Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Home » Posts tagged '2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo'

Tag Archives: 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo

The TUFFest Ride: Winners

After one of the most challenging rounds of judging 118 entries from 36 writers over five 24-hour free-writes with five different prompts, three judges selected five writers to take the TUFFest Ride.

TUFF stands for The Ultimate Flash Fiction. As a literary form, it requires a writer to master spontaneous drafting, reduction, and expansion for a single story. As a writing tool, it guides a writer through revision to get to the heart of a story or the point of an idea. The TUFFest Ride is a writing contest that invites a small group of writers to exhibit their skills to master the process publicly.

The first task of TUFF is to free-write. That means to draft a story from scratch. It’s a demonstration of creative instinct, pushing into the unknown to retrieve a possible story. To help spark an idea, writers followed the lead of a prompt: mudslide.

The second task of TUFF is to explore. The 99-word format is long enough to write a concise and compelling story or scene, and yet short enough to write several to explore different options, including point of view. POV is the voice of narration, which is not always the voice of the protagonist. Sometimes, in third person, an author can craft multiple POV characters. Writing a flash fiction from a different POV can lead to a more profound sense of the story or draw out a hidden nugget.

The Third task of TUFF is to focus the central idea. 59 words are the heart of a story, the synopsis of a novel, or the pitch to an idea. It has enough of the elements to be complete. Its purpose is to teach the critical rule of revision — know what each story, scene or chapter is about. The writer keeps the essential elements in this task, including any new insights from exploring with 99 words.

The fourth task of TUFF is to punch the reader. These 9 words are the hook or can be the opening sentence (or sequence). All the emotion from the heart of the story is packed into this last reduction. The purpose is to hook the reader to read more emotionally. Mastering the hook gives a writer an edge and teaches the writer to come out fighting for the reader’s attention. Punch ‘em in the gut with this line.

Each task of TUFF is pure writing. Revision is about writing, not editing. The purpose of the TUFF process is to show how a writer revises through drafting, reduction, and rewriting. Editing happens after you revise. How often have you heard or read, “turn off your inner critic” when you write? That’s because writing and editing are two different processes. It’s much easier to edit and to teach writers to edit — after all, editing comes with clear rules and tasks. That’s why TUFF has tasks to guide writers to continue to write without the inner critic and yet still getting at the heart and emotion and power of a story, scene or chapter.

If the writer has allowed writing (creativity) to lead the process, TUFF will produce valuable insights to inform the rewrite better. The rewrite is the second draft, but after having explored the potential of the first draft through creative means. TUFF is relatively easy to learn, although many writers may struggle because it asks you to set aside editing and trust the writing process. Creative writing can’t be taught explicitly in the way spelling and grammar can be. You have to experience it, do it, and do it regularly. This is why Carrot Ranch uses 99-word flash fiction challenges weekly. The challenges repeat the creative exploration task, and the writer who regularly plays along actually learns to trust their gut instincts (go where the prompt leads) better.

The fifth and final task of TUFF is to rewrite the original free-write (first draft). The writer uses all the insights gained through the creative distillation of the story through previous TUFF tasks. The writer is now better informed of the original story. And yet the second draft still allows for creative process; it remains open to crafting. Even the final task of TUFF is pure writing. If it isn’t, editing can stifle your inner writer. Set the editor aside and take the TUFFest Ride to the page. The second draft gives you more words — 495 to be exact. This equates to five 99-word increments.

Once you have revised through TUFF, then you have material to edit. Editing shapes the course of your story (it’s arrangement into a beginning middle and end, or into scenes that form a chapter, or into chapters that form a book). Editing the course is building the bones. Next, editing fleshes out clarity. It takes a critical eye to readability, rhythm, and flow. Clarity asks if this is the best word, the right sentence, the exact scene. Once fleshed out, editing polishes the skin or applies the make-up. Now editing can grimly march through the sentences slashing comma splices and questioning grammar. Final editing cares about correctness. These tasks take place after writing, not before and not during.

Stay TUFF and write on. The journey to mastery never ends until the master is no more.

In September, 118 entries qualified to take the TUFFest Ride in 2018. Laura Smyth and Cynthia Drake assisted with judging, highlighting the best stories from each of the five Free-Write contests. The judges further selected the best stories from among the top entries. Several writers stood out among their multiple entries, and the judges chose five writers to take the TUFFest Ride. Each of these writers took the full ride from 297 to 9 words. Three continued to the second draft and had 24 hours t complete it. Because they went through the TUFF process, the idea is that the second draft would flow more quickly.

