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Could You Do It In 500?


Can you do it in 500? Some people could never do it, regardless of how many they're given. Michael Goodwin, author of The Badass Geek, thinks you can and I'm willing to give you a chance.

What are we talking about? Goodwin says it best,

“Fiction 500 is an on-going short fiction project, created in 2008. The project is based upon a simple idea: write a fictional story using no more 500 words…Telling a story in just 500 words forces the writer to get to the point and decide what the most important things to say are, and what parts of the story can be left up to the reader to come up with on their own.”

(read more about Goodwin's blog idea and post your own short story on his site at: http://fiction500.blogspot.com/

While I'm hoping Michael shows up to tell us how he came up with his terrific creative idea, you better start composing your 500 word short story.

Yeah, we're having a contest! The three judges are as follows:

Tena Santaularia - Special Event Decorator and Balloon Artist (see: www.balloonarts.biz)

Lori Schutter - Gift Processing Associate at KU Endowment Association

RoeDapple - famous blogger and generally nice person; although he is notorious!

Please mail your 500 word short story to me: ronda@sunflower.com no later than February 16th (you've got one week). You may each submit up to two stories. I will then remove your name and assign a number to protect your identity before forwarding them along to our three judges. The winner will have their story placed in my online blog, along with a brief interview about them and their process, on February 23rd.

Have fun, keep them 'relatively' clean, and feel free to ask questions as you go. (what the judges don't know, is if they are able to pick which story is mine from the group they will also win a prize!) Stories will be judged on concise and precise writing, word count (exactly 500 words), creativity and compelling concept.

Coming in March: Memoir Madness - for those of us who don't give a hoop about basketball!


Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago

so its the opposite (in a way) from the nanowrimo contest! sounds fun!

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago

" RoedApple - infamous blogger and generally nice person "

LOL so roe's name is associated w/ infamy?

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Yep, that be our cuzin Roe! Yes, I thought of that nanowrimo contest - not quite the opposite, but much shorter! I do expect you to submit! ;)

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago

oh, you know this, ronda! i will be there. i'm already thinking of stuff to write about!

what is the prize? a footlong yello sub? drooling

badassgeek 8 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the mention!

As for how I came up with the idea, well... I started doing it as an exercise for myself to help learn how to be clear and concise when writing, to get to the point and focus primarily on the issue at hand: the story itself. It developed into something more over time, and then I decided to share the opportunity with others. So far it has been well received!

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago


Main Entry: in·fa·mous Pronunciation: ˈin-fə-məs Function: adjective Etymology: Middle English, from Latin infamis, from in- + fama fame Date: 14th century

1 : having a reputation of the worst kind : notoriously evil 2 : causing or bringing infamy : disgraceful 3 : convicted of an offense bringing infamy — in·fa·mous·ly adverb

Let's see.... Examples;

  1. Stalin
  2. Hitler
  3. Napoleon

hmmm..... Closer to home...

  1. John Wilkes Boothe
  2. Lee Harvey Oswald
  3. Ted Bundy

uhhh... Even closer to home...

  1. John Brown
  2. Mark Mangino
  3. Marion Lynn

OKAY!! Glad to help!

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

badass, will you be entering the contest or do you want to be one of the judges? It is only fair to include you in whatever means you prefer. I appreciate that you allowed me to do a blog about your wonderful concept.

btw, where do live? I noticed you have several people on your site - do they usually contribute more than one story once they've been on?

honeychild, I knew you would! Remember, you can enter two stories!

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

haha, who do you feel the most 'akin' to, cuzin? Somehow Mark Mangino may not like to be associated with the rest of you!

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Okay, I didn't want you to be associated with multi or marion, so I changed it to famous, but notorious none the less! ;) Besides, we already have one badass on site. And there is the fact that I want you to remain a judge. And I do want a shot at winning the contest myself. Okay, enough!

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

Okay, how about this guy, and not the one whose name is Gacy...

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

I love it! You're looking a little wrinkled and crinkled though. And may I call you John? And is there anything anyone could do to make you back down? Are you carrying?

