24 Hour Writing Contest and Short Stories Are My New Jam

Jan 19, 2024 by HL Bernabe, in Contests

Last week, I had the bright idea of joining a 24 hour writing contest that was supposed to be held Saturday the 13th. When I signed up, I unfortunately forgot that I had a writer critique group meeting that typically lasts 3 hrs on that same Saturday. I also forgot about the forecast of a horrible winter storm coming that same weekend, and my kid needed to work, and I would be likely taking them to work and picking them up, because there was no way I was going to make them walk in below zero weather with snow up to their shins for a couple of miles. 

The day of the contest, I remembered both of the above issues. The kiddo and I had to dig out my car from the snow so that I could give them a ride. Then, after I got back from dropping them off, I had my meeting. 

I didn’t get started until about 4 pm. The contest started at 10 am. They recommend turning it in at least an hour early, 9 am, so that I could verify that the entry made it before the deadline. Which meant that I had 17 hours to come up with a story, not 24. 

I puttered around, trying to figure out what I was going to write about, since the rules of the contest are that you have to follow their theme and their word count, which they didn’t announce until the contest started. I came up with a base idea and started writing. I’d never done a cozy witchy story before, so I thought that might be fun to do.

At 6pm, I had to dig out my car again, because the sky continued dumping white stuff all day (10-12 inches of snow total). Then off to rescue my kiddo from work. So really, that left about 16 hours for the story. 

After I returned home, I stayed up late (for me) finishing it and tweaking it. I didn’t have any problems writing the story. I had most of that done before I picked up my kiddo. I finished the basic story line by 8pm. 

My trouble was making the word count. I write epic fantasy! My stories, even the short ones, trend looooong. For this contest, I had to write a story in 880 words. Yikes! It forced me to cut, trim, rearrange, tighten, rewrite, add a little here, take a little away there. It was terrifying. It was invigorating! It was a serious challenge for me. 

I went to bed around 12:30 am and got up at 8 am and jumped back on the story for last minute edits. I submitted my 874 word story at 8:43 am. So in reality, the 24 hour contest was closer to 8 1/2 to 9 hours. In a way, I think that if the contest word limit was 2500 words, I might have had more trouble, because the story would have taken so much more time to write and edit. In the end, a smaller word count turned out to be a good thing. I never thought I would have cause to say that! I really liked having to keep the story short. I think I’ll try my hand at more of those, since it was such a fun exercise.

Wish me good luck! I have a one in 500 chance of winning, since they limit it to 500 participants. I should find out in about six weeks. Cue the Jeopardy theme song as I wait.