• Micro Fiction Contest: You Shouldn’t Have Waited This Long

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Micro Fiction Challenge     Comments 42 comments

    “You shouldn’t have waited this long… idiot”


    Discussion questions: Using fifty words or fewer, write a short story or scene that includes the line “You shouldn’t have waited this long.” Write or past your story (or stories — enter as many times as you wish!) into the comments.


    (To skip my narration and get straight to the contest details, scroll down to the next heading.)

    We’ve taken an intense inward look at our writing the past few weeks on this blog. We talked about the ways our internal critics derail us; we shared the best passage we’ve written (so far) in 2020; and last week we had a wonderfully frank discussion about whether or not we’re hitting our 2020 reading & writing goals.

    One of my personal 2020 goals was to visit a dentist. It’s been… a while. A long while. Long enough that the dentist said yesterday, into my mouth, “You shouldn’t have waited this long.”

    “Ummm, obviously,” I replied. “But there’s been this virus? Also, you just gave me the keyphrase for my next Micro Fiction Contest.”

    The dentist said, “OK, but did you ever choose a winner for your previous contest, ‘Take Your Accordion and Buzz Off‘?”

    “Well, no…” I said. “But I’ll include that information in this week’s email message. If you don’t already subscribe, Doctor, you may do so on the right sidebar, under ‘Join Our Mailing List.’ And yes, there really is a free gift!”

    Then the dentist asked the following question:


    What Is This Contest and How Do I Enter?

    In fifty (50) words or fewer (including the six built into the line itself), write a story or scene — or even a moment from your own life; these don’t have to be fiction — that includes the line “You shouldn’t have waited this long.

    Enter as many times as you wish.

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

    Submit your entries by the end of Sunday, July 19. 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 enjoy someone else’s piece, be a sport and give it an upvote.

    Good luck!


    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

    Maxey’s tone was even. “Larkin still breathes.
    Finn protested. “These things take time.”
    ”Every day he’s alive is pepper in my ass.” Raising a .38, Maxey said, “My mind concludes he paid you off.”
    Finn blanched. “No.”
    “One of us is superfluous.” Maxey sighed. “You shouldn’t have waited this long.”


    Superfluous To The Max…I like it…

    Joe Giordano

    Thanks for reading. Joe.

    Christine Rhodes

    “You are lost!”
    “I know.”
    “All this does is tie you in knots!”
    “I know.”
    “We aren’t even friends!”
    “I know, I will quit writing.”
    “It is too late, you shouldn’t have waited this long.”
    “I know.”
    Head hanging, she wondered how? How… does she make herself… not a writer?

    stephen Glick

    I drank so much beer I sloshed. I charged into my empty house. When going up the stairwayI fell teice. What could be wrong ?I gather myself and begin to change from my work cloths, Boom , my legs give out !Fuck I am in trouble . No phone , no neighbors !Shit! I wake up. God the pain .What day ?Where am I ? I am in a hospital inMinnesota!Why did I wait so long! If my story is too long . I just want to tell a small piece of my history. DO NOT IGNORE THE WARNING SIGNS… Read more »


    Grunting, I landed on my bad knee. The kids looked up. Wordlessly, I held out the tiny box to their mom. A tinier diamond, the result of three years’ saving, glittered hopefully. The kids rolled their eyes.
    She haughtily waved a huge, gaudily tasteless cubic zirconia at me, “You shouldn’t have waited so long”.

    Joe Giordano

    Apparently cubic zirconia is a girl’s best friend. Good job.


    The early worm gets the bird…


    “Time to go home.”
    “Just a minute longer.”
    “No, now.”
    “What difference will another minute make?”
    “I have other souls to collect.”
    The mile-long train passes through us.
    “Should’ve jumped out of the way.”
    “Thanks, Captain Obvious.”
    “You shouldn’t have waited this long.”
    Death hates trains.
    “Fine. Let’s go.”

    Sheryl Odell

    My sore muscles struggled with the door to the mattress store. I shuffled inside, my hand pressed into the small of my back.
    Lifting puffy eyes to the salesclerk I said “I need a new bed.”
    Her knowing smile replied ‘you shouldn’t have waited this long.’

