• 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 — television


    The Challenge

    Answer in 150 words or fewer: What is your favorite TV show (past or present) and why? 


    The Guest Judge

    Michael Ausiello is a television journalist who co-founded and edits TVLine. His “Ask Ausiello” column is an industry benchmark, read by much more than *just* his 1.2 million Twitter followers.

    In September, Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books released Mike’s memoir, Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, a Memoir of Love, Loss, and Other Four-Letter Words, to great acclaim. Since then, Mike has been busy doing TV, radio, and live appearances all around the country, and soaking up stellar reviews from media and readers.

    Which makes us at WriteByNight super happy, because, well, we like Mike a whole lot, but also because I was Mike’s writing coach for Spoiler Alert. (See coaching services to learn about what coaching entails.)


    Rules & Regs

    Type or paste your response in the comments section below. DO NOT go over 150 words!

    Use a pseudonym if you’re shy, but make sure to tick “notify” so you’ll be alerted if someone — me, for example, telling you that you’ve won — responds to your comment. [Our notifications appear to be malfunctioning, so you may not receive email updates on new comments. You could/should subscribe to our weekly newsletter by filling out the form in the right sidebar; not only will you find out who won this contest, but you’ll get all sorts of literary goodies in your inbox every week!]

    Don’t be afraid to get creative. Maybe your answer comes in the form of dialogue between your show’s main characters? Maybe you write a scene depicting yourself watching the show? Maybe your favorite TV show is one that hasn’t even been created yet?

    The contest will be open for two weeks and will close on Tuesday, November 14, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern.


    The Prize

    Duh! A SIGNED copy of Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies. Pay attention.

    And the distinction of having your writing chosen winner by a famous writer.

    Now go write!

    If you have any questions or concerns, or just want to say howdy and chat about writing, drop me a line.



    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is copy editor and fiction editor at the Texas Observer 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 2016 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”


    0 0 votes
    Article Rating
    Notify of

    Newest Most Voted
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments
    Caroline Bock

    As a kid, my favorite television shows were with fathers as central characters—the Courtship of Eddie’s Father. A family could go on if they had a father and a butler. They could go on if the father as in Mike Brady had three tow-headed sons and married someone who had three blond daughters. If they didn’t have a father, they had to sing as in The Partridge Family, though Reuben was a good father substitute. He got them gigs. He made sure they showed up on time. He looked anxious. These fathers didn’t enter a scene to sit at the… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Thanks for entering, Caroline! I like this one. And maybe you sing off-key, but your writing voice is always in tune.

    Marcia Drut-Davis

    “The Honeymooners” with Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows taught me, life can be filled with joy without raising children. I remember as a young girl, laughing out loud with my Mom and Dad but never knowing the profound impact of that laughter till much later. Here was a comedy around two working class families both of whom never had children. Yet, they never were ridiculed, blamed or told they would regret it as I’ve been subjected to as an outspoken childfree woman. It was unacceptable then and now to think couples could be considered a “family” without children. It was… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Thank you for this, Marcia. It goes to show, you never know which childhood experiences will have a lasting impact.


    “Space: the final frontier.” Two weeks ago my father died. For weeks prior he lay in a coma. I sat by his bedside and spoke, as we always did. Our conversations were the cornerstone of our relationship, and the one thing that bonded us through a life of his depression, insomnia, divorce and distance. Conversations that more often than not were located in our living room, while Star Trek played repeatedly in the background. Our watching inevitably turned into conversation about Kirk, Scotty, or a memory from my father’s past triggered by his many television friends. He would make jokes,… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Hi Isabella. Thank you for entering. This piece is touching, a lovely tribute. I’m very sorry about your father. I hope such memories — and perhaps even some Star Trek viewing — are providing comfort.

    Teri R. Williams

    From 2010 to 2015 my husband and I did not miss one episode of Justified. Deputy U. S. Marshal Raylan Given and his cowboy kind of justice was just what we needed to give us hope. While Raylan was taking down the bad guys in Harlan, our daughter, Anna, was fighting for justice for children with autism in Georgia. It began the day she received a letter came from her insurance company. Her daughter, Ava, had just been diagnosed with autism, and insurance companies in Georgia did not cover any kind of therapy for autism. It was a battle that… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Thank you for entering, Teri. I’ve never seen Justified, but I appreciate the way you connect it with real-life events that have meaning to you. And that have meaning to a whole lot of other people, with Ava’s Law. You must be very proud.

