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November 18: Flash Fiction Challenge

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Snow whirls from every direction. Lady Lake Superior conducts her frozen orchestra, each note a snowflake that adds to the howling concert. Snow is going to become an issue.

On the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan, snow removal becomes a big deal. We often get over 300 inches of the white stuff. Today was the first big dump and I was the first neighbor to start scooping. Ordinary snow shovels won’t do. We need Yooper Scoopers.

I opened the garage to find a smaller shovel and one fell into my arms. I laughed, thinking about Liz Husebye Hartmann’s rakish romance from the prompt Carry On. I was excited to grab the shovel to clear my steps. Except, it was the wrong shovel. I leaned the disappointed gardening shovel back against the wall and found the square shovel instead. I’ll dance with the digging shovel next spring.

The steel scoops and shovels clang against paved driveways and cement steps. It’s a distinct scraping sound that can be heard by neighbors. Once someone within hearing distance initiates snow removal, others want to join in. We each have our own tools and we shout to one another over the roar of wind, friendly banter that will continue all snow season.

Now, some of you better acquainted with snow might wonder why we are shoveling in the storm. Most people who live in snowy places shovel or blow driveways after a storm passes. We don’t get storms like that. We get a chugging snow machine who creates her own weather. I’ve seen months when the snow never ceases. It might lessen, but it doesn’t stop. Going into snow season, the lake effect storms putter like bad gas in a snowblower. We’ve had lots of puttering, but the system is now fully operational.

We make hills as high as we can push a Yooper Scooper. The bottom of the scoop is like a sled. You don’t lift snow with this tool, you push and scatter it, eventually building giant debris hills of white. If the accumulations are deep, we have to think about removal. One year, some neighbors hired a loader to remove snow so they could continue to scoop their driveways. We have an effective piling system, and as of yet, we have not required the services of a big tool like a loader.

The City of Hancock employs workers between 2:30-7:30 am to remove snow from streets. As a late-night writer, it’s one of my winter pleasures to watch the machinery and dump trucks parade up and down Roberts Street in the wee hours when no one else is awake. For now, they will plow and grade. By the New Year, I’ll have a front-row seat to all the snow removal tools.

And speaking of tools, it’s time to consider tools of revision.

Many writers confuse revision with editing. They are not the same thing and each requires different tools. A lot of writers skip revision because they don’t understand how to do it. Or, find the creation of a Revision Plan too difficult. It is a lot of work. Just like removing snow. But it comes with the territory of being a writer. As a reformed pantser, I discovered that I love the process of revision.

First, consider the work you are dreaming or drafting. I say dreaming in reference to pre-writing activities. Currently, I’m dreaming my next novel. I’m writing some flash fiction with a protagonist in mind, curious about her story. I’m exploring, hoping to learn more. My next novel is churning in my imagination. Pre-writing is dream-time. It’s also plotting, mapping a character arc, and planning.

You cannot jump from dreaming to revising. Revising requires that sloppy first draft. Whatever you want to call it — sloppy, shitty, ugly — be sure to respect it. Can we find a more accepting word to describe first drafts? We have to tell ourselves the story first (or let our characters or muses inform us). To me, that’s raw literature. It’s a body of writing at its freshest. It’s vulnerable. It’s lost. It’s brilliant. It’s not finished, yet.

In fact, it’s only just begun.

This is the kind of love we must have for our raw first drafts.

A Revision Plan acknowledges the hard work of dreaming and drafting coming together to produce this literary love child you proudly call your MS. Your manuscript. A Revision Plan sets out to feed, nurture, educate, and grow this bookchild to the best of our ability. Think of it as your toolbox to fix or keep the pages humming like a powerful engine.

The way I create a Revision Plan is in sections. There are four:

  1. Structure
  2. Content
  3. Research
  4. Correctness

Structure gives shape to all that draft material. Think of this — if your raw draft were kale, what is your intended dish? A hip kale salad with cherry vinaigrette? A kale frittata with lion’s mane mushrooms? Baked kale chips with curry powder? Kale stir fry with scallops and sesame seeds? Structure asks you to consider your genre, tropes, and audience as much as your plot points, paring back scenes to purpose, and changing the hair color of your character. You want to collect these sort of tools:

Content covers what goes into your structure. Be aware that content is layered. You need a variety of tools:

Research is anything you need to verify to create verisimilitude. When you invite readers into your story you want them to believe, to feel the tension, imagine the setting, and connect to the protagonist.

