Tag Archives: Flash Fiction

FLAFIWRIMO Flash Fiction Update

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Yes, there are two February challenges on my calendar; the FLAFIWRIMO flash fiction story-a-day challenge over at Wordsmith Studio and my write-in group’s annual February Writing Dash of 15K words new writing or thirty hours revision/editing work on previous material.

Each day is a sprint, especially when there’s also a six-member critique group in the mix working on something totally separate from the challenges. Today has been a major writing day for me.

Four flash fiction stories were done today because I got behind on that challenge. I still managed 2700 words on those four. This post will add a few more. Revision work will be for later and I’ll get an hour’s worth done before bed.

Tomorrow is critique work, another ff story, and more revision. On top of that is a study session to learn a new voice recognition program and time to put the finishing touches on my newsletter for the month.

Yes, I know it’s running a bit behind. It will get done and sent out shortly and then will come once a month, every month.

Just so that you’ll know that I’m really writing, I’m gone to give you tiny excerpts from the rough draft stories I did today. Here you go.

FLAFIWRIMO Day 5 Story

… I’m ready. Nothing can stop me taking my position in the middle of the pack. My teammates, helmets back in place, give me a small bow as I join them. The defensive players shake their heads and begin to laugh.

They don’t laugh long.

As the defense moves onto the scrimmage line, I wave at each player. That’s always my first engagement with the enemy.

It generally causes confusion. The action makes them wonder why I’m being so friendly. They don’t notice the slight air current rolling their way from my fingertips.

By the time my helmet is secured, the first rank of opponents have elbowed each other. The distraction gains momentum. Slurs and snarls begin to pass back and forth down the line ,,.

FLAFIWRIMO Day 6 Story

Being cursed isn’t the worst thing in the world. Believe me. I know.

About a year ago, I bought a lottery ticket. One of the big jackpots was up for the taking and I was feeling lucky that week. I bought only the one ticket. And it had all the numbers.

I’d signed an anonymity request to keep my name out of the media, as well.

To be honest, however, I think it was that request that did me in. I wasn’t worried about getting taken to the cleaners financially by friends and family. I worked for the IRS as an auditor. I knew about how much that agency would try to skim off the top and every year thereafter …

 FLAFIWRIMO Day 7 Story

The corpse lay, stiff and smelly, on the back porch of the Layton’s house. Mr. Layton had found it a half hour before. The man seemed most distressed about the situation.

“I can’t even salvage the meat,” the fisherman grated between clenched teeth. “Who, or whatever, stripped it, left all the fresh and took only bony parts and the scales.”

Sheriff Westle was known for being a stickler for detail.

“Well, Lester, I don’t think this has a high enough priority to warrant wasting my time on it.”

Three days after the fish carcass fiasco on the Layton- porch, Sheriff Westle was called to the home of Jasper Connors. In the Connors backyard were the remains of a large boar raccoon. The carcass had been expertly skinned, leaving behind undisturbed flash, supported by the entire skeleton …

FLAFIWRIMO Day 8 Story

Red-soled shoes—they’re all the rage, right? Okay, so they’re expensive and subtly ostentatious.  For some of me, though, they’re camouflage.

I can take my entertainment almost anywhere now without comment or suspicion. Especially, if I add a sleek briefcase to my ensemble. I’m in public relations during the day. I’m into self-gratification on my own time.

… Throughout dinner he laughed lightly at my witticisms, flirted undercover of his banter, and generally made me feel very female.

Of course, his flirtation was his downfall, too. I don’t get roused lightly, but he’d managed to rouse me easily and kept it up after his business partner left us for the evening. It didn’t take much persuasion on my part to convince the young man to escort me home.

When he left my place on the upper West Side, his memory had been cleaned of any unpleasantness. He would be a bit weak for a few days, but his contribution to my health would be replenished.

Now before you even think it, that last one has nothing to do with vampires and everything to do with those red-soled shoes. Okay, so there’s a bit more to it than that, but you take my meaning.

And that’s where I’ll leave you for today. Take a break. Write something totally outside your comfort zone. Me, I don’t often move into the macabre, but it’s refreshing when I do and recharges my Muse.

If you’d like to share an excerpt here from one of your own stories, drop it in a comment below.

