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TUFF Winner Announced

Everything about the TUFF Rodeo contest was difficult.

TUFF is an acronym for The Ultimate Flash Fiction. The contest challenges writers to revise their original 99-word draft through a series of word reductions. It gives writers the chance to think differently about their original draft.

To make the contest harder, each week of the four-part contest gave writers a new craft twist. When TUFF writers had to reduce their draft to 59 words, they also had to craft two different 59-word points of view. Next, writers had to craft three different 9-word taglines for their story. Finally, writers had to revise their original 99-words and add an eerily out of place prop.

Judges considered each entry’s process as much as the final result. They expected an original final 99-word story that incorporated the western and romance themes with an out of the place prop. They wanted to see raw ideas and writing in the original draft, not the final one.

Judging was hard. Two entries considered for first prize fell short. One had a confusing typo and another omitted the prop. We discussed originality, surprise, and cultural sensitivity versus realism. The judges had a hard time deciding and even talked about the subjectivity of judging.

It’s at this point I want to introduce you to the TUFFest judges around. Laura Smyth and Cynthia Drake. Both use the TUFF format in their professions (TUFF is a tool). Laura is a college professor and published poet who also designs books for publishers, including a 2021 memoir by Mary Gauthier. She has used TUFF in her classroom. Cynthia is a life coach, Quaker youth leader, and a grief counselor. She has used TUFF with her clients and at workshops for visioning.

Both women understand what the process is meant to achieve. TUFF transforms.

Many entries were seriously considered but it was difficult to find consensus. This is a hard contest to enter and to judge. In the end, Entry 6 proved to be surprising and transformative. Not only did it tick the boxes, provide an error-free final story, and create unexpected humor by dropping an out-of-place character as the prop into the last line, but the story also demonstrated that a western romance could be speculative fiction.

Congratulations to this year’s hard won TUFF winner: Liz Husebye Hartmann.

ENTRY 6

Original 99-word Draft: UNTITLED

Anton shrugged out of his jacket, kicking off his boots, and with them, the urban muck of cow shit and cheap whiskey. Padding into the foothills in bare feet, he wrinkled his nose, drawing his lips back from canines that glinted moonlight.

His departure had been delayed. Had she already left?

Trees morphed to low brush as he climbed higher, tearing buttons from his shirt, slipping off his jeans, to reveal his sinewy, tawny body. He panted, called to her, low in his throat.

Pausing, his hope faltered.

Startled, joyful, he rolled, as her canines grabbed his careless neck.

TUFF PART Two: 59-word Story with Original POV

Anton abandoned the mining town, shucking jacket, boots, shirt, finally slithering out of his jeans. He wrinkled his nose, padding across stone, toward the foothills; the town’s stink still clung to his tawny, sinewy body.

He hoped the smell wouldn’t drive her away. Had she already left? He growled, heart breaking.

She landed on him, canines at his neck.

TUFF PART Two: 59-word Story with Different POV

Audra watched his dark shape slink to the foothills, shrubbery shaking with his ascent. He’d much to learn in his new skinwalker form, but what a fine form it was. She could wait.

He called, deep and low, anxiety unmasked, still stinking of the mines.

Audra bunched her shoulders, canines bared. She was ready to pounce, ready to fuck.

TUFF PART Three: Three 9-word Taglines for Your Story    

  1. Skinwalker flees western filth, finds love in the foothills.
  2. New to skinwalker world, he seeks his kindred soul.
  3. The body is willing, Can he survive the love?

TUFF PART Four: Final Revised 99-word Story with Prop

Anton abandoned the mining town, shucking Stetson, boots, and shirt, finally slithering out of his jeans. He wrinkled his nose, padding across stone, toward the foothills; the town’s stink of cheap whisky clung to his sinewy body.

Audra watched his dark shape slink to the foothills, shrubbery shaking with his ascent. He’d much to learn as a new skinwalker, but he intrigued her. She could wait.

He called, deep and low, anxiety unmasked. Had she already left?

Audra bunched her shoulders, canines bared. She prepared to pounce.

The time-traveling photojournalist followed at a distance, then lowered his camera, blushing.

