NYC Midnight Challenge.


Short Story Challenge 2017

Against my better judgement I entered the 2017 NYC Midnight Challenge Short Story Competition. My first (and, as it turned out, only) challenge required a genre of ‘Political Satire’ and was to feature a ‘middle man’ and ‘guns’. Notably my heat included another Australian, Sarah Martin, who went on to win the event. You can read her story Here. My own effort was panned for the blue language of the protagonist, but clearly there was more wrong with it than just that and it was adjudged equal worst out of about 3000 entrants.

Anyway, here it is. If nothing else it might inspire you to write with the knowledge that at least, somewhere out there, is someone blessed with less talent than are you.

The Kingdom





My initial reaction was predictably mature. I stormed around the house shouting obscenities at unseen judges but, eventually the pain of failure subsided and I teamed up with a few similarly aggrieved round 1 losers (all who had done better than me, it should be admitted) and we launched ourselves into round 2 without the judges. A heat was randomly chosen which tasked us with a ‘Ghost Story’ featuring ‘a volunteer fire fighter’ and ‘a bank loan’. My suspicion is that, had it been exposed to the judges wrath, the round 1 result may have been repeated. Nevertheless I include it here …..

Thompson’s Shack

Since then I have also made a mess of the 2017 Flash Fiction Competition (both 1000 words).

Horror/ A prison/ A hairdryer

Waiting for the Sunrise


Mystery/ Wetlands/ A locked safe

The Burundian Diamonds
But I will return next year. I am a masochist.

So here we are in 2018. And another crack at the Short Story Challenge and just counting down the days before elimination.

This time the assignment to be another (bugger!) horror story featuring a very tall woman and advice.

Where are you going, little boy? 


This year’s campaign got off to a disastrous start. I became seriously rushed and confused with the whole thing and probably reached an all time low in terms of output.

They keep insisting on giving me the ‘horror’ genre – and that is proving to be strangely prophetic. The assigned setting was ‘a wave pool’ and the assigned object ‘a pitchfork’.

Spear or Pitchfork?   The judges opinion? Zero points. Dead, motherless, last.

The nature of the Flash Fiction Challenge is that everyone gets a second go. After that the scores for each of rounds 1 and 2 (0-15 points awarded in each round) are combined and the highest 5 point scorers in each group progress to the next round. The reality is that a minimum total of 20-22 is needed, so my position was already hopeless …..

However, upon receiving the assignment of Drama/A hotel bar/A toy gun, I gave it a shot anyway ….. but this would be it for 2018 ….

And …. surprise, surprise … I DID NOT COME LAST.

I scored one point (so … almost last)

but here it is Don’t tell me your troubles

2019 … and still no runs on the board. For this year’s Short Story Competition I was assigned Historical Fiction/Redundancy/A money lender. What a disaster ….

I had a lot of work on and wasted the first 7 days. More or less wasted the last day too.

Why did I make up stuff up about Vietnam? I don’t know.

The loan diaries

The Loan Diaries has somehow defied history and progressed to the second round by placing 3rd in it’s heat …. which places me equal 450th or thereabouts overall. So … giddy heights indeed.

Round 2 allows only 3 days for a slightly shorter story (2000 words max) and, in my case, the prompts were Romance/A retirement plan/ A jogger. The ‘retirement plan’ hint is something that, perhaps, I should of thought about more clearly …. that is to say that perhaps I should have quit whilst I was equal 450th.

Anyway, the result is Miss Queensland Country 1954. I will let you know how badly savaged it is by the judges.

Answer: Not well.

Although one kind judge did offer the following: This is an exceptional story, written with a beautiful tone of sweetness and sadness. You writing is exquisite, for example, “That he had been invited into a sacred space” when he is shown the newspaper cutting about Janet. The old man’s reminiscences are heart rendering, and your story brought tears to my eyes as it made me remember old friends and grandparents. And also: With a story that is this beautifully written, it is difficult to find much to recommend. The odd comma might help the reader, for example, after “self-contradictory” in the first paragraph, and after “examined” in the seventh paragraph. I reread your story three times to see if there was anything else I could recommend, but honestly, it was perfect just as it was. Many congratulations!

The other two judges were, sadly, not of the same opinion.

As a change of pace the NYC people set themselves the challenge of humiliating me in a mere 250 words. And I couldn’t resist the bait.

The ‘Micro-fiction Challenge has a 250 word limit and I was set the task of creating a romance in which somebody was “looking through the telescope” and included the word “smiled”. In 24 hrs

Here’s what popped out

Waiting to be Saved

2020, and here we go again.

NYC Short Story Challenge. 2500 words …. A Thriller/ An Investment/ An addict

This was never going to be very thrilling. I’m a fairly dull guy.

Down by the Tracks

BUT ….. in what may have been some sort of clerical error that little story was placed 4th in its heat and therefore your correspondent moved on into round 2 (virtually uncharted territory). The assignment for round 2 was Action/Adventure, A launch, An underachiever.

Despite some personal experience with underachievement I am not really at home with the Action/Adventure bit …. but here’s what I came up with.

The Last Voyage of the Nadine

Goodness me. Here’s a surprise. 2020 has been a dreadful year in many ways but, on a positive note …. the judges at NYC have smiled upon me again and given me another 4th place in this year’s Short Story 2nd round

So, it’s off to the 3rd round. A place where I have never visited.

The challenge this time …. 1500 words/ Sci-fi/ A repairman/A promotion.

I am not a sci/fi person. I’m not any kind of person, actually, but everything I write seems to hint somehow at romance. This one didn’t

The Ziusundra Project

8 thoughts on “NYC Midnight Challenge.

    1. Ha ha! Yes … there would appear to be a certain inconsistency with the judging. But I will not be expecting points on Tuesday, and certainly not progression. The first story I ever wrote for NYC was probably my best. It scored zero, as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. my comment about this seems to have disappeared. As does your response. WP has been doing weird things lately, I surely hope it was their fault and not just because you didn’t like my comments =)

    Liked by 1 person

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