• Micro Fiction Contest: I Wrote Till My Heart Broke

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 74 comments

    Discussion questions: In fifty (50) words or fewer, write a scene or story that includes the phrase “I wrote till my heart broke.” Write or paste your story into the comments. The winner will get his/her choice of books from the WriteByNight library.


    The only thing better than my first read of Under the Volcano is my current rereading of it. That’s all I’ll say about it.

    Well, that and… just read it.

    Since this is a writing contest, not a review by y’all’s most favorite book critic (me, right? right?), I’m not going to get deep into the plot. But early in Chapter 2 there’s a moment where Yvonne asks the Consul why he never responded to the yearlong barrage of letters she sent him during their estrangement. “I wrote you and wrote you,” she cries. “I wrote till my heart broke.”

    Good luck not feeling your own heart break a little when reading that in context. Especially upon reread.

    But the line also makes me think of the ways in which so many of you pour your own hearts out onto the page, day after day. And of how so many of you wish you could do so more often, but for one reason or another get stuck sometimes.

    So for those reasons I thought this line might make for a particularly stellar micro fiction contest.


    What Is This Contest and How Do I Enter?

    In fifty (50) words or fewer, write a story or scene — or even a moment from your own life; these don’t necessarily have to be fiction — that includes the phrase “I wrote till my heart broke.”

    Enter as many times as you wish.

    Write or paste your story/stories in the comments section below.

    Let’s take a little extra time for this one. Get your entries in by the end of Tuesday, February 25. I’ll announce the winner in the comments and in the following weekend’s email message (which, if you don’t already receive, you can sign up for in the right sidebar).

    My favorite story (stories?) will earn its writer his/her choice of book from the WBN library.


    You’ll Choose a Winner Based on What, Exactly?

    The usual metrics: style, concision (obviously), humor. Whimsy (mine).

    And I’ll take into account the number of thumbs-up each story receives. So if you really dig someone else’s piece, be a sport and give it an upvote.

    Good luck! Write until your hearts break.


    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2020 writing project you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. If you have a manuscript that’s ready for some editorial care, check out our various critiquing, editorial, and proofing servicesJoin our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

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    Joe Giordano

    As Sylvia’s image curled black with flame, I tinkled sour notes on an old piano. I’d exposed my heart like a puppy’s underbelly, and I wrote till my heart broke. In winter’s moonlight, I sprinkled her ashes like unmelting snow and sighed. If only I could fall in love again.


    “Sour Notes On an Old Piano” would be a great title.

    Joe Giordano

    Thank you. Good suggestion. I’ll give it a try. Joe.

    Christine Rhodes

    Thank you David! I am one of those who puts my manuscript on the corner of my closet shelf from time to time, convinced it is rubbish. Your words help! :)

    Christine Rhodes

    “I am stronger than this.” my determined heart whispered.
    “…and I am stronger than just you” I hopefully replied.
    “I will NOT bleed for this!” it heatedly retorted.
    My almost paralyzed fingers succeeded, “This will be told… will be told… will be told…”, and I wrote until my heart broke.

    Christine Rhodes

    To escape my childhood pain, I reduced my interactions with the world, with people, with life, to a frightening degree. But pain does not go away, it festers. Now I must relive my avoided life, documenting the what, and when, and how… and I wrote until my heart broke.

    david lemke

    “Wrote till my heart broke,” farthest thing from mind.
    In bath robe wanting shower. Desperate phone on hold. Light bulb pops below. What? Drop phone, rush down. Basement, roaring flames out of control. 911 Fire! Think! Save cats, save something! In robe, in ambulance, in tears, in hopelessness. Everything gone.

    david lemke

    In 2003, had that fire. It wasn’t fiction.

    frances hill

    I rushed to the mailbox to retrieve the letter I mailed on Monday. I didn’t want her to see it. Today is Thursday, the letter was written ‘Dear Grandma and Grandpa’ he died yesterday. I had faithfully written to them every Sunday since we moved out of state.

    Lori Thatcher

    Sad and interesting. But I don’t see the prompt phrase in the piece?

    Elissa Malcohn

    A muse? Hardly. My characters whipped me on. They woke me at all hours, dragged me from bed to desk, poured black coffee down my throat. Call it Pirandelloesque revenge. Now I’m left with only beeps, IV, and this confused nurse as I explain, “I wrote till my heart broke.”

    Elissa Malcohn

    “I wrote till my heart broke.”
    I reach for the tape. “We can fix it.”
    Her Valentine is a manifesto in crayon. Extra passion where she’s muscled her words, crumpling and ripping a construction paper cutout.
    Her wise child’s fingers still my arm. “I like it the way it is.”


    I was in my sail boat going through the Cape Cod Canal a thought entered my mind a new story. Took out my note pad started writing when the motor stopped. I wrote until my heart broke as my boat hit the rocks. I lost my boat but not my story.


    Hero, Brother, Friend. He’d saved his old friends from many a brush with death, though he’d gotten them into as many scraps as he’d gotten them out of. He’d stopped monsters his new friends could not best alone. He passed away under my pen. I wrote until my heart broke.

    Robert A Norris

    Finally, back from a year of getting clean, “I missed you my precious little girl. I texted you every day hoping for an answer, whether you replied or not, I wrote till my heart broke. “
    “I know, I got them all, they gave me strength, I love you daddy.”

    Jamie Arnett

    My fingers hovered over the keys. Those damn subject lines. “Whiskers is dead” was too shocking. “Your dumb cat was next to my tire as I backed up” was too long and insulting. “The worst cat sitter” suggested I was at fault. “Bad news,” I wrote till my heart broke.