🥕🥕🥕

Thank you to the 18 writers who braved the TUFF Rodeo Contest. Due to the length and complexity of the entries, we won’t be publishing all the stories on the 2020 Rodeo page. But we do want to give a special call-out to the writers who wrote the TUFFEST:

  1. Down that Lonely Trail by Bill Engleson
  2. Untitled by Frank Hubney
  3. Winning Ways in the West by JulesPaige
  4. Untitled by Ellen Best
  5. Untitled by FloridaBorne
  6. Untitled by Liz Husebye Hartmann
  7. Untitled by Jeff Gard
  8. Too Busy to Date by Marsha Ingrao
  9. Untitled by Doug Jacquier
  10. Destiny’s Gifts by Saifun Hassam
  11. The Cat and the Fiddle by D. Avery
  12. Marriage Material by Sue Spitulnik
  13. The Problem with Rookies by Eleanor Colquitt
  14. Untitled by Hugh Roberts
  15. Untitled by MJ Mallon
  16. Untitled by Norah Colvin
  17. Untitled by Sascha Darlington
  18. How to Calm a Wandering Mind by Anne Goodwin

I’d also like to thank all of this year’s Rodeo Leaders — Kerry E.B. Black, Colleen Chesebro, Marsha Ingrao, and Sam “Goldie” Kirk. All of our judges did their best to be thoughtful and fair. Those who stepped up to judge can attest to how difficult of a task it is. And thank you to everyone in the writing community who persevere through tough times in 2020.

We’ll see you back next year for the Rodeo and hope to see you at the weekly challenges. Thank you!

AND The 2020 Carrot Ranch Writing Rodeo’s Third Event Winner Is:

Masha Ingrao announces the winners of the third Flash Fiction Rodeo and Carrot Ranch trips over the reblog! Go here to read the full details: https://tchistorygal.net/2020/11/17/and-the-2020-carrot-ranch-writing-rodeos-third-event-winner-is/

The Results ARe IN For the Winner of the Carrot Ranch Double Ennead Poetry Challenge

Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry

For this year’s rodeo, I created a special poetry form called the Double Ennead. The word Ennead means nine, and a double nine is ninety-nine! Carrot Ranch is famous for 99-word flash fiction. Finally, the ranch has its own syllabic poetry form written in 99 syllables!

The Double Ennead comprised five lines with a syllable count of 6/5/11/6/5, (33 SYLLABLES per stanza) 3 STANZAS EACH = 99 SYLLABLES, NO MORE, NO LESS!

The twist in crafting the Double Ennead was that poets had to choose five consecutive words from the poem, “The Springtime Plains,” from Cowboy Poet, Charles Badger Clark, found at the link below:

https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-springtime-plains/

The five words had to be reworked into one stanza following this word placement:

Line 1 starts with word 1

Line 2 ends with word 2

Line 3 starts with word 3

Line 4 ends with word 4

Line 5 starts with word 5

View original post 199 more words

(Writing Contest) Rodeo #4: “Wanted Alive”

And here it is, Rodeo Writers — the final flash fiction contest of the season! Have fun with the prompt!

One day at a time...

A few weeks ago, I announced the start of this year’s Rodeo. I hope you were able to participate in one, two, or maybe even all three of these special events I mentioned in that post. Heck, maybe you are being selected as one of the winners as we speak.

This week, it is MY turn to jump on the horse, grab it by the horns…
Oh, wait –

When I first volunteered to host this contest, I was thinking of all the other obligations I would have to attend to in the month of October. Admittedly, I was worried that I might not be able to fulfill all of my duties. If I am struggling, chances are that some of you might be, too. Mindful of your valuable time and your potentially overwhelmed minds, I decided to keep this contest easy. After all, this is meant to…

View original post 573 more words

TUFF Flash Fiction Contest Part Four

Did you stay in the saddle for the full ride? Or are you here to slide under the fence, last minute? Either way, Rodeo Writers, you’ve TUFFed it out and we have arrived at our final challenge.

TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction) is a progressive form that takes you from draft to revision through several word reductions — 99, 59, 9, 99. Each step has had a twist along the way as the TUFF contest has unfolded:

The final twist in the contest involves an additional trope. The first draft included the tropes for western and romance. Tropes are elements that define a genre or theme. In this contest, we have used tropes as themes. Now, we will add a final trope as a prop.

PART FOUR TWIST

A prop can be gold in your character’s hand. It’s a ring they fidget with that tells the readers they’re nervous. It’s the lariat they toss in boredom, the wooden spoon they waggle at someone with aggression, the leather wallet with a mysterious photo they won’t explain.