Because 118 entries plus the full TUFFest Ride of the Fab Five nets over 60,000 words, we will only publish the complete work of the Fab Five which you can read at The TUFFest Ride.

However, to acknowledge those daring writers who completed the challenge alongside the Fab Five, we offer you this Badge of Honor to proudly display:

Thank you to our marvelous judges, Cynthia Drake and Laura Smyth! Their guidance and thoughtfulness throughout the contest have made it a pleasure. We all found the writing of our Fab Five to be delicious and have our winner announcements. We met in Laura’s office and giggled our way through a video, showing why we call ourselves the Squirrel Sisters. Laura was relieved when she realized the recording was not live because I could edit it.

I laughed! I told her I didn’t know how.

And, apparently, I don’t know how to record, either. Afterward, when I shut down my laptop, I failed to save our recording. This year, technology officially wins over my best efforts to record. I can tell you we discussed how the process pushed each writer into their story. We talked about each writer, their strengths, willingness to be vulnerable and our preferences as readers and judges.

Judging is not easy, especially in a creative contest. In the end, we focused on writer strengths, use of the process, and the elements that compel a reader.

Cynthia stated, that as a dancer she resonated with Pete Fanning’s story. It’s one she could feel as dance steps. Laura pointed to the surprise she felt when she read Kay’s second draft because the writer journeyed with the character from young woman to deathbed (Cynthia and I teased Laura about being a poet who always goes straight for death in her writing). We all loved the lyricism of Bill’s writing and appreciated how he explored far and wide, yet maintained his strongest original elements.

It was not easy, and we squirreled away on many topics, deciding that we all appreciated TUFF as a process. Cynthia has used TUFF to process her goals to restore her damaged home after a mudslide (the theme of all these stories). Laura has had me in her Finlandia classroom to teach the process to her Composition 101 students. And I’m taking to TUFF for NaNoWriMo 2018.

Here is our final ranking with massive appreciation to all the writes and those who hung in the saddle.

FINAL RANKING

Honorable Mention: Liz Husebye Hartmann
Honorable Mention: Ritu Bhathal
Third Place: Pete Fanning
Second Place: Kay Kingsley
First Place: Bill Engleson

Congratulation to the five of you! We were blown away by your writing and the tenacity to push through difficult tasks and find the strengths throughout the ride. This contest called you to endure, and you did.

Rodeo #5: Sound and Fury

A Flash Fiction contest by D. Avery
Co Judges: Bonnie Sheila and the Amazing Educator

THE CONTEST

Sometimes fear, respect, and awe are the braids of one rope. Sometimes that one rope is all a buckaroo has to hang onto. Your flash should never let go of that rope.

Think of a dangerous situation that people willingly engage in. It need not be heroic with a heroic outcome for it is ill-advised to sit down on a bull or to run with them charging down the same narrow street. But people do. Why? Explore the motivation for the character; how did they come to be in this situation?

A high scoring bull rider stays on an athletic bucking spinning bull for eight seconds after exploding out of the chute. They are dance partners, with a grace that is gritty and brutal. The rider holds that braided rope for dear life, knowing the only thing worse than being on a bull’s back is to be at its mercy on the ground. The fascination with danger or the tension of being in a dangerous situation should permeate your story.

A high scoring writer will maximize that eternal eight seconds, letting the reader know what that dangerous situation smelled like, tasted like, sounded like, felt like, looked like. Put the reader on that bull’s back. Give the reader the sound and the fury of a dangerous situation.

These tracks from Marty Stuart’s Way Out West album may set the tone for this prompt. Enjoy and have a good ride.

The rules:

  1. Every entry must be 99 words, no more, no less. You can have a title outside that limit.
  2. Write a story that shows the sound and the fury of an intense and dangerous situation that the main character willingly chose.
  3. There are two dance partners; show the fury of the danger, be it a bucking bull or some other dangerous liaison.
  4. The sound; use sensory details to put the reader in the main character’s dance shoes.
  5. Bonus points for revealing the character’s motivation/fascination for dancing with danger.
  6. Use the form provided below to enter (open this post if you are reading it in an email). If you do not receive a confirmation email, notify wordsforpeople@gmail.com.
  7. Entries must be received by November 7, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. (EST). Contest winner, second and third place entries announced here December 14, 2018
  8. Go where the prompt leads.
  9. Have fun.

For word count, use Microsoft Word or wordcounter.net. Be aware that punctuation and word-hyphens can change your word count so run it through one of those two counters.

Judges for this event are D. Avery, Bonnie Sheila, and the Amazing Educator.

