In one of my favorite Russian fairy tales, the villain’s soul – or heart – is hidden away inside a needle, which is in an egg, which is in a duck, which is in a hare, which is in a chest, which is buried under a green oak tree, which is on an island in the middle of the ocean. Seems like a pretty serious undertaking, no?
Sometimes drilling down to the heart of what you’re trying to say is just like finding Koschei’s heart. Each step you take brings you closer, but by the time you find that island, chop down that tree, open that chest and run down that hare just to find a duck inside, you start wondering if it’s worth it. Microstories can really help you here. Keep shaving off words, one by one; rearrange them for maximum effect. You’ll know when you’ve found your needle; the point will glitter and shine. It may even draw blood.
[Image: Koshchey the Deathless by Ivan Bilibin, 1901.]
Answer the ultimate question in exactly 42 words: where is your heart?
A good answer to this week’s question requires two elements: a real or figurative heart (representing love, passion, purpose, for example), and its current location, either physical or abstract. Present tense, please, and we are asking about your own heart (that is, yours or your narrator’s).
Don’t get disqualified on a technicality
READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. Take us seriously so we can take you seriously.
COUNT YOUR WORDS. Use your eyes, not your word processor. Your post may not be eligible for voting if you go over or under 42 words. And remember, any words surrounding your microstory — explanations, references, footnotes, shout-outs, etc. — will be counted against your 42-word limit. (The only exception is photo credits.)
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.
ANSWER THE QUESTION. We try to give you some basic guidelines with every question; pay attention to what we’re looking for. 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.
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! Participation is the key to making this community work.
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 challenge opening on Mondays, the fiction and poetry challenge on Tuesdays, the microstory 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.