A prop can set a scene. It’s an empty glass on the saloon counter, the abandoned doll along a cattle trail, a slip of satin ribbon caught in a branch, an old saddle in the trunk of a sports car.

By now, you should have revised your first draft with insights gained through earlier twists and word reductions. Your final TUFF task is to add a prop without changing your revised story. Make the prop fit your story and set a scene or convey an emotion. Don’t change the story because of the prop. Instead, use the prop to better express the tone or emotion of your story.

An, of course, it’s not just any ol’ prop. You are to use the trope for an “eerily out of place object.” For those of you who like speculative fiction, now is your chance to add an alien spacecraft to the horse pasture. It can also be a small, ironic item such as a circuit pastor using a Crown Royal booze bag to carry his sermon notes.

Big or small, add it to your story without rewriting to accommodate or explain the item. Let it linger mysteriously. Better yet, use it to deepen characterization, create emotion or set a scene’s tone.

That’s it! This is when you will turn in all your work. Just like math class. Your first draft should be your first draft — unaltered! Your final draft should be the one you have tinkered and tweaked, editing and polishing.

CONTEST NOW CLOSED. WINNER ANNOUNCED DECEMBER 1, 2020.

Please read the rules thoroughly. And join us tomorrow for Marsha Ingrao’s Rodeo Contest when it goes live.

CRITERIA:

  1. Your story must include western romance themes or tropes. See TVTropes.org for ideas wild west and romance to see how much fun you can have with this combination.
  2. Even though the story calls for you to mix two tropes, you are free to add more tropes or write in your genre of choice.
  3. You will submit one story, retold through varying word counts: 99 words, 59 words, 9 words, and 99 words.
  4. You must turn in TWO 59-word count reductions of your story (one in the original POV, and one in a different POV).
  5. You must turn in three 9-word count reductions of your story into three different taglines.
  6. Add an eerily out of place prop to your final draft.
  7. Your second 99-word story should show transformation through revision. How is it different? How is it improved? Did the TUFF process offer new insights for the final version?
  8. The story can be fiction or BOTS (based on a true story).
  9. Make the judges remember your story long after reading it.

CONTEST RULES:

  1. Every entry must meet the word count requirements exactly. You can have a title outside that limit. Check your word count using the wordcounter.net. Entries that aren’t 99-59-9-99 words will be disqualified.
  2. Enter this contest only once. If you enter more than once, only your first entry will count.
  3. Do your best to submit an error-free entry. Apply English grammar and spelling according to your country of origin style. As long as the judges can understand the language, it is the originality of the story that matters most. However, we want to see a raw draft in the first 99-words, and a polished, edited draft in the second 99-words.
  4. If you do not receive an acknowledgment by email WITHIN 3 DAYS, contact Charli at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.
  5. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on November 1, 2020 (entry form posted October 26).
  6. Refrain from posting your contest entry until after the winner is announced on December 1, 2020.
  7. Use the entry form posted on part four of this contest Monday, October 26, 2020.

JUDGING

Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo at Carrot Ranch, will collect stories, omitting names to send to the judges. Because we are committed to blind judging, please refrain from posting your contest entry on your blog until after winners are announced. TUFF judges are familiar with this format. Life Coach and Grief Counselor, Cynthia Drake, uses TUFF with her clients. Poet, Editor, and College Professor, Laura Smyth, uses TUFF in her classroom. Both are returning judges and will be looking for transformative writing that results in a memorable story using western romance tropes. The top winner in each contest will receive a virtual badge and $25 (PayPal, check, Amazon gift card, or donation). The winner announced on December 1, 2020.

Join Goldie for our final Rodeo Contest — Wanted Alive! Contest goes live Tuesday, October 27.

Kid and Pal return to the Saddle Up Saloon next Monday. Be sure to catch their latest interview. Winners for the Rodeo Contests, including TUFF, announced successively every Tuesday through December 1.

Thank you to all who joined in the contests. A special shout out to our Rodeo Leaders, Kerry, Colleen, Marsha, and Goldie. Thank you to all the judges.

Git Along an’ Start Writin’

Seep yourself in rich western history, then gather up your doggies and enter this free writing contest, number three in the Rodeo lineup!