Enjoy the rest of the week and I’ll see you again soon. TTFN

 

 

 

Ramping Up for NaNoWriMo

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Whew. Got Wisher’s World Launched and now it’s time to think NaNoWriMo.

October leaped out of the gate in a whirlwind of editing and formatting the first volume of Wisher’s World, which came out on Cot. 10th. Afterwards, I wrote two articles and  submitted them for columns on Working Writers Club. Wishers World CoverNext, I set up my editorial calendar for the next three months.

Now, I can take a deep breath and begin prepping for NaNoWirMo 2016.

If you’ve never tried NaNo, you might want to challenge yourself to do it this year. Be a rebel if you can’t think of an idea for a novel. What’s a rebel? Well, you’re reading from one of them at the moment. I seldom do a novel. I did one last year for the first time in several years. It’s in revision now.

You see, I’m a rebel. I work NaNo for other purposes than writing a new novel idea. I use the exercise to revise an already-written novel or something else. Trust me. That really does use your time well during the challenge month. I’ve done a book of poetry for the challenge, too.

Book Cover 02This year, though, I’m writing a collection of Flash Fiction stories for the event—one story per day, every day, including Thanksgiving. If you don’t think that’s challenge enough, consider this.

Each day I’ll be plotting, writing, and doing a light revision on a single story. The stories can run from 500 to 1000 words. Each story will be inspired from a single writing prompt. And some of those prompts are normally used for novel ideas.

I won’t be declared a winner at the end of the month. I know that going in. My nimble fingers won’t have churned out 50K words to snag a winner’s badge like I did last year. Instead, I’ll have written a collection of stories that will need little revision or editing for release before the end of the year on Kindle.

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction WorkerI can pick up my own trophy if, and only if, I put in the back-end work to get the collection ready for a late December release.  That deadline is also a goal. I already have plenty of novels to work on. I don’t need to write another one for a long while.

And there you have it—my personal NaNo challenge. These are the kinds of things that NaNo Rebels do with their time in November and July. It’s not that we’re anti-establishment protesters. It’s that we have other goals and quirks.

I’m fortunate. I have a NaNo group year-round. Our group has expanded and contracted around a core of people for several years now. We write together a couple of times a month, nearly every month of the year. We support each other and even have a critique group of members, which meets regularly. Most of all, we have fun.

004-stock-photo-nRight now, I’m doing prep work to keep me focused on the goals ahead. I’ve chosen my writing prompts for the stories, including a few extra in case one of them doesn’t appeal after all.

I’ve set up my editorial calendar with article deadline dates, topics and titles for my regular column articles for WWC, as well as all the other deadlines that will come between now and the end of the year. Some of those include context deadlines,too.

And this weekend, I’ll put in the time to get my office lined up for the coming frenzy of activity. With more organization, I’ll be better able to make all of my obligations and still have time left over to do those other tasks required for a personal life.

Yep, it’s that time of year when preparation helps keep you sane.

That’s all for now, peeps. I’ll be back again in a few days with something more interesting. I think I may talk about a newsletter idea I’ve been rolling around in my mind. Think about what you might want to see in a regular monthly newsletter and drop your idea in a comment below.

Until then, adios, amigos.

 

At Home on Amazon

Book Cover 02This quick update is to let everyone know that the first of my Short Tales series is up live on Amazon Kindle.

Short Tales of Twisted Wishes carries eight flash fiction stories. Some very short, others hovering at the 1000 word mark. Each of them, whether of Old World fantasy or modern fantasy, holds a wish from one of the characters. And as we all know, sometimes we must be careful what we wish for.

I hope everyone can take a peak to see what’s there. Be sure to let me know your response to the chapbook. All comments are welcome and reviews are much appreciated.

I’ll have another post in a day or so. Have a great week, all. See ya soon.

At Home on a Writer’s Diving Board

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Getting ready to launch isn’t easy for me. I keep asking myself if it’s easy for anyone. I never get an answer to my query.

I’ve a few projects sitting on the back end of that diving board, along with a few creeping toward the business end of that plank. The one that will dive first is Short Tales of Book Cover 02Twisted Wishes, a chapbook of flash fiction. It will launch next weekend on Kindle.

