NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge: Update


I’ve been meaning to update you all on my first round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Contest ever since we got the feedback back a few weeks ago. So here it is!

Some of you may have read my submission already. You can find it here, if you’re interested. I was really excited for my submission this time. I got a prompt that was right up my alley and I was quite happy with what I produced. So I had been awaiting the results of the first round with bated breath!

Unfortunately, the judges were not quite as enamored with my story as I was, haha. They actually prefaced this round with a note that competition was very stiff, and not to feel badly if we didn’t score as well as we’d like. That didn’t happen during any of the three rounds I participated in for the Flash Fiction contest, so I guess I’ll believe them.

Alas, I didn’t even place in the top ten for the first round! But all is not lost. The feedback was actually quite encouraging, and it gives me some direction for what to do with this piece before I start submitting it elsewhere.

Here is what the judges had to say:

Feedback for “Tongue Tied” by Sarah Jensen


{1737}  Your narrative was complex, but perfectly executed. Your ideas were dynamic, but comprehensible. Your narrative landscape was intriguing!

{1772}  Suki has a clear outer goal that she pursues over the course of the story. The premise is original and keeps the reader engaged.

{1636}  The severity of the stakes is never lost, and even before clear conflicts arise, the tones does a good amount of work in terms of demonstrating the nature of the story ahead.  The world-building is also impressively done, especially in the early pages.


{1737}  Try to maintain the clarity of some of your more thoughtful or intelligible ideas.

{1772}  Suki’s inner needs should be developed more. She has a clear outer goal to save her career and patients, but what about her inner drive? By giving her something to long for (for example, she needs to prove herself to the world) and an inner conflict to deal with (her desire to punish Meeker vs needing him), the story will make a greater impact on the reader.

{1636}  The dialogue can be a bit stilted at tomes, and at others, overly expositional.  Additionally, much of the language (dialogic or not) is so internal and specific to the world being created here that it might be off-putting to readers. An example: “You know Blastocorp produces only the highest quality pluripotent cells from synthetic lab-engineered blastocyst embryos.”

So, what do you think? If you haven’t read it yet, head over to my Flash Fiction Friday section and give “Tongue Tied” a read. Let me know if you agree or disagree with the judges, and if there is anything you would add! I will be submitting this piece somewhere, sometime before summer hits. All critique is welcome!

6 thoughts on “NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge: Update

  1. I think the judges largely got it about right, for me there were a couple of complex words I didn’t understand in the first paragraph, I agree you had some great ideas and they could have been used more and I was having to think about what was going on at times, especially when you were playing about with the names of the characters.

    Suki was great but I think Meeker could have been more evil or bad. That would have set up a more electric dynamic between them, it’s nearly there but Meeker caved in too easily and became passive. Suki I think needs more of a fight to overcome Meeker.

    As I said the idea in this is great, strikes at a fear in all of us about what playing with genetics could do us and it’s quite a grim thing to contemplate. Good story and I think this has legs for the future 🙂

    Good luck… I hope the notes were helpful 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback! This is helpful, yes. Your comments are very consistent with the feedback I got from one of my most trusted bets-readers. That definitely gives me a good sense of where I should take this. Now that I’m not confined to 2500 words, I have a bit more freedom to develop Meeker, and add some internal conflict for Suki. Thank you!

      1. It’s good to know that my feedback has taken you in a common direction. I look forward to reading the updated version 🙂

  2. The NYC Midnight competitions are cool. I’ve entered quite a few times over the last 8 years. I thought about entering the Flash Fiction competition that starts tonight (I think), but I didn’t. Enjoyed the post. Keep writing. God bless.

    1. Yes! They are fun. I’m doing the one that starts tonight as well, I’ll update once I get my assignment 🙂

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