Competitions: NYC Midnight, Short Story Competition, Round 1

I’m over the moon to have been ranked 2nd in my heat with my story She Goes Down and I’m through to round two. The feedback from the judges was great and has definitely boosted my confidence during this difficult time in the novel-writing process.

My assignment was to write a short story, with max. 2,500 words, and it had to be a comedy, and incorporate the following:

Character Assignment: A martial artist

Subject Assignment: Prescription medication

I have to say, this was a tough one, but having a week to do it definitely helped. I couldn’t for the life of me find a way to incorporate the martial artist into the story. I went down many blind alleys with this one, until I realised that the martial artist didn’t have to be the main character in the story, so I made him the love interest, Josh. This freed me to create the young but cynical, acid-tongued Amy, who seeks out happiness in all the wrong places, and manages to alienate everyone she comes in contact with.

My novel is quite dark and certainly isn’t a comedy, so I found it hard to switch into comic mode, and I think this is a bit on the black side as a result, but that’s the way I tend to write comedy anyway. I find comedy really hard, incidentally. Magicking up laughs out of nowhere, I admire anyone that can do it with ease. I really do. It is a real gift.

Here is an excerpt from the first half of my story:

SHE GOES DOWN

Before long I sink into the sweet oblivion of sleep. I wake up twenty-four hours later to the sound of my phone alarm. The noise of it hacks through my dreams like an axe.

Work. I can’t afford to lose another job. My flatmate comes in to check on me.

‘It’s 7am’ she chirps, she’s smiling.

Smiling.

At 7am.

The woman is clearly a lunatic. I am living with a fucking lunatic.

I give her a baleful look. She walks away. She can’t afford for me to lose my job either. I’m already behind on rent. I get out of bed and survey the imprint of my face on the pillow and my fake tan on the bed. Like the Turin shroud only with a lot more sinning. The guy left his number.

Brad.

I go to the bathroom and face myself. My hair is a ball of black curls on my head, and is as fuzzy as my brain. There’s mascara all around my eyes from Saturday, and lipstick smeared across my face. I look like a homicidal clown. Brad must have zero standards to want to hear from me again. I won’t be calling him. I scrub myself clean, brush my teeth and go about trying to make myself look presentable. I pop various pills. One for the headache, one for the nausea, one for the fatigue and finally, and most importantly, two for the self-loathing. I get dressed, grab my handbag and get a coffee before taking the subway. By the time I reach the office the drugs have kicked in and I feel alive. I have my game face on. Operation ‘Get Naked with Josh’ is back on.

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CatherineEDay

My name is Catherine Day. After practising law for many years, I've decided to take the leap, leave law temporarily, and write the novel I've always wanted to write.

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