    Marie Elgin

    Do we lose points if we stick with micro fiction and write a fiction story?

    David Duhr

    Nah, you can enter some fiction if you’d like. So long as it in some way is a response to the prompt.

    Elissa Malcohn

    June 6, 1966. In the street by my house metal impacts flesh. Later I’m told I was thrown at least ten feet up — that my broken legs and ruptured intestines came not just from the car hitting me, but from my thud back on the ground. I am seven. In shock, vomiting blood, I tell my crying mother, “I’m going to die.” Fast-forward through a summer in Coney Island Hospital. I return home on crutches, to a sleeper couch and our first color TV. A friend introduces me to Star Trek; we sit inches from the screen. A character… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Thanks for this, Elissa. What a horrifying experience that must have been. The crash, not the Star Trek betrayal. But the Star Trek betrayal too! I know a few people with similar stories: bedridden as children, they latched onto a particular TV show or movie, and that show or movie remained a favorite into adulthood and for the rest of their lives. I understand it.

    EM Lipski

    Monday nights. A hush would come over our living room. And then it would start. Dunk-dunk-dunk-dunk – dunk dittle em. Daaaaah, diddliddleliddediddliddle. ‘Oh, the pain, the pain.’ My Polish father would be smiling from ear to ear, and I would be gazing yearningly and somewhat enviously at Penny Robinson, aka Angela Cartwright whose career I had followed from the day I first saw her in The Sound of Music (coming from the Antipodes we did not get The Danny Thomas Show). I did my hair like hers, except where hers was straight and curlable, mine was curly and unstraightable. So… Read more »

    David Duhr

    I enjoyed this one, EM. Thanks for sharing it. I’m particularly fond of how you don’t reveal the name of the show until the final line, after dropping just enough clues. Including the sounds of the music! I also appreciate “unstraightable.”

    Kimberly Glunz

    “Dark Shadows” was by far my favorite television show. If the teacher tried to keep me after class, I generally claimed I had a doctor appointment that I had to rush to (even though she knew I was on-foot and my mother worked in downtown Dallas), regardless I beat feet out of the class to watch that show. I think there is now a cult following of the old shows, but when I was growing up, friends wondered how I could miss “All My Children” to watch that eerie show. I couldn’t explain to anyone how I longed to see… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Hi Kimberly. Thanks for entering. If staying after school meant missing Dark Shadows, I imagine there are times you really wanted to act up but didn’t! I think Barnabas would have appreciated such dedication to his stories. I also wonder if your teachers were concerned: Why is she going to the doctor so often!?

    Jon S,

    I had no emotional connection to my parents; they were there but not there. We lived together like strangers in a sprawling suburb with no center, no Main Street, no there there. I didn’t know the neighbors, and there was no such thing as “the townspeople.” You couldn’t walk to school because there were no sidewalks, and you didn’t want to anyway because school was fortress-like, far away and up an unwelcoming hill. The grocery store was as sprawling as the suburb, sterile stacks of cereal boxes piled to the fluorescent-lit ceiling. Good luck finding a gazebo, much less a… Read more »

    Jon S,

    Also note that I know the guest judge gets pissed when people refer to it as THE Gilmore Girls, and that if the show actually were titled THE Gilmore Girls, I’d have been at 151 words and disqualified.

    David Duhr

    Thanks for this, Jon. I can relate to a lot of it. No homecoming because this wasn’t home? That’s well done. (Not The) Gilmore Girls is often on in our apartment — it’s the show we put on the TV when we leave the dog home alone. So when we get home, and it’s still on, well… we sit right down and enjoy the Stars Hollow goings-on.


