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Advanced Flash

In addition to weekly challenges, Carrot Ranch encourages literary writers to push their craft with creativity. If you are interested, you can take these advanced challenges at any time. These are exercises you can do to push into your creativity or learn more about your craft.

If you are a motivated blogger, who is looking to build up a readership, post your challenge response on your blog and link back to Carrot Ranch Literary Community.

If you are interested in writing a response to one of the Advanced Flash Fiction Challenges and can write about your process and its impact on your writing, submit a query for a potential guest post.

Carrot Ranch does not publish unsolicited stories and preference is given to the active literary community.


Sketchbook Challenge requires you to carry a print journal with you wherever you go. Take time to observe. Like an artist, sketch the stories you see and hear unfolding all around you. It might be something that catches your attention, an event in general or a specific detail. If you are into word counting, use these details to craft a 99-word free-write on the spot. Or, grab snippets from your sketchbook and later craft a 99-work of fiction from them.

6th Sense Challenge reminds writers to explore the world with more than the eyes. Writers create visual images for readers through all five senses of sight, sound, scent, touch, and taste. This challenge is to write the same 99-word story five times using one of the five senses. In the final sixth story of 99 words, create a sixth overall sense that combines the best of the sensory elements.

Nature Challenge takes you outside. Walk in the woods, hop rocks up a stream, hike to a vista, dig your hands into your garden, smell your neighbor’s roses. The more you interact with the natural world, the more inspiration you will find among leaves and bird feathers. Feel the vast expansiveness of the outdoors and distill the experience into your writing. In 99-words, write your way toward the masters: Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, Wallace Stegner, and Terry Tempest Williams.

History Challenge encourages writers to dig into the past to find forgotten stories. Possible places to look include one’s own family tree, vital records, scrapbooks, school yearbooks, archived newspapers, town histories, local cemeteries, and old house records. The idea is to start with the name and date of a person’s lifespan. Using local libraries, museum reading rooms, state archives or online sources, piece together vital facts and imagine a story. It can be told in one, three or five flash fictions of 99 words each.

The Ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge (TUFF) imitates the five steps of writing a book. It’s a progressive, five flash writing activity. Your own results will surprise you and improve your approach to book writing. This advanced challenge welcomes all writers, especially those who write books or want to better understand how.

It’s a five-step process:

  1. Free write for five minutes;
  2. Write a 99-word flash fiction;
  3. Reduce it to a 59-word flash fiction;
  4. Reduce it to 9-words;
  5. Build it back up to 599 words in three-acts.

What if I told you this is how you write a novel?

  1. Draft an idea (plot, free-write, NaNoWriMo);
  2. Write scenes and structure chapters;
  3. Cut scenes and rearrange chapters;
  4. Reduce the entire novel to 9 words;
  5. Build it back up, fill gaps, connect emotional arc to action, and complete three acts.

Use this structure to work through your own WIPs. You can also use it to develop scenes, create synopsis blurbs, and write marketing materials. When you master word constraints, you master the art and science of compelling communication.


Where Literary Art Meets Geology

Every rock has a story. After all, when you’ve crushed the geological time scale more than a million years, you likely have much to say. To hold a rock in your hand is to open a book of the earth. Who knows who held this rock before you.#CarrotRanchRocks on Facebook connects geology with the online literary community of Carrot Ranch, where writers craft a literary art form known as flash fiction (99 words, no more, no less). Each rock becomes a prompt for the imagination.

The community’s lead buckaroo, Charli Mills, lives on Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Peninsula in Upper Michigan where she collects rocks and stories. Thus the #CarrotRanchRocks movement was born of her passion for rock hunting, story-telling, and history.Writers from the Carrot Ranch Literary Community are invited to join this budding project by taking on assigned rocks to compose 99-word stories they inspire. Charli provides the details, such as where and when the rocks were found, what they look like (including photographs) and what general identifications. (Note: Charli is a professional writer, not a geologist with a lab.)

Stories will be distributed on the Facebook site and gifted along with the rocks at local book signings and literary events hosted by Carrot Ranch. Contact Charli for an assignment (hopefully, you’ll want to write many stories because Charli has many rocks)!

The hashtag #CarrotRanchRocks provides public space to share rocks with their assumed identities, imagined lives, and recorded serial numbers. This sharing supports the mission of Carrot Ranch to make literary art accessible and to encourage interest in earth science. We connect through art and curiosity.

Together, we can make the world a better place.

Rock on, read, and write!

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