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September 25 Free-Write

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The clock started ticking at 12:00 a.m. (EST). That’s midnight in New York City when September 25, 2018, begins. The contest ends by the close of day September 25, 2018, at 11:59 (EST).

This is the final free-write flash fiction contest to qualify five writers to compete in the October TUFFest Ride event during the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo at Carrot Ranch. A free-write requires you to draft quickly.

You can revise, edit or polish. But you only have 24 hours which is not enough time to let a first draft set. We know that. We are looking at your free-write skills, your bravery to write freely according to a prompt.

Judges will examine how creative a writer can be within both time and word constraint. Charli Mills, Cynthia Drake and Laura Smyth all of Hancock, Michigan will judge all TUFF contests. Your free-write must follow all five rules to qualify.

RULES

  1. You must use the revealed prompt: “ranch romance”
  2. You must enter using the provided form below
  3. You must write your story in 297 words (exactly, not including title)
  4. You must enter by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on September 25, 2018 (use the form provided below or email your full name and entry to wordsforpeople@gmail.com)
  5. You must be willing to compete in the 2018 October TUFFest Ride if selected

If you qualify, you will be among five winning writers to further compete for first, second and third place in the TUFFest flash fiction contest you will ever enter. The event equates to bull-riding in a cowboy rodeo. It’s a chance to show your versatility of flash fiction writing skills. Five writers will compete:

  1. October 1: Writers tune into a live video posted at Carrot Ranch Facebook Page for the announcement of who will be selected the Fab Five from the September entries. These five writers will have five days to do a new free-write.
  2. October 8: The Fab Five tune into a live video for a twist to a 99-word challenge to rewrite their free-write. They will have five days to write.
  3. October 15: The Fab Five tune into a live video for a twist to a 59-word challenge to rewrite their 99-word story. They will have five days to write.
  4. October 22: The Fab Five tune into a live video for a twist to a 9-word challenge to rewrite their 59-word story. They will have five days to write.
  5. October 29: The Fab Five tune into a live video to find out which three advances. The remaining three contestants will have 24 hours to write a final 495-word story from their TUFF exhibition.
  6. November 2: First, second and third place announced. All five contestants will win a prize (yet to be determined, based on sponsors).

WINNING TIPS

Go with your gut. At Carrot Ranch Literary Community, we play with 99 words, no more, no less every week. We’ve learned that our first instinct to a prompt might be strange or uncomfortable. The natural tendency of a writer is to water down that reaction — to write safely. Don’t. Be brave and go where the prompt leads you.

Be creative. Along with going with your gut, take a creative approach. If you are literal, you might write too stiffly. But do poke a literal response if that comes to you. Ask yourself how you can turn it upside down and create a surprising twist. Also, you don’t need to use the exact phrase (or the quotation marks unless you are using dialog or showing irony).

Be professional. We are all adults here, and adult content is a part of literary art. However, think like a professional literary artist whose job is to write. If you think shocking readers gives you an edge, think again. We live in a world desensitized by global crassness, violence, and inhumanity. Shock value is cheap. Instead, craft a clever twist, show intelligence and the ability to interpret the global theater. Make your readers think.

Write with emotion. You also want to make your readers feel. Characters give us all the opportunity to experience life beneath the skin of another. Literary art can share imagined experiences from what it is like to attend school at Hogwarts or be a polar bear. Invite your readers to feel these unique perspectives. Avoid stereotypes.

Breathe! When you control your breath, you control your mind. Yes, it’s a competition. Yes, it’s only 24-hours. Yes, you have a lot on your plate. But you have the right to be here. You are a creative writer — so breathe, read the rules, write, count your words, and enter. No matter the outcome, you were brave enough to write!

You can use Microsoft Word or use WordCounter.net to determine 297 words.

There are no entry fees, and five winning writers will each win a cash prize.

