Sunday, August 21, 2011

Flash Fiction Challenge 2011

What I'm reading right now: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart
Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker's troubled past.

NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg
Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. 

HARMFUL on her wrist, ~censored~ on her ankle
As Camille works to uncover the truth about two violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims--a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

Description above pulled from here.
Ms. Flynn has written a dark tale that moves like wild honey on a summer's day--slowly, dripping, crawling. At times awkwardly sticky and other times sweet to the tongue. For most of the novel, it feels like this is more about Camille Preaker's demons (she's a cutter unlike any I've ever heard of) than the search for the killer of two young girls, but by the end Ms. Flynn ties it all together satisfactorily. She looks like such a nice person and I'm sure she is. You'd never guess how connected to Dark Places she is.

It took some time to get through this, but it left some indelible images.

~ * ~

Flash Fiction Challenge 2011

On Friday, Aug. 19th, I noticed a Facebook ad for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. The early deadline to register for this event was July 14th. The final deadline was Aug. 17th. The final extended deadline was Aug. 19th. I found the deadline just hours before the last possible moment. I read the webpage and immediately signed up. I couldn't resist.

The Flash Fiction Challenge 2011 is an international creative writing competition, now in it's 4th year, that challenges participants to create original stories (1,000 words max.) based on genre, location, and object assignments.  The competition was named the Creative Writing Championships in the 2008 and 2009 competitions.

The event is organized by NYC Midnight Movie Making Madness, an organization that has been holding unique creative competitions since 2002 and is dedicated to discovering and promoting a new wave of talented storytellers.  NYC Midnight aims to provide the prizes and exposure necessary for writers to take their next big step towards writing professionally.

Once the challenge began, I was emailed my group number, my genre, a location that must be the predominant locale of the story, and an object that must be included. You have 48 hours to write and submit your story. A point system is used to judge each story and the winners of each round progress through three additional writing challenges until a winner is crowned. Check out the full details here.

For me, I got: Drama, Cell Phone store, a chicken.

Saturday was a busy day for me. The next day, Sunday, was my wife's 40th birthday and I had much to do to get ready. During my errands, yard work, and French instruction, I came up with an idea. Saturday night I wrote it out. It had some awesome descriptions which helped define a creepy character and it ended with a bit of a surprise. And I hated it. The descriptions were great, but it slowed the story. The inner conflict was not engaging so it felt boring and I didn't like the protag--why would the judges?

Sunday. Prepared a Sunday School lesson, went to church, came up with a new idea, hosted the party, entertained guests and finally locked myself in the den to write the story. This one, I like. I like it for all of the reasons I didn't like the first one. Flash fiction is no more than 1000 words but it still has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end (and you can't take long to get there).

My first story took too long. The second story brought conflict in right away. I wrote it. Let it sit. Read it aloud a couple of times. Trimmed it and submitted it with a little over an hour to spare.

This contest has four writing activities spread over four months.

That's a long time to wait, but you know what? I'm pretty excited.

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