About a month ago, I got a note from Simon Forward about a contest that the online e-zineÂ Concept Sci-fi was holding, involving stories of exactly 150 words. (No more, no less; no, the title does not add to the word count.) If I remember correctly, the editorial staff of Concept Sci-fi would whittle down the entries to a shortlist, and then award-winning author (and super-nice guy in general) Walter Jon Williams would select the entry.
With about 24 hours until the deadline, I none the less sent in two submissions; one was a brand-new idea (“Instant Future”), the other was an unpublished writing exercise that I’d done a year ago (“Renewal”), but needed to be whittled down to even less words than it already was. (The original version was 289 words, meaning I had to hack out almost half of it. And I’d already thought it was brief!)
If you’ve never tried to write an entire story in 150 words, trust me, it is not terribly easy. My first short story sales back in the day were for an anthology of 750-word stories, and that now seems like a piece of cake in comparison. There’s very little room for filler of any sort. As it is, while I thought “Renewal” still workedÂ in its new length, “Instant Future” is actually begging to be a lot longer.
Well, the decisions are in, and much to my surprise… “Renewal” actually won the entire thing.
What a nice surprise to start the morning. (And to think, I was even just staring at the library in Arlington Courthouse a few hours ago.) And a good way to start my plans of tackling fiction again, to boot. Yay!