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

I don't know, I kinda liked "infamous"


RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

Mild typo up there, hope you meant mangino, not multi...

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

I meant both of them, but only in the most fond of ways.

So are you asking me to change it back? To infamous that is?

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 4 months ago


Even closer to home…

  1. John Brown
  2. Mark Mangino
  3. Marion Lynn

john brown is a hero in my book-- why lump him in w/ marion?? lol

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

From my bio...

"Only The Shadow Knows..."

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

wel thanx ther cuz yuo alreddy ganeing pointz

schula 8 years, 4 months ago

Hey Ronda -- sounds like a great concept. I am not much of a writer but I bet I can write a story in 500 words. I may give it a shot.

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

schula, I will look with interest to anything you write. Sometimes it is easier to start small - other times it can be more difficult. Think beginning (state something essential to the story in that opening word/sentence), middle (conflict comes to a high point) end (resolution - character changes are obvious. Just a few guidelines to follow. Cohesion and clarity are the key. I suggest going to Goodwin's site to check out some of the stories there. It can be done!

autie, it is always good to see another cuzin commin on board. Getout yur dictary as Roe be a harsh criticer!

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Mr. Ret - stretch your limit. It will please Mrs. Ret greatly.

BMI 8 years, 4 months ago

As I understand this, you are using an outside email address and use this paragraph: The winner will have their story placed in my online blog, along with a brief interview about them and their process, on February 23rd.

Why not use the LJW private message system, and why the odd phrasing? I wonder that this blog you will be posting these on is not affiliated with LJW, is that why you are not using the pm system, yet you can't come right out and use the name of the other place. Should the readers know just what they are sending their entries into a bit more clearly? Will these stories be posted on your LJW blog "At Random", where this is? Or some other internet site? And will you be compensated for that blog?

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Good questions My apologies for any confusion.

The winning story/stories will be posted in my at random blog. I receive no compensation for writing blogs.

There will be prizes for the winning story - as yet to be fully determined. Nothing too huge: certificate to a used book store and dinner at a local cafe.

You may send your story via the Ljworld site if you prefer. It doesn't matter to me. I'm fine with your name being kept confidential if that's your question.

If you win, I'd need a means of getting your prizes to you. I hope you'll enter and good luck!

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

Ronda, I've been asked if multiple entries can be made by one person...

Also, I have an entry, not to be judged of course, but just for the fun of it. Do I post it here, or elsewhere?

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

Okay, reread your blog, sending it your way!

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Rules above state each person may submit two stories. They must be sent to me via the Ljworld site or to Ronda@sunflower.com

Absolutely post your shortie here! If you want it considered by the other two judges, just send to me; I'll assign a number and we'll submit to them without a name. Wait a minute, you already are a mystery! Wow, a real, unreal, mystery writer! Cool!

Does everyone love a contest or does it have something to do with the weather?

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

Okay, I'll post it here also, as an example (Good or Bad)!

A Day In The Life by RoeDapple

Waking suddenly, I knew this was going to be a day different from all others. With a memory for numbers but little else, the fact I was thinking in strings of numbers as I awoke still seemed a little odd. Even stranger, the numbers seemed to represent a sort of code, something implanted for a reason, as though I had a mission to discover their true meaning, and time was against me. But, why me? Who am I that a message of such importance would be cast upon me? Important, you ask? Of course! How could it not be? Delivered to me in my sleep, in the universal language of numerology, a message that crosses all barriers of the spoken or written word of man, maybe the universe, maybe even the Gods themselves! I considered not even going to work this morning, but payday is a hard day to miss. So, donning my work clothes, I started walking the seventeen blocks to the ‘WeScrubbEm.com’ car wash, my employer since getting out of jail two years ago for that little incident down behind the T.G.& Y. (I still maintain my innocence, I was framed!) Besides, I needed time to think if it was going to be up to me to solve this riddle, save the planet or whatever these numbers rolling around inside my head were supposed to represent… Well, the first four hours at the car wash were uneventful, so I was applying as much of my numerical expertise as time would allow to solving this riddle. At noon I stepped into the office and told JoAnn, the secretary, that I was taking a quick lunch break. She okayed it, but said the boss had noticed I wasn’t putting much interest in my work today, is there a problem? I said no, I’ll remain focused the rest of the day, he can count on it. With that she handed me my paycheck, saying she was leaving early. .Okay, I got a little pre-occupied the rest of the afternoon, worrying about keeping my paycheck dry and saving the world, when Judge Dillroy pulled in, driving that big old Cadillac DeVille that I know was paid for at least partially with fines he has levied against me over the years. Now I’m pretty much a forgiving sort of fella, but as I was wiping down the seats and dash of that old Caddy, I couldn’t help but leave him a little gift on the back of his steering wheel, delivered straight from my right nostril. As I was climbing out of his car, the radio announcer was saying the Lottery Millions game was up to 277 million dollars! I took that as a sign from the heavens, clocked out and took my paycheck down to the ShopSmart I cashed it and bought as many combinations of my mystery numbers as I could! Tomorrow you are gonna be looking at a “Rich Man”! Uh, if tomorrow comes….