    Elissa Malcohn

    Obit: auto accident in Watertown. He couldn’t have been thirty. My fingers can’t feel the alumni magazine.
    I murmur to myself, “You shouldn’t have waited this long.”  My apology for breaking off a sweet, platonic friendship dies, too, lost in the task of divorcing the man I’d left him for. 

    Elissa Malcohn

    Daisy, Daisy,
    I know that I was wrong.
    I’m so lazy
    So I’ll just sing this song.
    It’s with my sincere contrition
    I bounce back your submission.
    Just tell me, “Sir,
    Dear Editor,
    You shouldn’t have waited this long.”

    Elissa Malcohn

    Nodding at the post. These days so many publications (including non-electronic) have websites that all it takes is clicking on the Submission Guidelines tab. I also tell people to check the individual specs, which is another way that editors know whether you’re paying attention. Years ago I sold a story to an e-magazine whose specs were far different from standard, something like 14 pt. Arial, single spaced. I did a Save As, reformatted, and off it went.

    Elissa Malcohn

    No problem; I didn’t take it as such. Just reminiscing. :-)

    Linda Hanna Lloyd

    Max picked me at four o’clock on the dot. He was always all time. Looking me up and down, he sheepishly ask,”don’t you have a sexier dress?”
    I opened my mouth to say what was on my mind, then closed it and walked back in my house. What a jerk he is today I mumbled, as I asked myself—do you really want to marry him?
    About 10 minutes later we were driving to the courthouse. We stood in front of the justice of the peace only to here him say,”You should have been on time.”

    David Duhr

    Thanks, Linda. It definitely calls for a sequel.


    “You shouldn’t have waited this long, ma’am”
    “He moved like a zombie!”
    “Indistinctly instinctual”
    “He looked like Queen Elizabeth, but with one ear…”
    “Monarchically monaural”
    “…and a big fat ass!”
    “Spectacularly spatulate”
    “He threw my husband out the window!”
    “Definitely defenestral”
    “The cops were blase!”
    “Precinctly procedural”
    “Any thoughts, Detective?”


    Our city is anomic, the social fabric has been kindled softly through years of legislative policy designed to reframe power to those with exceptionally small toenails. As someone with exaggerated toenails, we were long overdue for change. While exiting the house my wife whispers, “You shouldn’t have waited this long.”

    Elissa Malcohn

    “You shouldn’t have waited this long to fire thrusters. Implement course correction.” My voice is calm but my stomach flips. Earth winks out. Everything does.
    The onboard computer checks out, but the laws of physics don’t. My internal clock melts like a Dali painting. And, oddly, it all feels perfect.


    It’s not your fault. Someone just said the nine-billionth name of God…

    Elissa Malcohn

    You shouldn’t have waited this long.  Too long.
    Shouldn’t you deliver us faster than this?
    Have we erred, summoning you? We, who waited,
    Waited in vain. Precognition we did not have.
    This is blind faith. Should we banish you? No, we shouldn’t.
    Long will our punishment be, cursed with you.


    The swans had gone. The bookies counted the money on scarred tables. The brunette with the piecing eyes wasn’t there; she’d floated away like a cloud of smoke. He felt lost, like garbage. The mannequins seemed to say, “you shouldn’t have waited this long”. He kicked the smashed “Araby” sign.



    David Duhr

    Should’ve written +1. Just that old internet slang for upvoting something using words rather than a click. i.e., I like this.


    Sgt. Joe Friday sighed. What a crew. Tuesday Weld and Wednesday Adams, veterans since the 60s. Baron Samedi, around since 1973. Zweet Zhursday. Manic Monday and his bipolar disorder. Dan Duesday, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Shiva Shatterday, always inviting destruction. Would Sunday ever come?


    The singer was terrible. More like yodeling.
    “If I were a carpenter, and you were Disraeli…’
    Morgan felt uneasy. Seeking enlightenment in a coffehouse? The tabs were dry and faded, unappetizing…
    Groovalier grinned toothlessly, “You shouldn’t have waited this long!’
    “If I were a carpenter, and you were a walrus…”

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