Sometimes what we don’t say is as important as what we do. This is true in all writing but especially in microstories, where you’ve got an extremely limited space in which to get your point across. Lucky for us there are a ton of really useful literary devices to help us make the most of our 42 words. Symbols, metaphors, synecdoche, allusions – all of these serve to make our writing more interesting and can also help shave off words when you’re dealing with a strict word limit. Be warned, however: you can have too much of a good thing. Packing your microstory full of literary devices might make it dense and unreadable. Use them sparingly and with a clear purpose in mind.
(Want more on allusions? Check out Nate’s shot of espresso over at the yeah write coffeehouse!)
Answer the ultimate question in exactly 42 words: what aren’t you telling me?
This week’s question requires two things for a good answer: a secret and the person who can’t be told. Note we are not asking “why won’t you tell me” – we don’t care why, although you are welcome to tell us that in your answer. We just need to know the secret. It can be an innocent secret: your new boss is a martian. Or a tough one: I can’t tell you that I pushed dad out of the boat. A few other reminders:
PROOFREAD. Nothing is easier, and nothing will get you bumped from the voting grid faster than typos, spelling or punctuation mistakes, or grammatical errors. You’ve only got 42 words; mistakes stick out.
Make sure the tense of your answer matches the tense of the question.
Keep in mind that your post has to make sense if your reader doesn’t know the question. Don’t use the question as your title or anywhere else in your piece. And remember, any words surrounding your gargleblaster — explanations, references, footnotes, shout-outs, etc. — will be counted against your 42-word limit.
The top 42 entries will be open for voting on Thursday
You may enter only one gargleblaster microstory. Submissions are moderated. All entries will show up on our submissions grid, and up to 42 entries will be moved to the voting grid, which opens on Thursday. Everybody: read, comment, vote!
If you don’t make the voting grid, don’t despair – you’ll get a detailed love letter from our wonderful submissions editor, Rowan G., letting you know what needed improvement. Email us or head over to our pages on Facebook and Twitter with any questions.
Winners will be announced on Friday
Look for Friday’s combined winners’ post to see the crowd favorites and editors’ picks from across all of our challenge grids.
What else is happening around here?
We’ve got the nonfiction grid opening on Mondays, the speakeasy for fiction and poetry on Tuesdays, the gargleblaster micro challenge on Wednesdays, and the come-one, come-all moonshine grid for the weekends. We’ve also got a great hangout space over at the coffeehouse. Make sure you subscribe to our weekly e-mail blast so you don’t miss out.