Marsha Ingrao - Always Write

Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest 2020

Rodeo #3: Three-ActStory

We live for stories, and as writers, we craft them in the written word. A story is about Something (plot) that happens to Someone (characters), Somewhere (setting). Even if it is only 99 words long.

Crafting the Story

Act I, the beginning, the story rises. If a story is about someone, we have to feel something for that character. When we care what happens next for or to this Someone, we come to the middle.

Act II shifts to fear, according to the Greeks. We can interpret this as the emotion that drives the writer and reader to worry about what happens next. Or be curious about what comes next. The driving emotion doesn’t have to be fear, but the middle holds an important shift or build-up of tension or expectation. The story is in motion.

Act III is when that motion…

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TUFF Flash Fiction Contest Part Three

How are you doing TUFF rodeo writers?

You should be familiar with your 99-word story by now (Part One), and hopefully, you have spent some time exploring your story from different points of view (Part Two). TUFF is The Ultimate Flash Fiction and those of you daring enough to enter this progressive contest are spending a month on a single story taking it from draft to revision.

Part Three is your final tool in the process. It’s the tightest word reduction of your story: 9 words. That’s not a typo. The word count isn’t missing a double-digit. It’s nine words that you can count on your hands, presuming you didn’t lose any fingers riding bulls at your last rodeo.

Why so few words? This is a tool to arrive at the heart of your story. It’s the hook to interest a reader. Think of taglines from movies:

  • In space, no one can hear you scream. (Alien)
  • 3.7 trillion fish in the ocean. They’re looking for one. (Finding Nemo)
  • One dream. Four Jamaicans. Twenty below zero. (Cool Runnings)

Novels have taglines, too. Often they stand out as a quote above a book blurb on a cover. It can be the hook for a query letter or a zinger for promotional materials.

  • Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free. (An Ember in the Ashes)
  • Winning will make you famous. Losing means certain death. (The Hunger Games)
  • She had six husbands, money, and one lover too many. (The Long Goodbye)

If you are writing a book, a tagline becomes your guide. You can print it off and tape it to your computer monitor, reminding you what your book is about.

Like with TUFF Part Two, this step is meant to be a tool to help you get to the heart of your story. And, yes, there is a twist.

THE PART THREE TWIST

Write THREE 9-word taglines that capture the heart of your story:

  1. Pick the strongest aspects of your story and write it in 9-words.
  2. Next, pick the aspects you left out, and write another 9-words.
  3. Write a final 9-words that summarizes the conflict or tension.

You will have one more TUFF step after this one. It will be your revision, the reason you are given tools to rethink your original story. You will submit all steps, using the submission form in Part Four by November 1 (11:59 p.m. EST).

We are not accepting challenges, only contest entries. Weekly challenges continue every Friday at CarrotRanch.com/blog.

Please read the rules thoroughly. And join us tomorrow for Marsha Ingrao’s Rodeo Contest when it goes live.

CRITERIA:

  1. Your story must include western romance themes or tropes. See TVTropes.org for ideas wild west and romance to see how much fun you can have with this combination.
  2. Even though the story calls for you to mix two tropes, you are free to add more tropes or write in your genre of choice.
  3. You will submit one story, retold through varying word counts: 99 words, 59 words, 9 words, and 99 words.
  4. You must turn in TWO 59-word count reductions of your story (one in the original POV, and one in a different POV).
  5. You must turn in three 9-word count reductions of your story into three different taglines.
  6. Your second 99-word story should show transformation through revision. How is it different? How is it improved? Did the TUFF process offer new insights for the final version?
  7. The story can be fiction or BOTS (based on a true story).
  8. Make the judges remember your story long after reading it.

CONTEST RULES:

  1. Every entry must meet the word count requirements exactly. You can have a title outside that limit. Check your word count using the wordcounter.net. Entries that aren’t 99-59-9-99 words will be disqualified.
  2. Enter this contest only once. If you enter more than once, only your first entry will count.
  3. Do your best to submit an error-free entry. Apply English grammar and spelling according to your country of origin style. As long as the judges can understand the language, it is the originality of the story that matters most. However, we want to see a raw draft in the first 99-words, and a polished, edited draft in the second 99-words.
  4. If you do not receive an acknowledgment by email WITHIN 3 DAYS, contact Charli at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.
  5. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on November 1, 2020 (entry form posted October 26).
  6. Refrain from posting your contest entry until after the winner is announced on December 1, 2020.
  7. Use the entry form posted on part four of this contest Monday, October 26, 2020.

