Sign this contract and they could go home–no more shitty apartments.
Play the dutiful wife in public. The kids get the benefits of his position and wealth. She gets compensated for smiling through the insults.
Tears rolled down her cheeks. A cardboard life.
Hands shaking, she ripped it to shreds.
The Challenge That Spawned It
I’ve been watching and wanting to participate in Jayna’s fifty word challenges for ages, but I kept being too burned out to be inspired by the prompt or too busy to do anything about it. My life is finally offering much needed me time, so with copious encouragement from my favorite Zombie (AJ Savage), I did it. This week’s prompt is Tear–a word open to a lot of interpretation. I wanted two images off the prompt, even if the word itself wasn’t used. According to Goo Docs, I nailed 50 words.
A lot of people look at stories like this and think it has to be easy. But it isn’t. Especially if you want to offer complete story–including a character arc–and not just a snippet of a scene or a verbal image. My story started with an image glued in my head of a woman tearing a letter or document to shreds… so much anger.
I brainstormed with Zombie to nail a transitional moment in the arc. The first draft I have saved was 112 words. We stripped it bare and I was actually under 50 words. I let it sit overnight–a rest period is essential as it lets me look at my writing with fresher eyes, although ideally it would be left for a week.
I wasn’t confident with that draft the next morning, so I contacted a few people and asked for more feedback. Negativer kindly got back to me. He pointed out that something was missing. His suggestion wasn’t quite right for the vision I had for my characters, but his comment threw up a red flag for me and I put the story on hold another day.
Today I spread out more requests for help, and got support from Anike Kirsten, Constance Watson, and Jasmine Arch, along with more great feedback from the Zombie and his worms. The story you saw above was the result of all this work. I lost count of how many revisions we went through today. Swapping a word here and a word there. Trade this sentence for that idea. It was intense, exhausting, and absolutely glorious.
The lesson in this–if you need one–even tiny stories deserve to be made into the best version of themselves they can be. And if you start with too many words, don’t give up. Get out a machete and some solid writing mates and get to work.