Thank you to our sponsors:

Openings Life Coaching
SmythType Design
Solar Up
Bill Engleson
Thread Tales Studio
The Continental

And our Leaders & Judges:

Geoff Le Pard
Irene Waters
Sherri Matthews
Norah Colvin
D. Avery
Chelsea Owens
Esther Chilton
Angie Oakley
Helen Stromquist
Hugh Roberts
Mike Matthews
Robbie Cheadle
Anne Goodwin
Bonnie Sheila
Colleen Chesebro
Miriam Hurdle

**There’s still time to sponsor the Rodeo**

ENTRY FORM (email wordsforpeople@gmail.com for support or to submit special formatting)


86 Comments

  1. It had to be romance….

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Well, hmmm, well, what a lovely prompt, but tough in so many ways. Thank you, Charli.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. syncwithdeep says:

    This is tuffff.. Not sure if i can write something.. Let me give a try..

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Annecdotist says:

    Now that is a tough one!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Dang you, Boss. Yes, I laughed out loud, and as stated above-Urgh!
    But maybe something will come to me.

    It was a long cold winter…
    Her big brown eyes framed by her long lashes, Bessie looked at him. Extra oats? Cud this be love?
    Hay, why not, is all he would say of the affair.

    Liked by 10 people

  6. […] This is the final free-write flash fiction contest to qualify five writers to compete in the October… […]

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Juli Hoffman says:

    Reblogged this on Roundabout Forty and commented:
    This is the FINAL free-write flash fiction contest to qualify five writers to compete in the October TUFFest Ride event during the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo at Carrot Ranch.

    The contest ends by the close of day September 25, 2018, at 11:59 (EST).

    Good luck everybody and happy writing!
    xo Juli

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Norah says:

    I like the thought of romance at the Ranch. We can all do with a bit of romance at times.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. floatinggold says:

    Submitted!
    Can’t wait to read all the entries.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. syncwithdeep says:

    finally submitted. Thanks, Charli. Although Tuff, I really enjoyed writing this..

    Liked by 3 people

  11. syncwithdeep says:

    Thank you so much, Charli and the organizers for this month-long free write. having been used to less than 100 words, it is definitely a Himalayan task for me to write something for 297 words. I enjoyed writing the five prompts to the core as all the 5 stories definitely had an emotional touch towards the end. Wishing all the writers in this challenge good luck and congrats for those who make it to the TUFF write.

    Liked by 6 people

  12. Done and done. Wow, hardest one yet! Just hoping I finished strong. I can’t wait to read everyone’s entries over this past month. I know it is tons of work to read, compile and judge so a huge thanks goes out to Charli and crew for the challenge. This was a lot of fun to participate in and I am looking forward to the new challenges The Ranch throws at us in October. Best of luck all!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Jules says:

      I don’t think I finished strong… But at least I had an entry for every week. I might post my entries in November after all the whoop-la.

      Good luck!

      Liked by 5 people

      • I totally missed the first week entirely but I was able to submit for all the others. Maybe finish strongly was a bit generous on my end. I finished is more like it 😉 Post your entries for sure! I would love to read them. I posted all of mine (except today’s because it is still open) but I would love to read other takes on the prompts.
        Best of luck to you too!! Fingers crossed we are facing off in October ;-D

        Liked by 4 people

      • Jules says:

        It is going to be interesting because we really don’t know how many have entered. We’ll have to see how the contestants are being posted before I post my pieces – but I’ll label them as clear as I can as to what they were written for. 🙂

        And then those unknown twists… That’s hard to imagine. But maybe we’ll find out soon enough 😀

        Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      What a ride it’s been so far and the Rodeo hasn’t officially started! I’m impressed at the quality of drafting you all displayed. I’ll include statistics in a few days. Everyone who participated will receive a PDF of all the stories. Everyone who competed could only finish strong!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, technically our ride officially started 5 weeks ago 😀 I can’t speak for everyone but I am pretty sure we are all in agreement that we had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the challenges these last few weeks presented. No matter the outcome, I know we are looking forward to reading the PDF and following along those 5 lucky writers who get to participate in the rodeo!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        The PDF will show you all how impressive your mutual enjoyment of writing is!