From there will come the second in the Short Tales series, and on through different themed chapbooks. My hard drive holds enough flash fiction to put together at least five or six of the little samplers. Some might ask why anyone would waste time creating these when she has bigger projects to finish.

Here’s an answer to that.

Several larger projects are on the boards. I’ve been working on them for a long time and haven’t gotten them finished yet. They’re under the pen, but novel-length work goes slower than the other writing. Why? Personal perfectionism tendencies.

Yep, if a chapbook of twenty-thirty pages can go to readers, filled with stories I loved writing for others to enjoy, I’ve won a race. True, the race is one of my own making, but given my penchant for extreme perfectionism, anything that goes out is a plus.

5b6-052714-akpCase in point: a week or so ago, a call for submissions came across my desk. The contest was a small one, with no prize money, no trophy. It asked for a 140-character complete story. Those are some of the best challenges, like tiny puzzles of the mind. The deadline was rapidly approaching—can we say a matter of an hour. I couldn’t resist.

Fifteen minutes later, I hit the send key to submit my tiny story. The actual prize for the top 10 winners was to have their stories professionally produced as individual short videos to be released on each writer’s YouTube Channel.

That prize might not seem like a lot. It might even seem lame. For me, though, it was a boon. I liked the idea of seeing a few sentences created into a book trailer with voice over, music, and good quality. It cost me fifteen minutes time and creativity. That’s all.

Now comes the wait time for my video to launch. You see, my little tear-jerker was one of those top ten stories received. It may not seem like much, but it’s a great confidence booster. It’s also a good lesson about perfectionism for me. The six sentences that comprised the story had three rewrites in that fifteen minutes, but in the end it was right.

The work went quickly. No real obsession with perfectionism prevailed. And it rewarded me with acceptance and pride in my work.

This is the second time such a prize has come my way–the first was a children’s short story produced in the U.K. a few years ago with the same scenario. It’s a terrific feeling.

My decision to work small for a while and get things out was reinforced in short order. Pun intended.

stock-photo-2-019That diving board doesn’t have to get higher than one meter right now. Springboards are just fine. My flash fiction and poetry chapbooks can act as goldfish, growing with time and then acting as feeder fish for larger projects that take longer revision times.

The launch of a novelette-length series episode is also coming soon. That’s right. The first installment of the Wisher’s World Series, Composing an Apprentice, will come out next month, too.

See, there’s going to be plenty of work done from that flexible plank at the end of the writer’s pool.

At Home—Issuing Yourself a Challenge for April

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Today marks the final nine days of March. I don’t know how your month began—whether lamb or lion—but ours was a mixed bag. And that goes for my writing world as well. Feeling like I’m working with gears fused, something’s got to give.

Oh, yes, the challenges continue. Studies top that list, along with the completion of Dreamie’s Box and readying a chapbook of flash fiction for launch.

Participant-2014-Web-Banner (1)Next month is the new NaNoWriMo Boot Camp Challenge. My write-in group is participating again. April is also the Poem-A-Day Challenge from Poetic Asides and probably another hundred poetry challenges to boot. I won’t be taking it on this year, which will be the first one missed in a long time. April has much to recommend it on the internet and beyond.

Yet, along the gauntlet of rival competitors and challengers are quiet moments for this writer. In preparation for the race, I paused. Reflection on what needs doing doesn’t come in flashes. It takes calm planning. In one of those moments between set competitions, I counted up how much work I had on the brink of “finished” and needed to either submit for publication or launch as self-published.

Jewel box on whiteIf you write, you probably have the same situation. On your hard drive or up in the clouds, you have stories, poems, bits of memoir which only require a revision and final edit to have ready for a reader. Instead, they sit, slumped in obscurity, waiting to be remembered. Each is a potential gem waiting to be lifted into the light and shown off.

Now’s your chance to give them the life they deserve. Create your own April challenge. Resolve to pull at least one short piece from obscurity each week. Revise or rewrite, edit and format to a designated set of guidelines and send it out into the world.

Do you have bits and pieces; fragments of stories that sounded good at the time the idea sprang to mind? If you do, you also stock-photos-2-027have the possibility of taking each of those and creating a great piece of flash fiction. Pull them out. Like buttons, sort them by theme, and take each theme to work on individually.