JUDGING

Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo at Carrot Ranch, will collect stories, omitting names to send to the judges. Because we are committed to blind judging, please refrain from posting your contest entry on your blog until after winners are announced. TUFF judges are familiar with this format. Life Coach and Grief Counselor, Cynthia Drake, uses TUFF with her clients. Poet, Editor, and College Professor, Laura Smyth, uses TUFF in her classroom. Both are returning judges and will be looking for transformative writing that results in a memorable story using western romance tropes. The top winner in each contest will receive a virtual badge and $25 (PayPal, check, Amazon gift card, or donation).

Carrot RODEO #2: DOUBLE ENNEAD SYLLABIC POETRY

Free Writing Contest!

Introducing a new form from the Cattle Queen of Syllabic Wrangling, Colleen Chesebro! Gather up your syllables and get to counting!

Word Craft ~ Prose & Poetry

Welcome to the Carrot Ranch Rodeo! This challenge is sponsored by the Carrot Ranch Literary Community at carrotranch.com and run by lead Buckaroo, Charli Mills.

Almost everyone knows my love for syllabic poetry; especially haiku, tanka, cinquain, and more. Woo HOO! I’ve got something special wrangled up for this challenge!

For this year’s rodeo, I’ve created a special form called the Double Ennead. The word Ennead means nine, and a double nine is ninety-nine! Carrot Ranch is famous for 99-word flash fiction. Now, the ranch has its own syllabic poetry form written in 99 syllables!

The Double Ennead comprises five lines with a syllable count of 6/5/11/6/5, (33 SYLLABLES per stanza) 3 STANZAS EACH = 99 SYLLABLES, NO MORE, NO LESS!

The Carrot Ranch Double Ennead

Carrot Ranch Rodeo is calling all poets round up all the word players, now's the time to ride let's wrangle syllables and build…

View original post 1,487 more words

TUFF Flash Fiction Contest Part Two

Welcome back TUFF, rodeo writers!

By now, you’ve figured out you have an entire month to work on your flash fiction entry to TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction). That might lull you into complacency. It might tempt you to disregard the contest until the very end (October 26 when the submission form goes live with the final part). Let me convince you otherwise.

Mastering TUFF in its flash fiction form teaches you the skills every fiction writer needs. We all have to draft and we all have to revise. TUFF can be a tool to work on your story with progressive word constraints.

Last week, in TUFF Part One, you drafted a 99-word story. Do. Not. Touch. It. A raw draft is a raw draft. Let it be. What comes next are the tools of your writing craft. Use the next two constraints to revise your final 99-word story. You can write that final 99-word revision 99 times if you’d like. But you can only turn in one, of course. This is where we start exploring and experimenting — with 59-words.

THE PART TWO TWIST

For this week’s addition to the TUFF contest, you will write TWO 59-word stories, reducing your original draft. In one 59-word story, reduce it using the original point of view. In the other 59-word story change the point of view.

It’s the same story, just smaller. You are tasked with picking and choosing the strongest elements from your 99-word draft. This makes you consider what is working, where your story’s focus is, and how to tell it.

Here is an example:

Saving Grace by Charl Mills (99-word draft)

Grace looped her right leg into the padded hook of her sidesaddle. Her long skirts without hoops nearly touched the ground. With war coming to New Mexico, camp guards eyed her skirts critically. If Grace felt threatened, she straightened her back and spoke her family name. But it wasn’t to her grandfather’s quarters she rode. A man in riding boots met her behind the row of soldiers’ tents. Rory O’Bannon. Her lips parted. He approached her skirts, reached beneath to touch her left ankle. She nearly swooned. Though her skirts were big enough to hide ammunition, she smuggled love-letters.

59-word Same POV

Grace rode sidesaddle into camp. Without hoops, her skirts hung low, catching the critical eye of guards. She straightened. “You dare touch the General’s granddaughter?” They let her pass. Before tea with Grandpa, she rode past the soldiers’ tents. Rory O’Bannon reached where guards dared not. He touched her ankle and her lips parted. Her skirts smuggled love letters.

59-word Different POV

I had to elude the guards with my contraband. Everyone knew who I was, but with war coming to New Mexico, suspicions grew. They couldn’t know I was meeting a Confederate soldier. Dressed in Union colors, Rory emerged from the tents near the woods. His touch beneath my skirts electrified me. I headed to Grandfather. My love letter delivered.