        Like

  13. Liz H says:

    Okay…submitted by the form and also by email. Yikes!

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Jules says:

    Best to all the entrants!

    I’m in. Later than usual, had some errands.
    Anyone got an extra raft and oars… it’s raining – again.
    News said over 170 days of rain in my area – so far this year!
    Nope I don’t live in a rain forest, just feels like it this year.

    Good wishes to all those who’ll be taking the Bull by the Horns at the Rodeo and for those who just wanna watch from the sidelines 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Ritu says:

    Not sure whether it has gone through so I am going to email it as well!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. “Pal! Thought mebbe you were off courtin’ an’ sparkin’. Romance is in the air. Love…”
    “Really Kid? What these folks love is a tuff challenge. Look through these comments. There’s excitement and anticipation. An’ a growin’ case of nerves.”
    “That was a tuff challenge, alright, Pal. Shorty’s got kind of a mean streak, ain’t she?”
    “Yep. But ya know, ever’one seems ta have had fun with the challenge too.”
    “Reckon jist givin’ it a go is an achievement.”
    “Yep. Ever’one done Shorty proud.”
    “Done themselves proud. Bet they learned a lot about their writin’ an’ themselves.”
    “Gotta love that.”

    Liked by 7 people

  17. Juli Hoffman says:

    Just under the wire! WHEW!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. floridaborne says:

    Can’t believe I totally missed this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Wow! I think I may have underestimated the size of this thing and the number of people buzzing about it.
    I put aside about 20 minutes and wrote something silly. I just stopped writing when it hit 300 words and then deducted 3 (of the many) unnecessary ones.
    Probably best to tell the judges not to bother reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      Richmond, I think that’s a great strategy! One of the hardest lessons for a writer is to learn that play has value. That’s why we “play” every week. Somehow we think it must feel like work. But truly, giving into the fun and silliness of drafting gets amazing results. Of course, the next hard lessons are to learn to revise. I love your strategy to write to a higher word count and then remove words.

      Like

  20. […] my LAST entry for the chance to qualify to compete in the October TUFFest Ride event during the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo at Carrot Ranch. The challenge ended yesterday at […]

    Liked by 2 people

  21. CRAP! I just entered and realized the date. Boo hoo… I think this was the best one I wrote. I had power outages and all kinds of mayhem yesterday!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Charli Mills says:

    Thank you to all the TUFF writers out there who dared to draft in 24 hours for a writing contest. That takes boots! Now my judges and I have the challenge of selecting five writers to continue with the TUFFest Ride. I hope you take a moment to celebrate your achievement in overcoming all the barriers we face as writers to commit to our craft. Well done. You are a TUFF Writer!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. […] Submitted for the Carrot Ranch Free-Write Contest. […]

    Like

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A 5-Star Readers’ Favorite!

Thank you, Writers of Carrot Ranch!

Congress of the Rough Writers, Carrot Ranch, @Charli_Mills

Lead Buckaroo & Sasquatch

TUFF Judge Laura Smyth

TUFF Judge Cynthia Drake

Continental Fire Company

Solar Up

readilearn

Bill Engleson

Susan Sleggs

Bob & Sue Spitulnik

M J Mallon

Colleen Chesebro

Miriam Hurdle

Rodeo Leader Geoff Le Pard

Rodeo Judge Esther Chilton

Rodeo Leader Irene Waters

Rodeo Leader Sherri & Judge Mike Matthews

Rodeo Judge Hugh Roberts

Rodeo Judge Anne Goodwin

Rodeo Judge Robbie Cheadle

Rodeo Leader D. Avery (Soon to be released new book)

Rodeo Judge Bonnie Sheila

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