Showing posts with label Flash Fiction Challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Flash Fiction Challenge. Show all posts

Friday, May 10

Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Smashing Sub-Genres

Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Smashing Sub-Genres

I've been completing Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenges--not entering them, mind you, but doing the work--and I'm finding it easier to write short fiction!

Not too long ago I wrote about how I seemed constitutionally unable to write a story of less than 5,000 words.


A month or so ago I wrote a story of 997 words for one of Chuck's challenges. I was over-the-moon happy that I'd been able to write a complete story using so few words but didn't think much about it since the market for flash fiction is likely just marginally larger than the one for poetry. What I really wanted was to write a story in the 2,000 word range.

Then, a few days later, I wrote another short story, one of my own that I just plucked out of the air, and it was 1,800 words!

I danced, I sang, I called friends. It was great! (The feeling that is. I think the story is fabulous too, but I could be biased. ;)

So that little story of personal achievement is my way of encouraging anyone who is on the fence to get off and get writing! Practice may not make your writing perfect (I ask you, who is a perfect writer? Is that even possible?) but it can make you a darn sight better.

Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Smashing Sub-Genres

Here's the Challenge:
Below is a list of 20 subgenres.

I want you to roll a d20 twice — or click a random number generator twice between 1 and 20 — and that will give you two subgenres. (Sure, you can choose them instead, but that means YOU HATE FUN.)

Smash those two subgenres into one story.

Write that story. Around 1000 words. Post at your online space. Link back here through the comments. Due by next Friday, May 17th, at noon EST.

Here’s the list of subgenres.

Men’s Adventure
Fairy Tale
New Weird
Space Opera
Southern Gothic
BDSM Erotica
Sword & Sorcery
Sci-Fi Humor or Satire
Haunted House
Weird West
Remember, post the link to your story on Chuck's website, here: Flash Fiction Challenge: Smashing Sub-Genres.

Have you ever completed one of Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenges? Did it help your short form writing?

Other articles you might like:

- How To Write A Terrific Review
- 4 Tips On How To Find A Genre To Write In
- Russell Blake's 26 Tips On How To Sell A Lot Of Books

Photo credit: "St Michael, The Archangel Chapel - Rookwood Necropolis" by Luke Peterson Photography under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Friday, April 12

Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Choose Your Opening Line

Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Choose Your Opening Line

I love Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenges!

While I haven't succeeded in writing a 1,000 word short story that I could enter, I have succeeded in writing a 5,000 word short story which is something I've been trying to do for a while. Before that they ended up being over 10,000 words and heading into novella territory.

This particular challenge has my muse all perked up and ready to go.

The Challenge

Choose one of the following and make it the first sentence of your story:
1. Once James accepted that he had no choice but to burn the books, the question became which to burn first. — Valerie Valdes

2. Prima donnas aren’t born.
 — Mari Bayo

3. The ghost of a sparrow flitted through one wall and out the other.
 — CJ Eggett

4. I was born beneath a black veil of mourning, a dark bud blooming deep in its shadow. — 
Gina Herron

5. It’s always midnight somewhere.  – Andrew Jack

6. My brother’s birth was preceded by three distinct and inexplicable phenomena. — Jason Heitkamper

7. Max sat amongst the dead, whistling to himself.  – Brad

8. For the second time in a week, I come over Shatter Hill at midnight and see fire at the crossroad below.  – Bill Cameron

9. I never trusted that statue in the garden behind the house.
 — Cat York

10. Larry was on the toilet, shitting his brains out, while cleaning his gat.
  – The Philosophunculist

11. The problem with the ringing phone wasn’t how loud it was, or that it hadn’t stopped ringing for an hour, but that Tom didn’t have a phone. — Jake Bible

12. When the last cherry blossom falls, so will my axe.
  – Delilah

13. “You must walk three paces behind me,” she said. “And never raise your eyes to mine.” — Nathan Long

14. Tommy beat him with a kiss, and the crowd hated him for it. — Hector Acosta
Each of the 14 sentences, above, were chosen from over 400 comments left by contributors on Chuck Wendig's blog post last week: Flash Fiction Challenge: The Kick-Ass Opening Line.

Chuck picked three lucky winners who will receive a pre-order of his book Blue Blazes.

The Winners: Chuck Wendig's Picks

3. The ghost of a sparrow flitted through one wall and out the other.
 — CJ Eggett

13. "You must walk three paces behind me,” she said. “And never raise your eyes to mine.” — Nathan Long

12. When the last cherry blossom falls, so will my axe.
 – Delilah
Great choices! Here are my favorites:
9. I never trusted that statue in the garden behind the house.
 — Cat York

11. The problem with the ringing phone wasn’t how loud it was, or that it hadn’t stopped ringing for an hour, but that Tom didn’t have a phone. — Jake Bible

5. It’s always midnight somewhere. – Andrew Jack
All 14 first sentences were creative and contained effective 'hooks' (for more on what makes an effective hook: here and here).