D. Avery, Rough Writer spinner of Ranch Yarns, shares prose and poetry at ShiftnShake. She has published two books of poetry, Chicken Shift and For the Girls. Her third book, After Ever, little stories for grown children, is evidence of her shift to fiction writing. You might find her funny, except when she’s serious, but you can certainly find her at Twitter and Amazon.

Bonnie Sheila is a crafty woman who lives by the sea and who has taken up quilling to keep herself off the streets. Her art can be viewed at Crescents and Coils. She has many talents, but fishing is not one of them.

The Amazing Educator has fiercely and fearlessly championed children for thirty years. Hundreds of people read, write, and even spell well because of her. She is a voracious reader and fearless leader of book groups who has also worked as an editor. When tooling about in her Jeep, Dog is her copilot.

In judging we will apply the following criteria:

  1. Word count: 99
  2. Use of the prompt.
  3. Dance moves; there is a respect and grace between the danger and the endangered.
  4. Imagery; a compelling use of sensory details makes the reader feel the music behind the dance, illustrates the fascination with the danger.
  5. The story brings understanding as to why a person would engage in a high-risk situation.

Thank you for entering! The contest is now closed. Winners announced December 14, 2018, at Carrot Ranch.

The TUFFest Ride Finals

From 118 entries, five writers were selected to take the TUFFest Ride. A few brave challengers have also followed the paces, taking the ride each week. The point of TUFF is to experience the shifts that occur in our writing when we revise. The process forces us to change our first drafts to meet the diminishing word constraints. In making those changes, we further explore our story and make discoveries and decisions. Lastly, we infuse the heart of our stories with emotion.

Here’s a quick look at the shortest stories from last week — each one is nine words and expresses a different emotion [set in brackets].

9-WORD SUMMATIONS WITH EMOTION by Kay Kingsley

Sapling nurtured, love grows an Oak death can’t fell [strength]

Unanswered dreams denied by fate suspended our love eternally [sadness]

###

9-WORD SUMMATIONS WITH EMOTION by Ritu Bhathal

Mudslide. This could not be happening again – could it? [Fear]

Fear aside. They need me. I’ve got to help. [Courage]

###

9-WORD SUMMATIONS WITH EMOTION by Pete Fanning

Whether fire or rain, they danced through the pain. [Happy]

Two souls, one dance. Muddy shoes, singing the blues. [Love]

9-WORD SUMMATIONS WITH EMOTION by Bill Engleson

Her spectre blazes in my brain, dangling in time. [wonder]

Mudslide! Low Tide!! Suicide! I have done your will. [resignation]

9-WORD SUMMATIONS WITH EMOTION by Liz Husebye Hartman

Everybody had opinions, but the mudslide called it in. [acceptance]

Dahlia embraces freedom as New Stuttgart is washed away. [disapproval]

###

This Rodeo contest challenged the judges, too. How does one judge the process of drafting and revision? We looked for tenacity, the ability of a writer to push into his or her piece. All five writers exhibited this trait that the masters consider more important than talent.

Often it is tenacity, not talent, that rules the day.”
~ Julia Cameron

“Fish,” he said softly, aloud, “I’ll stay with you until I am dead.”
~ Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.
~ Albert Einstein

And that’s what TUFF called these five writers to do. Pete Fanning, Kay Kingsley, Ritu Bhathal Bill Engleson, and Liz Husebye Hartmann wrote tenaciously. Each week they met a challenge and overcame the doubt that dogs all writers. They wrote. And from the perspective of the one who got to read their writing weekly, I marveled at how each writer pushed through. TUFF creates a process for revision so that exploration and discovery still happen between first draft and second.

Too often, writers go from first draft into editing. By using the ultimate flash fiction constraints, writers can workshop their revisions before getting to the mechanics of editing, thus creating deeper and richer stories. It’s easy to learn to edit because it has specific rules. Creative writing, on the other hand, requires experience and the willingness of a writer to be vulnerable and uncertain.

In the words of one of our judges, reading the Fab Five’s stories and TUFF processes was “delicious!” Indeed, it’s been a month at a story smorgasbord, getting the privilege of watching the chef’s serve up flavorful dishes. But now as we go back for seconds, we only have room to pick three. Please congratulate our two Honorable Mentions in the TUFFest Ride:

  1. Honorable Mention: Liz Husebye Hartmann
  2. Honorable Mention: Ritu Bhathal

That means Pete Fanning, Kay Kingsley, and Bill Engleson have 24 hours to craft a second revision of their original mudslide story in 495 words (that’s five flash fictions as we define the 99-word form at Carrot Ranch). Email entries, following the same process with earlier challenges by noon EST Tuesday, October 30. On Friday, November 2, we will rank remaining TUFF writers as first, second and third place.

