At MarsCon 2018 in Williamsburg, Virginia last month (check out their website for next year’s con info: http://www.marscon.net/wp/) , I participated in a 5-minute fiction panel. The goal was to write a piece of short fiction in 5 minutes, and the audience would vote to choose the favorite from the three pieces written by the panelists.
I never won.
But it was fun. It really made me stretch my creative process. Stretching was hard, since the panel started at 11 p.m., and we should all know by now I turn into a pumpkin at 10.
Despite the struggle, I thought I would share my favorite of the pieces I wrote. We were given three things from the audience: a place/time, a crime, and a monster. For this particular piece, we were given Ancient Egypt, insurance fraud, and a swamp monster.
Here is what I came up with (unedited, as written in the 5 minutes, other than the correction of spelling errors):
“I’m sorry, sir. You’re policy doesn’t cover that type of damage.”
“I pay through the nose-ring for flooding.”
“Sir, this is not caused by flooding.”
Standing at the edge of the Nile, the agent shifted his robes.
“My policy specifically calls out water damage caused by the Nile.”
“While I am certain, sir, that the damage, in some way, came from the Nile, it’s not from flooding.”
The homeowner sniffed and surveyed the damaged scow. “And what do you think caused it?”
“Sir, those are bite marks in the hull.”
“Which is what let the water in.”
“And thus, flooded my scow and it sunk.”
The agent sighed, rubbing his nose. “But it is the gaping hole that caused the damage, not a flood.”
“And how do you think I should handle this for the future?”
“You need to add swamp monster coverage to your plan.”
The exercise was fun, and if I made mods to this piece and spruce it up, I will share it here, so you can take a look at how stories can change from that first, swift outpouring of an idea through an editing and (hopefully) polishing process.