• 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.

    Your task is to write, in 25 words or fewer, a short story using the word donkeyman or donkeywoman. Or both!

    You can use it either as originally intended or in your own special way.

    Make us laugh like donkeys and you’ll get extra points.

    The winner, chosen by me because I don’t know a flawless way to crowd-vote, gets to choose a title from our ever-growing stack of hot-off-the-presses hardcovers and ARCs and galleys.

    Leave your micro fiction in the comments section below. Use a pseudonym if you’re shy. Click “Notify” to follow the competition. Enter as many times as you’d like.

    This donkey of a contest will shut down one week from today.


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    David Duhr, co-founderWriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is copy editor and fiction editor at the Texas Observer and contributes regularly to the Dallas Morning News, Publishing Perspectives, the Observer and other publications.

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    Jon Sommers

    The donkeywoman looked at the donkeyman and his stupid asshead. “You’re an ass,” she said.

    “I *am* an ass,” he responded. “So are you.”


    Alex Jackson

    “Donkeyman!” the captain beckoned.

    “Woman,” said the donkeywoman.

    “Oh, man,” moaned the captain.

    “Woman,” said the donkeywoman.

    “Yar,” said the captain (suddenly becoming a pirate).

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x