Pigeons

PigeonYou may have seen my belated post regarding the Moon Topples Great Big Awesome (Short) Fiction Contest. I believe that 44 stories or thereabouts were submitted, including one by me. The rules were that the piece must be no longer than 500 words and on the topic of “Vision”, though this was interpreted in a very liberal manner.

It is quite some time since I have exposed any of my writing to public gaze (apart, of course, from what appears on my blog) and I wasn’t going to enter the contest. In the end, for reasons I won’t go into, I decided to give it a shot. It is not false modesty if I say that I did not expect to win anything but went into it for fun and to show willing.

The results of the contest were published today and you will find them here. The gist of it is that there were four awards: 1. Reader’s Choice (votes cast by people reading the entries who had not themselves submitted work), 2. Writer’s Choice (votes cast by those who had entered the competition – and no, we were not allowed to vote for our own entry!), 3. Maht’s Choice (a story picked by the organizer of the competition) and 4. Honorable Mention.

To my amazement and great pleasure, not to mention gratitude to those who voted for my little story, my entry Pigeons came first in Writer’s Choice. It would have been an honour to have appeared in any of the 4 choices but winning the Writer’s Choice is especially pleasing to me.

If you wish to read my entry, you will find it here, but I hope you will read all the others as well, irrespective of whether or not they won anything, because the standard of entry was very high, and making a choice proved very difficult.

Writing a non-trivial story in 500 words isn’t easy, though the 44 entered in the competition show that it is possible. I don’t plan when I write. I am no good at planning. When I write something, I think on paper. I start with the first word and see where it goes. Quite often the piece ends up quite different from how it started. I wrote Pigeons in the same way: I opened Word and started typing. I had an idea, of course, though I wasn’t sure how exactly it would come out. I wrote my first draft, being as brief as possible. “711 words,” said Word. This was bad news because everything was essential, every word and phrase.

I went through it, here rewriting a phrase, there deleting an adjective, over here excising a sentence that I would rather have kept. “648 words,” said Word.

“Curses!” I thought (or words to that effect), and applied the razor once more. “511 words,” said Word.

It felt like cutting my own throat but I took up the blade again and committed some more carnage. Surely it was now well within the limit. “499 words,” said Word. I wasn’t sure whether the title was included in the 500 words but if it was, there was room for a one-word title – Pigeons. Done it!

So, once again, thanks to Maht, aka The Moon Topples, for setting up and organizing the competition; thanks to those who submitted such a high quality set of entries; and (with a becoming blush of modesty) thanks to those who voted for Pigeons and made a Tiger purr!

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About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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6 Responses to Pigeons

  1. Simon says:

    Nice story. For some reason it made me feel quite calm. Strange as it involved death. Not too many adjectives too; adjectives can kill a good story.

  2. SilverTiger says:

    Glad you liked it.

    I agree about adjectives. Like all spices they should be used sparingly.

    One of the advantages of the 500-word format is that it discourages the inclusion of anything not strictly necessary!

  3. Moon Topples says:

    Congratulation on your win, SilverTiger. I’m trying to picture a blushing silver tiger, and the result keeps making me giggle.

    I liked this post about the process of getting from first word to final edit. 500 words is indeed a very difficult length in which to tell a story, and I expect there was much whittling among the other contestants as well.

  4. SilverTiger says:

    Thank you. Yes, a blushing Tiger is an odd sight.

    Actually, I think it was a very good exercise. I do tend to be more verbose than is necessary and if I tried to limit every post to 500 words I am sure many would thank me for it 😀

  5. Congratulations. I loved your story. It is hard to have an emotional impact in less than 500 words, but you managed it. Impressive.

  6. SilverTiger says:

    Thanks for your kind comments. Taking part was fun and this was first time I had won anything 🙂

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