The TUFFest Ride Second Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

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

October 8, 2018

Welcome back to the TUFFest Ride where five writers — Ritu Bhathal, Bill Engleson, Pete Fanning, Liz Husebye Hartmann, and Kay Kingsley — exhibit their flash fiction riding skills in The Ultimate Flash Fiction. TUFF is a process of drafting, revising, and rewriting a single story by varying word counts.

The TUFFest Ride also includes unexpected technical challenges. Like POV. All authors write their stories from a point of view (POV). It is the position the narrator takes in telling the story. Here’s a simple breakdown, although it is not a simple technique to master:

  1. First person POV: the character tells his or her own story, relating the experiences as they happen. Narration uses the pronoun “I.”
  2. Second person POV: narrates the experiences of the reader as “you” in non-fiction. Not to say it can’t be used in literary art or fiction; it’s just not common.
  3. Third person POV: the character does not relate his or her own story, but relates the experiences of another. Third person omniscient has access to the thoughts and experiences of all the characters. Third person limited only has access to the thoughts and experiences one or a few characters. POV characters allow an author full access to a few key characters while staying out of the skins and heads of the remaining characters.

When an author jumps too quickly from one character’s thoughts to another, readers have trouble keeping up. Editors call this “head-hopping.” Readers need a signal (a page break, chapter break, italics, etc.) to follow the narration that includes multiple POV characters.

Typically, in flash fiction, writers use one narration voice. But how do we know that is the right voice for our stories? The 99-word flash fiction form offers an experimental writing tool. It’s not a big commitment — only 99 words — and a writer can use it to try different POVs. Another possibility, if a writer is still trying to figure out the angle for the story-idea, a new POV can shed light on the story.

A different POV character might be someone mentioned in the story — what is that person doing when the story happens according to narration? Or it could be the POV of an observer. Second person POV could be a narrator telling the character their own stories such as a grandparent relating a child’s tale to the child, or a loved one telling a coma victim their story.

By now, you should know that this week’s TUFF challenge will include POV. The Fab Five (and hopefully some of you playing from home) all have a new free-draft that includes the prompt “mudslide.” All the challenges from here on out use that free-draft story. You are not writing a new story, but you are rewriting the original, and you can certainly go any direction you want with it. Cutting words is an exercise in concision but is not truly revising.

I want you to be brave and revise. I want you to push into your original draft and pull out a 99-word story from it.

The Second Challenge: write two 99-word stories using your original free-draft for mudslide. One continues the original POV. The second uses a different POV or POV character. This is your chance to see how flash fiction can be an exploratory tool.

All of the stories for our Fab Five will post November 1. However, if you’d like to hear their stories, I offer you a reading on SoundCloud. I had, once again, technical difficulties. This time I did get the video recorded but failed to upload it. I’d like a quick shout-out to Frank Hubeney who has often recorded flash fiction readings using SoundCloud as that gave me a secondary option. Hopefully, I’ll have the recording issues worked out by next week!

The TUFFest Ride Reading of Free-Write Entries for Mudslide by Kay Kingsley, Bill Engleson, Pete Fanning, Liz Husebye Hartmann, and Ritu Bhathal:

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  1. calmkate

    lol more slippery slimy mud 🙂

    Charli did you get my entries for the dialogue turtle prompt? No receipt yet …

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Yes, and I feel as if my technical skills have slid down that slippery slope.

      Your entry is in the archives so I’m certain it’s gone to Geoff. He’s in a different time zone and I suspect he’ll respond soon. Thanks!

      • calmkate

        lol no idea how you juggle it all Charli, job well done!

      • Jules


        Your tech skills are better than mine. I don’t have any worth slip siding 🙂

        Again thanks for helping us stretch, ok, shrink our stories 😉

      • Charli Mills

        I spoke to a local tech guy in town and he confirmed that everyone has tech issues! 😀

  2. robbiesinspiration

    Lots of fun, Charli. Mudslide, hmmm, maybe I’ll join in just for fun.

    • Charli Mills

      You can join in if you’d like, Robbie! The first task is to free-write 297 words, using the prompt “mudslide.” Then, take the current task to reduce the story to 99-words. First, write one flash that continues the POV. Then, write another with a different POV or POV character. Have fun!

  3. Norah

    Woah! Two 99-word flash stories and one from a different POV. This is going to be a fun slide.
    I hope you get your tech difficulties sorted soon. Tech is great when it works, frustrating when it doesn’t.

    • Charli Mills

      My recording turned out to be too large to transfer and I can’t figure out how to compress it or edit the file so it’s not so massive. Darn it, it was funny, too — my SIL walked out onto the porch not realizing I was recording and he cheered on the flash fiction. I’m grateful no one has to hear how badly I mispronounced “pavilion”! I got it right on the Sound Cloud reading. Yes — should be a fun slide!