Chuck Wendig's Prize This Week

Although Chuck Wendig is sending Jake, Delilah and Nathan copies of Blue Blazes, he hasn't finished giving stuff away. He writes:
The goal is simple:

To write a story using one of the opening lines above. You can choose from the whole lot — not just the three “winners.” Any of the opening lines you find on this page (again, I think I’ve listed 14 of ‘em) are open game. Choose your opening line and write a piece of flash fiction (up to 1000 words) with that line as the opener. Post it at your online space, link back here.

I’ll choose one person’s story — just one! — to win autographed copies of my books Blackbirds, Mockingbird, and Gods & Monsters. This is open only to US residents (international are welcome to play, but the best prize I can offer you is e-copies of my writing books).
Maybe this will be the week I'll get my story under 1,000 words! (fingers crossed)

Remember: To enter the contest, post your story on your blog then leave a comment, with a link to your story, on Chuck Wendig's blog post.

Question: Which three opening lines (of the 14, above) are your favorite?

Other articles you might like:

- Is Writing Rewriting?
- PubIt! Rebranded as NOOK Press
- Every Buffy Needs A Xander: What Makes A Great Sidekick

Photo credit: "chess" by nestor galina under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Saturday, March 9

Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Choose Your Random Sentence

Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Choose Your Random Sentence
Chuck Wendig has issued another Flash Fiction Challenge, but he's mixing it up!

The Challenge

This time the challenge is to generate 10 or so random sentences from this random sentence generator and use one in a story of up to 1,000 words.

Be sure to let everyone know what your random sentence was!

When you're done, post it on your webspace and leave a link in a comment to Chuck's post: Flash Fiction Challenge: Choose Your Random Sentence. Your tale must be finished and the link posted by Friday, March 15th, noon EST.

Fun With Randomness

Get ready for crazy, nonsensical, sentences. It's great! Here are some of the ones I generated:
Can the year nose?
The hook objects to the war. (A pacifist Captain Hook?)
The teenager lurks next to the centered chestnut.
How can the touch flash? (Someone faster than Flash Gordon?)
The exciting weapon revolts behind the inventor.
When I saw the last sentence all sorts of light bulbs went off. First thought: An ancient scientist turns away from his latest creation, but as he does it becomes self-aware and attempts to escape.

Or something.

What sentence(s) did you generate?

Other links you might like:

- Stephen King Talks About Doctor Sleep, Winnebagos & A Movie Prequel To The Shining
- Handy Guides To Avoiding Mistakes In Grammar
- Beware Alibi Publishing, John Scalzi Warns: "This is the worst book contract I have ever encountered"

Photo link: "_IGP5461 | 70" by Ben Fredericson (xjrlokix) under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Monday, January 21

Fleshing Out Your Protagonist: Creating An Awesome Character

I know I've said this before, but Elizabeth S. Craig has a great Twitter feed for writers (@elizabethscraig). Whenever I want to read a helpful article on the art and craft of writing I just browse Elizabeth's tweets. (Her mystery novels are great too!)

I wanted to remember to say that because I found the article I'm discussing today through Elizabeth's tweets: She's No Mary Sue: Creating Characters People Care About.

Chuck Wendig, Flash Fiction And A Horror Story

Yesterday I wrote my first horror story! I've been wanting to write one for ages but never had an idea that grabbed me, that made me think: that'd be a fun story to write.

The Power Of Writing Exercises

Honestly, I don't do a lot of writing exercises. I'd rather spend my time on my work-in-progress or developing a new story. But, as I say, I'd been wanting to write a horror story for some time but something was holding me back. It was difficult getting into the right head-space.

Recently I discovered Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenges. I haven't completed one, but it's fun plugging Chuck's categories into a random number generator and seeing what kind of story idea would pop out. Chuck gives 10 different subgenres, 10 different settings and 10 different things your story mush feature, then you either choose one thing from each category on your own or use a random number generator to do it for you.

Here are some of the writing prompts I came up with:

 Flash Fiction Challenge: The Wheel, Part Two (Part one is here.)
[Subgenre] in [conflict] [featuring ...]
- Bad girls in prison need to hide a body featuring a vengeful god.
- Lovecraftian revenge and a suitcase full of money.
- Alien abduction, a character being hunted and a mysterious stranger.

And, last but certainly not least, Chuck Wendig's latest flash fiction challenge features photos of places that look impossible but are actual landmarks. The challenge: Write 1,000 words inspired by one of the photos.

I decided to combine Chuck's last two challenges and write a horror story involving an alien abduction, a character being hunted and a mysterious stranger. Further, I decided it would take place here: The Crystal Cave in Skaftafell Iceland.

I also decided that the story would take me two hours to write and come in at just under 1,000 words.

Are you laughing? You should be! It took me around four hours and I blew way past the 1,000 word mark--I ended up writing about 3,000 words!

But that's okay. I now have the first draft of a story I'd like to read. And, for me, that's what it's all about. Sure, selling one's work is nice--we all need to eat--but a big reason why I started to write was that I wanted to create (or discover) the kind of stories I loved to read.

