Sometimes what seems simple is actually the most complicated. Take our 42-word microstory challenge, for example.
Just because the question is straightforward doesn’t mean the answer will be any easier to write. Believe it or not, it took the editors a little while to hammer out exactly what a good answer would look like this week. Check out the question and its requirements below.
Answer the ultimate question in exactly 42 words: where are your socks?
I know it seems obvious, but what we’re looking for this week is the current location of your socks.
You can answer this one in the first or third person (“my socks” or “his socks”) but it has to be present tense. We want to know where they are now, not where they were or will be. A better answer will contain, implicitly or explicitly, who the socks belong to. When you’re writing, consider whether your answer sounds direct. “Jerry’s socks are in my car” seems like an answer, but if you’re writing in first person, is the reader/asker expecting to know where Jerry’s socks are, or yours?
On the other hand, both the location and the socks can be literal or figurative, so long as they’re something that is generally recognized as a location or socks. That is, they can be your gym socks, the crust of mud that covers your feet to the ankles, or the white markings on your kitten’s feet. They might be in your locker, down the drain, or “over the hills and far away.” Heck, we’re not going to strictly limit you to “socks” even if you’re feeling literal: you can use socks, stockings, or hose. What you can’t do: no leggings! Socks cover your feet.
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.