Those of you who are new-ish around here might not be aware that, way back in 2013 when this site got started, one of the key features was a more-or-less weekly post centered around Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction challenge.
For my part, I was out of work for the first time in my life, the job market sucked, I was over 50, and I had worked at the same company for over 27 years. That’s four strikes in the job hunting game. In order to keep active and somewhat sane, as well as “networking” and keeping my skillset sharp, I took on two critical tasks. First, I became the Finance Office for the CAF SoCal Wing, giving me continuing hands-on accounting experience. Secondly, I started this site to be writing and creative every day.
Chuck Wendig was in the early stages of his now brilliant writing career (his “Wanderers” from two years ago was amazing, and the sequel “Wayward” comes out November 15th, so get “Wanderers” now, read it, you can thank me later, and you’ll be ready to get “Wayward” in November – you’re welcome!) and had a great website talking about writing and Pennsyltucky heirloom apples and horror and stuff (it’s still there!) and once a week he would give us a prompt and an assignment. No prizes, no “winning,” no real contest, no professional editing or advice from Chuck, just something you could try to do for your own practice, honing your writing skills, publishing on your own site and then posting a link in the thread on his site. Folks there would read and comment on other folks’ stories, some folks there would read your story on your site and make comments. I remember the whole process very fondly.
The whole thing fell by the wayside as Chuck’s career took off spectacularly and he needed to spend time, you know, writing for a living and paying the bills. But in today’s post Chuck mentioned in passing that he’s musing about restarting that Flash Fiction challenge. Would anyone be interested?
If it happens, it happens. I’ll be more than willing to dive back into that practice writing on Day One of its revival should that come to pass.
But today, prompted by that, I was curious how eight to nine years of distance would color those snippets. So I went back and read a half dozen…
I realy and truly enjoyed reading every one of them. Several I didn’t remember writing at all, but they’re pretty good. None of them are going to win any Pulitzers, but they were coherent, well structured, escaped from being too trite or cliched, and the words flowed well. One where I had deliberately written a real sexist asshole as the first person character (the prompt for the week was a shirtless man with a pair of automotive jumper cables on his nipples) was still (in my opinion) humorous and didn’t suck at all. In fact, of the six that I sampled at random, none of them was a real stinker. (This one was also really intriguing.)
A lot of it was stuff that I normally wouldn’t have ever have tried. Write a story in ten short chapters. Write a story in the voice of a religous devotee. Write a story from the point of view of someone who doesn’t speak the language. And so on.
My favorite, which we did three or four times? Week one (W1) write 200 words, not 1,000. Week two, everyone take a W1 story from someone else and add 200 words to it. Someone may or may not take yours, you take anyone’s you want, so some may not get taken, some may get taken by multiple other folks. Week 3 we do this again, adding another 200 words to someone’s W1+W2 story fragment. Ditto W4, and W5, ending up with 1,000 words or so in five segments done by five different authors, to tell one story, but without any active collaboration. It’s additive, not collaborative.
I’ll wait and hope. In the meantime, if you’re interested and missed any of my stories the first time around, they were all published here. Just do a search for “Flash Fiction.”