Still time for 95-words

Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.

D. Brian Burghart and I are going to alternate writing this weekly editor's note column. Last week, he announced that we're now accepting submissions for our annual 95-word fiction contest. He wrote a sample story last week, but I wanted a crack at it this year as well, so here's my offering:

Matt woke up early. He made coffee and sat down at the computer. He wrote his name, his professor’s name and the date. He hit save. Then he got up, took a shower, made breakfast, cleaned the dishes. Then he cleaned the bathroom. He called his grandmother, thanking her for the birthday present. He made lunch. He read the Wikipedia page for the Batman villain Killer Croc. He made dinner, did dishes. He emailed his professor, “I had a family emergency, spent all day on the phone with my grandmother. Can I get an extension?”

These 95 word stories are fun writing exercises. It's kind of like writing a haiku, because you have to fit an idea into a really small space. It's a good practice for any kind of writer at any level of experience. My advice is to write it long and then trim down. (My first draft of the story above was about 250 words long.)

The stories should be exactly 95 words as counted by LibreOffice, Google Docs or Microsoft Word. Titles are excluded from word count. We'll publish our favorite stories. Email entries to renofiction@newsreview.com. Send the stories in the body of the emails, write “Fiction 2015” in the subject line, and be sure to include your name, email and phone number. (We'll remove the names before judging the stories.)

If you want to read more examples or just size up the competition, you can find last year's winners here: www.newsreview.com/reno/biggest-little-stories/content?oid=15843656.

But hurry! Submissions must be received by 9 a.m. on Dec. 16. So you might need to leave the dishes undone.