Back in the day when I first starting writing--somewhere between six and seven years ago--I was looking for help and stumbled across a place called WEbook. Apparently it's still around, I do know it underwent new management, but it's a place were you can post chapters of your work and other writers can come in and feedback for you. It was a give to get kind of situation.
At that time, I didn't know any other writers, had no idea about twitter or critique groups, was pretty much clueless. Anyway, long story short that's where I learned some of the basic rules of writing from some very kind people willing to prod along a newcomer. But Webook had another aspect in that it hosted monthly contests to write flash fiction.
They would throw out a topic and give a word count limit of between 400 and maybe 800 words. At the end of the month, they'd pick a winner to receive some sort of prize. At the high point of my time there, dozens of writers would enter. People could comment on the entries, and I just found it plain fun and rather challenging. I made honorable mention and placed a few times, once I even won.
Here's the sample that I won with. The instructions were to write a scene that used no dialogue.
I think a lot of the skills need for flash fiction are also necessary for writing a query letter that conveys personality and interest.
Flash fiction involves telling a story in a limited number of words. You have to be able to make every word count. It's important to use verbs with lots of punch. You have to be able to convey character personality and motivation with just a sketch.
All those are skills needed to enhance a query letter. Especially the last one. Making your characters come to life with just a few words is critical in flash fiction and query letters. If you're good at flash fiction, you have a head start on writing a query.
I imagine practicing flash fiction would also lead to better query letters. So how about a game?
For this first game, I will be the judge and the winner will receive a query critique from me. Laura Heffernan has generously volunteered to play too and will give away a second query critique. Note that the manuscript does not have to be finished for the critique. If you want to enter just for the challenge and don't have a query letter--go ahead! If there is enough interest, I'll see about getting celebrity judges (agents) for future contests.
As your part of giving back, you need to reply to at least two other entries and leave encouraging/thoughtful feedback down in the comment section. I believe critiquing others' work makes for better writers. Also for those who want to give back to me, I would appreciate adding Faithful on Goodreads and America's Next Reality Star for Laura and spreading the word about the flash fiction contest on social media.
For this first contest, I'll be generous and the word count is 700. That is 700 words based on a count by Microsoft Word. Don't go over or your entry is out.
And the topic: Use a December holiday (Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Boxing Day) a candy cane and a possum in your flash fiction. Mention all three at least once. The rest is up to you. I'll be looking for energy, personality, strength of story, writing skill, and other subjective aspects.
I forgot to add that you need to leave an email address or twitter handle so I can find you.
You have until January 5th at midnight EST to add your entry in the comments below. I'll choose a winner by January 9th.
Take your time and put a little effort into your sketch. Don't just rush it together, but actually write, let it sit, then edit. Maybe get some other eyes on it. Most of all have fun and challenge yourself!