Give yourself the month of April to get that group of stories finished and ready for viewing. You are, after all, working on several stories—for instance, five longer pieces of flash fiction of up to 1000 words or ten shorter ones of 500 words each. That’s a good month’s work. Once they’re ready to read, format the chapbook for Kindle and launch.

It’s a gamble, I know, but what do you have to lose? A little time? No, you won’t be losing time. You’ll have readable stories waiting for a home. Don’t stock-photos-2-026want to launch a Kindle with them? Fine. Submit each one to a magazine or journal, or the whole lot to a contest. DO something with them.

What did I find when I went looking? I found three chapbooks worth of themed flash fiction. I can launch one with shorter pieces of period fantasy in April, one of longer contemporary flash stories in May, and others of still longer fantasy in June.

I’m tired of them constantly glaring at me from my documents library. They need to find another home. That’s a good enough reason for them to go out into the world and start working for themselves.

Perhaps you, too, could find jobs for your neglected backlog. Try it and see. You might find all sorts of opportunities once you start looking for them. As you go along, drop in and let Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction Workereveryone know about it. Drop you announcement into a comment. Sending something out is something to be proud of, and share your process or readying for launch or submitting for publication.

I’m off to begin final work on my chapbook now. Have a fabulous rest of the week. I’ll see you all soon—maybe with excerpts of what’s going out. Who knows?

At Home with Short

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Hello again, everyone. “Short” has kept me focused for several days. What is short? For many writers, it’s any piece of writing with less than ten thousand words.

Not that many years ago, the average short story, for instance, had at least ten thousand words. Now, the length has come down to an average of around 7500 words or less. Short stories come in a variety of lengths, with a corresponding number of “shorts” in from of it.

You have the short story at 7500 words, the short-short story at 3500-5000 words, children’s short stories of 1500 words or less, and then comes flash fiction, which can weigh in at anything from one to 1000 words, according to specified guidelines and definitions. Confusing, huh?

This last week, though, my thoughts have been on flash fiction and those teenier bits of fiction better described as nano/micro fiction. The 55-word stories (exact count) are far more difficult to write than anyone would expect, but they are truly satisfying. Have you ever tried writing an entire story in exactly 55 words?

I took the plunge back in 2013. Between those and regular flash fiction, I was getting a real workout on the shortness front. Then, for no apparent reason, I stopped doing both. The circle has finally closed.

There was a need to write something today. A micro story flashed through me. Here’s what emerged. The first section is the first draft—complete at 134 words. The second is the actual micro story at 55 words–titles are counted. Let me tell you, that edit was a killer, trying to keep the essence of the story without losing the flavor or final question for the character. I hope you like it. If you have any suggestions, please drop them in a comment.

Self-Witness

As he rushed through the terminal, he felt a tug on his sleeve, which stopped him and drew his attention to a stooped lady standing in the middle of the concourse

“Please sir. My eyes don’t work well. Does the reader board show a flight to Atlanta at one of these gates?

He brushed her hand away, shaking his head, and ready to dismiss her. He finally looked at her face and was captured by her watery, dim eyes behind thick spectacles. As he met those eyes, his perspective shifted, causing him to see himself as the world say him—an impatient, oblivious man without compassion or love.

An instant of eternity later, he saw the woman again and heard her say, “Don’t fret, sir. I’ll ask another,” and she turned and moved away.

 Self-Witness

As he rushed down the concourse, a lady tugged his sleeve.

“Please, sir. Is there a flight to Atlanta at these gates?

He brushed her hand away, but her watery gaze captured his. Eternity’s instant behind her eyes revealed him—impatient, scowling, without compassion or love.

She turned away, saying, “Don’t fret, sir. I’ll ask another.”

 

Have a terrific and productive week, peeps. Small steps still take you forward. Not everyone plays leapfrog.

 

 

 

 

At Home: One More Flash Fiction Story

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This will be the last of my flash fiction prompts and examples, though I will occasionally post a flash piece here. They’re so much fun to write and such a testimonial to crafting practice that I wouldn’t stop myself from writing them if anyone asked me to.

For today’s work, I chose two possible directions for us.