Notice how I used or omitted different details in each. That’s how you can use the POV tool. Often writers instinctually write in a POV that feels familiar. Maybe it’s what you read, or common to your genre. When you switch POV, the closeness to the character changes. First-person is more intimate but also limited. What I found interesting is that when I switch POVs, I had different ideas about the story pop into my head. You can use the 59-word constraint to explore different ideas, different POVs, or even different craft elements (notice that I added dialog to one of the reductions).

You can play with this story all month! Don’t touch the original draft, change up the final revision. And if you are just getting started, that’s fine — everyone has until November 1 (11:59 p.m. EST) to enter. There is no entry form yet. This is your time to process and be working on your final revision, using the reduction tools. Use the 59-word reduction as often or as differently as you want, but be prepared to only turn in TWO different 59-word POV reductions of your original draft.

Have fun! Check back next week for TUFF Part Three.

We are not accepting challenges, only contest entries. Weekly challenges continue every Friday at CarrotRanch.com/blog.

Please read the rules thoroughly. And join us tomorrow for Colleen Chesebro’s Rodeo Contest when it goes live.

CRITERIA:

  1. Your story must include western romance themes or tropes. See TVTropes.org for ideas wild west and romance to see how much fun you can have with this combination.
  2. Even though the story calls for you to mix two tropes, you are free to add more tropes or write in your genre of choice.
  3. You will submit one story, retold through varying word counts: 99 words, 59 words, 9 words, and 99 words.
  4. You must turn in TWO 59-word count reductions of your story (one in the original POV, and one in a different POV).
  5. Your second 99-word story should show transformation through revision. How is it different? How is it improved? Did the TUFF process offer new insights for the final version?
  6. The story can be fiction or BOTS (based on a true story).
  7. Make the judges remember your story long after reading it.

CONTEST RULES:

  1. Every entry must meet the word count requirements exactly. You can have a title outside that limit. Check your word count using the wordcounter.net. Entries that aren’t 99-59-9-99 words will be disqualified.
  2. Enter this contest only once. If you enter more than once, only your first entry will count.
  3. Do your best to submit an error-free entry. Apply English grammar and spelling according to your country of origin style. As long as the judges can understand the language, it is the originality of the story that matters most. However, we want to see a raw draft in the first 99-words, and a polished, edited draft in the second 99-words.
  4. If you do not receive an acknowledgment by email WITHIN 3 DAYS, contact Charli at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.
  5. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on November 1, 2020 (entry form posted October 26).
  6. Refrain from posting your contest entry until after the winner is announced on December 1, 2020.
  7. Use the entry form posted on part four of this contest Monday, October 26, 2020.

JUDGING

Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo at Carrot Ranch, will collect stories, omitting names to send to the judges. Because we are committed to blind judging, please refrain from posting your contest entry on your blog until after winners are announced. TUFF judges are familiar with this format. Life Coach and Grief Counselor, Cynthia Drake, uses TUFF with her clients. Poet, Editor, and College Professor, Laura Smyth, uses TUFF in her classroom. Both are returning judges and will be looking for transformative writing that results in a memorable story using western romance tropes. The top winner in each contest will receive a virtual badge and $25 (PayPal, check, Amazon gift card, or donation).

TUFF Flash Fiction Contest Part One

Welcome to the Saddle Up Saloon, Writers!

Yep. You’ve landed in the right spot if you are looking for the 2020 Flash Fiction Rodeo. Kid and Pal hit the trail, taking some well-deserved time off from running the Saloon. They hope to return next month, every Monday, with fun literary events and character interviews. If you have the daring to let your characters be interviewed by characters that refuse to believe they fall from the ink in D. Avery’s pen, then this month is a good time to get into the line-up. Contact Kid and Pal at D. Avery’s address averydede.1@gmail.com.

Let’s get down to the tuffest contest in the Rodeo. If you are not familiar with TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction), let me take a sip of this good hard cider Pal left for us and explain. TUFF is a progressive formula that requires a  writer to draft and revise. It begins with a 99-word quick draft. Next, you reduce the draft to 59 words. Then 9 words. Finally, you revise the original draft according to insights gained through reductions to complete a polished 99-word story. As a formula, it looks like this: 99-59-9-99. It’s a challenging format that asks writers to be vulnerable. Why? Because your first draft must read like a raw draft.

