The New York Times Pulp Fiction Contest

The New York Times is running their Second Biennial Pulp Fiction Contest

The way the contest works, you look at this cover:  


And you submit the following:

“An opening passage for the actual 1951 novel shown above, with a maximum of 150 words boiled hard as you please — within the constraints of a family newspaper (no major curse words, no R-rated sex stuff). Do not necessarily feel bound to describe the situation on the book cover.

You have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Friday, Nov. 21.”

Click on the link above to read how to enter; if you have their app, you just write it in the comments, or you can e-mail it, or you can physically mail it to the address provided.

I figures, what the hey; I’m a tough kid. I can do this. Here’s my 150 words submission:

That bridge. It took everything the city, the weather, and toughest of all, time, threw at it. Year after year, facing the same knocks, the same hardships, and year after year coming back for more. It knew that was its fate. It knew there was no escape from it. Year after year.

Maybe that’s what made it so tough. The very knocks it endured hardened its metal and strengthened its resolve; its resolve to hold steadfast, facing whatever came at it without complaint, year after year.

We were alike in many ways, but I had to hand it to the tough old bridge. We might have been put here without any say so on the matter, we might both be stuck here, in Brooklyn, and we might both be tough enough to endure it, but that bridge, that bridge endured on its own. 

At least I had her; my Velda.

~ ~ 0 0 ~ ~

That’s one pass, two re-reads, twenty minutes to submission. A few intentional grammar errors for tone, but I hope they won’t count against me. Exactly 150 words, per Microsoft Word (I hope they count words the same way). I tried to use all the elements on the cover, or as many as I could.

If you, my dear reader, are a writer, surely you can take twenty minutes to knock out one of your own? Heck, take an hour; I won’t hold it against you.

As usual, I’m not pinning my hopes an this to do more than amuse a few, but I had fun writing it. 

. . . now, back to my NaNoWriMo . . . 

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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11 Responses to The New York Times Pulp Fiction Contest

  1. The cover is very On The Waterfront isn’t it? Have to say it doesn’t inspire me to write a sentence, let alone 150 words.

    I suppose in terms of an intro, it depends how central a role the bridge would play in the story. Would it see some major drama in the story, and still be there at the end of the tale, after the characters have moved on? Would it play a major role in the story?

    I reviewed a book recently with a striking picture of Tower Bridge, London, on the cover. It’s only appearance in the story was when someone crossed it once.

    Second par. Is it made it so though, or made it so tough?


    • disperser says:

      Tough . . . I’ll correct it here (thanks), although that was already sent in like that.

      Oh well.

      oh . . . what did you think of the effort? I like it, but as I mentioned before, I tend to love everything I do (otherwise I would not do it).

      And don’t worry, if you answer ‘meh!’ or ‘bleh’ or even ‘yuck’, it won’t offend me.


      • I liked it. I’ve not read books like that, but I would have thought something more active might have been called for as it seems a bit flat and introspective, but … I don’t know. I did glance at some of the others after I’d read yours, and there are quite a few with dialogue, and others that are descriptive but describing action rather than a static object. I’d have been inclined to go for something more active I guess if these 150 words are meant to draw people in to the story.


      • disperser says:

        Good point. I did not read other submissions . . . and yes, it was aimed a bit more, not to put on airs, high art.

        If I get the inclination, I might take a shot at it later (although I won’t submit it).

        I think I also made it less an introduction, and more a ‘finished’ piece. Bad habit, probably something I picked up with all the flash fiction I wrote.

        Thanks for the feedback.

        I had another attempt at a 150 word story here:


  2. oneowner says:

    It’s a very good submission. I’d be proud of it if it were mine.


  3. Cool contest!
    And I had fun reading your submission!
    GREAT job! :-)
    A few years ago I entered a contest…you were to write a western short story with the word “hawk” in it. My story won first place and $100. I was shock-ed.
    I should post that story on WP some day.
    HUGS and Good Luck!!! :-)


  4. AnnMarie says:

    The bridge is not what came to mind when I saw the cover, but your passage is very good. I like it!


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