I used to belong to another site that ran competitions to write very short pieces (usually under 200 words) on a given topics. They would then choose some winners and some people would congratulate you and some people would say you didn't deserve it, and the world would keep turning.
I always thought these were really interesting and challenging ways to push my writing. I'm deleting that account (wattpad is the superior site), but I don't want to lose the things I wrote so I'm moving them here for your reading pleasure.
The Memory Challenge
Write a short scene where an object evokes a strong memory for a character.
Drowning In It
The sun was hot. Like melt you into the sidewalk hot. She jammed her fingers into the pockets of her inappropriately heavy jeans, searching for an elastic to pull her hair away from her neck. In the bottom of her back pocket, her fingers brushed against a hard, irregular shaped object. Pulling it from her pocket, she looked at the small anchor hanging from a strand of leather.
Her fingers brush against the smooth bone surface. She remembered standing, searching through the layers of necklaces hanging in a tiny kiosk at a music festival. She and her best friend were so excited when they found matching ones. Bouncing up and down as they bought them and swore they would always wear them. Best friends since they were six, and now, here they were, standing on opposites sides of the field. Never looking at each other. Never speaking. Not since that stupid party.
The "Dear John" E-Mail Challenge
Write a fictional breakup e-mail to either a male or a female.
To You, From Me
So, I guess this is where we end. Without ever yelling or crying or fighting. I almost wish we had . At least then I'd know that there was some small shred of feeling left between us. But instead, I sit here in front of my computer, with you sitting on the other side of the room, and I type. I can't even be bothered to expend the energy or sentiment it would take to write this by hand.
I remember what we used to be like. How being around you made my face hurt from smiling. The electric tingle that shot through my skin at every touch. How cute I thought it was when you tried to use big words to impress me, even when you got them wrong. I wish I could figure out when that all started to change.
Now we sit in the same room every evening, on our respective computers or phones or whatever. I've written and rewritten this entire letter without either of us saying a single word to one another. So this is the last you'll hear from me. I hope you read this, otherwise, you may not even notice I'm gone.
The "Cheating" Challenge
Write a short scene in which a character "cheats."
Whatever It Takes
Taking a deep breath, she closes her eyes and slowly releases the tension in her shoulders. Cheers erupt from the stands as her name sounds over the loud speaker. Her thumb absentmindedly rubs against the pinprick scar on the inside of her elbow. The memory of the thin steel sleeve breaking through the tender skin makes her shiver. She shakes off the nerves, refusing to believe that she’s done anything wrong. Stepping forward, she waves towards the sea of anonymous faces counting on her to bring home a medal.
How dare they have such high expectations. If they only knew how hard they make things. But how could they? They’ve never felt pressure like this before. Never had to feel the weight of a nation pressing down on their tiny, muscular shoulders. Fingers sink into the comfort of heavy white chalk. A mushroom cloud engulfs her with a loud clap. Another deep breath and she reaches for the lowest bar. As her feet leave the ground, she tells herself this isn’t cheating. This is winning.
The Travel Scene Challenge
Write a short scene (max. 200 words) that includes a character traveling somewhere.
The gentle sway beneath my feet causes my eyes to flicker, losing the battle with sleep. Then the floor jerks. I stumble backwards slightly, mumbling a generic apology to the air. Earbuds drown out my words.
Blinking heavily, my eyes wander over the identical glazed looks of my fellow commuters. The coffee of the woman beside me travels precariously close to the tips of her fingers as her head bobs. The train jerks to a stop. Her fingers tighten around the thick paper.
The doors slide open with a rush. Warm air drags the scent of dirt, sweat, and urine from the beaten old carpet of the train floor. Students with backpacks the size of small countries load in, mindlessly swinging into passengers.
My stop, finally. I squeeze my way through the throng of people crowding the door. Birthing myself onto the platform. I’ve made this journey hundreds of times before. And will make it thousands of times again. I remember being in school, wishing to be done. But now public transit has replaced the school bus, and every morning is exactly the same as it was. I sigh, stepping into the flow of pedestrian traffic, just another day in the life of a worker drone.
Girl Meets Boy - Contest Submission
Take a scene written from the male perspective and re-write it from the female perspective
I can feel the eyes on me, knowing who it is without turning around. I’ve caught him looking at me several times over the last week. Glancing over my shoulder, I see him, paused in the middle of the busy hallway, watching me. Enough is enough. What does he want?
“You look pretty happy today.” These aren’t the words I was planning to say.
“I am.” He replies, just I see Marisa push passed us on her way to class. “It’s a pretty good day…”His voice becomes background noise as my eyes follow my former best friend down the hall. Hurrying away like I don’t exist. Like there was anyway she didn't see me standing there. My stomach clenches, hoping that she’ll look back. Hoping for some sign that our friendship isn’t totally destroyed. My face falls when there's nothing. “Focus, Raffina. Focus.” I shake myself, realizing that the boy is still standing there.
“Wanna go out?” His voice is gentle but engaging. There’s something about the way he’s looking at me. Like I’m the only girl in the entire school. The entire world. For a second, it feels like I am.
“Sure.” I feel my lip twitch up into my first genuine smile in days. It wasn’t like I had anything better to do, and he was sweet, in a nervous kind of way.
“I mean like on… like on a date type thing?” He chews the corner of his lip as he glances from me to the ground and back again.
Warmth bubbles up inside me and forces a giant grin across my face. “Yeah, I got that.” He’s delightful. How could I say no? I watch his eyes glaze as his thoughts drift and I’m struck by the knowledge that this is a life changing moment.