The Story Behind the Story: A Friend in Need

NYC Midnight strikes again! This month's story, "A Friend in Need," comes from my first round assignment in NYC Midnight's 2014 Flash Fiction Challenge. For the second year in a row, my first round prompt was to write a romance. (I think it's a conspiracy.) This one had to be set in an emergency room and involve a mop.

I struggled mightily to get out a draft. Even as I typed, I knew what I was writing was crap. But I submitted it anyway. Then I brought the story to my writer's group, told them I hated it, and asked for ways to fix it.

The group--and the NYC Midnight judges--pointed out that the sensory details I had included were all visual, all about color. All that color distracted from the narrative. I needed to add other senses into the narrative, especially sound and smell, for balance and realism.

The group also pointed out errors in E.R. procedure and policy in that first draft, such as Anna's memory test Anna and Jake being allowed to accompany Anna into the exam room. In my revisions, I fixed the memory test but still allowed Jake to accompany Anna, even though that wouldn't be permitted in a real hospital. Call it artistic license.

I made other changes, too, based on their feedback and the feedback from the judges. It's not the best story I've ever written, but it's much improved now compared to that first draft.


Click here to read "A Friend in Need."