The first prompt comes from Nancy Stohlman. This marvelous writer/artist posts frequent flash fiction prompts on her website and writes some delicious stories of her own. Please take the time to drop in and experience a master of this story form. The prompt I chose for my purposes is #3 on her chart, which asks the writer to

“Find a story you’ve written that isn’t quite working. Chop it down to exactly 100 words. Give it a new title.”

If this one tickles your fancy, by all means, tackle it. If you’re like me, you have story ideas overflowing from tidbit files on your hard drive. Take one out for a short spin.

Or, you could do the following prompt from Flash Fiction Chronicles, one of the best journals around that zeroes in on the short form and encourages all writers to take the plunge with them. Our prompt from the “Chronicles” looks into the aspect of adages/clichés/figures of speech, etc.

The Saying Goes … Think of an old expression such as “The early bird gets the worm” or “Penny wise and pound foolish” and write a story about it.”

There are hundreds of directions to go with this one and the more twisted one can make the result, the more fun the journey. Keep in mind the 100 word limit.

As for my own writing fancy, I chose the latter, since I’ve already given you a chance to see how I carved a former story down to the appropriate size. We’ll see if you can figure out the adage used as the base note for this little introduction piece.

Illusions

She sat, examining flaws revealed by the mirror above her dressing table. Her eyes would never reshape themselves into feline dimensions. Her nose wouldn’t rise sharply at the end.

—Sigh—

Why had Raymond married her? She wasn’t striking or handsome. She was merely acceptable by his family’s reckoning.

Discontent shadowed her eyes, turned down the corners of her mouth.

Behind her mirror, Raymond watched Eleanor’s continued disbelief. She possessed a beauty that surpassed the ordinary. Yet, she could see only words; waspish stings of jealous, lesser females.

He would again mount his campaign to enlighten his fair Eleanor, his queen.

the end

And in case you’re wondering what adage or cliché I chose to use, it was “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

Enjoyment in writing comes in myriad forms and sizes. Take a chance, stretch your comfort zone. Try one of these little prompts and see where it takes you. You might just find an alluring, nay habit-forming, fascination with Flash Fiction.

Happy writing, all. I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s activities as much as I have. This next month will be full of challenge for those who’re brave enough to take it on.

Sunday I will be outlining all of the particulars concerning our little poetic challenge and how it will work for those out there who want to partake.

Until then, enjoy yourselves. Have a terrific weekend, and I’ll see you back here in June, with poetry in two. Happy writing.

 

At Home—Flash Fiction and a Character Theme

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First off, let me apologize for not showing up yesterday. After my critique group meeting broke up in late afternoon, I was unexpectedly called out of town and didn’t get home until the wee hours of the morning. After having only three hours sleep the night before, an early morning alarm wasn’t on my agenda. So now you know why I missed my own deadline.

So, with that out of the way, let’s get to it.

Flash writing has now found definition in our lexicon of fiction forms. As someone who tends to write long, this form affords me valuable writing training. It requires concrete/action verbs and nouns. It requires those two parts of speech also to do the work of adjectives and adverbs. It’s the ultimate in pick-up games for a fiction writer.

Contrarily, poets have less trouble with writing in this format. Why? Because they already use verbal shorthand when they put together poems. A one hundred word poem is very long and most poets don’t engage in storytelling of that length.

Have you come up against FF parameters and experienced other problems with putting together your little stories? If so, drop a comment in the box and we’ll go through them next week as part of our finale for the month. Until then, let’s look at a themed prompt and my example of one way to tackle it.

I’m using Character as my theme for today’s exercise. You can easily pull material from anywhere or about anyone to create your story to fit the theme. But what do I mean by Character?

Character as a theme

We all know what a character is, in a general sense. Every story has one, whether our stories are carried by telephone, newspaper, TV, etc. When you call a friend on the phone, your conversation is all about character when you pause long enough to think about it.

In today’s instance, character as theme simply means centered writing about a specific person, place, or thing and an aspect of story action affecting that character. It could take many forms and still be flash fiction.

Example 1: Poetry with a Character Theme

The Tangled Web

 

It began with a tiny thing;

A lie of that day’s convenience.

A first strand in the web you wove

To make yourself important, and

Disguise truth you could not bear shown.