Also on Friday, TUFF Judge Cynthia Drake will be dancing her first solo with her troupe 47 North Belly Dance at the Continental Fire Company. The show is a fundraiser to help her with ongoing cost to rebuild her home following the devastating landslide on June 17. I’ll be reading some of my flash fiction based on her story and that of community healing.

The Continental has generously sponsored the Rodeo and all our prize categories, and they continue to be local support of literary art. We are hosting a unique Old-Time Radio Rodeo that employs tough (99-59-9 words) with radio script. It’s a portfolio opportunity to get a story professionally developed into a real-live, on-the-air, radio spot. I hope you’ll give it a go, especially those of you who have experienced TUFF.

The ride is almost over. Stay in the saddle! And congratulate all our Fab Five Flash Writers for a job well done this Rodeo.

Rodeo #4: Fractured Fairy Tales

A Flash Fiction contest by Norah Colvin
Co Judges: Anne Goodwin and Robbie Cheadle

Do you love fairy tales? Chances are, unless you are a parent or grandparent of young children or an early childhood educator as I am, you may not have encountered a fairy tale for a while. Well, I am about to change that by asking you to fracture a fairy tale for the fourth Carrot Ranch rodeo contest. [READ MORE…]

For insights and tips from the contest creator, read Norah’s Post, “Once Upon a Rodeo Time.” For word count, use Microsoft Word or wordcount.net. Be aware that punctuation and word-hyphens can change your word count so run it through one of those two counters.

Norah Colvin is an Australian educator, passionate about learning and early childhood education especially. She has many years’ experience in a variety of educational roles. She currently blogs about education and learning in general at NorahColvin.com and shares teaching ideas and resources more specific to early education and the first three years of school on her website readilearn.com.au.

Connect with Norah on social media

Twitter: @NorahColvin @readilearn
Facebook: Norah Colvin @readilearnteachingresources
Instagram: readilearnteachingresources

JUDGES (read full bios at SPONSORS)

Norah’s esteemed and talented judges are Anne Goodwin and Robbie Cheadle.

Anne Goodwin’s debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, about a man who keeps a woman captive in his cellar, was published in May 2017. Anne is also a book blogger and author of over 80 published short stories. Her short story anthology, Becoming Someone, is due in November 2018. Catch up on her website or on Twitter @Annecdotist.

Robbie Cheadle has published five books so far in her Sir Chocolate series of picture books. Her books are unique with their wonderful fondant illustrations. She also recently co-wrote While the Bombs Fell with her mother Elsie Hancy Eaton, a memoir of her mother’s wartime experiences. Catch up with Robbie on her blogs Bake and Write and Robbie’s inspiration or connect with her on                                          Facebook @SirChocolateBooks and Twitter @bakeandwrite.

THE CONTEST

This contest exhibits a writer’s ability to entertain by taking a traditional story and adding a twist, a surprise, or a new point of view while maintaining its recognizability.

The prompt word is “food”. Why? Because food features in many traditional fairy tales; including:

  • Little Red Riding Hood — the basket of goodies for Grandma
  • Snow White — the poisoned apple
  • Hansel and Gretel — the breadcrumb trail and the witch’s edible house
  • The Gingerbread Man —I need tell you?
  • Stone Soup — ditto
  • The Three Billy Goats Gruff —greener pasture
  • The Three Bears —porridge for breakfast
  • Jack and the Beanstalk — “Fee Fi Fo Fum. I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”
  • The Little Red Hen —bread
  • The Three Little Pigs —the wolf’s dinner, of course!

You do not need to start with a story that already features food, but your story must feature food in some way.

Since Anne and Robbie, as judges, are ineligible to enter the contest, I invited them to write a fractured fairy tale for this post and was delighted when they accepted the challenge.

A single bite by Anne Goodwin

“Just a bite,” she croons. “One bite won’t hurt.”

Won’t it? Drenched in chocolate and sugar-icing, there’ll be five hundred calories a forkful, at least.

“Skin and bone, you are.” She cuffs my wrist between her little finger and thumb. “Don’t upset your brother. He spent hours crafting that cake.”

Where is the boy who preferred woods to kitchens? Where is the girl who ate without fear?

“Starving yourself won’t bring back your parents. Please, Gretel, eat!”

The gingerbread house looks lovely, but smells like a trap. “Let’s not cut it, Grandma. There’s a cake competition at the church.”

###

The Elvin Hill by Robbie Cheadle

Throughout the feast the Goblin King watched the Elf King’s daughters. He and his two sons were to choose a wife from among them.

