in Blog, Writing Craft

Codex Weekend Warriors 2015

I’ve off-handedly mentioned that I’ve been participating in the Codex Writers’ Group Weekend Warriors (WW) contest, but I don’t think I’ve explained it, have I?

Basically, WW is a flash fiction writing contest, where “flash,” in this case, is defined as fiction less than 750 words. (Definitions vary; I’ve seen it go up to about 1500 words or so). For five weeks in January/February, writing prompts will be posted on Friday, and the contestants have the weekend to write a piece of fiction. It doesn’t have to be speculative (even though Codex is an SFF writing group), and it doesn’t have to directly follow the prompt, but it does have to be less than 750 words.

During the week that follows, all the other writers in the division (this year there are three: Puppies, Kitties, and Bunnies) rate all the other stories in the division. At least, this is supposed to be how it works, although in theory nothing is forcing you to read and rate the others — except that your own ratings are held captive until you do! (Clever, that). At the end of the five weeks, the final score is calculated from the three highest-ranked stories, and the winner is based on that. (So it behooves you to participate more than three times, although you don’t have to).

I participated in week one, writing a space opera-ish story of a cultural misunderstanding. This was as much a surprise to me as anyone; I hadn’t planned to participate, but I found myself stuck in a cold basement for most of a day (Ye Olde Commons, for those LARPers among you) with a notebook, an idea based on a vague misremembering of a prompt, and very little else to do. The story I wrote was fun, but it really wanted to be 1000+ words, and cutting it down to 750, I’m beginning to think I weakened it. The ratings reflected this — but hey, I wasn’t dead last!

Moreover I have a story! A story I can try to sell! I’ve heard tales of Daily Science Fiction (DSF) eagerly awaiting submissions based on WW entries, and I know that even stories that have done poorly in the contest have sold. So I’m eager to take the feedback I’ve gotten on the story and turn it into something I can maaaaaybe publish.

(If not, you’ll see it here eventually…)

So I was super-psyched to give WW a try again this weekend, week 3. (Arisia kept me from participating last week). The story came easily to me this time, based on the prompt “Write about an unusual wedding, birthday party, or other celebration.” I finished it on Saturday, and did some edits on Sunday. I had no trouble keeping it under 750 words; 700 was the length it wanted to be. Now, let’s see if it’s any good…

By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m not naming my stories, or even the division I’m in, it’s because this is all anonymous. We had to pick neato pen names and everything! You’ll find out soon enough which are mine, I suppose, either when they’re announced on Codex, or when they get published, here or elsewhere.

I’ve begun reading this week’s stories, too, and I feel so lucky to do so. They’re all so good — which is a function of Codex being a curated forum — and on the dark side this week (which is a function of the prompts). I’ve rated almost everything I’ve come across an eight (out of 10), and I’d be happy to read most of these in a magazine. Bodes ill for my little story, though…

In other writing news, I got my rejection from F&SF this weekend for “Powder of Sympathy.” It was about as I expected, but I’m glad I finally got off my ass and submitted it. Finlay wrote some nice personal feedback, though: “I was hooked by the opening scene of this story, but overall it just didn’t connect with me so I’m going to pass on it.” Meh. Story of my writing life — premature narrative ejaculation.

I think I know where I’m going to send this one next (Clarkesworld), but I’m debating whether or not I want to read it over and make any further changes, first. Of course, that way so often lies madness…