Flash challenges

Shock Totem has a bi-monthly flash challenge.  You would think that writing a 1,000 word flash would be a piece of cake, after all it is only 1,000 words right?

Not really.  1,000 words is only a short time to give the reader a sense of character, place, time and the situation. There are lots of things you do not have time to fiddle with.  Lots of places you can cut corners.

Another thing is the prompt, it must be integral, or important to the story.   Perhaps you have the following words for a prompt: Cigarette, Gas can, fire. You cannot just mention them in the story  like this.

He lit the cigarette and walked out of the room

The gas can sat next to the lawnmower.

The house warmed after he started the fire.

These sentences ad to the story, but do not really have a lot of meaning. However if you use them like this:

He flicked the cigarette in the pile of clothes doused with gasoline from the gas can and watched the fire spread across the carpet.

you have a story. A who a what a when and a where.  Of course it leads to more questions, but that very sentence uses all of the prompts in a way that combines all of it into a whole.

This month’s prompt is unusual, though I am not going to reveal it yet.  I spent part of the work day yesterday working on my story.  I had about 1,000 words but still had not gotten to the heart of it.  Last night I rewrote it and I’ll have to see how long it is now.  I know that I need some more paring and tweaking on it to fit the word count but I do know that the prompt is the key to the entire story.


10 responses to “Flash challenges

  1. Shadow! Dig the post girl! Just relax and breathe your going to do great! Can’t wait to see your goals! Keep up the fabulous work 😀


  2. I’ve been aware of the Shock Totem flash-challenge for a while now, and I’m pretty close to giving in to temptation and giving it a shot. And joining the forum, for that matter.

    Can you tell me, how long do you have to write your 1000 words before handing them over?


    • We have a week to write, edit and submit our flash. Go ahead and join up, they are an awesome bunch of people and even if you can’t join in the flash this month, we will be having another in July.
      The best part is you get critiques! Sometimes only a few lines, but when you are starting to get a feel for publication, that is worth gold!

      Good luck Vincent! Hope you join us there!


  3. One thing you shouldn’t forget is that everyone has the same amount of time and face the same obstacles. Of course, I have no doubt people will use already-written material—we’ve already seen it—but for the most part everyone should be starting from the same point. So don’t stress it; just let everything flow.

    One of the best flash pieces I’ve written was done for a one-hour flash challenge. One hour! It was insane. By the end of that hour, my adrenalin was pumping, hands were shaking, I was sweating! SWEATING! Haha. And the story require very little in terms of a rewrite. I was that focused.

    And Vincent, join up. It’s a good time. (By the way, Vincent has a really cool story in issue #2.)


    • Exactly Ken,

      I don’t have many stories stockpiled and anyway I don’t think what I have will fit most of the prompts.
      I was not worrying about this month’s prompt because I had an idea nearly immediately, but I had to let it set for four days before it made sense. They I wrote it, easy but it was going to be too long. Wednesday night I cut out a lot of the preamble, longhand and retyped it last night.

      And I love one hour challenges! LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! Something about only having a very limited time, sparks some wild an crazy ideas in my head.

      And Vincent, Congratulations!


      • Yeah, I used to participate in a fortnightly 90 minute challenge, and I really valued it. The time constraint, the prompts, they’d force me to try things, explore things, I mightn’t have otherwise. That’s partly why yours interests me. I can’t say it was the smoothest writing I’ve ever produced, but it was worth the experience. And fun besides. A week, now, with a week I might actually be able to produce something readable?


        So thank you, Ken and Shadow. You’ve convinced me. I’ve signed up to the forum.


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