A delicious meal was served. He noticed that one daughter did not partake of the food. She only ate fruit and drank water. When she danced with her sisters to entertain the visitors, tiny flowers sprang up where she stepped. He could see that her magic was white and not the usual black of elves.

He selected her, and a new generation of good elves resulted from their union. It changed the course of history.

###

So, the ingredients your story must include (otherwise known as rules):

  1. Your entry must be 99 words, no more, no less. You can have a title outside that limit.
  2. It must involve a recognizable fairy tale, character or setting. Note: the term ‘fairy tale’ is used loosely for any traditional tale. You are wisest to choose a story with which the judges will be familiar.
  3. Your story must feature food.
  4. Your story must entertain or surprise us with a twist or a new point of view. Humour is good, but so is dark. Go where the prompt leads.
  5. You have a week to write, so edit your manuscript to ensure it’s free of typos, spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors.
  6. Use the form provided below to enter (open this post if you are reading it in an email). If you do not receive a confirmation email, notify wordsforpeople@gmail.com.
  7. Entries must be received by October 31, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. (EST). Contest winner, second and third place entries announced here December 7, 2018.
  8. You may post a “challenge” in the comments if you don’t want to enter the contest, but don’t use the form. Only contest entries will be published.
  9. Enjoy!

Thank you for entering! The contest is now closed. Winners announced December 7, 2018, at Carrot Ranch

The TUFFest Ride Fourth Challenge

By now, I hope writers have experienced the value of exploring options and discovering nuggets within the reductive revision of a single story. Revision is pure writing, but we don’t always know what we are looking to revise. When we reduce the word count, we force our brains to puzzle out what is most important.

When I read the posts and comments of our challenge writers, I can see the sparks of insight.

Writing calls to us through the discovery of meaning. Art communicates that meaning between artist and reader/viewer/listener. But before we can get to that sweet spot of communication, we must first discover the meaning percolating in our minds and hearts.

The writer who thinks has an idea perched in the brain. The writer who feels has an emotion tickling the heart. Both can feel like that word one has on the tip of the tongue — it’s almost recalled but not quite. TUFF searches for that word, defines the idea and captures the emotion. A writer cannot do this in one draft. And yet, who has time for thirteen?

Back in college, under the tutelage of  Dr. Stottlemeyer, I practiced revision the way a pianist might practice — every day I wrote. And still, every day I write. But what does a pianist practice? What does a writer practice? We all grow weary of exercises because we want to hit the keys — piano or laptop. Our brains want to problem solve.

I’ve talked about this before with word constraints because scientists believe constraints encourage the brain to problem solve. Often writers who start to regularly practice 99-word challenges begin to feel more creative or experience breakthroughs in writing. It feels like magic, but it’s science. What if I told you that pianists practice to problem solve?

Writers can do the same. What is the idea of the story? What is the emotion? What meaning does this story hold for me? For readers? TUFF allows you to explore, discover nuggets and fix problems. It offers the kind of writing practice that affords problem-solving.

Of course, the judges and I have had to keep TUFF tough. Each week offers a new technical challenge. First, we offered a prompt that had to be included, interpreted or expressed. Next, we asked for two different POVs. Then we wanted one POV but with a nugget the second POV provided.

Let’s hear from our Fab Flash Five and how they managed the third challenge:

Some of you recognized a nugget as a brief insight. And you think that is the 9-word strategy. Oh, no. It is not! The 9-word challenge is not a nugget, though both might be expressed with brevity. Sure, one of your discovered nuggets might be offered as the 9-word challenge, but first, you have to understand the tightest flash fiction word constraint as a punch.

Not that I’m a violent person, but I do advocate writers punching their readers in the gut.

Pause for a moment on what we all learned in composition: crafting a thesis statement. It’s one of the earliest structures of writing we learn — to make a claim, or a point. It gives the reader an idea of what your essay is about. In journalism, we summarize the most important aspects of a story by opening with a lede. In creative writing, we begin with a hook. Write a book, and agents, publishers, and readers will all want you to “hook” them with your first fifty pages. Many fiction writers study first lines because it’s often the most important.

That first line (or opening sequence) is your punch.

In TUFF, the 9-word constraint captures the essence of your story. To come out punching, your hook must have emotion for that is what hooks a reader. The next technical challenge is all about crafting the emotion of your punch. It is not enough to rely upon a nugget. You must infuse a meaningful nugget with emotion.

FOURTH CHALLENGE

  1. Reduce the story to 9 words.
  2. Write it two different ways, using two different emotions.
  3. Use [brackets] following each of your two 9-word punches to indicate the specific emotion.
  4. Each emotion must be different, like [happy] and [sad], or [disgust] and [trust].

