Today is National Flash Fiction Day (NFFD), which is a day to celebrate the art form of the very short story. I love writing flash fiction - it’s a fun challenge to create characters in such a small space and still get the reader to care about them and their situations. Also I’ve always been a fan of twist endings, and flash is the perfect medium for twists.
I regularly participate in flash fiction competitions held by NYC Midnight, which is where I met the fabulous writer Rachael Dunlop. Rachael is part of the team organizing Flashpoints to celebrate NFFD, so I heard about this fun writing activity from her. Flashpoints combines the public spontaneity of a flash-mob with creating and sharing a story. The full explanation is here, but basically: you go somewhere public, get inspired, scribble down a very short story, and leave it for someone to find. This sounded both exhilarating and a tad bit scary to me (no editing? no deleting and retyping every word choice 20 times?), so I was on the lookout for the right time to Flashpoint (does it work as a verb?).
A few weeks ago, my brother and I had a sneak peek screening of our latest short film High Heels and Hoodoo at the Indie Grits Film Festival in Columbia, SC. We had dinner with out-of-town family members, which finished sooner than we anticipated, so we ended up at the screening over an hour early. I was pacing to burn off nervous energy and trying not to fret, when out of the blue I remembered Flashpoints – what a perfect way to distract myself!
I glanced around the lobby of the theater at the other people waiting to see the films, and the idea for a story popped into my head. I pulled my handy-dandy notebook out of my purse and started scrawling. When I was done, I took a picture of it “in the wild” like the Flashpoints website requests. I also took a close-up picture so I could transcribe it for sending to Flashpoints. And I even took a picture of myself with it because I was all dressed up and since that so rarely happens I needed a photo for posterity. Then I left it in the lobby – I pity the poor person who tried to decipher my chicken scratch.
If you’re interested in reading the “masterpiece” I wrote that evening, you can find it here on the Flashpoints website.
It was a fun exercise, and I encourage all my writer friends to take a moment today to write a quick short story in celebration of National Flash Fiction Day.
Do you enjoy writing flash fiction? How are you celebrating National Flash Fiction Day? Are you thinking about finding your own Flashpoint?
It’s the letter S on this Short Story Saturday, which makes for a whole lotta S’s. For today’s genre, I’m going to attempt a bit of Sci-fi. It’s not my usual genre, so here’s to another writing experiment.
It’s Short Story Saturday, and since the letter is M that means the genre is Mystery for a story stuffed full of M words. But first off, I have to apologize for this weak effort. I thought about just posting a giant “M.I.A” for today’s post along with the picture of Molly and her M. You see, today is the sneak peek screening of my new movie (extra points for my distraction being an M word?), and I’ve been in high anxiety mode preparing for it. And since my ol’ friend procrastination was firmly in control during March, I didn’t get any posts written ahead of time. However, I decided I could muster up a micro-mystery instead of completely missing the boat, so here it is in all its “glory.”
A Mangled Mystery
According to my agenda, today is Short Story Saturday. Since the letter is G the genre is Gothic fiction, and I’ve added lots of G words. I’ve never written Gothic before, so it was fun to tackle the melodramatic tone of those romance-horror stories.
skin. She turned and gasped at what she saw. A giant, fur-covered creature with a lupine muzzle and teeth stood on two legs like a man. With a graceful gait, it started toward her. She took a step back and slipped off the edge of the cliff.
She screamed and gripped a branch to stop her descent.
The beast galloped to the edge and grabbed at her with deadly claws. She gaped up at him in terror, not sure which fate was worse – torn to shreds by the beast or smashed to bits on the wave-splashed rocks.
Then she noticed the moonlight glinting off the monster’s green eyes. She knew those eyes. She’d spent hours beside the fireplace gazing into them as she and Lord Grayson shared precious moments together. Gretchen didn’t know how or why, but this monster was the man who filled her soul with gladness.
Surprise, surprise, I'm right up against the deadline for Rachael Harrie’s Second Campaigner Challenge. Again. Ahhh, procrastination - how I embrace you. Anyway, Rachael's made it extra tough this time with five different prompts and five different ways to use those prompts.
Two people are sitting together under the remains of a concrete bridge. Their backs are against a rusted bridge support. One person’s leg is cut. The other person has wet hair.
Second Campaigner Challenge
Do one or more of the following:
- Write a pitch/logline for a book based on the prompts (less than 100 words)
- Write a short story/flash fiction piece of less than 200 words based on the prompts
- Write a poem with a twist using the prompts as inspiration (in less than 200 words)
- Write a story/poem in five sentences, each sentence based on one of the prompts
- Write a poem/flash fiction piece (in less than 200 words) about the water pear *without* using the words “pear”, “spoon”, or “droplet”.