Correctness is part of editing, but more. It includes getting your genre right or meeting standards for manuscripts. Are your dialog tags and punctuation correct? Make a list of misspelled words, wobbly grammar rules, and any craft confusion that you need to double-check.

What goes into your Revision Plan is as unique as your style of writing, intended audience, publishing path, and the material you plan to revise. It’s multilayered and is a process that is repeated. Once you begin to make your own lists under each section, you can refine your tools.

Time to get dreaming about tools, any tools.

November 18, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write about tools. Whose tools are they and how do they fit into the story? What kind of tools? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by November 30, 2021. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Pike’s Peak or Bust by Charli Mills

Bertie packed her father’s carpentry tools along with her calico dresses. The rest of his estate she sold to buy passage on the Merry Rover, a flat-bottomed steamship of the Missouri River. Somewhere, out there, where the sun set in streaks of orange and pink was her destiny. She learned the trade of building boxes and houses from her father, although none of the locals would hire her on account that she wore a skirt. Out west, her skills were needed, and she reckoned convention of gender wouldn’t matter as much. Pike’s Peak was not a bust for Bertie.

🥕🥕🥕


98 Comments

  1. I’ll be entering the world of revision soon, and I’m sure I’ll revisit this post to start compiling some tools of my own. Considering revision, perspective is a big component of structure and your world of snow is a vastly different perspective to mine. When you mentioned the New Year, I imagined heat and sun and BBQs at dusk, not a fleck of snow in sight. Perspective is powerful. A single word can craft an entirely different scene for our readers. I find that fascinating.

    Thank you for sharing these tools, I wonder what tools my right-brain muse will conjure for me this week.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. […] Respond by November 30, 2021. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.Submit a form. […]

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Amazing how, once again, this prompt chimes with something I’ve been working on. I’m actually meant to be doing revisions, but a long-term project took over and had me researching a particular type of tool:

    Last sacrament

    As his hand disappears into his tool bag, I recall my boys’ toys: Joe had a carpentry set, Jim a doctor’s boxy case. Did they fight over the stethoscope and spirit level? Was there a rubber hammer in both?

    My visitor spreads a white cloth across the table.

    Continues:
    https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/dishonourable-histories-palace-of-the-peacock-the-bureau-of-past-management

    Liked by 7 people

  4. Reena Saxena says:

    Reblogged this on Reena Saxena and commented:
    A must-read for writers …. by Charli Mills

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In the Time of the Beaver Moon

    “Jeez, Kid. Look’t them big words up there. Verisimilitude? Cain’t believe Shorty spelt thet c’rectly.”
    “True, Pal. But I ain’t got time fer all this talk a tinkerin’ an’ word wrenchin’.”
    “Well yer workin’ on somethin’.”
    “Yep. Curly’s ready ta come home!”
    “Changed her mind ‘bout bein’ a beaver?”
    “Yep.”
    “So why d’ya have all thet grease?”
    “Curly done overdid gittin’ ready fer winter. She cain’t git out through the openin’ a the beaver lodge. She’s stuck in there. I gotta git her out.”
    “Plenny a tension in this story Kid, but d’ya really ‘spect folks ta believe it?”
    XXX
    “If folks has been readin’, the facts are all there, Pal. Curly, my pet puglet, ‘dennified as a beaver an’ has been livin’ with the ones thet dammed up the stream that flows through Carrot Ranch. An’ now she wants out but is stuck.”
    “Hmmff. It’s true thet puglet never seems ta know if she’s comin’ or goin’. So, ya got a stuck pig and a slick idea fer gittin’ her out thet involves grease.”
    “Yep. Hey! Here’s Curly! Reckon the beavers had all the tools needed ta git her freed up.”
    “Unbelievable.”
    “Beavers are smart Pal.”
    “No Kidding.”

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Hi Charli, this post made me smile. Only you could write all about the comradery of shovelings snow when you intended to get to writing tools. My first drafts are much better than they used to be. I don’t have to re-write the whole book any more. Not even most of it. That’s what I call progress, but my first drafts take much longer now.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Chel Owens says:

    I laughed several times in reading this. It’s a wonderful outline for the revision process; you ought to post it in its own page.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. denmaniacs4 says:

    There’s No Tool like an…

    Harley’s first sight of Pine Point was disheartening. The Hay River bus had barely made it through the snowstorm.

    “This is no place for a city kid,” he thought.