Contestants turn in their entries by11:59 p.m. (EST) Friday, October 26. Challengers can post or link in the responses. It’s time to come out punching with your TUFFest Ride!

Rodeo #3: Travel with a Twist

By Sherri Matthews

In July, I had the good fortune to spend a week’s holiday with my husband on the Italian Amalfi Coast. I say good fortune, because hubby won it, thanks to a random prize draw. We couldn’t believe it. Who wins those things anyway? Surely it’s a scam? But I can report back that it’s no scam because I’ve got the pics to prove it. [READ MORE…]

Welcome to Travel With A Twist, the third contest at Rodeo 2018.  Packed and ready for the off? Then let’s ride. But first, just like any essential safety demonstrations, a few simple rules before take-off:

  1. Entry must be 99 words, no more, no less (not including the title).
  2. Use the form below to enter, including your name (judging is blind).  All entries will receive a confirmation email. If you do not receive an acknowledgment by email, contact us at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.
  3. You may enter as many times as you wish, but all entries must be received no later than 11:59 pm (EST) October 24, 2018.
  4. You may post a “challenge” in the comments if you don’t want to enter the contest, but don’t use the form to enter the contest. Only contest entries will be published.
  5. Contest winner, second and third place entries are announced here and at my blog, A View From My Summerhouse, on November 30.

JUDGES (read full bios at SPONSORS)

Waiting by the palm tree/bus-stop/tent to read your entries are the judges:

Sherri Matthews

Mike Matthews: An avid reader, Mike is a keen observer of life and writings, my fellow traveller, sound-boarder and proof-reader. Mike has also demonstrated insightful and patient editing skills since his wife (me) embarked upon the writing of her memoir, most aptly deployed when she’s threatened to shred the entire thing.

Hugh Roberts:  Author, blogger and friend, I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting Hugh in person several times at the Annual Blogger’s Bash in London. Hugh writes sizzling short stories with deliciously devious flair, many of which are published in his debut collection, ‘Glimpses’. His second volume follows in the New Year.   Hugh also won first place in Norah Colvin’s, ‘When I Grow Up’ competition in last year’s Rodeo.  You can catch up with Hugh at his blog, ‘Hugh’s Views & News.

And here’s our criteria for the winning entries:

    1. Any genre accepted, but the story must clearly be travel related.
    2. Journey anywhere you like near or far, on any mode of transport (or not), but make us emotional. We might cheer, wince; laugh or cry. Doesn’t matter, we can take it (we’ve got travel insurance).
    3. Wherever you go, there must be a twist in the tale, something we never saw coming. Don’t know about you, but I usually end up taking all the wrong things when I pack for a holiday. Layers are the key, I’ve learned. Just like the layers in your flash, that perfect item you almost didn’t pack, but decided to at the last minute… that’s what we’re looking for when we rummage through your bags.

Thank you for entering! The contest is now closed. Winners announced November 30, 2018, at Carrot Ranch and at Sherri’s blog, A View From My Summerhouse.

The TUFFest Ride Third Challenge

TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction) could be thought of as a tool. I think of it as a revision process, one that teaches writers through experiencing each task. The TUFFest Ride is a contest by which the Fab Flash Five — Ritu Bhathal, Bill Engleson, Kay Kingsley, Pete Fanning, and Liz Husebye Hartmann — are competing for first, second and third place rankings. They are the five winners selected from 118 entries submitted to five Free-Writes in September. We have other dedicated writers following along, playing from the “safety of home.”

It’s not that TUFF  endangers writers, but the writing process itself feels vulnerable. We can’t teach writing from that place of instinct and imagination without risking the emotion and doubt that lingers within each of us. Editing is crisp, it is clear and known. Editing is teachable, knowable, less risky. But TUFF asks us to shed the safety of editing. Set it aside and write without boundaries. Go where your gut leads you. Explore. Push into the fiction writer’s answers to “what if?” and risk being curious even if it might mean you are wrong.

Last week we learned the purpose of 99 words — a tool of exploration. The technical challenge asked the writers to explore point of view (POV) by either shifting from one POV to another or introducing a different POV character.  Let’s listen to a recording of our Fab Flash Five, as I read each of their two 99-word POV stories:

One of our regulars at the weekly Flash Fiction Challenges, CalmKate, has provided an illustrative example of the TUFFest Ride thus far and one that will help me explain the next task in the contest (or challenge for those of you following).

Rank Dank Mud by Calm Kate

Asleep at last, a brief reprieval from the relentless wind and rain … such a violent storm.

Then about midnight we’re woken by a violent piercing crack, what the … ?

