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    Micro Nonfiction Challenge: Movie/TV Adaptations of Your Favorite Books

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 19 comments

    It’s time to kick the winter blahs right in the snowpants with a fun exercise and contest! read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: Musical Edition

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 33 comments

    It’s been an entire half a year since we last did a micro fiction contest! (See: The Excellent Gimmick.)

    A few weeks ago we talked about whether we listen to music while we read and/or write. That discussion coincided with a Yak Babies episode in which my personal pals and I talked about music and song lyrics in fiction: When it works, when it doesn’t, and why.

    Shortly after that I wrote a story in which a song features prominently, just to see if I could do it.

    Now it’s your turn!

    Your task: Write a short story in fifty words or fewer that includes a music reference: song title(s), artist(s), lyrics, whatever you want. read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: The Excellent Gimmick

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 40 comments

    The day after publishing a post about the winter writing doldrums, I became this season’s flu victim No. 286,372,469, which means I’ve spent most of this week incapacitated, and am writing this during the daily twenty-seven-minute window where I don’t feel like a zombie.

    But just because I’m incapable of writing doesn’t mean we can’t do something fun. And I remember that it’s been a while since we dug into the sp*m vault and played some Micro Fiction Challenge.

    So that’s what we’re gonna do, friends! It’s another micro fiction contest based on the absurd comments caught by our vigilant sp*m filter! read more

    Micro (Non)Fiction Challenge: Your Favorite TV Show

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 30 comments

    [Image courtesy of Shutterstock]

    This month’s Micro Fiction Challenge is all upside-down and ass-backwards.

    The prize is the same as last time: A SIGNED copy of Michael Ausiello’s wonderful memoir, Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, new from Simon & Schuster/Atria.

    But here’s the thing: Michael Ausiello himself will decide who wins his book!

    That’s right, friends, a fancy & famous guest judge right here at WriteByNight.

    Not only that, but this Micro Fiction Challenge is actually a Micro Nonfiction Challenge, and the subject matter is one that some of you might consider the writer’s worst enemy — televisionread more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: More Fun with Sp*m!

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 22 comments

    TL;DR version: We’re going back to the sp*m well in this new Micro Fiction Challenge. Starting with one of the five sp*m comments below, write a fifty-word or shorter story. Type or paste your story in the comments. Get creative! Win books and fame!


    Let’s get our generative juices flowing by using some auto-generated gibberish.

    That’s right, gang: It’s another Micro Fiction Challenge based on the absurd comments our sp*m filter catches!

    Remember how much fun we had last time we did this? We had reality stars (“Kim who, Joey what”), athletic wind, people conveying other people. Jerry Schwartz won by using all five prompts in very funny fashion. One of you even emailed to say that this prompt led to a short story.

    This time around, the prize is a brand-new SIGNED copy of Michael Ausiello’s new memoir, Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies.

    But the real prize? Creating some new micro fiction, of course! read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: Fun with Sp*m

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 46 comments

    TL;DR version: In this new Micro Fiction Challenge, we’ve bumped the word count to fifty(!) and are offering multiple prompts, rather than just one funky word. Using as your opening one of the five sp*m comments below, write a fifty-word or shorter story. Multiple prizes are up for grabs. Type or paste your story in the comments.


    I didn’t write much this week. It happens. I was even going to do another “Things I Did This Week Instead of Write,” so that those of you who also didn’t write would have a place to safely say so and tell us why.

    But I figure even better than that is to offer something to write, something low pressure, in case you’re just looking for any excuse, an exercise or prompt.

    And we’re due for a Micro Fiction Challenge anyway. read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: Duende (Again-de)

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 21 comments

    tl;dr version: The Micro Fiction Contest is a writing prompt with prizes. This week’s: Write a story, in 25 or fewer words, using the word duende, defined below. Leave your story in the comments section to enter. Prizes include a brand-new hardcover copy of Amanda Eyre Ward’s new novel, The Nearness of You.


    I don’t know if it’s a result of some New Year’s resolutions or what, but here at WriteByNight we’re suddenly flooded with your writing. It’s as if you’ve all banded together to participate in National Novel-Sending to WriteByNight month.

    aka NaNo-Sendo-WriteByNighto. Mo.

    By the end of the month I will have handled almost 750,000 of your words in February alone. Three quarters of a million words! Granted, many of them are repeats. You all use the quite a lot, and it feels like I’ve seen literally dozens of uses of and. But still.

    And that’s just me. Others of our wonderful staff are hard at work, too.

    In other words, y’all are killing it lately. And what’s better: The work you’re sending us is great.

    Clearly y’all have been positively overflowing with literary duende. read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: Zoilus

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 22 comments
    Not Zoilus.

    Not Zoilus.