We want to see a transformation. We want to experience how you, as a writer, took a single draft and transformed it over a month. Yes, you get a month to complete the process. However, there will be unexpected twists along the way. Each Monday, I will announce a new twist for the next step to test your craft skills and versatility. Be prepared to stretch as a writer.

Let me explain why I like the TUFF process. The reductions force you to think differently about your word choices. It might change the outcomes of your stories. TUFF gets you out of the mindset that there is only one path for a story. As an MFA student, I’ve had to draft fast and hard, yet learn to make meaningful choices for revision. If I get stuck on a scene, I write that scene in 99-words and take it through the TUFF process. It helps me focus on what is essential and to take courage to cut what isn’t needed.

As a short story writer, TUFF can be your money-maker. Every month you can be entering cash-prize contests. TUFF can help you generate material. It can be hard to stare at the blank screen and develop five stories for five contests. But what if you have a great premise? Draft it in 99 words, and take it through the revision process but differently each time according to meeting the criteria of five different contests. You can start with one idea and develop five unique stories to learn to write with versatility.

You can use TUFF to develop a vision and mission as a literary artist or develop your pitch in varying lengths. As you write your novel, you should also be continually revising your pitch and synopsis. Drafting and defining are two different applications of storytelling. They can go hand in hand throughout the greater writing and revision process. TUFF can be a quick spark to these important activities. For an example of TUFF in action, watch my YouTube video, Yellow Roses.

But for now, it’s a contest!

Final entries won’t be collected until after the last part issued on Monday, October 26. Those of you who get started immediately are going to squirm all month, wanting to alter your draft. Don’t. Step away from the raw draft. It is meant to be raw. If you revise and polish it, the judges won’t be able to witness the transformation. And transformation is key. However, if you wait until the last week to do all four parts, your final piece will lack the depth of insight we want to see in the transformation. My best advice to contestants is to pace yourself each week. You can only enter one entry, but you can certainly get TUFF with as many stories as you like. Or, as I suggested earlier, you can play around with the 59-word and 9-word possibilities to take your draft in different directions.

We are not accepting challenges, only contest entries. Weekly challenges continue every Friday at CarrotRanch.com/blog.

Please read the rules thoroughly. And join us tomorrow for Kerry E.B. Black’s Rodeo Contest when it goes live.

CRITERIA:

  1. Your story must include western romance themes or tropes. See TVTropes.org for ideas wild west and romance to see how much fun you can have with this combination.
  2. Even though the story calls for you to mix two tropes, you are free to add more tropes or write in your genre of choice.
  3. You will submit one story, retold through varying word counts: 99 words, 59 words, 9 words, and 99 words.
  4. Your second 99-word story should show transformation through revision. How is it different? How is it improved? Did the TUFF process offer new insights for the final version?
  5. The story can be fiction or BOTS (based on a true story).
  6. Make the judges remember your story long after reading it.

CONTEST RULES:

  1. Every entry must meet the word count requirements exactly. You can have a title outside that limit. Check your word count using the wordcounter.net. Entries that aren’t 99-59-9-99 words will be disqualified.
  2. Enter this contest only once. If you enter more than once, only your first entry will count.
  3. Do your best to submit an error-free entry. Apply English grammar and spelling according to your country of origin style. As long as the judges can understand the language, it is the originality of the story that matters most. However, we want to see a raw draft in the first 99-words, and a polished, edited draft in the second 99-words.
  4. If you do not receive an acknowledgment by email WITHIN 3 DAYS, contact Charli at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.
  5. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on November 1, 2020 (entry form posted October 26).
  6. Refrain from posting your contest entry until after the winner is announced on December 1, 2020.
  7. Use the entry form posted on part four of this contest Monday, October 26, 2020.

JUDGING

Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo at Carrot Ranch, will collect stories, omitting names to send to the judges. Because we are committed to blind judging, please refrain from posting your contest entry on your blog until after winners are announced. TUFF judges are familiar with this format. Life Coach and Grief Counselor, Cynthia Drake, uses TUFF with her clients. Poet, Editor, and College Professor, Laura Smyth, uses TUFF in her classroom. Both are returning judges and will be looking for transformative writing that results in a memorable story using western romance tropes. The top winner in each contest will receive a virtual badge and $25 (PayPal, check, Amazon gift card, or donation).