Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #8

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

October 31, 2017

TUFF: The Ultimate Flash Fiction

by Charli Mills

What if I told you that writing flash fiction will get you to where you want to be? Would you scoff, or consider the possibility? Would you think I’m handing you a magic elixir? Ah, an elixir. Let’s pause a moment and talk about the hero’s journey.

If you answered the call to participate in the Flash Fiction Rodeo this past month, you answered the same call every hero hears: the one the hero reluctantly answers. We think of heroes as Thor or Wonder Woman. Yet, the hero’s journey calls to us all. Winnie the Pooh and Frodo and Mary Tyler Moore are all heroes. It’s about the path:

  1. The call: the opening scene in which the hero is called out of the ordinary world.
  2. The test: the story develops conflict through tests, challenges, temptations, allies and enemies.
  3. The cave: the story leads to a crisis, the hero’s darkest hour in the abyss of ordeal.
  4. The transformation: survival transforms the hero who begins the journey home.
  5. The return: the hero returns to the ordinary world with the elixir of knowing one’s own transformation.

For many writers, the Flash Fiction Rodeo was a call to go outside one’s comfort zone. Even those writers who wanted the challenge pushed themselves to write more than one response or enter multiple contests. You were all stirred by the call. You are Heroes of the Rodeo. You faced tests, found glitches and helpers, made new writing friends, discovered stories within you.

Your crisis is personal, but I know you had one — doubt, fear, panic. Our inner critics chide, Who are you to enter a writing contest?  The Black Dog rips our confidence. Even when we boldly go forth, we fumble a word, forget a rule, or worry that a form went to the bottom of the bull pen. Maybe your crisis rose from a topic that stirred a painful memory. Maybe your crisis eroded your time and forced priorities. Whatever it was, it is yours, and you overcame it.

You survived the Rodeo.

Contest #8 delivers your elixir. Yes, it’s called TUFF, a play on the acronym and the idea that it’s a tough challenge. It’s five steps, five flash fictions! Yet, it is a tool, a gift to you that you will understand because it will resonate with what writing flash fiction has already taught you.

So far in this Flash Fiction Rodeo writers have reflected back to childhood, poked at the hardness of scars, laughed when humor elicited fear, cast a magical spell with a new literary form, signed up for a twittering social platform to write publicly, braved the unknown with a bull draw, and contemplated murder despite being good people. This Rodeo was a rough ride, but you stayed in the saddle. You wrote.

Trust the surprises you made along the way. If you found yourself writing about a topic, or in a format or on a platform previously alien to you, you likely found a nugget of satisfaction. I’ll tell you something about flash fiction — it’s the constraint that shifts the gears in your mind to problem-solving speed. The 99-word format we challenge weekly at Carrot Ranch becomes satisfying because our brains recognize that we are going to solve a problem (write a story) and 99-words is the tool.

Now it’s time to challenge you to go where you want to go…as a writer, as an entrepreneur, as a creative person. TUFF is your elixir. TUFF teaches you that each flash fiction you write takes you closer to transformation. Call it creativity, an insight, an a-ha moment or a breakthrough. TUFF will return you to your ordinary world as a writer, author, educator, business professional, parent, creative with the elixir meant for you. Like your writing crisis, your writing breakthrough is personal. But it will happen.

Use this format any time you are struggling to write a scene, chapter or novel. Use it to write the various blurbs for your book synopsis. Use it to write out your goals, mission statement or vision for your blog, business or career. It’s a tool and it’s now yours. However, until November 6, it’s also the final Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest.

Submission Guidelines

Using the form below, write about a hero’s transformation after facing a crisis. Each step is its own flash fiction, but it is the evolution of a single story.

The Rules

  1. Use the form for all five steps to write about a hero’s transformation after facing a crisis.
  2. A hero is anyone or anything going from normal to a crisis to a transformation.
  3. Each step is a revision of the same tale, beginning with a free write and ending with a complete three-act story.
  4. In step one (free-write) time your writing to 5 minutes even if it’s incomplete.
  5. Enter the free-write unedited.
  6. You may edit steps 2-4.
  7. You must edit step 5.
  8. The final story has three acts: beginning, middle and end.
  9. Entries must be original (no cheating on the free-write; you’ll only cheat yourself out of the elixir).
  10. Entries due by 11:59 pm EST November 6. Enter each step in the form all at one time.