    Harley had volunteered for a four-month tour with Frontier College. He’d work as a miner during the day and teach interested coworkers English at night.

    The bus dropped him at the bunkhouse.

    The next day, Hastings, the Manager, said, “I’ve assigned you to work at the company tool crib. That way you’ll meet everyone.”

    The first day, he spent two hours looking for a left-handed wrench.

    Never did find it.

    http://www.engleson.ca

    Liked by 5 people

  9. TanGental says:

    Excellent prompt. Totally lets me run riot with the good citizens of Little Tittweaking

    A Bit Of A Tool

    Dumpling Pendulous ran the Little Tittweaking Tool Museum with the zealousness of a radical grammarian, leaving no semi-colon unturned. Spanner week, when all unattached males displayed their equipment was anticipated by the residents as a way of getting all spotty, beardless lumpen peri-menopausal adolescent males out of their respective caves. This year Dennis Fumble entered his nickel alloy double ringed with unexpected gusto while the normally reticent Godfrey Pricktingle made a show of displaying his antique iron clad single end. But everyone agreed nothing was quite as impressive as Kevin Largehampton’s freshly lubricated two-handed reciprocating adjustable.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. Snow. Ugh. I’m at a point where I don’t shovel it anymore, but I still walk in it and drive in it and all I can say is ugh. As for kale, this will sound silly and bad to many, but I’ve enjoyed a kale and peanut butter sandwich with just a light sprinkle of onion powder.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Michael, I was almost curious enough to try your sandwich but you lost me at the onion powder! Now, I do like peanut butter and kale in a breakfast smoothie. Yeah. I hear you…ugh. Is that why those fancy snowboots are called Uggs?

      Like

  11. […] week’s #carrotranch prompt takes us back to Little Tittweaking and the latest cultural event, its spanner […]

    Liked by 1 person

  12. […] This was written with the prompt tools provided by the Carrot Ranch November 18 Flash Fiction Challenge. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  13. […] please write your poem in 99 syllables. //Ekphrastic poetry;Image Credit: Vincent van Gogh Carrot Ranch November 18, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write about tools. Whose tools are they […]

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jules says:

    Charli,

    You are a font of information. Stay safe and warm.
    I smashed three prompts here:

    Import Important
    (99 word Double Ennead Ekphrastic Acrostic
    of the split words of Import Important)

    I empoy the rake to
    manage the fall leaves
    piling them high at the curb for picking up
    or some are for my trees
    raked round their bases

    tender protection for
    inclement weather
    might damage the roots that are near the surface
    perhaps when snow piles high
    over the back yard…

    rest well with slow sap, my
    trees that shed their leaves
    and know that I look for budding health come spring
    now though brace for winter;
    time for dreamings’ nigh

    © JP/dh

    Liked by 4 people

    • Jules says:

      That’s 99 syllables not words!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jules says:

        I oops’ed again I did add a verse for 99 words here’s the whole she bang…

        Import Important
        (99 word Double Ennead Ekphrastic Acrostic
        of the split words of Import Important and added verse for CR 99 words)

        I empoy the rake to
        manage the fall leaves
        piling them high at the curb for picking up
        or some are for my trees
        raked round their bases

        tender protection for
        inclement weather
        might damage the roots that are near the surface
        perhaps when snow piles high
        over the back yard…

        rest well with slow sap, my
        trees that shed their leaves
        and know that I look for budding health come spring
        now though brace for winter;
        time for dreamings’ nigh

        ——-
        If I too could sleep the winter through,
        could I would I sleep thusly
        under warm leaf quilts

        © JP/dh

        I’ll fix the link and the entry… Charli ignore the first entry.
        (by the way this is my 400th Carrot Ranch post!)

        Liked by 4 people

    • That is quite the smash up, in fact it doesn’t seem smashed at all. Well done PL.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Jules, your smashups are always well blended. I like the 99-word version with the addition of the leaf quilt. I’m all for hibernating.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. As you may have gathered, language is an elastic entity and I am still getting my head around Charli’s description of northern States Americans scooping up their dumps in public.

    The joys of elasticity are grist to the mill for this correspondent, so I give you:

    Not The Sharpest Tool In The Shed

    In Australia, ‘tool’, as elsewhere, refers to a useful implement, and we have some ironic references to particular tools e.g. a hammer being called a bush screwdriver.