    We haven’t had a micro fiction contest in quite some time, and we haven’t had a popular one since February. “Break of poop,” of course. What, it’s got to be gross to be worthy of your time?

    Maybe I’m just bad at this. That’s what my inner Zoilus would say.

    Let’s start with the prize: The top entry in this week’s micro fiction contest wins a brand-spankin’-new paperback copy of Yann Martel’s The High Mountains of Portugal. (Or, if you hate that guy — and I know for a fact that many of you do — we’ll send a different brand-spankin’-new book.)

    All you need to do to enter is write a short story of 25 (or fewer) words that includes zoilus, either as a proper noun (i.e., the dude himself) or a common noun. You may also use a different form of the word (zoilism, zoilist, etc.) read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: Donkeyman & Donkeywoman

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 2 comments

    donkey-1342350_960_720Our latest Micro Fiction Challenge, “fizzle,” did just that. What happened, y’all? I picked a bad word? Nobody wanted to write about July Fourth fireworks fizzling out? You all think I’m some sort of donkeyman?

    Donkeyman. What a fun word to say. Try it out. Just one step away from assman. (Cosmo Kramer, anyone? The ASSMAN?)

    It sounds like a slur, but it’s actually a nautical term for someone who works in a ship’s engine room. Merriam-Webster says a donkeyman is responsible for running the donkey engine, also known as the steam donkey. From Joseph Conrad’s story “Typhoon”: “One of the stokers was disabled, the others had given in, the second engineer and the donkeyman were firing-up.”

    Oxford says donkeyman is “a man with responsibilities in a ship’s engine room.” A man. So if a woman were running (or manning) the steam donkey, would she be a donkeywoman? The only search results I get for “donkeywoman” are NSFW. Volumes have been written about the sexism in this here language.

    But in the Micro Fiction Challenge, succinctness reigns.

    read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: Fizzle

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 1 comment

    FizzleFor this special Fourth of July edition of the Micro Fiction Challenge, I wanted to do something related to fireworks: sparkle or colors or pop or boom. But I also appreciate those moments when the firework screams up into the air and then … does nothing. It fizzles out. And the crowd lets out a collective groan of disappointment. Like, “Who the hell is responsible for this outrage!”

    Today, you are responsible for this outrage! Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a short story, in twenty-five words or fewer, that includes the word “fizzle.”

    Be funny, be creative, be bold. Make us laugh, make us cry. Make us do both, if you can. read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: Callipygian

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 13 comments

    DavidI love learning new words. Especially new words that make me giggle and are totally unnecessary, like this month’s micro fiction challenge word, callipygian.

    Callipygian comes from Ancient Greek: “kalli,” meaning beautiful, and “pugḗ,” meaning buttocks.

    That’s right, gang. We have a word in the English language to define beautiful buttocks. Because why say “He/she/it has beautiful buttocks” when you can say “He/she/it is callipygian.”

    (Seems an appropriate choice, coming just a few short weeks after we took a (too-) deep look at break of poop.)

    Accepted alternative: callipygous, which you’re free to use instead for this challenge.

    The challenge being: Write a short story, in twenty-five words or fewer, that includes callipygian/callipygous. read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: Poetaster

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 7 comments

    PoetasterThis month’s Micro Fiction Challenge (“poetaster“) has a great chance of being less scatalogical than last month’s (“break of poop“).

    It also has a great chance of being less eschatalogical — an alarming number of you  had death on the mind, offering grave stories about people and puppies sliding off of ships and into the dark and unforgiving sea. Lots of flotsam in our fiction. Or is it jetsam?

    The Word

    We are all acquainted with at least one inferior poet. That is, we all have our own personal poetaster.

    Perhaps not coincidentally, nobody sends you more of his/her own poetry than your personal poetaster. And nobody handles criticism with less grace than your personal poetaster. read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: Break of Poop

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 29 comments

    poopLet’s do some writing and win some prizes, shall we?

    I sure hope your 2016 writing resolution is getting its butt kicked by you (passive voice!). Mine is not. Work is piling up, there’s TV to watch, the dog keeps barking in my face. And my novel collects dusty, dusty dust.

    I am back in the writing rut I thought I’d wrestled myself out of.

    If you’re in the same jam, let’s see if we can’t help you bust out of it by writing some short fiction. I mean, like, short, short, short fiction. Might I even call it micro fiction? read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: Golden Sombrero

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 9 comments
    Golden Sombrero

    If the hat in this stock image were golden, and if it were a sombrero, it would be a golden sombrero.