You have one week. Pace yourself.


CHALLENGE OPTION: Due to length, challengers are asked to use the form. Be sure to write (CHALLENGE) after your title. Weekly Flash Fiction Challenges resume November 2.


Charli will be joined by two Michigan authors over coffee, during a continuous Keweenaw snowstorm. Judges will consider the following criteria:

  1. The original idea expressed in the free-write.
  2. The process by which the writer uses steps 2-4 to work that original idea.
  3. The completion of the final story based on the original idea and the flash fiction process to get there.
  4. The unedited free-write reads like a draft.
  5. The final story shows insight, polish and has a beginning, middle and end.
  6. The interpretation of a hero (epic or common), crisis and transformation.
  7. The final deadline met: 11:59 pm EST November 6

Winner Announced December 26. All who stayed in the saddle and wrote for the first annual Flash Fiction Rodeo are heroes! Your journey is nearly complete. Thank you for your courage to express and share literary art with and among others.

Complete schedule of winner announcements:





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  1. Liz H

    Posted early…Thanks! This final challenge needs some time to percolate before we sit down and open the floodgate.

    8 events in the rodeo…8 seconds in the saddle. No coincidence here, I’ll wager. 😀

    • Charli Mills

      This is the longest minute in the saddle! This is exactly the kind of challenge that asks for percolation. You’ve all been writing quick-draw flash and now you need to combine that skill with a process that creates revision. 🙂

      • Chris Mills

        This is my first time using TUFF (of course), and after looking it over, I’d say, while it does create revision, it also reduces it. The early stages narrow the scope of the story considerably. I’ll be interested to see if I have a finished product sooner with this method.

      • Charli Mills

        And I’ll be interested in your feedback, Chris!

      • Chris Mills

        I now have a nine-word synopsis and a clear view of what the story will cover. This should help me begin the final step in the appropriate place. One danger in writing FF is to begin with backstory that really isn’t relevant. I’ve fallen into this trap too often. With TUFF, I’ve already dealt with that and should be able to begin at the latest possible point in relation to the story I want to tell. Does that make sense?

      • Charli Mills

        That all makes sense, Chris. I find that I use backstory a lot in writing FF and yet it helps me clear the path so I have expressed the backstory and get to the heart of what matters. I used TUFF to figure out my 9 words for my introductory chapter. It was the one that failed to hook an agent. I rewrote it two more ways. Each version had an element I liked but it was TUFF that helped me see what the thrust of the introduction is. Now I’m doing the work of revising, cutting, and writing 5,000 words. Thank you for entering the contest and also offering feedback!

  2. Norah

    Wow, Charli. This is a TUFF challenge. Your introductory post was rousing, inviting us to join the charge and face this challenge head on, take the bull by the horns, I guess. It has been an amazing contest. When it was all ahead and I was contemplating it, I thought eight contests in a month was going to be difficult to do, but I’ve made it here to the last one – entered all so far bar my own. I’ll have to give this one some thought before I start – make sure it’s got the goods to carry me through to the end. I assume you want all pieces saved and submitted as one at the end. What a lot of reading you’ve set yourself up for. You might need to be snowed in for a few weeks. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I can’t believe we’ve come to the end already! It’s been fun and challenging. Every one of you is ready for this. It does ask for time, but it also is meant to push writers in life’s moments when time is short. I hope you can experience some breakthroughs with this. And keep in mind, this is also a tool to consider business visions, mission statements, goals or even target audiences. Trust the constraints to lead you to what you think you can’t think up right now! 🙂

      • Norah

        I’m working on my double challenge. It’s rolling around in the empty spaces at the back of my mind, searching for something sticky to grab onto. I love your final sentence. I had to read it a few times to “get’ it. Now that’s a gift! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      And yes, enter all at once. I’ll clarify that!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing, Irene!

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      Finally done. It was TUFF but an interesting process which I have followed before in creating a back cover blurb and publishing pitches. I also used it to edit my creative work in my thesis but I found that much more difficult going from a completed to small rather than a germ of an idea to a written piece. Although doing the publishers pitch in a way was also going from large to small. It really does boil down to what is crucial. It also shows me that there are bigger stories to be told than what you can write in micro fiction. I’ve rambled but I thoroughly enjoyed doing the exercise.

