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Home / Blogs / Canvassed
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Monday, Nov 14, 2011 - Canvassed | Art & culture

Cautionary tales: Failing Fiction 101 by a word

Two of our favorite entries that were disqualified on technicalities

By Dave Maass
pigeon
- Credit: Dr Neil Clifton, Wikimedia Commons

The rules of CityBeat's Fiction 101 contest are pretty simple: It's gotta be no more than 101 words long, not including the title. We count particles and numbers, and a hyphenated word counts as two words if the two parts can work independently. 

Nevertheless, some people overshoot their word count and their stories get dumped. Often it's just a simple mistake. In The Pigeon Lady below, one of our favorites, "every day" was accidentally spelled "everyday" and once we split it, the word count jumped 102. In the second entry below, the writer counted "4-inch" as one word, when "four-inch" to us is two words. 

Yet, we liked these two so much that we're going to go ahead and publish them as cautionary tales: 

The Pigeon Lady

She is withered. Every day she feeds the pigeons from her atrophied hands, watching with eyes as hooked as her nose. Every day visitors see her, sitting in her black dress, with a brown paper bag, tossing small handfuls of seed. Photographed, talked about, remembered. A grandmother icon. The tale most told. 

None remembers the old man gripping his chest at this spot. They do not remember his pain, or her traitorous body unable to stoop, or help. Or the pigeons shating on his chest and in his eyes as he died. She remembers.

Eat your poison birds, eat and die gasping.
 
Glenn Hefleynn

***

Is Your Libido a Mosquito?"

The four-inch square advertisement mocked me from the redlight section of The Stranger, Seattle’s weekly free radical newspaper. I wasn’t sure when the breast augmentation section spilled over into the male escort section but here I was anyway. 

Find your Inner Sasquatch,” it said. Inner Sasquatch? Why would I want to find my Inner Sasquatch? My eyes rolled past pitches for electrolysis and the patches of coarse fur at my shoulders itched beneath my brown flannel woodsman’s shirt. 

I flipped back a few pages to the feminine enhancement section. 

What in the name of Odin’s Mighty Forearm is Vaginal Rejuvenation Surgery

Brian White
 
 
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