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Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #6

Bucking Bull Go-Round

By D. Avery

Luck of the Draw, Resilience of the Rider

Bull riders are “today’s gladiators,” willing to risk injury and death for their ride to fame. Can you imagine straddling an angry, snorting 1800-pound animal that wants nothing more than to shake you off and perhaps gore and trample you, too? What must it be like to prepare for that, to face down fear as you approach the chute and settle atop this beast that you will dance with in the arena? What are people’s motivations to confront such a challenge, to set upon it and not only hang on for dear life, but to ride it with as much grace and finesse as possible, showing courage and skill in equal measure? Carrot Ranch’s Bucking Bull Go-Round event is a flash fiction approximation of rodeo’s most dangerous event, bull riding.

At the Professional Bull Riders’ (PBR) website, a bull ride is defined as

A contest of strength, balance, endurance, and effort between the world’s best bull riders and the world’s best bucking bulls. A rider must ride for 8 seconds with one hand in the bull rope and one in the air in order to earn a score. The clock starts when the bull’s shoulder or hip breaks the plane of the gate. It stops when the rider’s hand comes out of the rope – voluntarily or not.”

For the Bucking Bull Go-Round, contestants must first draw their bull:

  1. Enter for a prompt no later than 11:59 pm Friday, EST, October 27.
  2. Entrants will find out what prompt they drew on 12:01 am (EST) Saturday, Oct. 28 on the Flash Fiction Rodeo Event #6 post (this post).
  3. Then the clock starts, with contestant having until 11:59 pm Tuesday, October 31 to enter their stories, which must be in response to the prompt and include their own two unique prompt words, which are actual bull names from professional bull riders’ circuit.

The PBR also states:

The clock also stops if the Rider touches himself, the bull, or the ground with his free arm during the 8 second ride.”

To reflect the no touching rule in this event, you will show your hat in the air by sticking to fiction. Don’t even narrate in first person. While only the writer knows where a story idea germinates, your response should not be any form or function of non-fiction.

The PBR awards scores to both bull and rider.

A bull is judged on his athleticism and difficulty to ride. This takes into account spin (right or left), direction changes (movement forward and backward or side to side), kick in the back end, drop in the front, and body rolls. A body roll occurs when a bull is in the air and kicks either his hind feet or all four feet to the side. The more of these characteristics a bull displays during a ride, the higher the degree of difficulty.”

Your bull is your prompt words, so it is important that writers are aware of how bulls are scored so that they can enhance their own scores. The prompt words are each different and have their own inherent difficulties. It will be up to the writers to demonstrate these moves and their control of the prompt. In this event, the bull is not scored, but a high scoring story includes rolls and pitches, kicks and lunges, or changes of direction, based on the prompt words, even as the writing remains fluid and centered.

“A rider is judged on how in control he is during the ride. This takes into account how well he matches and counters the bull’s moves, how centered he is and how fluid his movement is during the bull ride.  Extra points may be awarded for style, such as spurring (marking out the bull; the rider lifts his legs up by the shoulders of the bull and returns them) which demonstrates complete control.”

In this event style is closely linked with control. Style is hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Style is when the rider has mastered the moves of the bull and now is showing moves of her own. Style is when the whole ride looks easy and smooth.

So that, with a lot of borrowing from the Professional Bull Riders’ Association, is a definition of an actual bull ride and judging. Actual life can also be fraught with bucking snorting challenges and bone jarring kicks and twists. Perhaps you have faced your own trials and dangers in other arenas, have already experienced eight-second eternities that would either break you or make you. In this event, just as in bull riding, just as in life, you may or may not feel that you got a good draw, but like the professional bull riders, you will draw on your skills and experience to steady your nerves and meet the challenge. Because in life, and in fiction, meeting challenge and facing fear aren’t chosen so much as lived, confronted as responsibility, obligation, necessity, and even possibility. What has been your toughest ride? Take inspiration from those moments or situations that make you hold on and dig in despite an uncertain outcome, where no matter how your ride ends, you get cowpoke credit just for putting your butt down on the bull’s back. Draw one of these bull names and work it into a flash fiction that shows challenge and daring.

