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Photo from the 420 Characters Page on Facebook

Lou Beach poured over entries for a contest where folks submitted their 420 character stories, vying for one of three copies of his new book, 420 Characters, to be given away as prizes. I wanted a copy of his book to hold in my hands and linger over like poetry — I so love the way he writes and has mastered putting so much into just 420 characters and spaces. The winners were wonderful. I see why neither of mine was among them. His book is still on my list for some far away later, though I do harbor dreams that later could turn out to be sooner.

I’ve decided to share the two entries I submitted to the contest, here with my friends, as I fight my desire to remain in retreat. I tried to write more of these for the contest to increase my odds (as others who entered did) but I found myself unable to find much freedom in even fewer words than I’m used to, at least without prompts. I know I could learn to find that freedom, but I’ve concentrated my work efforts in trying to master one hundred words. My mind doesn’t seem to have the space for trying harder in a newer, or older, more constricting form. Not yet. Or maybe I just didn’t wrap myself around the concept completely. So much to learn in what feels increasingly like so little time. Dot, dot, dot.


These were my entries:


Fleeing along the trace, I feared falling. He knew, gripping my hand as if dragging me over rocks or to hell, would be better than losing me to law that says lovers who steal should touch only through words murmured into rancid phones. I felt his heart explode, raining past me in pieces, like bullets, when he was caught. I wear the ring he gave but not when I visit, bearing perfumed wipes, willing scent through wire.


His name escapes me while fog swirls and memory, even of self, continues to fade. Are we all affected? Faces nearby shadow like mine. Farther away, blankness still evident in gaits leading nowhere, the eddy swallows them at the edges. He calls me something I don’t recognize before his words falter and spin out. Leaning into his chest, I wonder why. I remember light and keep to his warmth, preferring to be lost there.


Here’s a link to the winners.


20 thoughts on “Contests

  1. I think these are amazing. I’ll check out the winners later, but I just wanted to say that I admire you for taking so many chances and entering contests. I’ve entered a few, and each time I lose I hide further behind my excuses. That has to stop. I want to follow in your footsteps.

    • Thanks, Lisa. Entering these things can be brutal but if I want the prize, I sometimes give it try. I’m also doing it less and less so I understand how you feel but I want to stop feeling that way, too.

  2. Such care in your writing, such humanity. I sense that, perhaps, to break even the 100 chains occasionally might bring its own special reward. Each little tale you tell, though the theme might be huge, the train of thought is nevertheless curtailed by a full stop. With less restriction ideas may live of their own and develop wings.

    A full stop implies nothing more can be done or thought or struggled with. A comma implies there is so much more, it could be anything . . . I do love your 100 words, so very much so creating longer pieces, I hope, would be not for ever, just now and then . . .

    Peace and love,


    • You keep me wanting to learn so much more, RR — learning to, learning not to. Thanks for returning here often. I’m so grateful to know how you feel about my little stories.

      My hope is to have time to expand on some idea while using skills I’ve picked up, and let it be just as long as it needs to be without worrying that time’s being wasted. That thought generates a little light at the end of my tunnel.

  3. Hi Sparks,

    I’m going to spank you lol. What do you mean you see why you didn’t win? I don’t.

    Of the winners, I liked the first two entries. The third left me completely clueless to be quite frank. The second was downright beautiful and it is to that same ethereal, beautifully flowing “category” that your stories belong. I dig them both and all I can say is that likes are subjective, maybe he was a little off :). You, woman, are on YOUR GAME.

    P.S. – When stumped, try writing your own free association prompts, listen to a song, or browse artwork of your favs, and culling other Word 100 sites for inspiration.

    • Thanks for the kind words of support, Coco. ❤

      Sometimes I do get inspiration from other art forms. Other times my mind goes into teen-age mode and fights me all the way. Lately I've been throwing germs of ideas against the wall and waiting for one to stick. I hadn't thought to look up 'prompts' specifically. I'll look into that. Thanks.

  4. You’re so much braver than I am: you actually sent in your entries, while mine languish on my phone (typing them on the train, the length of about 2.5 texts). I love the 420-character idea, the tiny distilled-ness of it. Glad to find someone else taking the challenge!

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