      • Norah

        It’s a great reading. I enjoyed it. I’m not sure how to compress it either, but you could post each story separately. The quality is impressive. I can see why their stories were selected and mine weren’t. I’m joining in alongside though, and learning, hopefully. 🙂

  4. Norah

    Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    Are you riding along with the TUFFest writing challenge at home? Charli has posted the second challenge. We’re not only staying muddy for another week, we’re calling others in too! Check it out over at the Ranch.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for sharing, Norah!

  5. denmaniacs4

    Pavilion? Am I curious? Yellow? Blue with curiosity? You betcha I am.

    • Charli Mills

      I got it right on Sun Cloud, Bill! I said it like “Pavlova” — “pavalon. Hopefully, I’ll figure out how to compress the files by next week. Little by little, each week the tech get improved but not where I want to be.

      By the way, reading your story was enjoyable — you have such wonderful passages of pacing and use of language.

  6. Ritu

    Ooer Charli!
    Time to get thinking!!!

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, Ritu! I couldn’t spit out surreptitiously! Forgive my word omission. You have many possibilities and I hope that’s what you draw from the technical challenge is that 99-words can lead experimentation. Have fun!

      • Ritu


  7. Ritu

    It was great to hear you reading our stories Charli, and all so different!
    I have sent my next installments… Was at home on my sickbed, so thought I’d get going!

    • Jules

      Hope you get better soon! I always get some kind of sniffles when the seasons change. But usually without having to be bedridden.

      • Ritu

        This was a killer migraine Jukes… I’m a teacher. Usually the sniffles can’t knock me out. They’re not allowed! But this migraine… Sheesh! ????

      • Jules

        Auto correct and phat fingering…
        Ouch. I know folks who suffer. They’ve had to do all sorts of diet change. Like being careful of even some food dyes. But I’m sure that it is more complex than just food issues. Sometimes the brain has a life of its own…

        Just (((Ritu))) get better! And stay healthy. 🙂

      • Ritu

        Thank you Lovely Jules. After 2 data in bed I think I’ve knocked it on the head!

      • Jules

        data, days same thing… 😉
        I think my one son has a voice transfer program that has to be tweaked when ‘writing’ – I haven’t tried it yet. I just type.

        Though I think with this last update in some of my docs the spell check is off. I’ll have to look into that as my spelling isn’t stellar. I do enjoy the online dictionary!

      • Ritu

        See… Maybe I’m not right yet!!!

      • Jules

        98% is good.

      • Ritu


      • Ritu

        Jules even… Stupid autocorrect!

    • Kay Kingsley, The Memory Cellar

      Where were you able to watch the video, Ritu? I would love to watch it too! And congrats for already submitting your next entry!Sounds like you found your groove 😉 Can’t wait to read it.

      • Ritu

        There was a SoundCloud link at the end of the post Kay. Not a video but an opportunity to hear our stories being read!

      • Kay Kingsley, The Memory Cellar

        I must have totally missed it! Thanks for letting me know. I will see if I can find it 😉

      • Ritu

        It might have got added later. It wasn’t there when I first looked. Appeared when I reread the post later!

      • Kay Kingsley, The Memory Cellar

        Maybe that was it but luckily I found it now. I have to admit, it is soooooo strange hearing someone read what I wrote! I loved hearing everyone’s stories though and Charli did a great job 😉

      • Ritu

        I know. Strange but lovely. She has a great voice for it!!!

      • Kay Kingsley, The Memory Cellar

        Found it! Now who is technically challenged?! So great hearing all of the stories read. Amazing how the stories went in such different directions. Great job everyone!

      • Ritu

        I love how everyone’s thinking is different!

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see the shift in your second POV. How did that go for you, writing the two different perspectives?

  8. Jules

    OK! I’m home once again. And printed my original story and will be working as soon as I put up a load of laundry and maybe get some groceries…Maybe I can wait on food for tomorrow…

    Nice little twist there. Two POV’s I’ll come back to listen to the TUFF stories later. Thanks for recording them.

    Cheers all, good luck and most of all have fun! ~ Jules

  9. Jules

    This was sooo much fun…

    See link for illustrations too:
    Name of Your Post Here Entitlement? & Glinda’s Good Year

      • Liz H

        Amazing the L. Frank Baum’s work has been around for so long. And delighted with Gregory Maguire’s new takes on them!
        Nice takes on perspectives in Oz!

      • Jules

        Two voices, good cop/ bad cop – I chose witches 🙂

      • Liz H

        Totally works!

  10. Liz H

    Cool to hear my story in another person’s voice. Gearing up for Part 2 of the TUFF challenge. Hope I understand what’s needed.
    Yee haw!!

    • Liz H

      Okay, Step 2, two POV has been emailed along.
      Now, what shall I work on next (steeples fingers, purses lips)?

  11. dgkaye

    I commend my fellow writers for taking on the task, lol. And congrats to Ritu, well done! <3

    • Liz H

      I liked all three versions. You have a great story, there!


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