  3. Ritu

    Wowzer! Now That’s a challenge! No writing that over a cuppa!
    I’ll be getting me thinking cap on Charli!
    Thank you for such a fun ride the last month!

    • Charli Mills

      I’m so glad you joined in for the rides! Yes, this one might take several mornings over a cuppa!

      • Ritu

        I’m a bit OCD … If I have a challenge like this, I need to do it,… so it was done after dinner last night… meant I forgot to put my alarm on for this morning and I overslept… but it;’s DONE!

      • Charli Mills

        Good job, Ritu! You actually hit upon something that’s true for me, too. It takes something vague like “write a story” and gives it a task that can be checked-off. Thank you for taking the challenge!

  4. Judy E Martin

    Well what a ride it has been! I have managed to enter all of the challenges so far, despite being well out of my comfort zone! Thanks for pushing me beyond all limits, I thought possible. I will be attempting this one, once I get my head around it! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      You are amazing, Judy! Stepped right out of your comfort zone and more than once. 🙂

      • Judy E Martin

        Thanks so much Charli., I think it did me some good!! 🙂

      • Charli Mills

        Good! I hope you can use it again as a tool.

  5. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Free write:
    wow, wicked cool amazing fine piece ofprompt that Charli holy cow patty but some tuff task ahead omg

    9 words:
    Kid run off, tail betwixt legs, fumbling for excuses.

    59 words:
    “Kid, git yer sorry ass back here and saddle up. You’ll percolate this here idea an’ you’ll git somethin’ on paper, gol nabbit.”
    “Gol nabbit? Really, Pal?”
    “Shush Kid, that’s a stall tactic.”
    “Yeah, I gotta clean out the stalls, they’s full o’ shit.”
    “So’re you. Shorty’d ruther you muck yer writin’ than muck the stalls.”
    “Aw, muck, ok.”

    • julespaige

      I haven’t even read the full instructions yet… they looked more intimidating that looking a buckin’ Bronco in the eyes.

      But you make it look easy. I was thinking of falling back on something I’d already done…(I’ve got to many starts in fiction.) But maybe if I brew
      just a tad I can think of something new…

      I think I gotta go get me some fresh air first… you know clear out the bullshift… 😉

      • Charli Mills

        Get some fresh air, Jules! You’ll be back, too! 🙂

      • julespaige

        I started something last night. I’m not sure I like it… And a few other seeds have sprouted. So… we’ll see…. :S

    • Charli Mills

      You can sometimes find treasure in the muck! You’ll be back! 🙂

      • julespaige

        Yeah… I came back. 😉 Twice.
        Treasure hunting can be fun. Even if it stinks a bit.

        Just want to keep you and your friends on your toes…

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Word Orders

      “Ya know we’re outta order don’tcha Kid?”
      “Whatcha mean, Shorty?”
      “I mean, after the free write there’s s’posed to be a 99 word flash, then the 59 word flash, an’ then the 9 word flash, an’-”
      “-An’ then what? How low can ya go?”
      “Not goin’ low, jist boilin’ down, distillin’, if ya will. An’ then let that concentrate bubble up inta 599 words.”
      “Yer a regular mathemagician. S’pose yer gonna tell me it’s all gonna foment inta some sorta elixir too. Feelin’ lost with this un, Shorty.”
      “Ride Kid. Jist give the horse its head and hang on.”

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        599 Words (Yep, that’s right)
        Nobody’d heard of the Kid, didn’t know where the Kid even came from, or how the Kid ended up in the mythical west on a mystical word ranch. Sometimes things happen. Just like that.
        And let it be known, lest you think the Kid is a legend in her own mind, this story doesn’t belong just to The Kid, but also to a kid, some kids, any kid, even to you kids. See, the ranch is for all, a community.

        “I thought it was commutative. You know, ‘cause folks come and go.”
        “I think yer thinkin’ about commuting, Kid. Commutative’s a math word.”
        “Well, Shorty’s put a lot of math to us lately, ain’t she?”, grumbled the Kid.
        “This ain’t our usual bit, Kid, so keep yer pie-hole shut.”

        The Kid did get quiet then, just like that, which isn’t at all like what usually happens, but perhaps the stifled chatter will allow a story to unfold.

