NYC Midnight 100-Word Microfiction Challenge 2022 (Round 2)

Earlier this year I entered the NYC Midnight 100-Word Microfiction Challenge, an international creative writing competition that challenges participants to write original 100-word stories by giving them a specific genre, action, and word assignment, in 24 hours. Every writer is placed in a specific group based on the genre, action, and word assignment they are given.

The Challenge’s judges pick 15 writers (per group) to progress to the second round. This year, I progressed to the second round with the submission of my short story, Acrimonious (Part II).

With the second round, I was assigned a new genre, action, and word assignment. I was assigned historical fiction, the action of getting a bug bite, and the word ‘brief’. The NYC Midnight website states that while “there are no rules on how far in the past a story must be set to qualify it as a historical fiction piece, many are in agreement that the story must be set at least 25 years or more in the past.” Following this rule, I initially thought about writing a story featuring Black Monday (19 October 1987) as I had a little “brain snap” and thought it was 2012, but when I realised that the current year is actually 2022 and that the minimum 25 years would take me back to 1997, I decided to write a short story on the car crash that resulted in Princess Diana’s death from the perspective of a paparazzi photographer chasing the car she was in.

The results of the second round were released yesterday. I didn’t make it to the third round, but I did receive feedback on my story.

My short story can be found below.

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Money Shot

The brief was always simple, get the shot no matter what.

They sent a decoy vehicle out to try and evade us, sure it fooled some of my competition, but not me. I got a tip about the hotel’s rear entrance.

I was in a race and the rear passenger windows were the finish line. I shook off the pain of a bite from a spider that made my motorbike’s handlebar its home and sped on.

The race was abruptly ended by the sound of the Mercedes-Benz colliding with the pillar. No-one won, not even Diana.

What have we done?

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A part of entry is receiving feedback from the judges on your story, no matter how far you progress. The feedback I received from the judges on my story can be found below.

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”Money Shot” by Rach Loveday

WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY:

{2249}  This is a really interesting choice of subject for a story. I enjoyed the “twist” and how the meaning of “shot” and what exactly the narrator is doing is initially ambiguous, but becomes clear by the ending.

{2179}  I love your hook. “The brief was always simple…” I think that you’ve got a great knack for authentic tone and storytelling. I love that the story ends in a question. You’ve got a good sense of action and pacing. Thank you for sharing!  

{2128}  An interesting perspective on the tragedy of Princess Diana. The viewpoint of a regretful paparazzi has a lot of potential!  

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK:

{2249}  There’s a few sentences which don’t quite flow naturally, such as “They sent a decoy vehicle out to try and evade us, sure it fooled some of my competition, but not me” which is a bit of a run-on. Additionally, the significance of the spider bit isn’t super obvious, and I imagine it would seem out of place to a reader who didn’t know that this story was part of a competition with a specific prompt.  

{2179}  I would work on a few cosmetic changes. Nothing major. But in the hook, perhaps change the structure of the sentence. Avoid words that end in “ing,” like “colliding.” It’s better to say something “fell,” than “was falling,” if that makes sense.

{2128}  The regret at the end is good but I felt that sentiment, which seems to be where the emotional core of this story is, should be heightened. Does this photographer truly feel remorse? If so, how can you demonstrate that throughout the progression of the story?

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Overall, I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t make it to the third round. I tried my best with the second round prompts, but I did have trouble with it as I steer clear from writing historical fiction as I feel I’d never be able to do it justice. However, I was happy that this year I managed to progress to the second round, going further than last year when I didn’t make it to the second round, but received an honourable mention. To put it into context, the first round had over 6,900 writers from all over the globe participate, the second round had 1,770 writers out of those 6,900 participate. It was an honour to have my writing so highly regarded that I progressed to the second round.