    (To skip the piffle/folderol and get to the contest, go to paragraph #5)

    Baseball’s Opening Day is the surest sign of spring. Yes, it kinda/sorta snowed in NYC this morning, but that won’t postpone the Mets’ 1:10 p.m. start, by which time it should be nearly 60 degrees, and perhaps even a little sunny. And yes, there will be plenty of rainouts, and even a snowout or two, in the weeks ahead, but, as Bart Giamatti wrote, “The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings.” (Of course, the rest of that piece goes something like “Oh my God life sucks hard and winter is coming and I can’t stop time.”)

    My half of the brain trust here at WriteByNight will be taking the afternoon off, but I wanted to get up a new Micro Fiction Challenge before I turn on my glitchy MLB package and bliss out.

    Baseball is a game in which a successful batter performs at a 7-to-3 rate of failure, and one becomes a legend by failing in “only” six of ten at-bats. read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: Bluster

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 12 comments

    BlusterThe final Micro Fiction Challenge of 2013 landed with a thud (congrats, Amber!), partly due to the fact that WBN at the time was rootless and, in large part, Internetless. But earlier in the year we saw some entertaining and spirited contests, as well as one or two that devolved into weird comment-sections squabbles. Here’s to another fine year in the WBN MFC.

    It’s March now, but this winter just doesn’t seem to even be considering coming to an end. (A special shout-out to our Milwaukee-to-Chicago readers, who are having an extra rough go of it.) (And Texans, wipe those smug, sun-soaked smiles off your faces.) (Or don’t. We wouldn’t, were we still there.) read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: Macher

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 1 comment

    MacherOK, big shots, time to throw some Yiddish at y’all. Lots of Yiddish words/phrases have made their way into English, and one of those words is “macher,” which can be used both straightforwardly and ironically. Macher is defined as “an important or influential person,” “a big shot,” “a person who gets things done,” but is often used in a derogatory manner to indicate officiousness or someone who is overbearing.

    No matter which way you use it, you are familiar with at least one macher.

    So your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a piece of flash fiction using the word macher in any of the ways mentioned above. As always, keep your story to 25 words or fewer, write it out in the comments section below, click “Notify” to keep abreast of your competition, and feel free to use a pseudonym if you’re shy. Your story doesn’t have to make us laugh, but funny is money. We’ll announce the winner in this space soon, and we’ll give a shout-out to our favorites on Facebook and Twitter.

    The winner of this week’s challenge will go down as one of the bigger machers in WriteByNight Blog history! Which is reward enough, innit?


    Micro Fiction Challenge: Absquatulate

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 9 comments

    AbsquatulateSince we announced last week that WriteByNight is leaving Austin, we figured that our next Micro Fiction Challenge should reference the move. And “absquatulate” has always been one of my favorites. Just say it aloud three or four times. Absquatulate. Absquatulate. Absquatulate. It’s so much fun, innit?

    Absquatulate means to flee, to abscond, to depart in a hurry. It can be used with an object: “WriteByNight is absquatulating with our hearts.” Or it can be used without an object: “WriteByNight isn’t really absquatulating … they’re still open until November 7th!”

    It can only mean to die, or to argue. I’ve never heard it used in either of those ways, but hey, I’m not going to argue with the dictionary. Not again.

    So. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a piece of flash fiction using the word absquatulate in any of the ways mentioned above. read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: Horsehead

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 13 comments

    Horsehead NebulaLast time around G.W. Schulz won books 1-4 of the Harry Potter series by amusing us with his sorcery-based micro fiction. This week, we’re giving away another book prize to the winner–Texas favorite Rick Bass’ new novel All the Land to Hold Us, which begins:

    For months after Richard first visited Horsehead Crossing–he had been sent by his employer in Houston to explore the largely worked-over oil and gas deposits in the Permian Basin near Odessa–he would dream nightly of what he had seen: the salt-preserved skulls of thousands of horses and cows tipped up in the saline banks of the Pecos, and in the surrounding, shifting sand dunes–horse and cattle skulls trapped in the sand and silt like the pale fossils of the limestone cliffs above.

    How’s that for a grabber?

    This week’s word is “horsehead,” and you’re free to use it in a variety of ways. read more

    Micro Fiction Challenge: Sorcery

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 14 comments
    Scout scared

    WBN’s mascot Scout is afraid of sorcerers. (i.e., all images of sorcerers are copy-protected.)

    So it’s been about six weeks since our last Micro Fiction Challenge, and we know–we just know–that y’all are getting very restless. Much like, perhaps, a sorcerer who can’t conjure … something. (The right word, for instance.)

    Earlier this year (filed under “News & Events”!) I mentioned that I am reading the Harry Potter books, for the first time, and as part of my goal to read 80 books in 2013. (More on that over at Chamber Four.) Recently I finished #4, & The Goblet of Fire, and so I have all sorts of witchcraft and wizardry on my mind.

    And one word I’ve always enjoyed immensely is “sorcery.” read more

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