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

Bet you thought I would give you the numbers!....

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

To all who are thinking of entering: Good or bad, it took me about 2 hours to write that story, making it up as I went along. When finished I had 597 words. I went back through it, editing out unnecessary details, finishing with 499 words.

You can do it!

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

schula, As original as I thought I was keeping it, I found myself humming this song after posting it....

Jim Croce - "Workin' At The Car Wash Blues"

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Roe, I hate to disqualify you because it has to be 500 words exactly! And to think you're gonna be a judge! Scary!

Loved the story, but I wanted much, much more. Think you can get a series of 'booklets' published?

Now, do we call you Jim or John or maybe just cuzin, Jimmy John Wayne!

Hopefully you'll keep them coming.

We've got a few entries coming in. Very diverse stories.

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

Okay, after the title was changed it came to 501! Damn, where did you dig up this judge?!

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

Now the final version has "Uh" deleted from last sentence!

RoeDapple 8 years, 4 months ago

I read a lot (Where does he find the time, he's always online?), and after looking it over again it reminds me of Dean Kuntz' "Odd Thomas" series. I could never publish! too many things influence me!


jonas_opines 8 years, 4 months ago

500? Hell, I can do it in 10!

We lust for each other. We are stupid and die.

That's Romeo and Juliet.

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Jonas, that pretty much says it all! Good one! Many people lead their lives just as you described. I mean, what does it mean? This romance, this life, this brief coming together of two people who ignite and die. Is it in the coming together, the knowledge 'carnal or otherwise', the mating, the separating.

I was just sharing with someone recently that a favorite high school English teacher gave this topic to his students.


Word spread quickly throughout the school that one young man had written his paper in one word....


He was looked on as a genius from then on. :) I believe he's a mortician these days. Maybe his occupation shows his complete understanding of why. Why indeed........

Roe, stop your whining. You are one of the best writers I've ever had a chance to know on a personal basis - you need to keep reading whomever influences you and get your work published so he/she can read you too!

Waiting for your next story.......btw

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

And those of you who are planning on submitting - kick it up a notch. I've received some stellar pieces or work. Absolutely this will be a difficult decision for the judges. (poor humble beings)

Apple, baby, did I thank you for telling me about Michael's blog? Thank you! I am waiting for you to submit as well!

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Michael Goodwin, creator of Fiction 500 will join our group of judges. The three judges listed above will narrow the field and then Mr. Goodwin will choose the winning stories from that group.

A list of prizes and an update blog will be posted soon. At present we have a wide selection of shorties, from comedy to sci fi to drama.

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

Hey, Paul! I can hardly wait to read yours. Do you read or write science fiction? Stero typing, I know.

Paul Decelles 8 years, 4 months ago

Actually my main writing is poetry. I do read lots of science fiction but have never been motivated to try writing it.

Ronda Miller 8 years, 4 months ago

We'd be happy to allow you the opportunity of entering 500 words of poetry.

It never fails to amaze me how many people do enjoy writing it ( poetry).

We'll see if your scientific approach comes through strongly enough that the judges can identify you. I've been surprised what's showing up - one from a close friend and I'd never have guessed.

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