Monday, September 12, 2011

Oh Pup: A late writing challenge

The first challenge in the Writers' Platform Building Campaign rocked. Every entry I read hooked me and most left me wanting to turn the page.

The challenge: Write a short story/flash fiction in 200 words or less. Begin with "The door swung open ...." An optional challenge added using the words "the door swung shut" at the end. I think most people did this. An extra challenge — make it 200 words exactly.

The entries closed on Sept. 9, but the Linky List remains for all to see those who participated. When I wrote this post, there were 379 entries.

One night this week, I judged a few entries for the first round of the challenge. I panicked on the first three entries. The word count was too high, but the writers specifically noted their story contained 200 words. The Word Count Tool was offered as an easy way to verify the number, but I couldn't use it. Every entry was over the word count using this counter, so I relied on Word.

This made me wonder if my recent entry into the  Esquire and Aspen Writers' Foundation Short Short Fiction Contest was really 78 words.

Instead of losing sleep over something I could not change, I wrote a story. Then, I changed the story and wrote a second one a few days later.

The moral: I can change (revise) my story, but I can't change the word counting tools available through word processing software or an Internet based tool.

Here's my story. It's 200 words or at least that's what Word is telling me.

And, I believe my meter is off or at least that's what my ear is telling me.

Oh Pup

The door swung open
With a blast of cold air.
The rain followed to dampen
Baby’s rocking chair.

Mom tried to clean it up,
But couldn’t see without her glasses
As they were eaten by the new Pup,
Who will soon be in training classes.

Pup ran down the hall
Until he tumbled into Dad’s feet.
He turned to catch a ball,
And dropped it for a treat.

“No snacks for you,” Mom said.
She grabbed a towel
And snapped it at Pup’s head,
Which caused him to howl.

The treat was for Baby,
Who crawled into Mom’s lap
Where he sat and said “Maybe.”
Which made Mom clap.

Dad looked in disbelief           
As Baby said his first word.
Mom yelled “Good grief!”
As Pup tried to catch the Bird.

“Can’t get me,” Bird shrieked.
Pup hit the metal with a paw.
The cage fell and Mom freaked.
Bird clutched to Dad’s head with a claw.

Dad yelped in pain.
Baby crawled to a chair.
Mom chased Pup in vain.
Bird flew up in the air.

Mom asked for a truce.
Dad called Pup a mutt.
Baby waved at Bird on the loose.
Pup escaped as the door swung shut.


  1. Stacy - this is WONDERFUL! You managed to get a fun and complete story out of those two sentences. Great job! Fantastic! Love it!

    P.S. I have a blog award for you over on my blog.

  2. Hi Stacy, Love your fun story! Nicely done :)

  3. How fun was this, Stacy, to read your entry!
    And this post was also a little perturbing to discover not all word counters are alike . . . hhhhmmm. What's that about?

  4. What a great job! Loved what you did with two sentences -- very creative.

    I was stumped by the word count. My Word count showed my story was precisely 200 words. When I entered it into the post, I came up a word short. So I added a word. Glad to know you and I hope others realized the counts were different.

    Patricia T.

  5. Great job, Stacy! Sounds like you're having fun with the challenges.


  6. Thanks everyone for the kind words. I'm in the Black Hills with limited service. No word counts here, but lots of fun story ideas and photos.

  7. Very cute! And as I just spent the last hour chasing my dog through the neighborhood, I get it. Ugh.

  8. As the owner of a very misbehaved dog, I loved this! I never once wondered whether a word counter could be wrong. Something else to lose sleep over...

  9. I adore poetry and misbehaving dogs. I have one! I thought this was cleverly done, Stacy!

  10. Fun and full of chaos! I'm glad you did this anyway! Made me think of Hey Diddle Diddle.


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