Goodness that was the mountainside sliding downhill, trees, homes, vehicles, road, pets and people. The quagmire is astounding, the sight disturbing. The mind and emotions are numb.

Disbelief resides with distress as we try to get our heads around this monumental mess. No one can describe the sight of mud mixed with trees and torn structures. Buildings, roads and vehicles strewn about in pieces like kindling emerged in mud. Thick dank rank mud. We can’t believe what we see coz it’s just too horrifying to comprehend.

Facilities are out, power, water and sewage are no longer functioning. Groceries are scarce as we all panic buy in bulk. The roads impassable so no idea when help will get through. The shock and fear just too overwhelming to grasp or express.

Then with time and sun the smell settles like an unwanted guest. The debris, mud and waste all rotting in one ginormous compost heap. But there is no bin to contain it … this is our neighbourhood, our friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

All sounds are muffled like they are also stuck in the mud. We are muted, no one dare speak loudly, our tongues are tied. None of us will ever be able to block out that resounding crack and weird sound as the sky came down to meet the earth crushing everything in between.

Other than assure our loved ones that we were safe we don’t use our phones coz there is no power to charge them and what would we say anyway. Everything is the same dull dank colour and the smell blocks all orifices.

🥕🥕🥕

99-word POV #1 (Original) by CalmKate

A violent piercing crack wakes us all.

Goodness the mountain slid downhill taking trees, homes, vehicles, pets and people. The sight is most disturbing leaving our mind and emotions numb.

Everything is strewn about like kindling covered in dank rank mud. Power, water and sewage are out. The shelves are all bare as we panic shopped.

The debris, mud and waste are rotting like compost but this is our community … we are muted as we struggle to comprehend. Having assured our loved ones that we are safe our phones are off for emergencies only. No power to recharge.

99-word POV #2 (Different) by CalmKate

Looking down I can see that my minions need a reminder that they are mortal. To stop taking life for granted, whining instead of being thankful for what they’ve got.

A good old storm with a dangerous mudslide should remind them to be more grateful. I’ll make sure to knock out their utilities and keep them isolated and hungry for a while. Life has got too easy with groceries galore and light at the flick of a switch.

As for those damned devices they’re all so engrossed in I’ll make sure that they have to talk to each other.

What I want to point out in Kate’s writing are a couple of nuggets that emerged in each POV:

NUGGETS:

  • A violent piercing crack wakes us all. (POV #1)
  • Life has got too easy with groceries galore and light at the flick of a switch. (POV #2)

The first nugget exemplifies the power of writing concise prose. If you compare that line to Kate’s original opening, you can see how it still works and carries the tension of the moment. The second nugget could only have emerged through exploration. Had Kate not explored a different point of view, she could have missed this idea which offers her stories a pivotal point of contrast. Not only is her story one of natural disaster, but now we see an expansion of what can happen because of or in spite of an easy life — the consequences of complacency.

Do you see how 99 words allow you to continue to play in your creative writing without yet having to rein it to editing? You are still writing as you revise and yet you are tightening language, focusing tension, and discovering the cost to character’s lives. There’s no end to the exploration of play in 99 words, and if you take away anything from TUFF, I hope you understand the value of investigation that doesn’t take up a lot of writing time. No one wants to get to the end of 75,000 words and then explore a different POV! Play with it up front. Use the weekly challenges to develop your characters outside your novel to learn new insights.

Now we begin to focus. Now we cut away everything but that which is most essential.

THIRD CHALLENGE

  1. Decide on one POV. It can be the original, or it can be the experimental one.
  2. Reduce the story to 59-words.
  3. For a technical challenge, incorporate a nugget from your opposite 99-word POV (and bold that nugget to illustrate it).

This is a revision challenge. You are not only continuing to distill the original story, but you are also deciding upon a single point of view to carry your narration, and you are adding something you didn’t have in the original free-draft or the POV you chose to keep.

An example can be found in Kate’s illustration above. If she goes with POV #1, she includes Nugget #2. If she goes with POV #2, she includes Nugget #1. Of course, Kate is free to select her own nuggets just as each contestant and challenger will do. The task is to take a nugget from the opposing POV. You might have to change the nugget’s POV if it’s in first person and your story is in third. Or you can take the idea and expand it, not using the exact verbiage.

Contestants turn in their entries by11:59 p.m. (EST) Friday, October 19. Challengers can post or link in the responses. Let me know of any insights you recognize as you continue the TUFFest Ride!

Rodeo #2: Memoir

By Irene Waters, Rodeo Leader

Memoir is a passion, so I’m thrilled to once again host the memoir section of the Carrot Ranch Rodeo Contest. Hoping you’ll tighten your saddles and put on your spurs and join in. [READ MORE…]

Last year we had Scars – this year?

