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Why the Microfiction Challenge is My Favorite Challenge

And How It Helps Me as a Writer

By Stephanie HoogstadPublished 5 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - May 2023
Why the Microfiction Challenge is My Favorite Challenge
Photo by Alysha Rosly on Unsplash

Since joining Vocal in January 2022, I’ve entered many challenges. I even won runner-up in the “After the Parade” challenge. Each challenge has had its merits. The timing of “After the Parade” complemented my coming out as omnisexual, “The Fantasy Prologue” gave me an excuse to write in my favorite genre, and “Christopher Paolini’s Fantasy Fiction” had the best prize I’ve seen so far. Others, such as “The Mystery Box,” “The Runaway Train,” and “Under Purple Clouds” have allowed me to experiment with style, genre, or both. However, there’s something about “Microfiction Magic” that has caused it to stand out from all the others as my favorite challenge thus far.

Actually, there are two things that make it my favorite challenge:

1. It makes me write, no matter how little time I have to do so.

I’m not going to lie, the biggest excuse that I give for not writing is that I simply don’t have the time, even for short stories, blog posts, and articles. Even writing this article took an act of God because I thought that I didn’t have the time for it for days. Microfiction, though, is short. It gets me past that mental block of “oh, 600…1,000…5,000 words, who has the time?” Only 100 words, or less, allows me to squeeze the writing in when I have the time—and inspiration. I can jot down what I’m thinking right before I go to bed, before I start working on my current freelancing project, or before I go see what the heck the dogs have gotten into this time. Does it mean that it’s perfect? Oh, heck no. I’ll definitely need to check it a few thousand times before I enter it into the challenge, and even then, it’s probably not any good (at the very least, not by my standards). Still, at least I wrote something that I can consider “complete.”

2. It helps me to work on my writing in a much more concise fashion.

I’m a verbose person. Sometimes, that can cause me to lose track of some of the more important elements of fiction, such as characterization and plot. Microfiction does not allow for excessive language. Everything must be precise and have meaning. It must all work toward characterization and plot, no matter how subtly that might be. Writing microfiction for this challenge has forced me to think of my writing in different ways, in ways that I have not since I graduated from my master’s program. I have to think about the different layers that the words might convey, what exactly defines a plot, how to portray a character’s traits without going into too much detail, etc. It’s a huge pain in the butt—and just the challenge that I needed to spark my love of writing again.

Will any of my stories win one of the coveted winners’ slots for this challenge? I don’t know. There are a lot of great contenders this round, as there are with every challenge. Regardless, I don’t think that I will be quite as disappointed if I don’t win this time around. Obviously, I would like to have the money and validation that come with winning, but that’s not all that I’m getting from entering this challenge. I am truly getting a challenge out of this challenge, a challenge to write and improve my writing like I haven’t done for a few years now. I might even continue to write microfiction after the challenge is over. I probably won’t be able to publish any of it here, depending on what Vocal does with the minimum word count for fiction following this challenge, but I would continue to write it just to try and hone my skills. I guess that’s why Vocal calls them “challenges” instead of “contests” or “competitions”—they are meant to challenge us, not just for the possibility of a prize but to make us better writers.

Please check out my microfiction stories, “The Hunter,” “Isolation,” “The Grand Experiment,” and “After the Honeymoon Phase.” For more of my stories, see my Vocal profile.


About the Creator

Stephanie Hoogstad

With a BA in English and MSc in Creative Writing, writing is my life. I have edited and ghost written as a freelancer for a few years with some published stories and poems of my own. You can learn more about me at

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Comments (19)

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  • Mike Singleton - Mikeydred4 months ago

    Excellent article. We have included it in this week's Vocal Social Society Community Adventure, we would love you to join us there.

  • Rachael MacDonald4 months ago

    Same! there have been several favorites over the past year but this one is definitely a fun one!

  • mike waugh4 months ago

    The Microfiction Challenge is an excellent way to flex creative writing muscles in a fun and engaging way. Incorporating visual elements in the challenge, such as custom graphics or illustrations, can enhance the overall impact and effectiveness of a brand's visual identity design.

  • Heather Hubler5 months ago

    Yes! I agree that this has been a wonderful challenge so far and for all the same reasons :) Looking forward to reading some of your entries. Congratulations on Top Story!

  • nice. Keep writing.

  • Serhat Köse5 months ago


  • I gotta agree with you on this one! Keep writing! Congratulations on your Top Story! Also, I've subscribed!

  • DJ Robbins5 months ago

    Very nice. Keep writing and keep going.

  • Gal Mux5 months ago

    Crazy that I have been going blank on this one. Your reasons are great though. I must borrow a tip. 🙂

  • JBaz5 months ago

    Thank you for sharing, I think you made a lot of people feel comfortable with being ‘ok’ writing these Micro fiction pieces. I love doing them. Time is a factor and this lets us continue doing what we love. Congratulations

  • Adam Clost5 months ago

    Couldn't agree more with BOTH of these reasons.... The second one is what I appreciated more personally, as I share the same affliction in both verbal and written words. However, the first one is what I really needed, as far too often I make the excuse not to go back to something long-form I have already started and love because "I don't have enough time to make meaningful progress." Sometimes these challenges actually feel like they are teaching me to be a better more consistent writer purely by accident (or maybe there are just some subtle geniuses behind their design). Good luck with your own micro-fictions.

  • Donna Renee5 months ago

    I totally agree, especially with number 2! Good luck in the challenge! 😁

  • Lisa Herdman5 months ago

    I really wish we had a Microfiction section on Vocal! I really adore this challenge, as well. I can't wait to read more of your work!

  • Olabode Taiwo5 months ago

    Interesting ✍️

  • Olabode Taiwo5 months ago

    Interesting ✍️

  • Alex H Mittelman 5 months ago

    I like this challenge, too!

  • Mohammed Darasi5 months ago

    Great article, and I agree do think this challenge is really nice. Honestly, I didn't know microfiction was a thing until this challenge, but I really loved the idea. Like you, it gave a challenge to deal with. I was away from vocal for a while and the challenges are actually what brought me back. They make me start writing because typically they have categories and prompts I wouldn't have come up with, or haven't done before (like the haiku or epistolary poem challenges).. they really made me challenge myself in new ways of writing. This microfiction challenge was really interesting because, like you said, it makes you be concise and to the point. I found that a good exercise for storytelling for sure! I even took an old story I wrote and tried to rewrite it as microfiction (I saw someone else do it and thought it was interesting)

  • J. R. Lowe5 months ago

    Couldn’t agree more. I think this challenge is perfect for both creators and readers - it lets you write content when you don’t have much time (as you mentioned) but it also lets you read stories when you don’t have much time too. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kendall Defoe 5 months ago

    You nailed it! I was told on the Challenge page that I was part of a group that inspired this one, and I can see the wonderful results of it. Thank you so much for this!

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