        You see the Kid was hanging around the ranch one day, when came the call in the form of a clanging triangle, summoning the hands to the chuck wagon. Always glad to have carrots yet hoping for bacon, the Kid rushed to see what Shorty had cooked up, wondering if she might ever consider roasting carrots wrapped in bacon.

        “Quit yer salivatin’, Kid, cain’t ya see Shorty ain’t got no food cookin’?”
        “Hasn’t got any.”
        “Ain’t got any what?”
        “Food cooking.”
        “That’s what I said. Don’t go transformin’ yer hyperbolic mythical western dialect on me now, Kid.”
        “I had a run-in with a hyper bullock b’fore.”
        “Shush, Kid.”

        Shorty lay down her triangle and looked squarely at the hands circled around her.

        “Hee hee, more math snuck in there.”
        “Kid, I’m tellin’ ya, shush up.”
        “Prob’ly gonna serve pi. Ouch! All right, Pal, I’ll stop.”

        Shorty addressed the ranch hands. “Ranch Hands”, she said. “There’s a bunch a stray stories out in them thar hills.”
        “We know, Shorty”, the hands responded. “We been there b’fore, rounded up navels, pie crusts, dawn, spells, even longhorns.”
        “This’s bigger.” And with that, a few hands quietly slipped away. Which is okay, we are not to judge them, not here. The Kid did not slip away, but, truth be told, when Shorty said ‘this’s bigger’, the Kid heard ‘elixir’ which she assumed meant cider.
        “There’s a bandit out there, been…”
        Kid didn’t hear the rest, the Kid was focused on “bandit” and immediately was off in her head remembering raccoons, missing most everything that Shorty said, tuning in just at the last. “An’ so, someone to take down Nanjo is what I need.”
        Now, as you may or may not know, the Kid had been looking for an excuse to round up nuisance raccoons and so assured Shorty that she would be happy to ride out, even with a banjo on her knee.
        “If you say so Boss, must be fer this whole twang thing, pluck yeah. Come on, Pal, saddle up.”
        “No, Kid”, Shorty said. “Ya gotta ride this one alone. We think Nanjo is hidin’ out in Choco Carmel Canyon. It’s deep and steep and riddled with caves. Be careful Kid.”

        Well, to make a long story short, that is to fit the word limit without too much revision, Nanjo was not caught, and no raccoons were harmed in the writing of this story. But also know that the Kid rode off and rode back, transformed. After a brief ritualistic self flagellation in the Cave of Doubt the Kid trusted in her imagination and let that old horse have its head. Just like that.

      • Charli Mills

        Ride…and use this word frequently: mathemagician. If you don’t foment any elixir, I’ll have to drag you through an in person workshop.

      • Charli Mills

        Magic quotation marks happened.

      • Charli Mills

        You got it all! But I think you already discovered the elixir. Sometimes there are more caves, like in Choco Carmel Canyon. There’s handprints on the rock walls, too where you can press your hand against time and all others who rode before. It’s a remembering. That we began to be human at creation — the creation of art. Nanjo can keep his ‘coin. Wealth is found in the seeking, the surviving, the passing on of the elixir. It’s all worthwhile. 🙂

  6. kim blades, writer

    This really is going to be a challenge!

    • Charli Mills

      It does have its reward, though and I hope you get to experience the transformation of your writing through the process!

  7. cam8510

    Step#1 is done, and I’m working on step#2. This is really an awesome exercise, Charli. I may be advancing in another, ongoing competition. If I do, I’ll use your TUFF method to write my next competition submission.

    • julespaige

      Too many or not enough steps?
      One thing for sure is this ain’t no Yellow Brick Road to Oz….

      Good luck to you and every other TUFF Writer!

    • Charli Mills

      That’s awesome, Chris! I’m so glad you had positive results already.. And good luck with the other competition!

  8. Norah

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    I can’t believe it! We’ve arrived at the final contest in the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo. We’ve been writing two stories a week all through October. I think I’ll be suffering withdrawal symptoms next month!
    But this last one will keep me going for a while. It’s TUFF! If you remember George Smilovici from the eighties, you’ll recognise the question, “How TUFF?” https://youtu.be/602B5AXT0GQ Not too tuff for us! Let’s join in and give it a go.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s so funny! I didn’t know of George. He needs to be the spokesperson for TUFF the literary challenge, too! Thanks for sharing!

