Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.
I hope y’all are finding some warmth and comfort. Winter might not officially begin for a week or so, but judging by the cold, the frost, and the 4:30 p.m. sunsets, it’s here.
Find some warmth. Preferably by a fire, but take what you can get. It’s a great time to get caught up on your reading, and, if you’re feeling ambitious, your writing. (I’ve got about 40 writing projects I hope to work on this winter. We’ll see how that goes.)
A great warmup exercise for any writer, whether aspiring, inspired or dispirited, is to write something with a specific set of limitations, like a haiku, or, even better, write a 95-word short story.
And then, once you’ve written your perfect story, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Fiction 2020” before Jan. 15. All the incomparable glory of seeing your name in print in a local newspaper could be yours.
We’ve been hosting this microfiction contest for years, and it’s our second-most popular annual tradition. (Best of Northern Nevada, of course, is number-one.) Here’s the most important rule: the story must be exactly 95 words long. For other rules and guidelines, check out the promo on page 12 of this issue.
We like stories that have a beginning, a middle and an end. We also like stories with proper spelling and grammar. And, personally, I like stories with a little humor. Here’s a sample story I wrote after an uncomfortable nap over the weekend:
Lisa Lautner loved bananas. As a child, she loved bananas so much that her father called her “little monkey” and made silly monkey sounds.
As an adult, Lisa once dropped a peel on a hiking trail.
“Lisa, don’t litter!” her friend said. “Besides, isn’t tha t a safety hazard?”
“Ridiculous. Nobody slips on bananas. That only happens in cartoons.”
Lisa said this in front of her toddler, and later, when she inevitably slipped on a peel at the top of the stairs, as she tumbled, she could hear her father’s gentle mocking: “ooh, ooh, ah, ah!”