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April 9: Flash Fiction Challenge

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Carrot Ranch Flash FictionFor those of you visiting Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction for the first time, we a have a community writing prompt going on weekly. You’ll find this week’s prompt and rules of play toward the end of this post. You are welcome to join in every week as several writers have. Or, you can meet the challenge as your time and interest allows.

Each week I look for something educational to share about flash fiction and how practicing its craft can improve our writing no matter what genre, profession or level of pursuit we hold to as writers. For me, I know that practicing flash over the years has made me a “tighter” writer. I’ve become sensitive to unnecessary words. When I started writing longer narratives, my tight writing evolved into text which is “active, engaging and easy to consume.”

Practicing writing short can influence what you write at length.

In fact, the executive director of National Novel Writing Month, Grant Faulkner, is also the editor of “100 Word Story.” He wrote an opinion piece for “The New York Times” called, “Going Long. Going Short.” It’s worth reading in its entirety. I took away this gem from his article as it seems relevant to those of us writers who connect within online communities:

“Such evocative, fragmentary brevity makes this Twitter and Facebook era perfect for flash fiction. Flash allows literature to be a part of our everyday life, even if we are strange multitasking creatures addled by a world that demands more, more, more. ” ~Grant Faulkner

Making literature a part of everyday life is another goal of Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction. Each week, all the responses to the current challenge are gathered and published in a compilation. That compilation is shared across the social media channels to be read. Together, as writers, we are making literature available as we practice our craft.

Writers can follow Grant Faulkner (@grantfaulkner) and 100 Word Stories (@100word_story) on Twitter. You can also submit 100 word flash to “100 Word Story.” The online publication offers a monthly photo prompt and has a lengthy list of journals where you can submit your flash. What you craft here can give you a jump start on journal entries and contests, not to mention the benefit of weekly practice. It can open your mind to creative possibilities.

Onto the prompt! It is spring, yes it is spring! I once rode in an old Ford truck across a ranch in southeastern Minnesota with a woman who had been raising beef cattle with her husband for over 40 years. A unique feature of the ranch is that it straddles a state park famous for its pristine hills and vales that follow a fresh limestone river. It’s one of the few places that you can fly-fish trout in Minnesota. It’s also home to an impressive display of spring flowers. This woman shared with me an interesting observation, though. She said, “The white flowers always bloom first.” It reminds me of innocence and resurrection, often associated with white flowers. So many possibilities open to your interpretation.

April 9, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes white flowers. Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, April 15 to be included in the compilation. My contribution follows and I hope yours does, too!

The Sprig by Charli Mills

His hand reached for the sprig of white flowers dainty among the first shoots of green. The cattle returned early to high Sierra pastures. Skinny from winter, they weren’t much to look at with hides black as a crow’s wing. No, not like a crow’s wing, he thought, as he lay staring at white flowers like a lover’s nosegay. Black Angus hides are tinted red like the beard of a Highlander. Like his ancestors, he had come to steal from the herd. Only now he lay face down in the pastures, gut-shot, reaching for the sprig fine and gay.

###

Rules of Play:

  1. New Flash Fiction challenge issued at Carrot Ranch each Wednesday by noon (PST).
  2. Response is to be 99 words. Exactly. No more. No less.
  3. Response is to include the challenge prompt of the week.
  4. Post your response on your blog before the following Tuesday by noon (PST) and share your link in the comments section of the challenge that you are responding to.
  5. If you don’t have a blog or you don’t want to post your flash fiction response on your blog, you may post your response in the comments of the current challenge post.
  6. Keep it is business-rated if you do post it here, meaning don’t post anything directly on my blog that you wouldn’t want your boss to read.
  7. Create community among writers: read and comment as your time permits, keeping it fun-spirited.
  8. Each Tuesday I will post a compilation of the responses for readers.
  9. You can also follow on Carrot Ranch Communications by “liking” the Facebook page.
  10. First-time comments are filtered by Word Press and not posted immediately. I’ll find it (it goes to my email) and make sure it gets posted! After you have commented once, the filter will recognize you for future commenting. Sorry for that inconvenience, but I do get frequent and strange SPAM comments, thus I filter.

 


20 Comments

  1. Paula Moyer says:

    Avoiding a Sad Tradition

    By Paula Moyer

    The Southern ritual is unequivocal – if your mother is living, wear a red rose on Mother’s Day. If she has passed, a white one. Both grew in our backyard. Daddy always clipped one red rose for each of us. Then his mother died. It was April; I was nine. Two weeks later, he clipped four red blooms – and one white. The photos from that Sunday startle me – particularly my father’s brave smile. My own mother died six years ago. I live up north now; Mother’s Day is too early for garden roses. I’ve never put on the white rose.

    Like

  2. Sarah Brentyn says:

    Filler Flower Heart

    By Sarah Brentyn

    I heard a soft voice, too quiet for real conversation, before I felt the hand on my hair. “It’s time,” my sister whispered.

    “No,” I stumbled forward and pointed. “I don’t want those here. They smell bad.”

    “They don’t smell. It’s just baby’s breath…” She pulled her hand back quickly.

    I ran to the wreath.

    I ripped the spray of white flowers out of their tiny, green heart and flung the shredded pieces. My knuckles scraped the hard, floral foam and I bled. Someone screamed. Arms wrapped around me. I flailed.

    Baby’s breath. It’s just baby’s breath. No more.

    Like

    • ruchira says:

      gosh…there is pain in here and you did it well!

      Like

    • Charli Mills says:

      Somewhere I read that flash fiction is like a snapshot photo. Your imagery is so sharp, capturing the painful moment, that the snapshot is so clear. Chilling, I nearly cried, with your last line. Wow!

      Like

      • Sarah Brentyn says:

        Thank you so much, Charli. I love writing these. Such fun.

        I nearly cried, too. It started out in my mind as a wedding then… Not so much. 😉

        Like

      • Charli Mills says:

        That’s one of the magical properties of flash for me. I, too, think I’m starting in one direction–like a man contemplating a sprig of tiny white flowers–but when I let me imagination run away with that idea, suddenly, it pulls back to reveal a different scene than I intended to write. Sometimes I think the writer is as surprised by the ending as the reader!

        Like

  3. My hands were freezing and I stuffed them in my pockets, hunching my shoulders. My neck ached from looking over the heads of the other commuters waiting for the train. Time stood still; this moment, this week, this year, dragging against the inertia of living a life that no longer seemed to have me in it. I stared down at the tiny white flowers that poked through the blackened rocks covering the tracks. Despite the cold, spring was coming. Was that enough? Or would I be here next year, pretending I knew how to live like other people did?

    Like

    • Charli Mills says:

      To see those tiny white flowers in such an unlikely place is a reminder that spring comes everywhere, even to mechanized urban setting. But the story’s question echos displacement, reinforcing the questioner’s own unlikely place where no one expects flowers. An interesting take on the prompt!

      Like

      • Sarah Brentyn says:

        Love the description of flowers poking through the cracks while waiting in a cold, cramped station.

        I agree with Charli. Displacement. Nice.

        Like

  4. […] The sixth flash fiction challenge from Carrot Ranch Communications: […]

    Like

  5. Norah says:

    Hi Charlie,
    I haven’t followed the rules exactly this time. I hope you don’t mind. http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-er I look forward to reading others stories when compiled.

    Like

  6. These are all so lovely. I am visiting my parents for the week, and I only have Internet access five hours a day, at my sister’s house; they are letting me using their wireless so I can do some work while they are in Myrtle Beach. So I won’t be doing any flash fiction in time for a 12:00 p.m. PST. But I did want to note how much I enjoyed what I’ve read.

    Like

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