Just this very minute, well maybe the previous one, I submitted my entry into the Irish Times short story contest. According to the entry page the contest winner will be announced on May 26th so if I win or not I will pop the story up here for folks to read on may 27th.
I am actually happy enough with the story and how it turned out in the end. The lady friend said, after reading it this morning, that she got goosebumps reading it. I'm taking that as a good thing .
Of course it always helps to read the entry conditions fully before starting something like this. I happily trundled along and wrote a five hundred word piece, because that was the length for last year. This year it was meant to be four hundred and fifty words, meaning that as I crammed everything into that last word I was fifty words over.
Did panic set in? Well...yes. The problem with writing a short story I find is that you have a lot less room to work with. When there is a limit on the amount of words you can use, the words that get chosen for the story become all the more important. You suddenly start looking at a phrase and think 'Why am I using three words here when one will do?'. So I had started out with that frame of mind and a five hundred word target.
More fool me.
I, at the advice of the lady friend, left the story to soak for a few days. This morning on the bus I stripped out the words to bring down the count. Five hundred became four hundred and thirty one.
When you have to do this sort of cut job there is always a risk that you damage the flow of the tale. That the words removed added more to the overall piece than you thought. Thankfully I had let the lady friend read the five hundred word version. When she read the shorter one this morning it still worked. There was even a whole line missing from the last paragraph that I had removed and tweaked the line before which she did not notice.
If you can't tell the difference between a five hundred word story and it's four hundred and thirty one word counterpart then it must be alright.
Closing date is April 17th, so I wasn't cutting it too fine. Now...we wait.