But now I'm at the stage where I need to develop my protagonist.

Fleshing Out Your Characters

At the moment my protagonist has a few bones, a more-or-less complete skeleton, but very little skin (metaphorically speaking, of course!).

Today, before I start work on the second draft, I need to put some meat on her bones and I do that by asking questions. A great resource I use regularly is Donald Maass' The Breakout Novelist Workbook as well as my notes from his workshops (see here, here and here).

Recently, though, I came across the blog post, She's No Mary Sue: Creating Characters People Care About, by Susan J. Morris. Susan points out that all stories are about a character with a problem and how that character solves, or fails to solve, that problem.

Give your readers a glimpse, early on, of your hero's eventual greatness

Also, and I thought this was a brilliant way of looking at it, Susan points out that, at the end of your story, chances are your character (unless it's a tragedy) will become kinda awesome. And that's good because they'll need to be awesome to conquer the villain and achieve their goal.

But at the beginning of the story your character is a long way from being awesome. This is both good and bad. It's good because every character--especially your main character--needs an arc. It's bad because characters who aren't good at something tend to be boring; and that's VERY bad, especially at the beginning of a story when you're trying to convince people your story would be all kinds of interesting fun to read.

The solution: give your readers a glimpse, early on, of your protagonist's eventual greatness. Susan writes:
Your character is going to be awesome. Once they get to page 275. Heroes rarely start out heroes. But generally speaking, the unformed hero has about as much dynamicism as a lump of clay. Even if you are writing an origin story for your hero, you have to figure out what defines your character, what makes them awesome, and give us a glimpse of it early so that we’ll stick around to page 275.
That sounds great, doesn't it? There is a problem. At the beginning of your story you probably don't know exactly how the story is going to end and your grasp of those traits which make your character the heroine they were born to be is going to be limited at best.

The solution? Write a scene where your character is awesome, ignoring whether the scene would fit in your story. This is about discovering who your character is and what she can do. Susan writes:
One way to figure all that out is to write your character’s quintessential scene—the scene that defines them as a character. Don't worry about whether it even belongs in the book! Just writing the scene will help you work through their character. The first scene in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is quintessential Jones. You learn he’s an adventuresome archeologist who is afraid of snakes, that he has a mean arm with a whip and a near-constant smirk, neither of which help him against his constant antagonist, and that he always recovers his hat.

Character Questions

As I wrote earlier, I love using character questions to help me flesh out my protagonist. I don't have a cut-and-dried method, but I find if I know the answers to these sorts of questions before I begin editing my first draft that the writing, and re-writing, goes much quicker.
1. What does your character want more than anything and what is stopping them from getting it?

2. What is the one thing they wouldn’t do to get it?

3. What does your character fear more than anything, and what would make it even worse?

4. What unexpected thing are they really good at?

5. What assumptions do people make about them that always make them angry?

6. What event has changed the way they look at life and why?

7. What is hardest for them to forgive?

8. What are three positive and three negative adjectives you could use to describe them?

9. If your character had a facebook, what embarrassing secrets could we dig up on them?

10. When your character goes to a party, do they under-dress or over-dress? Do they come and leave on-time, early, or late? Are they a wallflower or the center of attention? Are they excited or filled with anxiety? (She's No Mary Sue: Creating Characters People Care About)
How do you put flesh on your character's bones? Do  you ask questions? Freewrite? Do a character interview? Something else?

Other articles you might like:

- Dean Koontz And 5 Things Every Genre Story Needs
- How Plotting Can Build A Better Story
- Building Character: The Importance Of Imperfection

Photo credit: "Army Photography Contest - 2007 - FMWRC - Arts and Crafts - I Can See You Now"by familymwr under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Tuesday, January 8

Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge

Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge

I just learnt about Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge from a nice person in John Ward's Writer's Discussion Group

It's a fun challenge that doesn't take a lot of time since your story has to be under 1,000 words. It's nice to write something one can (theoretically!) write and edit in a few hours.

Here are the rules (I've copied this from Chuck's website, terribleminds):
I’m going to give you three categories. You will pick randomly from each category, maybe with a d10 or using a random number generator. From your choices, you’ll have 1000 words to write some flash fiction. Post this fiction at your online space. Link back here. Due by Friday, January 11th, at noon EST.
Chuck gives you a SUBGENRE a SETTING and an item or kind of thing your story MUST FEATURE. Actually, he gives you 10 in each category and then you randomly select one.

It's a fun idea! This way chances are everyone is writing a different kind of story with its own unique challenges. Here's the link if you're interested:

When you're done, don't forget to publish the story on your blog and leave the link in a comment to Chuck's post.

Other articles you might like:

- The Starburst Method: The Hero's Journey, Part 1
- How To Format A Word Document For Uploading To Amazon
- 19 Ways To Grow Your Twitter Following

Photo credit: "5:00am… Wake up before the sun, start to run." by Untitled blue under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.