The real challenge (I think) of writing contests such this one (250 words max.) or the NPR 3 Minute Story that was due the day after the Lascaux entry (and which I will get into in my next post), is getting yourself to edit with coldness, even brutality. Even five or six words used to help enrich the setting of the story will end up costing you in character or theme development. I'm sure that without an arbitrary word limit, I could have composed a more full story, but the process that these contests force you through end up, in my opinion anyway, strengthening your writing in the long haul.
And I would be remiss to not recommend that everyone go check out the Lascaux Flash page. The writing must be good, because several stories have evoked in me emotions such as jealousy and angry bad unluckiness, and I wondered why couldn't these people have just sat on their hands for once so I could get a chance to win.
Enough blah, blah, blah - here's my entry to the Lascaux Flash contest:
(250 words - count 'em!)
There were no corners in the room. Narrow windows fitted with stained glass were cut into the thick stone walls of the small chapel off the infirmary. A circular, ornate wool rug covered floor, and soaked up the drips as they fell. Driving rain and wind continued, darkness stretched out forever.
Hunched forward on a chair, Brother Cysur's hands cradled the warm throat of a clay goblet. With deep and measured breath, he observed the floor. A rainbow of shards was cast beneath his feet, arching towards the damp, howling window. The rhythmic sound of drips falling, absorbing into the damp rug made Cysur grow drowsy. The fury, he mused, must have been drawn out into the cold dawn.
"Why, Brother?" beseeched the frail Infirmarian as he entered. “We have a Covenant!”
“A Covenant!” scoffed Brother Cysur. “How much merciless suffering must we witness? Attend to? Wait on as hapless servants?” he demanded. “The Covenant has been long broken!”
A thin beam of light crept through the storm clouds, past the jagged teeth of the window, spilling on the blood red carpet, illuminating the room.
“Within days,” Cysur's voice swam in stone-muted echoes, “the ground will be too hard to break.” He rose, taking the Infirmarian's shoulder in his heavy red palm. “Gather the Abbot.”
The Infirmarian acquiesced, pausing at the door.
“You're Hell-bound, you realise,” his voice cracked through tears.
“Enduring this plague, I'll remain unimpressed by any atrocities there.”
Listening to: Rid of Me - PJ Harvey
Reading: Oil! A Novel by Upton Sinclair