    However, in Australia ‘tool’ can also mean either a stupid male person who draws attention to himself or a euphemism for penis. (Astute readers will recognise there is some cross-over in these meanings.)

    Hence I offer the following terms as potentially useful additions to the English slanguage.

    Tool shed – House of Parliament or Congress
    Tool box – Politician’s coffin
    Power tool – Blind follower of politician
    Web tool – Conspiracy theorist e.g. Q-anon supporter

    Liked by 4 people

  16. […] November 18: Flash Fiction Challenge « Carrot Ranch In 99 words (no more, no less), write about tools. Whose tools are they and how do they fit into the story? What kind of tools? Go where the prompt leads! […]

    Liked by 1 person

  17. […] From Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch is this week’s challenge. […]

    Liked by 2 people

  18. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (11/18/2021): In 99 words (no more, no less), write about tools. Whose tools are they and how do they fit into the story? What kind of tools? Go where the prompt leads! […]

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Liz H says:

    Tools of the trade, or maybe just a side job? May the things we can best use come at our times of greatest need. Here’s my attempt on a chilly afternoon:

    The Throne

    Liked by 4 people

  20. Gr8BigFun says:

    First timer here at Carrot Ranch. Here is my submission…
    The Lost Craft – https://gmg1968.wordpress.com/2021/11/22/the-lost-craft/

    Liked by 2 people

  21. SueSpitulnik says:

    Charli,
    Your snow clearing shovel sounds like nothing I’m familiar with. I’ll have to see if I can find a youtube video from the Yupper.
    Your revision articles are excellent. Thanks for sharing. I suggested to my local group they visit the Ranch and spend some time reading them. Maybe they’ll listen since they know who you are.
    I wrote my flash while listening to a live Billy Joel cover band. It was a fun evening. Somehow I missed including “the miles of cord.” On to the prompt…

    The Tools of the Band

    Instruments, reeds, strings, sticks, picks, sheets of music, and lyrics. Reverb pedals, rugs, amplifiers, microphones, speakers, and drinks. Playlist on my cell. Straight-leg jeans, boots, hats, and jackets. Diamond studs shine from our ears. Big smiles are plastered for the fans. Damn, I forgot the words. The audience doesn’t seem to notice or care. We strum the guitars and cover with the snare. Get the crowd to clap in time. Hallelujah, the many tools of the band. Loudly blend the notes and words. It doesn’t pay a lot but makes me feel alive playing as the man I am.

    Note: the band this refers to is The Band of Brothers, an all-veteran band in which Michael is a guitarist and lead singer.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Tools of the band and tricks of the trade for when you forget the lyrics. Well played.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      That’s a fun way to get inspired, Sue! Listening to live rock. Have you thought of building Michael a playlist? It would be music to play while you write his story.

      I’m glad you found the curated articles helpful. It was something I greatly appreciated in my MFA program, articles that my profs found useful. Revision Plans are more like the toolbox with lots of different tools to include!

      Like

  22. As a former roadie, I loved this piece, Sue.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Norah says:

    I can’t imagine living with snow as you describe it, Charli. It may look beautiful, but what a lot of work. And so cold.
    Thank you for all the links to helpful resources. I know where to come back to for some writing advice (I haven’t had time to read all yet).
    I love the unstoppable hero of your flash. It’s great to feel unrestricted by other-imposed limitations.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Norah says:

      And here’s my story: Grandpa’s Tool Shed https://norahcolvin.com/2021/11/24/grandpas-tool-shed-flashfiction/

      Grandpa’s Tool Shed
      Jacob worked tirelessly alongside Grandpa. He loved the sweet scent of sawdust curls and the heady smell of fresh paint. He loved that ash from Grandpa’s cigarette fell unchecked into the shavings. He especially liked using Grandpa’s real tools. The plastic bench at Kindy was only a toy.
      Jacob’s visits decreased but Grandpa never forgot. He left the house, the shed and all his tools to Jacob. Standing in the dark empty shed, Jacob tried to conjure the smells of Grandpa. There was nothing else to do. He rolled up his sleeves and started planing sawdust curls — in memory.

      Liked by 2 people

  24. […] response to Charli Mills’ 99 Word Flash Fiction Challenge. In 99 words (no more, no less), write about tools. Whose tools are they and how do they fit into […]

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Gloria says:

    Happy to be joining in this week!

    Of the Utmost Importance

    Liked by 3 people

  26. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write about tools. Whose tools are they and how do they fit into the… […]

    Liked by 1 person

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