For added difficulty/challenge:
- Complete at least three of the above activities and tie them all together with a common theme (feel free to either state the theme in your post or leave us to guess what it might be)
- Write in a genre that is not your own
I completed three of the activities, and I think my title gives away my unifying theme. All three take place in a dystopian world, which is not my usual genre,
First up is option one - write a book pitch, and I've incorporated items from all five prompts. According to Word, it's exactly 100 words.
I wasn’t sure I was going have time to write something for Rachael Harrie’s First Campaigner Challenge, but I had so much fun last time I really wanted to give it a whirl. Here are the rules in Rach’s words:
Good grief, how can another week of 2012 already have flown by? But here we are at another #writemotivation check in. I’m happy to report that I’ve maintained my resolution of writing a tweet tale every day. And since we’re halfway through January, I think this might possibly be the longest I’ve ever kept a New Year’s resolution. I even had two personal blog posts this week, so whoo hoo to exceeding expectations! And even though it’s not part of my #writemotivation goals, I also wrote a bunch of very overdue posts for my movie blog, which lifted a big weight off my shoulders. So that brings up the big question…have I done any work on my novel WIP?
After last week’s post where I got more honest than I anticipated about my fear of failure, I was bolstered by the support of old and new writer friends and finally read through my WIP again. It was great for reminding me how much I love my characters and story, but it also showed me there’s more to be fixed than I can squeeze into the time before the Amazon novel contest. So I decided I’m not going to try to rush a rewrite for the contest. I’m going to really dig in and identify what’s not working and the best way to fix it. I made a few notes on my initial read, but now I need to dive back in with the red pen and really go to town.
But since I won’t be frantically pushing myself toward the Amazon deadline, some of my creative bandwidth has been freed up. So I’m adding two new items to my #writemotivation goals for January: entering the Highlights fiction contest and a Glimmer Train contest. For the Highlights contest, I’ll need to write a new story based on a newspaper headline; and for the Glimmer Train contest, I’m going to rewrite one of my NYCM flash pieces. The deadline for both is January 31st.
Part of me worries that turning my attention to these two short stories is just another way to procrastinate revising my novel. But I love writing short stories, and I have a better chance at doing well in these two contests than I do rushing my novel through a rewrite for Amazon. And writing is writing, so I've decided that any I do is a very good thing . . . even if the underlying motive is procrastination!
Hope you all are making great progress with your 2012 goals!
How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Have your goals shifted after these first two weeks? Am I cheating by changing my goals or is it good strategy to keep things realistic?
For my few readers who don’t already know this, as part of the Writers’ Platform Building Campaign, Rach is giving us challenges to flex our writing muscles and promote interaction. The challenge for this week is:
Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)
For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!
This story is the idea that popped into my head almost immediately. After reading some of the other stories and seeing how many people had gone dark and creepy with this challenge (something about swinging doors is automatically sinister), I took a stab at a silly comedy with potty humor, but it didn’t work, so I came back to this one. My entry is #197, and it’s exactly 200 words.
The door swung open, and he crept inside, careful not to make a sound. She sat at the table with her back to him, absently twirling a lock of red hair as she balanced her checkbook.
He took a step closer. First she had ignored him. Another step. Then she had screamed at him to go away. Two more silent steps closer to his target. He’d show her no one treated him that way.
He unsheathed his weapon, its sharp tip anxious to taste her blood.
She cursed and slammed her pen to the table. He sank into a crouch, eyes boring into her, willing her not to turn around. Revenge would be so much sweeter if she didn’t see it coming until he ripped open her flesh.
With a deep sigh, she picked up her pen. He inched toward her until he was in range. Time for her punishment. He pounced.
She screamed as the point pierced her skin.
A small droplet of blood trickled down her ankle. She picked him up and hissed in his face. “I told you to stay outside if you can’t behave.”
She shoved him through the kitty door, and the door swung shut.
I can’t wait to read the other stories – if you’ve written one, leave a link to it in the comments.
Photo cedit to Mattox
Babblings of a Boob Tube Junkie
I’m a writer and filmmaker exploring the magic of stories. I’ve always loved to read and watch television and movies, and now I'm creating my own stories via YA novels, short stories, screenplays, and even short films. I’m also an animal lover with a menagerie of pets; and, yes, I’m one of those people who puts party hats on their dogs and makes them “cakes” for their birthdays.
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My Short Films
If a cat predicted your death, how would it change your life?
A greedy party girl is so determined to get what she wants that she employs the dangerous magic of a Gullah root doctor.
Blogging from A to Z Challenge