In Challenge #2 of this year's NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge, I was assigned historical fiction as genre. I quite literally did a dance of joy. I LOVE historical fiction. Most of what I read is historical fiction. For the first time, a NYC Midnight contest assigned me a genre that I am intimately familiar with. Hallelujah! (As an aside, this was a one-off, rather than a trend. In Challenge #3, I was once again assigned an unfamiliar genre: comedy.)
The rest of my prompt--the location and object--were a labyrinth and a magnifying glass. I thought immediately of the labyrinths that exist in many English churches: mazes made of hedges or floor tiles that people walk as a form of meditation. I needed a reason for my character to walk such a labyrinth.
One of my favorite historical eras to read about is World War I. I know enough about the era and England's experience in the war that I could write a flash story without having to do too much research.
I went to bed that night with the premise set in my mind: a young woman awaiting word of her husband's fate on the battlefield. I didn't get much sleep. Every time I'd get close to sleep, my brain would jolt awake with another idea, another detail, for the story. Thank goodness I keep pad and pen next to my bed. By the time I gave up and got out of bed the next morning, I had three pages of notes.
It wasn't hard to take so many notes and craft them into a story. The hard part was finding the right details and then whittling the story down to the 1,000 word limit. A few darlings were sacrificed, the ending completely rewritten, and by draft 3, I had a story I liked and felt proud of. Off it went!
I've since gotten feedback on the story, and I do have revisions planned for the future (I.e., after I finally get a draft of my current novel-in-progress done). In the meantime, though, here's the story as it was submitted to the contest.
Click here to read "Meditation."