 

More silk strands followed to entrap

The weaver in tales unforgotten,

By those brought to emotions ruined.

Thoughtless weaving. Strands delusions,

All make to tangle the weaver.

 

Go now into your web of lies.

Seek only new fools to believe.

© Claudette J. Young 2010

A deceiver of friends and family is found out and exiled (sort of) in this seventy-five word pronouncement of character. It tells the story of a conviction carried out against a defendant–found guilty of taking advantage of others, deceit, and mental cruelty.

Okay, that interpretation might stretch things a bit, but when I wrote it, those were the charges brought up in the trial.

Example 2: Memoir (From a longer piece posted here) Fictional character Dreamie Simple in “Dreamie’s Box.”

 I didn’t seek marriage. I protected friends and their families. Mother counted on that. Seventeen years with Martin was my sentence.

 Martin had secrets tangled up with my mother. He wanted respectability. I gave him that.

 Now I’m charged with his murder. Considering my actions, few would refute the possibility. I collected nearly a million dollars in insurance—a hefty motive. My own secret life, with a different identity, may convict me.

 I can’t defend myself. I laid out plenty of motives. Honesty is preferable, but naiveté is different. I learned the whole truth can put a needle in your arm.

This example is a trimmed down version which originally had 479 words. Trust me, carving away that many words isn’t easy. I almost pulled my hair out on this one, but it gave me yet another lesson in editing and revision, which is always beneficial.

The point is that this memoir of a novel’s character can serve in many ways. It allows practice in flash fiction. It gives the writer a use and practice in character development, and it works to serve as an editing and revision tool/lesson. Not bad for 100 words, is it?

Now, on to my flash fiction piece for this theme. I’ll do a short memoir piece for a character in a fantasy series that I’ve just begun to put together. It’s for one of the primary characters, Reibe. (Note how I have several uses from this one bit of writing.)

Composing an Apprentice

 I didn’t do anything wrong. I played my music. They asked me to.

 Am I responsible? Why do they grasp at me—call out for me? Did they all lose their minds?

 I want to go back to Riverton, back to the mill. Life was simple there. I worked. I ate. I slept. Not like here where everything and everyone is complicated. No one is unkind. In fact, they almost smother with kindness.

How can I understand these Theusans with their foreign ideas? I must work hard to become the trader I’m supposed to be? Mistress Cleone makes leaving impossible.

My character, Reibe, confronts his conflict of not fitting into his new role as an apprentice trader. He has another, perhaps greater, conflict though. For some unknown reason, when he plays his music (on a flute) those who hear him react in a way that frightens him, even as it confuses him.

The reader finds out that this new life isn’t as straightforward or simple as Reibe’s old life at the mill in Riverton. It doesn’t matter, in this case, what kind of mill that was.

The reader also learns that his new position places him with kindly people who have foreign ideas—immigrants perhaps. The introduction of Mistress Cleone also adds to the layers of the story and Reibe’s plaintive thinking. The implication asks the reader to fill in the blanks however she will. Readers are good at that.

And there you have it—my small story memoir in 98 words. I hope you’ll all experiment with this theme. Have fun with it. It can take you to unforeseen places. I’ll see you again here next week with the final bit of flash fiction for the month.

Happy writing, everyone. And don’t forget to share your story, if you wish, so that we might all share in your experience.

 

 

At Home with Personality of Flash Fiction

 Does flash fiction really have a personality? I think it does. It’s short—seldom written over 1000 words. It’s concrete in word use with few descriptors. It is also thought-provoking.

Flash fiction requires that the reader fill in blanks, to add personal touches to the presented story that fleshes out the raw and undetailed specifics given. That’s a definite personality.

And on that note, today’s prompt comes to us from Flashy Fiction Friday. Back in February, writers were asked to perform the following task.

PERSONALITY TRAITS

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In a little self-discovery, choose three facets of your personality. Create a character for each, giving them names and descriptions. Now place them in a Doctor’s waiting room. One of the three is terminal. Write this scene.

Now you have the assignment I tackled for this week. As writers, we use our personal traits for characters all the time. But do we really dissect the traits we’re giving those characters?

I can’t say that I ever have until now. The character simply grows from one spark of “She’s a strong personality.” “He’s really into gardening, especially veggies.” Or perhaps something like, “She never trusted a person until they proved themselves first.”

