So, my short story entry for the Short Fiction Break Summer 2020 Writing Contest, Dark Time, won the grand prize.
First, I’m so grateful to Short Fiction Break for the opportunity to take part in the contest. It was such an “educational” experience. Meaning, I learned a lot about the writing and editing process from publishing this story.
I’ve written short stories before. But writing intending to enter a contest pushed me to work at the edge of my skill-level.
Second, I’m thankful to The Write Practice Pro who sponsored this competition. Part of the contest involved submitting your story for critiques within the Write Practice community. The feedback and impressions I received from fellow writers made this story SO much better.
Thank you to everyone who critiqued the story. You helped me win this contest.
Full disclosure, I’ve recently become a mentor within The Write Practice community. Basically, this makes me a moderator within the forums to support writers and foster a greater sense of community.
Inspiration For Dark Time
The only stipulations for the writing contest were a word count of 1500 or less. AND that the story focus on the theme of isolation.
My original plans were to re-work a short story I’d written about a man who was the last person on an abandoned space station. I’d created it as a writing exercise for the book “What If.”
But as I read back through that story, I realized the theme was more about denial and grief. So I decided to start from scratch. Dark Time is a completely new and different story from the original.
This won’t be the last story I write based on a space station.
I mean, I love TNG. But I consider Deep Space 9 the pinnacle of the Star Trek franchise.
There’s something about the idea of day to day life on a space station that lodges in my mind. In ways, it would be a life similar to what we experience now, yet at the same time vastly different.
I knew I wanted this story to focus on different layers of isolation. One, that the main character was physically isolated on the station. But more importantly, that he face the ultimate isolation of, possibly, being forever cut off from humanity.
The black hole provided a perfect plot device for the story.
Part of my inspiration was the episode of Stargate SG-1: A Matter of Time. Also, elements from Interstellar crept in. Including these two sources:
And of course, some of the latest news on gravitational waves found their way into the narrative (LIGO Livingston is only a 20 minute drive from where I live in Baton Rouge, LA).
I’ll admit, I’m not a “math guy.” So I guessed at some of the time-dilation effects and time frames in Dark Time. I went more with the “rule of cool” than actual math. But to the best of my knowledge, most of what I wrote is theoretically possible.
In any case, I hope you enjoy the story. If you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out at the link below. Just scroll down a bit and you’ll see Dark Time listed under Grand Prize:
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