      • Norah

        I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂 I’m sure we can come up with some of our own:
        I’m so TUFF I can channel my inner child and not care who sees.
        I’m so TUFF …
        I’m so TUFF I can complete 8 contests in one month ..
        (No time for creativity at the moment, I might (or not) spend some time thinking later. I can think of a few who would do it in the blink of an eye.

      • Charli Mills

        Brilliant, Norah! I’m making a badge to reflect I’m So TUFF!

    • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

      I’d forgotten about him. That is so Australian. Yes I think withdrawl symptoms are going to be rife amongst us all but we are back to our weekly 99 words which I look forward to.

      • Norah

        I am looking forward to normalcy (whatever that is) returning soon too. 🙂

  9. elliotttlyngreen

    I feel like if we accomplish this we should receive some degree in Creative Writing.. =] Hopefully won’t take me to the deadline to get an idea. What a Monster! ! What a Rodeo. Thanks Charli! !

    • Charli Mills

      Hmm, maybe you will get a TUFF Certificate! Thank you for joining in, Elliott! You’ve taken the bull by the horns all month!

  10. katimac62yahoo

    Thanks for the fun and the learning experience, Charli. It’s been a wonderful time and a pleasant distraction from RL. ZGood luck to all the other writers. Hope to see this again next year.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m so glad you could join in the fun and allowed it to teach you something of your own writing abilities. Yes! A distraction from real life, too. 😉 This will be an annual contest. Our weekly 99-word challenges resume Nov. 2 if you want further distractions.

  11. Colleen Chesebro

    Thanks for the fun challenges Charli and the Carrot Ranch team! I cleared my schedule today to do this last challenge because NaNoWritMo starts tomorrow. You guys are the best. Happy Halloween! <3

    • Charli Mills

      Fabulous, Colleen! It’s been great fun having you join in the rodeo. Ah, yes, NaNoWriMo begins! I’m a rebel this year 😉 Happy Halloween!

      • Colleen Chesebro

        Thanks, Charli. I think I might be hanging around quite a bit. I had no idea how much I enjoyed writing flash. It is the best creativity starter I’ve ever had. <3

      • Charli Mills

        I’m happy to hear that, Colleen!

  12. Ritu

    Well, I have had a go… it was TUFF but great fun! Thank you Charli and all you wonderful challengers and judges, for pushing me!

    • Charli Mills

      At least the form wasn’t TUFF this time! I’m so glad you took the challenges and entered the contests. You even did TUFF!

      • Ritu

        I know!!!!

  13. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Reblogged this on ShiftnShake and commented:
    Charli Mills has presented a TUFF concluding challenge to an exciting first rodeo. You have a week to write for this one. Journey over to Carrot Ranch to test your mettle.
    Stay tuned for announcement of contest winners, beginning November 7th.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, D.!

  14. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

    Holy cow! This one’s a TUFF ride! I have to sleep on this one because I’m all bummed that I missed out on #7. Definitely want to give this one a go. But yikes!

    • Charli Mills

      It’s not as tough if you break down TUFF”s steps! 😉

  15. Annecdotist

    I’m intrigued by this, Charli, and will certainly give your framework a go. As I’m heavily into revising and rewriting my WIP I’m not sure I’ll make the contest, or even the challenge, but I’ll be interested to see how it goes.

    • Charli Mills

      Anne, I was really pleased with how this process worked with a complicated situation I have with my WIP. It helped me see both what was not working and what I was missing. Like with any tool, I think it can be adjusted. I’d be interested to hear if you use it!

  16. Juliet Nubel

    Good morning Charli. When I read about this one at the beginning of the Rodeo I remember saying to myself “There’s no way I’ll be doing that one”. It’s a month later and since reading your post yesterday I can’t get an idea for it out of my head…Drat and double drat! I’m sure it won’t leave me alone until it’s done. Hohum, here we go again!

    • Charli Mills

      Yes! An idea that won’t go away is the best kind. Write it out, Juliet!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing!

  17. julespaige

    I broke it down. I followed the steps. I’m not sure I like what I have entered. But with travel around the corner… and wanting to get something in rather than nothing… It’s in. I’m used to much smaller counts. Almost 600 words is twice to three times my normal go.

    I might try a challenge with lighter fare, or another entry.

    • Charli Mills

      Well done, Jules! You are flexing those writing muscles! And safe journey to you!