    Jamie Arnett

    I wrote till my heart broke.

    I received your letter. I understand. There is light and darkness, joy and sadness, life and death, love and…this.


    Heart cracked, stress fractured,
    Porcelain plate on the mantle.
    Mother’s memento,
    One piece, ten thousand glued,
    I wrote till my heart broke of years
    Of barbs, insults, scorn,
    Burning words.
    I hurled the plate at the door,
    Swept up the pulverized pieces,
    Our bond my bondage no more.

    MJ DelConte

    I gulped the last of the scotch, numb to its fiery effects. I stared miserably at those damn letters I wrote to her, all stamped “return to sender.” I wrote till my heart broke. Finally, I tossed them into the hearth and watched pieces of my soul burn.

    Margaret Herriges

    I sat holding my father’s hand in his final moments. His pulse fluttered like a butterfly’s wings then stilled. In his obituary I wrote of his life as a farmer, as a father to five children, as a husband for more than 60 years. I wrote till my heart broke.


    Mailbox surprise. Return address, “Goddamn Sonofabitch”. I’m stunned, fearful, angry…curious. “Dearest Brother”, it begins, and continues with apologies, regrets, 12-step, Jesus, parole, amends…and finally, “I wrote until my heart broke”. Manipulative fucking bastard. Crumple it into the bowl, and push the handle. Away goes trouble down the drain…


    In my country they say the pen is mightier. So I wrote: of foreign invasion, tyrannical laws, poorhouses, prisons; execution of poets, murders of priests; gaunt men building roads for thin soup, famine or genocide. I wrote till my heart broke, bleeding black ink. Now my sword writes in blood.


    Carlyle shivered in anticipation. Merkin’s sister Anna Nebula was one of America’s top fiction editors. He couldnt wair for her verdict.
    “Mister Carlyle, this is…”, she struggled for words.
    “…a, a, ah, psychopath’s diary. Murders, fiendish betrayals, pure evil…why publish this?”
    He shrugged, “I wrote till my heart broke”.

    Jamie Arnett

    I wrote till my heart broke. We buried our friend today, I told him. We found shelter under black umbrellas as they lowered him into the mud hole. We’ve lost four of the group; it’s just us now. I sealed the envelope, wishing I had an address.

    Jamie Arnett

    Right now I know no more than you, but it always starts out with questions.

    Jamie Arnett

    Two figs left for picking. Once I saw kids running through my yard throwing them at each other. Then crimson-colored guts smeared on the side of my house. I wrote till my heart broke. PICK AND YOU’LL BE SORRY! I attached the sign to a branch and prayed for jam.

    Jamie Arnett

    Just a note: I had fig trees, but it was the bats that got to my figs, not kids. However, I thought my story would be a bit out-there if my character were to make a sign for a bat. HA HA!



    MC Maugeri

    Not a word in two months. We share a car, a table and a bed like two strangers despite our seven years of marriage. I choke when I see his hard averted face. So, I wrote till my heart broke — its scraps splattered against his barbed shield of arrogance.


    I wrote to expose my brokenness, to come to terms with how shattered I was. I wrote until my heart broke. Then I wrote to reclaim myself, finding myself in the words that poured from a new heart, a heart being pieced together by the click-clack of the keyboard.


    “Fredo, Fredo, you broke my heart, Fredo”, I thought obsessively. So i wrote until my heart broke. Our family saga. Crime, drugs, gambling, murder, political corruption, money, power, money. It was all there. But Hollywood wasn’t ready for the story of the household of an English vicar and his wife…

    Emily Bristow

    She could not breathe, or drink, or eat. I sat with her long nights, long days, and yet we barely spoke. She wanted to go home.
    Six years have passed. I’ve lived my life, I’ve looked away. Until today. Today, I wrote. I wrote and wrote until my heart broke.

    Emily Bristow

    Thank you! It’s interesting what happens when you begin distilling thoughts into their essence.


    “Your book is my story too,” the Vermont fan began. “Was the chapter, ‘Every Woman who thought her Husband was Cheating was Right’ based on your life?” It wasn’t, but I needed the sale. Producing a withering smile I offered, “I wrote till my heart broke,” and signed her copy.

    adrien leslie

    Actually i wanted to add…dear dave…look, im out of the kitchen. Thanks for the laugh

    Maker of Imaginary Friends

    I wrote until my pen merged with my hand. My veins bursting with overdoses of caffeine and stress. I wrote till my heart broke in pieces, and my eyes flooded with tear-cut diamonds. Hypnotized to a rich, figurative universe of my creation. I ceased to exist in the literal one.


    “Tear-cut diamonds” is great.


    Carlyle looked up quizzically, blinked and lit a cigar. Twenty feet above, Merkin hung upside down by his ankles. Still clutching the pen and notebook, Merkin, face purple, burst into tears.
    “Carlyle, you came! I wrote until my heart broke!”. Carlyle puffed, enjoying his friend’s torment.


    My heart was a little red kite,
    soaring high.
    When a thundering love,
    in a torrent,
    shredded my flier,
    she flailed and faltered.

    So I wrote till my heart broke
    and fell.
    Then I wrote till I’d mended
    the tattered red scraps.
    Now I’ve a little ragdoll.
    Watch her dance.


    Hi David,
    I am finishing The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and then next is At Swim Two Birds by Flann O’Brien (Brian O’Nolan)

    Pia Manning

    He left me. I couldn’t imagine a world without him. I needed. I craved. He was the air that I breathed. I couldn’t imagine my world without him. He. Left. Me. I poured my soul onto the paper. I wrote till my heart broke.

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