NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2018

Hi writers! Last weekend I participated in the first round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. Contestants in each round are assigned a genre, character, and subject and asked to write a very short story (1000 words or less) in just 48 hours. See my earlier post about the screenwriting challenge for more information about why I like NYC Midnight challenges.

You can read my Round 1 flash fiction piece, Juror Number Twelve, here. My assignment was horror, a jury room, and a hard-boiled egg.

NYC Midnight Screenwriting Challenge [updated]

The results are in for Round 1 of the 15th Annual NYC Midnight Screenwriting Challenge! The top five entries in each heat made it on to Round 2, then the top five from that will go on to Round 3. In each round, heats are given genre, character, and subject assignments. In Round 1 you have 8 days to write a 12-page screenplay, in Round 2 you have 3 days to write a 5-page screenplay, and in Round 3 you have 24 hours to write a 5-page screenplay.

I was first honorable mention in my heat (R1, H28) which I think makes me number 6 out of 29. I’m a little bummed out to get so close and not make it on to the next round but still pretty encouraged given that this was the first writing competition I’ve ever entered and the first screenplay I’ve ever tried to write.

I’m looking forward to entering more NYC Midnight contests in the future!

Want to read my very short Round 1 screenplay? It’s called Let ‘Em Lie Where They Fall. My assignment was suspense, a government employee, and something nocturnal.


NYC Midnight writing contests are fee-for-entry contests, usually $45 for early-bird and $55 for regular sign ups. From my limited experience this is money well spent. These are well-organized competitions with serious judges. You get access to a forum where you can post your piece to receive feedback from other contestants and you get personalized feedback from the judges. Curious what that looks like? I was too. Here is the feedback I received on my short screenplay. Although I wonder how I could have fixed some of this in the tight page limitations, I agree with all of the criticisms and think they will definitely help me if I try my hand at this again.

BTW, the deadline for the next contest (flash fiction) is July 12.

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NYC Midnight Screenwriting Contest – Judges’ Feedback for ‘Let ‘Em Lie Where They Fall” by Dawn Goulet

WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR SCREENPLAY – {1772}  The screenplay does an excellent job of using setting and character to create suspense and anxiety in the reader. Every character has a unique and authentic voice.  {1897}  I loved that the setting was Alaska, unique and also liked the inclusion of local native customs like totems and the stories behind them.  {1758}  This is an engaging and intriguing suspense script. I liked the way you wove in the background on the totem poles and then used one as a central element in the climax. Jake is a somewhat flawed character, which makes him more interesting. While seeming not to be cut out for his ranger role, he redeems himself in the end.

WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – {1772}  There could be more conflict for Jake, and this might come down to developing his character more. What are Jake’s needs? What has drawn him to this isolated place? Is he hiding from something? What makes him want to follow up on the murder? Perhaps, he thinks that Merle is actually the killer and pursues this (Merle could be an excellent red herring to throw the audience off). This might bring more trouble and danger for Jake, thus creating some outer conflict. Meade, too, should have more of a presence in the screenplay, so that the audience has more to grapple with when it is revealed that she is the killer.  {1897}  really liked this story yet I wanted Jake to actually catch the killer. I understand that “nature” is a character in the story but I think it’s the scene of a weaker nature structure when a story relies on Dios Ex Machina, in this case, a lighting bolt saves the day by stopping the killer.

One smaller thing about formatting, I wondered if there need to be some location changes in the bus sequence when Jake enters. Does he get on the bus? Or does this conversation happen when they all get off the bus? This is an easy often fix using INT. BUS or EXT. BUS, depending on where they all start talking.  {1758}  A large part of the writing process involves editing and revising your work, and the following comments are suggestions for improving your script in future rewrites.

An issue that I had with the script revolves around plot exposition. There are several places where it feels very forced and obvious. Merle’s dialogue in the beginning is one instance. He tells a very detailed, personal story to two complete strangers. It sets up the plot, but it doesn’t come across as a very natural exchange. Another problem spot is when Jake explains to Officer Davis why he didn’t call the police after hearing a woman screaming. Way too much real estate is used explaining something that could have been done in a single line: Jake: I thought it was a fox.