    Appearances deceive. All are flawed. Blood relation doesn’t always mean family. Humor can get you through an awful lot. The nondescript are always monster fodder. Be original. Sometimes you have to fight angels and rely on demons. Go with your gut. Some monsters are of your own making. Another day, another Armageddon. One word. Hope. Coincidence is another word for Providence. There is more out there than most people are willing to see. You are more powerful than you imagine. Keep swinging until they stop coming. Be great at what you do, but keep learning. You have to know more… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Hey E. Congratulations! Winner winner! Book coming your way!

    We watch a lot of Supernatural over here, too. It started as a joke: “Let’s watch an episode of what can only be a terrible show.” By the time we met the first wendigo we were hooked for good.

    M.C. Maugeri

    I dare say “The Closer” is my favorite TV show; mainly because of its assertive, slightly workaholic and chocolate enthusiast protagonist Brenda (Kyra Sedgwick.) As she appears my eyes fixate on her, on her graceful stride, her long curly blonde hair, her black-rimmed reading glasses which she sweeps away the moment she doesn’t need them, and her wide mouth concealed by a dark lipstick shade but still mighty when she speaks. I enjoy how she earns her detectives’ respect as LAPD Deputy Chief and how she slips away from engagements with her loved ones showing a disarming determination to go… Read more »

    Sheila Jallow

    My favorite show is “Project Runway”. My daughter and I watch it together. It is reality but its good reality in that it brings out talented people that we would have never known before now. I love it because you see the talent people actually possess and it is just amazing. I can hem and put on a button that you will never loose -that’s it. Each week the “designers”, as they are addressed, are given a task to make a garment for an occasion using a fabric store selected by the show and given money to buy the fabric.… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Hi M.C. Thank you for entering; this one was a runner-up, so congrats! Excellent descriptions and detail work here. It makes me want to watch this show I’ve never seen! And looking for (and finding) yourself in the protagonist, recognizing her anxiety & vulnerability and loving her even more because of it, was very well done.

    John Liebling

    FLASH POINT! 27th Century, Earth Nine. Elections and time travel have consequences. Humanity wobbles precariously on that time altering balance beam; each decision yanks at the tapestry of our reality, knocking us into that prophetic abyss. My cells are infused with inspirational and humorous stories; which are the building blocks of every multiverse. Righteous and evil storytellers make possible the traversing of the space time continuum. Am I the cause of that Flash Point calamity? Was the President/Dictator’s madness a product of disjointed parenting? I loathe that Or’Ange Heir Comb-O’Ver; raised by his Progressive French mother and German Al-Right father.… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Very good, John. I appreciate you taking this in a different direction. And President Ausiello appreciates it, too!

    Annette Hummell

    DOWN MEMORY LANE Drawn to attractiveness seemed to be the key for me, at the time I was discovering boys. The show The Wild Wild West was my favorite, running from 1965-1969. The one scene that hooked me was where the actors (Robert Conrad and Ross Martin) were in their train car (living room as I call it). Upon seeing them I thought wow they are cute, didn’t know the word handsome at the time. I fell in love with the style of clothing and how gentlemen treated women like ladies. In later years I loved reading about the 1800s.… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Thanks for this, Annette. I enjoyed reading it; I think most of us can relate to being fascinated by something in childhood and then watching “the fascination for the show [wear] off,” but still understanding the ways in which it impacted us and helped make us who we are. Well done.

    Claire Harris

    My favorite TV show is Alaska State Troopers on the National Geographic Channel. I have two favorite episodes. Episode 1. A trooper asks a woman for her insurance and license. When she hands them over, he says “Ma’m, this is a debit card and a certificate for a marriage license.” She says in a slurred voice “That’s alI I got.” Episode 2. Troopers are looking for a teenage boy at his underage girlfriend’s house. When the troopers knock on her door, she says “You can’t come in here.” They tell her “We can because he has several outstanding warrants.” When… Read more »

    David Duhr

    Hi Claire. Thanks for entering: This one was a runner-up. So close! It made me laugh, which I always appreciate. Plus I have a weird fascination with Alaska that comes and goes, so now I’ll have to watch this show. This past summer I fell asleep many nights to Life Below Zero. And Northern Exposure? I can recite every episode.

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x