I’ll bet you do much the same thing when you begin writing a story, or putting together an outline. Well, now’s your chance to put mind to inner speculation. What three facets of your personality will you choose to expose to the world?

Here are my three choices:

  1. Quick to begin a project, but slow to finish it.
  2. Strict, personal sense of honor
  3. Endless enthusiasm for learning about something new

Characters by trait:

  1. Terrence Carter—Handyman with own business. Overweight, balding, 52 years old.
  2. Chester Manners—Retired grandfather of five. Healthy and fit stone mason, happily married, and looking forward to first granddaughter’s wedding.
  3. Olivia Kaston—Seat-of-the-pants life of a photographer. Mid-thirties, slender, bouncy.

On The Bright Side

Chester Manners’ index finger throbbed. He wanted a painkiller.

From across the waiting room Terrence Carter asked. “What’d you do, Chester? Mash it?”

Chester shook his head. “Here for a prostate check, Terrence?”

Terrence’s face reddened.

“I’m sorry, old friend. The pain is fierce this morning,” explained Chester.

Olivia Kaston flipped magazine pages and chuckled.

“What about you, Olivia? You’re too perky to need a doctor,” Terrence said.

She glanced at the men. “Thanks, Mr. Carter. I’m here for my chemo schedule. The bright side is that I‘ve lived ten glorious years longer than Mom.”

 the end

One hundred words doesn’t allow for much personality sometimes, but I tried my best with this one. I kept these characters in the same order of presentation as in the tiny portraits above.

One thing I would say here, though. While I was writing this, which took me about an hour to get it under word count and in a form that I could accept, I realized that I liked these characters and that this could easily be a piece stretched into a full-blown short story for a number of different venues.

I enjoy having an exercise morph into something usable later. I encourage you to try your hand at this one. I hadn’t done it before—but then there are myriad exercises I haven’t tried before. I appreciated this one’s requirements. It helped me in many ways.

Please try it and drop your effort into a comment here or leave a link in a comment to where readers can see it.

Happy writing, all.

 

 

 

 

 

At Home with Flash Fiction Prompts

Today marks the second of this month’s flash fiction prompts. All you need is one hundred words, any genre, telling a complete story.

One unique quality of flash fiction determines its effectiveness for many readers. The sparse word count doesn’t allow for descriptors in the main. Nouns and verbs must pick up the slack to work as their own elaborators. Within 100 words, especially, concrete and specific are what matters in the story arc.

Here is the photo prompt for today, along with these words, “He looked up, resigned.” which must be used somewhere in your story. Good luck, and when you finish your story, place it in a comment here for all of us to share.

Courtesy of BJJones Photography

Courtesy of BJJones Photography

My story:

Dream’s Dust

He stood, head down, leaning against a post—the promised hero. One of the Magnificent Seven, a King of the Sun, a man of mystery.

I’d found my ultimate love, one I could never know.

He spoke, a soul-reaching timbre. “What were you looking for?”

“My future.”

“Why here?”

“You’re here,” I explained.

He looked up, resigned. “I’m too old for you, girl. It’s too late.”

“I’m old for my age.”

“Not that old,” he laughed.

My heart stumbled as he straightened.

One finger under my chin, his lips anointed my forehead. “Go home, darling.”

I wake, still thirteen.

You’ll notice that each verb acts. There is no ambivalence. Colors don’t matter here. Setting has no importance either. The only point both of interest and poignancy is the relationship’s dialogue between the two characters. The dialogue also needs few taglines. One seeks and one is sought after. One willing, one unwilling. The conflict doesn’t require any further tension than “will they-won’t they.”

The last sentence reveals page two—as Paul Harvey would say. The exchange occurred in a dream. Yet the conflict remains. The dreamer’s age of thirteen tells of self-knowledge and a sought-after love connection while accepting reality’s limits. It also points to the natural pubescent inner turmoil experienced by many young people.

Let me know, please, if I’ve met the challenge. I know this is 100 words, but did it complete the circle for a true story arc. Tell me what you think.

And don’t forget to share your stories. See you again soon. I may even have another review before next Friday’s flash fiction prompt.

Happy writing, all.