In my experience there are two benefits in writing flash fiction:
1. The need to work to a trigger and a timeline provokes hidden creativity and convinces you that you can find a story almost anywhere. It can even take you into milieux you never thought you'd invent.
2. The short 1000 word format forces focus and tight writing.
3. You can get a flash first draft written in its entirety very quickly.
I imagine that many stories that start out as flash grow and, in their final form, are longer than 1000 words. I know most of mine do. Nevertheless, the discipline of 1000 words for the first draft is great for finding out if the concept and the main characters work.
Since the format is so tight it's easy to find yourself writing a story that wants to be 1500 words or more. That's often happened to me and I've thrown away two or three drafts before getting one that's tight enough for the format. But the story is better for that, I think, because it's focused and I'm clear in my mind what the story is, even if it grows in later revisions.
Please use at least one trigger. Using them all wins you much kudos, respect and general bowing and scraping.
An in media res start. (If anyone wants to discuss this technique, we can start a separate thread in open discussions.)
An unfitting, unusual, unexpected, un-something aroma.
A secret library, or museum, or repository of knowledge.
A child of power.
Flash fiction, 1000 words max.
Closing date for entries: 18.00 GMT Wednesday Dec 31st (almost nine weeks from today, longer than last time I facilitated something like this because people will be busy with Thanksgiving, Christmas etc.)
Closing date for crits and votes: 18:00 GMT Wednesday Jan 14th 2015 (about two weeks to read, crit and vote)
I'll announce winners on Friday Jan 16 at 18:00 GMT. (But please remember, there are no losers in this.)
Usual Hatrack rules for content apply. Please, no fanfic, no use of copyright stuff.
Submission Guide ================
e-mail your story in .doc, .rtf or plain .txt format to me by 18.00 GMT on the closing date above.
Please do not put early drafts of your story through the regular F&F threads for first 13s, for that would destroy the anonymity of voting.
In the e-mail subject line please put "Hatrack Contest--Story name--author's Hatrack name" in order to get past my spam filters.
In the body of your email please put your Hatrack name and your e-mail address.
On the first page of the manuscript (and nowhere else) put your name and the word count.
Voting and Critting process ===========================
Voting and critting is anonymous.
I will delete names from manuscripts, assign them numbers, reformat them only to the extent necessary for ease of handling, combine them into one file and send it to all contestants. (If you can't read Word .doc files let me know.)
I'll create a fresh thread for first 13s and post them all there so we can vote on them.
Winner to be decided by vote. You vote for your top three first 13s and top three stories. I will tally the votes like this: three points for your first choice, two for your second, one for your third. You cannot vote for your own story.
I will not be submitting a story or voting myself. (I will write one anyhow, just for fun, and workshop it later after voting is complete.)
In case someone doesn't vote, please include at the end of your 'vote-and-crit' e-mail your votes for the other stories, but not crits.
You must crit your first three choices and send the three crits together with your vote to me by 18.00 GMT on the voting due date above. (Votes without crits don't count.) If you don't vote I'll delete your story and redistribute the votes.
Please use this vote and crit format in your e-mail to make my administrative life easier: --------------------------
Your Hatrack name
First 13 1 -- story number First 13 2 -- story number First 13 3 -- story number
Story 1 -- story number Your crit of story 1
Story 2 -- story number Your crit of story 2
Story 3 -- story number Your crit of story 3
Story 4 -- story number Story 5 -- story number Etc ---------------------------
You are honour-bound to crit the other stories within a week or two of the close of voting. If there are more than eight stories submitted you only have to crit eight max--your top three and your choice of another five.
If any stories don't get at least three crits, I'll crit them and request the three winners to help me, so everyone should get at least three or four crits.
If for some reason you're unable to submit your story or vote on time, please let me know and we'll make due allowance.
If I don't hear from you by the due voting date I'll delete your story and redistribute the votes received appropriately. ===============
How's that? Any comments, questions?
If you're in, please confirm with a reply in this thread. We’ll need about 12 takers to make it work. If there aren’t enough we’ll abandon the challenge.
This is just a bit of fun which hopefully will help everyone improve their writing. Although there will be winners, there will be no losers!
Any genre is fine - well, any that's normally acceptable at Hatrack.
I've tried to make the triggers general enough to be ok for any genre. So for example a child of power could be a contemporary young telepath, a baby witch, a little alien lizard that has powerful teeth or a space cadet armed with a blaster.
Posts: 1796 | Registered: Jun 2007
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A child of power could be the discovered royalty orphan motif, who earns leadership of an awesome responsibility--science fiction, fantasy, or other genre.
Posts: 6037 | Registered: Jun 2008
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Been watching the Writing Challenge board intently for a long time hoping someone would start one. With my crazy work schedule, this is just the kind of challenge I need to knock the rust off the writing skillzz!
Posts: 121 | Registered: Apr 2005
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A few questions: -Should this be a finished story or a 1st/2nd draft, or whatever time allows?
-It's clear that one of the four triggers must be present in the story. However, if a writer uses more, or all of them should judges give more preference to that story or is it just a nice bonus? How hard should we strive to satisfy all triggers?
-Lastly: should our story include a title and if so, is the title part of the word count?
Whatever you can do in the time. The idea is to get writing, get creative and get and receive crits. The closer to finished it is, the more popular the story will be and the more the writer will get out of the challenge.
There are no judges, we all vote.
Several triggers are offered to broaden the appeal of the challenge. Some may wish to avoid in media res, others might steer clear of the child of power or the odd smell; many writers like libraries, but maybe not as a story trigger. Using most or all of them all is not a challenge in itself. A great story that uses just one trigger is likely to do better than a weak one that uses them all: if the story is offered for sale, editors and readers will neither know nor care that it satisfied four triggers in a Hatrack challenge.
Story should certainly include title, not part of word count. (Word count will allow a few words over 1000 anyhow, partly because word counters in software aren't entirely accurate and life is too short to argue about the small stuff.)
Sign me up, and thanks to TaleSpinner for getting a challenge going. This is just my two cents, but I don't see why the contest sponsor's story can't be in for the voting. It's anonymous, after all, and we aren't allowed to vote for ourselves.
I'm inclined to go ahead with it even though we do not have the dozen I asked for. With eight there should be a broad range of abilities and tastes so we should all learn something. And we can take late comers until closing date.
And that secret flash story of yours, rabirch?
Well, while the idea was to get people writing new stuff, we're inclusive around here, so if you can bend it to fit one of the triggers, why not? At least you'll give and receive crits and it's worth it - for all of us - just for that.
And if it already works, you could always enter two stories...
wecome, mithridates and Michael! Lookin forward to meetin' your stinky child, Kent_A_Jones . if it makes the final edit. xeminister I'm pleased to see your enthusiasm but would prefer not to bring deadlines forward for snyone relying upon them, and, selfishly for me: I am recovering from a stroke, and expect to be in physio at the hospital for the next month. ("Stroke"-- what a dumb word for when your brain forgets wher your left bits are.)
Posts: 1796 | Registered: Jun 2007
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Just finished the first draft at roughly 2,500 words. I hit all the triggers but I'm really gonna have to cut back now, maybe chop a character. By the end I think I'll have three versions of the story at different lengths since I plan to submit it to a few other contests as well.
TaleSpinner: that is not happy news. Also praying for you and a full recovery.
Dag gone it... so sorry to miss out on this one. Apologies to all of you, and apologies to me. Good luck all, and may the odds be ever in your favor!
Posts: 785 | Registered: Mar 2007
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