It sounds easy—just 101 little words. Simple, right? But now paint a complete and compelling story with those measly 101 words, giving characters depth while drawing readers into your literary world. Not so easy, is it?
Therein lies the challenge and brilliance of the annual Boise Weekly Fiction 101 Contest. Writers must discard their tricks and strip down to raw ability. The winners of the 11th annual contest proved up to the challenge, rising to the top of the more than 100 entries and again showing the depth of talent in the valley.
Now, it's time to appreciate their skill.
Cort Conley: Director of Literature at the Idaho Commission on the Arts
Laura DeLaney: Owner of Rediscovered Bookshop
Alan Heathcock: Professor of English at Boise State University and award-winning author of Volt
Clay Morgan: Adjunct professor of English at Boise State University, author and former Idaho Writer in Residence
Jocelyn Robertson: Director of marketing at The Cabin who helped edit the organization's new anthology of Idaho writers, Rooms: Writers in the Attic
First Place, $400
Dustin Aunan, Boise
For his birthday I sent Genghis Khan my copy of Leaves of Grass. I left the handful of dog-ears folded.
He wrote back, "Wow! What a shot in the arm! My fires had indeed been smouldering. I'll write again soon. All my love, GK"
Some years later, I get a postcard: "Aloha from the Caspian! I'm about to take a dip, couldn't help but think of you. Hope you're well. Ever vigilant, GK"
One step at a time, I suppose. I just hope he one day gets to catch a glimpse of his soul reflected in a well-tended bed of azaleas.
Second Place, $250
Dene Breakfield, Boise
Ted's right leg was numb by the time they landed at O'Hare. He stumbled out of his loafer and caught himself on the luggage carousel's rim; his whole right side began to buzz.
Ted's wife thrust his shoe at him. "Straighten up, people are staring." Her voice sounded like a dog barking underwater.
He slapped his thigh with his good hand to try and get feeling back. When he did, a million atoms broke loose and floated away. He freed a million more with every blow to his body. Ted felt infinite. He struck with a white-knuckled fist, hell-bent on salvation.
Third Place, $150
Sarah Masterson, Boise
There was no report of a struggle, just a shadow at the bottom of the deep end. Nick unbuttoned his work shirt and unclipped the ring of keys that hung on his belt before wading into the warmth. The last of the swimmers had already climbed out, fat and dripping, Now they stood along the edge like steaming loaves of bread.
Nick put in his notice shortly after. Workers were busy preparing for a ball that evening, and he watched as they fitted the last wooden sections of a dance floor across the length of the pool. The water still simmering.