  18. julespaige

    I did a second entry. Just to get a handle on the process. Though I’m not sure about the three acts. I like how it turned out.

      • julespaige

        I looked up graphs for writing. There are quite a few.
        Like with smaller verse… sometimes I just do it rather than map out a plot. Very interesting and I think easier for longer pieces.

      • Charli Mills

        The easiest graph is:
        1. Start here
        2. Do something
        3. Stop

        Of course, it’s much more complicated than that but it’s also the map of the most powerful sentence: SVO. When we drill this basics into our patterns of writing we can really make it work.

  19. robbiesinspiration

    A lovely last challenge post, Charli. I have managed to judge one contest and enter three others which I am pleased about. I will try to find time for this last one over the coming weekend. Oct/Nov is a bit crazy with my kids writing exams.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s fantastic, Robbie! Thank you for being a part of the Rodeo on many levels. 🙂

  20. Sherri Matthews

    What a ride! And we’re not done yet! Great challenge Charli, have shared and tightening my reins… 🙂 <3

    • Charli Mills

      It’s been a fabulous ride, Sherri! Thank you for sharing!

      • Sherri Matthews

        It sure has my wonderful Western Word Wrangler! Always my dear friend 🙂 <3

  21. Sherri Matthews

    Reblogged this on A View From My Summerhouse and commented:
    This is it, the last ride of the Rodeo! TUFF: The Ultimate Flash Fiction by Charli Mills, Lead Buckroo, is live at Carrot Ranch!

    A brief intro: ‘TUFF delivers your elixir. Yes, it’s called TUFF, a play on the acronym and the idea that it’s a tough challenge. It’s five steps, five flash fictions! Yet, it is a tool, a gift to you that you will understand because it will resonate with what writing flash fiction has already taught you.’

    If you’re ready to write five flash fictions in one, then this is the contest for you. Deadline 11:59 EST November 6, winner announced December 26. As always, no entry fee and a cash prize.

    This is the last of my reblogs for the Rodeo, which also lists all the dates for the winning announcements for all 8 contests. My ‘Murderous Musings’ winner will be announced on December 19, here and at Carrot Ranch. As always, full details below, free entry and a cash prize.

    I’ll be back here as soon as I come up for some air from the packing boxes and look forward to those long promised visits. And good luck to everyone ink deep in NaNoWriMo. It’s time to ride and write like the wind!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Sherri! It’s been fun! Now for the judging and revealing!

      • Sherri Matthews

        I’ve loved being able to share as much as possible Charli…and hosting at the Ranch too! Exciting…can’t wait! 🙂 <3

  22. Sarah Brentyn

    Wow. It’s done. (Almost.) The Rodeo was a hit, I think. 🙂 Lots of participants and some who had never tried flash (or Twitterature). Great month!

    Excited to see all the winning entries. The challenges have been fun to read as we went along.

    This one looks intriguing. I’m curious how it will work. I’ll have to try it out and let you know. Maybe, if I’m brave enough, I’ll give it a go with a challenge.

    • Charli Mills

      It’s been a great Rodeo, lots of energy. I’m most delighted to see writers taking risks — pushing themselves to write beyond their comfort zones and tackle new challenges such as Twitter. Let me know if you use this for any of your short stories. I’d be interested in your feedback! We’ll be calling on you to help judge the All-Around!

      • Sarah Brentyn

        I was delighted, too. It was nice seeing so many jump out of their comfort zones and just give it a try. Stretching their writing wings.

        I’ll let you know. It’s a new way of looking at things, for me, so I’ll try.

        Looking forward to helping judge the All-Around! Talk about tough. 😉

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Do it. I did it as a challenge. Well worth the try. It was an interesting journey. I learned.

      • Sarah Brentyn

        Perhaps… It’s daunting but I do love a challenge. 🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Oh, and what I learned is, it’s not so daunting. My experience was weird, but maybe that’s how it goes. Weird as in it was not the linear path to 599 that I expected, but the path did get me there.

  23. Chris Mills

    submitted. It’s a very good process, I think. I like how the steps shorten, forcing me to isolate the real story. The nine-word step became somewhat of an outline for the final story. This sure beats writing a story that is 500 words of the limit of a competition and having to cut. I had to add words to this story. The structure of TUFF controls the overwriting. I like that.

