be okay.
I had two separate stories. My first draft left my protagonist as a bit of a badass, saving the day with a makeshift bomb, but my husband read it and told me it was a bit too unbelievable. Or a lot, that is… So I wrote my second draft and then spent a while editing it until I couldn’t look at it anymore.
I had 4 beta readers, in the end. My hubby was honest as ever, and steered me away from my first draft that was dreadful. My best friend who offered the advice that I met the brief. My friend in NZ who gave me a lot to think about and helped to ultimately change the story (thanks so much, buddy! 🙂 ). And another young friend whose only criticism was the word “Butt” in the first line (because it made her laugh). Between the four of them, my finished product was drastically different from second draft. Although, the last might have meant only a change in the word. hah
So in a few days, I’ll finally post up this story for you all to read. I’m looking forward to the criticism around it, as I’m sure it will be brutal but honest. And probably a little diverse too.