New Year’s Short Story Challenge 2015!

Last year, a couple of friends and I put together a short story challenge for ringing in the New Year.

I’m happy to tell you that we are doing it again and that this year, I’m hosting.

Elsa (left) and Anna (righ.

So, what is this challenge?

Basically, you will write a story on New Year’s Eve and then post it on your blog sometime within the next 24 hours.

As my friend Liam put it when he hosted the challenge last year, “Any who wish may take the hours leading up to midnight, December 31st, and write a short story.  Only two requirements here: when the new year appears, you are writing; and sometime the next day, that story is published.The goal here is to write and publish in a short period of time.  This means you aren’t going to be able to edit much.  You’ll have about twenty hours to edit (if you don’t sleep), so you’ll want quality over quantity.  Eighteen thousand words won’t help you if it’s a repetition of your grocery list.  Instead, keep the story short and easy to edit, and don’t stress about the outcome.  It’s a challenge, not a competition, and the important thing is writing and publishing.”

And now, for the FAQ:

What are the time limits?

You must publish within 24 hours of starting the story. If you start at 8PM on New Year’s Eve, you must have the story posted by 8PM on New Year’s Day. You could starting writing now and publish it tomorrow, but part of the appeal of the challenge is for this to simultaneously be your last story of 2015 and your first story of 2016. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend writing it or editing it. That is up to you.

Is there a specific wordcount?

Nope. Write however many or few words you want towards your story.

Is there a writing prompt?

No writing prompt. Which is part of why I am posting this now and not on New Year’s Eve. Plan as little or as much as you like, the 24-hour challenge doesn’t start until you start writing. If you need a prompt, the internet is literally crawling with them. Pinterest is a good place to look. (I have a prompt board that you guys are welcome to look at and be inspired by.)

Is there a prize?

No. This isn’t a contest. There won’t be any judges or anything. But if you would like a critique on your story, say so somewhere in your post and I (and hopefully others) will give one. If you don’t say that you want a critique, than I will just read and assume that others will too without criticism.

Are there content restrictions?

Please keep it to a YA level of content. If you feel that your story needs elements beyond a YA level, please give a content warning at the top of your post.

I have a blog.  Where should I post the link so others can see it?

Please comment here, on this post, with a link to your story. After a few days, I’ll round up all the links and post them in a new post so that everyone can have easy access to the stories.

I don’t have a blog.  Where should I post the story so others can see it?

If you don’t have a blog and still wish to participate, let me know and I will give you my email so you can send me your short story. I will post it in this currently blank Google Doc. No one can edit the document except me and I will not touch your story other than copying and pasting it there. If you don’t want to do that, I recommend something like LiveJournal or creating your own Google Doc and then posting the link to it in the comments.

This isn’t enough time to write anything good.  Why can’t we have more time?

As last year’s host put it, “There are absolutely no stakes.  We’re all writers in various stages of development— posting your work only opens it up to a new audience.  You might have your pet project that you’ve been working on for months or years, but I’m not asking you to publish that.  Just write for a couple hours and publish the result, for fun.  If nothing else, it proves that yes, you do write fiction and yes, you are kind of serious about it… So… no time for editing because it doesn’t matter whether it’s perfect or trash.  Have fun.”

Can I write a poem?

Yep! Just stay within the time constraints.

How do you write a short story?

Again, I am going to quote last year’s host on this one.

“Approach it the same way as every other story, but restrict yourself to fewer characters and locations.  Arrive in the story late, get out early.  Make sure your stories have a sense of setting quickly— magic and creature attributes, as well as places, have to be introduced early (“sketched, not photographed”, Maggie Stiefvater says).  If you have a romance, figure out how to show that chemistry quickly, in a lovers’ shorthand of sorts.  Characterize people quickly so we can get to action rather than hear their backstory.  (Much of this comes from Maggie Stiefvater, in her collection The Curiosities.  Well worth a read if you want examples of amazing short fiction.)”

I hear plagiarism is useful.  Can I—

Absolutely not.

And that’s about it! I’m really looking forward to this and I hope you’ll join us! If you have any other questions, that I didn’t cover, let me know in the comments.




40 thoughts on “New Year’s Short Story Challenge 2015!

  1. Oooooh. Methinks I shall do this. Just for fun.

    Question: Is it okay if I finish a short story rather than start a new one? Because I still have that story about beets sitting around…

    (Not saying for sure that’s what I want to do, but just in case.)

  2. well I’m gonna do it, have no other plans for the New year may as well do something I love to do…… Don’t have a bog so I guess I will have to send it to ya

  3. […] So last year, I participated in a writing challenge for New Years, and I’m going to try it again this year (despite that I won’t be home and I’m not sure what the crazy New Years plans are and if I have time to write, hehe).  If anyone else is interested in joining in, the details can be found here. […]

  4. I’ll go for it. Full disclosure, I have no idea what I’m going to write, and all the quotes in that post sound really weird. Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t want to read someone who writes that awkwardly.

    Anyway! Yes, I’ll do it, and thank you for hosting this year! I look forward to it.

  5. Not finished typing yet, but if it still counts, I’ll post it as a Google doc here when I’m done. (Still counts as in, not technically posted within the 24 hours, but finished.)

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