    • cam8510

      I just realized I hyphenated a word just before submitting…That turned it into one word. I have 598.

      • Charli Mills

        You can resubmit it and unhyphenate the word. Or leave it as is. That’s not going to be the deal-breaker in the contest. Other elements weigh in more. The fact that you did this challenge and provided good feedback has really helped. The 9 words is rather amazing. One wouldn’t think that’s where it all resides, but ultimately it makes us focus. It does help with the overwriting!

  24. julespaige

    One more time in a different setting…
    And to see if I like the process.

    Now to maybe apply TUFF to other things… that’s a different challenge.

    • Charli Mills

      Yay, Jules! You’re a TUFF writer!

      • julespaige

        I do take a break in between all the little stuff. And sometimes in between that bigger section.
        I think I still have to work on making better sense. 😉 Or learn how to edit and revise. Once I get towards the end I kinda smush thinks… but I think it still workes/worked.

  25. Christina Steiner

    Never thought about creating this way. But it was very interesting and a way to shape future writing. Never too old to learn new tricks, even if the bull is not cooperating. Ha, ha.
    Thank you for getting my juices flowing even though it was Tuff.
    In the end it turned out different in some ways, but maybe that’s the idea.
    Good luck to all and I hope to read some entries.

    • Charli Mills

      Christina, I appreciate that you were up for the challenge even if the bull isn’t cooperating! 😀 Good that it turned out different! One of the lessons in TUFF is about revision. Often we focus on editing or proofing, but true revision is fine-tuning our original idea and the heart of the story. It takes distillation to find that beating heart and then we do change once we write to it. Thank you for entering! We will publish. Once we start announcing winners, we’ll be asking for permission. It will be a compilation of entries and challenges in digital format. It’s going to be a good read!

      • Christina Steiner

        Thank you. It was fun and stimulating, even if I didn’t ride all eight bulls.

  26. Juliet Nubel

    Hey again Charli. Mine’s in! I knew the idea wouldn’t leave me alone. It was certainly a TUFF one but a FUN one too (Full of Useful Neuronblasting)
    I loved the whole rodeo. I think I’ve got writeritis…

    • Charli Mills

      Yay, Juliet! I’m glad it roped you in and was FUN as well as TUFF. I love your acronym for FUN! Thank you for joining the Rodeo! Weekly flash fiction challenges might help with that writeritis!

      • Juliet Nubel

        Yep, I’ll definitely be looking for treatment and the weekly flash fiction could just be the thing. . I’m giving my brain a wee breather first however, before jumping back in the saddle. See you soon!

  27. Judy E Martin

    I did not think that I was going to be able to do this one as it was certainly TUFF. I couldn’t do all the others though and leave this one out. I am not sure it is going to be up to par, but thanks for challenging me beyond what I thought possible!! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      I’m so impressed with how you pushed through this last one, Judy! You’ve earned a TUFF badge and expanded your writing possibilities!

      • Judy E Martin

        Thanks Charli, I am thrilled that I managed to do it. 🙂

  28. Liz H

    Submitted. Crap, that was hard, but well worth the effort of changing up the usual method and reaching into my hidden (dark) corners.
    (Cracks her neck, side-to-side, and settles back in the chair, exhausted.)

    • Liz H

      Double crap! Found a typo–must resubmit…

    • Liz H

      Never mind…Lol!

    • Charli Mills

      Lots of neck and word cracking going on here, Liz! 😀 Thanks for being such a TUFF writer!

      • Liz H

        Thanks to everyone for bringing the challenges forward & encouraging us to leap so the net would appear.

    • julespaige


      Is that …that we are just plodding in different ‘shift’?

      I’m there with you on the creaking bones!

  29. Michael

    What a quite revealing experience that was. Whilst I don’t care particularly for my output I did love the challenge of the process. What a great 8 challenges they were indeed, thanks so much for the effort that went into putting it together.

    • Charli Mills

      Michael, I’m so delighted to were up for the full challenge! That’s amazing to complete all eight. The output for TUFF might not be impressive for any of us, but the process itself can really impact our writing. I hope you can use it again! Thank you!

      • Michael

        Indeed i learned a lot thank you !

  30. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

    Well. Here I am at the eleventh hour, but I think I did it! Hope all submitted OK. *fingers crossed*


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