Submission information


FIRST: enter name and email no later than 11:59 pm (EST) Friday, Oct. 27 to draw a prompt. If you missed the contest, you can take the challenge with unclaimed Bull Names (see list). NOW CLOSED.


# Writer Bull
19 Etol Bagam Snake Eater
32 D. Avery God’s Gift
10 Charli Mills Lip Tricks
28 Bill Engleson Uncle Charlie
31 Diana Nagai No Refund
25 Jeanine Western Wishes
15 Susan Budig Poison Ivy
34 Lisa @The Meaning of Me Beer Goggles
17 FloridaBorne Chocolate Thunder
5 Frank Hubeny Perfect Storm
29 Judy E Martin Big City
38 Irene Waters Free Loader
14 Geoff Le Pard Two Telegrams
35 Khadija Chunky Monkey
16 Kim Blades Crystal Deal
4 Hugh Roberts Bad Rumor
2 Chris Mills Squirt Gun
27 Norah Colvin Fairy Tattoo
30 JulesPaige Drop Zone
33 Christina Steiner Perfect Poison
24 Colleen Chesebro Pearl Harbor
20 Theresa Gober Pork Chop
26 Jillian Green DiGiacomo Ugly Time
6 Liz H Houdini magic
13 jackschuyler High Tide
3 Bobby Fairfield Yellow Jacket
8 Kati MacArthur Cowtown Cartel
37 Kerry E. B. Black Law Dog
12 Michael Acid Rain
36 Nancy Beach After Party
1 Elliot Lyngreen Young Gun
9 Deborah Lee Sleeping Deacon
39 Robbie Cheadle Bad Medicine
23 Michelle Buck Final Fantasy
11 Joe Owens Maze Runner
52 Ritu Bhathal War Dance
47 Ann Edall-Robson Blueberry Wine
44 D. Wallace Peach Voodoo Child
21 FOR CHALLENGERS Pandora’s Box

SECOND: use the prompt assigned to complete the contest by 11:59 pm October 31.

Entrants must use form in this post to enter their stories. READ THE RULES. It’s more than using your Bull’s Name and the rules explain how to use the name.


The Rules

  1. Must enter your name to draw a prompt by 11:59 pm (EST) Friday, Oct. 27.
  2. Stories are to be 107 words in long in eight sentences.
  3. Stories are to include the two words drawn as your prompt (you may change the order of the words and they do not need to be adjacent).
  4. Write a fictional story that involves facing a challenge or fear.
  5. Stories are to be fiction only; no personal narrative, memoir, or non-fiction of any persuasion. Spur on a story!
  6. Go where the prompts lead, or buck, or twist. Hang on to your hat!
  7. Enter completed flash fiction for the Bucking Bull Go-Round by by 11:59 pm October 31.

 CHALLENGE OPTION: If you don’t feel up to entering a contest please feel free to respond to the challenge in the comments section of this post: BULL NAMES POSTED SAT. OCT. 28. You can pick from the list for the challenge. Weekly Flash Fiction Challenges resume November 2.

Judging by Nurse Crotchett, Ms. Critchley and D. Avery, all wild readers from the East.

Judging Criteria

  1. Word and sentence count; 107 words, 8 sentences
  2. Control; Story reveals effective moves based on the prompt words, even as the writing remains fluid and centered on the prompt theme
  3. Style; Deft handling of prompts, smooth writing, effective use of story devices.

Next up: Murderous Musings! by Sherri Matthews on Thursday, October 26.

Announcement of Winners

Winners will be announced on Carrot Ranch on December 12, 2017.

About Carrot Ranch

Carrot Ranch is a literary community committed to providing all writers access to literary art regardless of backgrounds, genres, goals and locations. Common ground is found through the writing, reading and discussion of flash fiction. The weekly online flash fiction challenges promote community through process, craft and exploration, and regular participants form a literary group called The Congress of Rough Writers. Their first anthology, Vol. 1 publishes in 2017. Carrot Ranch offers an adult-learning program called Wrangling Words, available to all communities where Rough Writers reside.