NYC Midnight Microfiction Contest, Story and Feedback

Two months ago, I entered a writing contest/challenge by NYC Midnight. I wrote three stories, and selected one to submit. My other two stories can be read here.

I finally got my judges’ feedback today.

Here’s the story:

The best way to ride a flying carpet was squatting– hands gripping the pile, ready to roll, duck, or lean at a moment’s notice. It was even truer now– now that everyone else had one, too. Ayad steered expertly through the mass of other riders, who stared after him in wonder at his maneuvering. He’d better enjoy it while he could, before the emir imposed restrictions. With this nettling thought, he lost his focus and rammed into a rooftop fruit stall. Splayed out on his back, he grinned up at the irate merchant. “A basket of apricots to go, please?”

Here’s the judges’ feedback:

 WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY – {1943}  Oh my gosh, this story made me chuckle out loud! This was a delightful, fun fairy tale. I loved the idea of the young man getting as much time on his magic carpet before the emir imposed restrictions on flying. This was too cute! The ending was so funny. I loved Ayad’s cheekiness asking for a basket of apricots to go. A wonderful story!   {2061}  I like the positive disposition Ayad has, despite falling into the fruit stand. I also think the idea of magic carpets becoming popular presents some interesting possibilities.  {1774}  What a fun premise. With that informative gripping and shifting, Ayad took the reader on a truly experiential carpet ride. How clever to imagine that mode of transportation becoming common.   WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – {1943}  I wonder if you could break your story up into shorter paragraphs. This would give you a chance to focus on important transitions. There are many ways you could break your story up, such as starting a new paragraph at “Ayad steered expertly” and again at “With this nettling thought”. It might be interesting to see how you can impact the pacing and flow of the story by breaking it up at different points.   {2061}  I’m not sure the central problem of this story is clear. Ayad falls, but he’s alright. If the entire story was about the fall, then the problem would be in that. But the story seems to be more about the entire city being changed by everyone having access: if that’s the case, then what is the main issue?  {1774}  You might consider offering the reader a destination for Ayad. Also, think about reworking this slightly (staying mindful of word count), perhaps infusing some sort of conflict to strengthen the story arc. The ‘lesson’ aspect of the carpet ride felt so original and fresh, but a chase or specific mission could add to the thrills.

And now, taking into account the feedback, here’s my re-worked story:

The best way to ride a flying carpet was squatting– hands gripping the pile, ready to roll, duck, or lean at a moment’s notice. Ayad steered expertly through the mass of other less-experienced riders, who watched his maneuvering with wonder. He’d better enjoy it while he could, before the emir imposed restrictions on the new pastime. 

“Hey!” An officer shouted after him, picking up speed. 

Ayad glanced back and lost his focus, ramming into a rooftop fruit stall. Splayed out on his back among the wreckage, he grinned up at the irate merchant. “A basket of apricots to go, please?”

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