“She Did It.”

Three little words can hold so much meaning and have so many stories that come to mind. For the memoir prompt “She Did It” write a true story or a BOTS (based on a true story) keeping in mind the tips on writing memoir.

THE RULES:

  1. Every entry must be 99 words, no more, no less. You can have a title outside that limit. Check your word count using the net as this will be the one I use to check the entries. Entries that aren’t 99 words will be disqualified.
  2. The genre is memoir although BOTS (based on a true story) will be accepted.
  3. English grammar and spelling (American, English or Australian) are expected, but as long as the judges can understand the language, it is the story that matters most.
  4. And it must be a story — that is it must be complete by itself not a part of a larger narrative. Give it a beginning, a middle, and an end.
  5. The prompt is a prompt, and the three words don’t have to be used in your 99 words unless you want to.
  6. You must enter your name and email with your entry using the provided form below. If you do not receive an acknowledgment by email, contact us at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.
  7. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on October 17, 2018. Entries are judged blind, and winners announced November 16, 2018, at Carrot Ranch. Please do not compromise the blind judging by posting your entry before the winners are announced.
  8. You may post a “challenge” if you don’t want to enter the contest, but don’t use the form to enter the contest. Only contest entries will be published.

Above all have fun.

JUDGES (read full bios at SPONSORS)

Irene Waters

Angie Oakley

Helen Stromqvist

THANK YOU FOR YOUR ENTRIES! CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!

The TUFFest Ride Second Challenge

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:

Rodeo #1: Dialog

By Geoff Le Pard, Rodeo Leader

Writers are notorious people watchers. It’s a small miracle we don’t get done for stalking more often. Part of that idea — thieving we do involves listening to what people say — phrases, the modes of speech, dialect, etc. People convey ideas and feelings with words. [READ MORE…]

So, those pesky rules:

  1. Every entry must be 99 words, no more, no less. You can have a title outside that limit.
  2. It’s dialogue only. Everything inside speech marks, please. (American and British styles both accepted.)
  3. Any genre, time, place, just let us know via words. If you can world build a fantasy, hats off! (Oh, by the way, I bloody loathe the overuse of the exclamation mark. Be very sparing or my prejudices may show through.
  4. It’s a conversation so you need two characters at least. But can you have a conversation with yourself? With an inanimate object? Go for it. There’s a prompt at the end for you to use, but use your imagination. It doesn’t have to be anyone in the picture who’s speaking, does it?
  5. I don’t mind what English spelling or slang you use, just make it recognisably English.
  6. I want emotion, but I want fiction. Not memoir, not a personal narrative and no non-fiction, though dialogue non-fiction sounds a challenge in its own right.
  7. You must enter your name and email with your entry using the provided form below. If you do not receive an acknowledgement by email, contact us at wordsforpeople@gmail.com
  8. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on October 10, 2018. Entries are judged blind and winners announced November 9, 2018 at Carrot Ranch. Please do not compromise the blind judging by posting your entry before the winners are announced.
  9. Go where the prompt leads, people.
  10. Have fun.

JUDGES (read full bios at SPONSORS)

Geoff Le Pard

Find Geoff’s books at Amazon US or Amazon UK. Follow his blog at TanGental and on Twitter @geofflepard.


Esther Chilton

Whether it’s an edit you’re after, some advice about a market, writing in general – in fact, anything and everything, you can get in touch, and she’ll try and help you. To find out more, visit her blog: https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com. Or contact her: estherchilton@gmail.com.


Chelsea Owens

When not cleaning (an infuriatingly large amount of the time), eating, sleeping, parenting, driving, reading her blog feed, budgeting, and cooking; Chelsea breathes in and sometimes out again. She also writes daily on her blog: chelseaannowens.com.


In judging we will apply the following criteria:

  1. Word count: 99
  2. Pure dialogue.
  3. Use of the prompt.
  4. Emotion: does the piece convey feeling? Do you generate a reaction in the reader?
  5. Ideally we want a story, something that makes us think. Where’s this going? What’s happened? Engage us in your tale.
  6. We love any clever tricks, to make us go ‘ah ha’. Include something to make us wonder and up the slippery pole you go.
  7. Just remember, in real life, we don’t say everything, we finish each other’s sentences, we talk over each other. Use that. Make it feel real. Make us hear it, and you’ll be a winner.

And the picture prompt?

Oh come on, it’s me. Wadyaexpect? The inside of Starbucks?

Thank you for entering! The contest is now closed. Winners announced November 9, 2018, at Carrot Ranch.