Archive for October, 2012

After Flashathon 2012

Well, I meant to write this post yesterday, but life got in the way in the form of Hurricane Sandy socking the east coast. That’s appropriate, as life getting in the way was something of a theme to this year’s Flashathon preparation. I hope the event didn’t feel nearly as slapped together last minute as it was, but now that we’re over I can admit…yeah, kinda slapped together last minute. That’s what having a baby less than two months before the event gets you. The biggest visible effect of this was fewer prompts from established writers and more of me trying to put together a wide variety of usable prompts. In the end we had one prompt from Bud Sparhawk, one from Matthew Hance, two from Day Al-Mohamed, a double prompt from Linda Adams, two from my wife, and the remaining eleven came from me. So if you didn’t like a particular prompt, there’s a fantastic chance it was my fault.

It’s hard to judge this year over last year. By some metrics the size of the event went up, by some it went down, so overall it was about a draw. I was hoping for some growth over last year, but again, considering the last minute nature of much of the event, this didn’t surprise me. Hopefully next year I can grass-roots this event better and hopefully bring in a few more people. I think Saturday is a sticking point for a lot of people, but I also can’t imagine doing the event on any other day.

That said, there are some elements of the event that may get revisited and revised. For one, I’m tempted to take the focus away from this being entirely a flash fiction event. While I enjoy that element of it, the emphasis on flash fiction (while attempting to stress the voluntary nature) does close the event off to other writers. And especially coming as it does just before Nanowrimo, people preparing for that event may not want to pull themselves away from that story to work on flash fiction.

To that end, I’m considering dual tracks for next year’s Flashathon. One track would be Flashathon Classic, hopefully returning to prompts collected from notable individuals rather than just myself. The second track would be the Nanowrimo Prep Track. As I currently envision it, this track of the event would be an outlining marathon, with different focuses on different hours. For example, one hour could be a character sketch of the protagonist. Another hour could be an overview of the journey and changes the main characters undergo. This is largely something I’m spitballing as I go. From that angle, I’m curious if anyone would be interested in such a side event (which might be hosted here in parallel posts, or on another blog like Unleaded).

Finally, I’d like to thank those people who participated in any or all of this year’s event. I’ve collected out the names of those who posted their participation in comments:

  • Jen Brinn
  • Day Al-Mohamed
  • Linda Adams
  • Dana Gunn

The list is similar to last year’s, but I’m glad that means people had enough fun that they came back.

So, take some deep breaths. Job well done. Let me know about the separate outlining track. And let me know if there are ways that I can make the event better for you in the future. Prompts you liked, prompts you hated, all that fun stuff. Leave a comment!

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Flashathon 2012 Hour Eighteen

This is it. This is the end of Flashathon 2012. I’ll be honest, I probably went to bed several hour ago. But just because I’m not here doesn’t mean the Flashathon doesn’t roll on. For those of you insane enough on the east coast to stick through the whole thing, here into the wee hours, I’m amazed. For those on the west taking this all the way to midnight, I know from last year how tough that is.

Speaking of people on the east crazy enough to stay up, we’re going to close out with Day Al-Mohamed, just as we did last year. Day is one of the owners of the Unleaded blog and co-editor of the upcoming Trust and Treachery anthology. First time up, she wanted us to think about being the other in terms of how we define ourselves and individuals. This last hour, it’s a slightly different other we’re looking at.

Pick a time period. Any time period (not our own) and write in it.

I’m going to add my own something to this and suggest you need to go back at least before the day you were born to define “not our own” time. So go to it. Write. Then go to bed. I’ll meet you all back here Monday once we’ve all gotten over the Flashathon hangover.

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Flashathon 2012 Hour Seventeen

We’re into the home stretch. After this it’s just one more prompt, and then Flashathon will be done for another year. However, we’re not done yet. So into hour seventeen we go.

Rules. They’re everywhere. Organizations have them, clubs, businesses, countries (though they tend to call them laws). Even this event has them, though I largely encourage ignoring them. Wherever these rules exist, one of them has to be listed first. So the prompt for this hour is simply…

Rule #1

Take that as you will, or don’t take it at all. But do get to writing!

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Flashathon 2012 Hour Sixteen

Here on the east coast it is now midnight. Actually, it’s 11:59pm because I wanted to make sure this posted correctly. Since it’s the witching hour, I figure there’s only one possible theme.

Bump in the night.

For those of you still going at this, you’re kicking some ass. There’s just a few more hours left.

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Flashathon 2012 Hour Fifteen

Inspiration can come from many places. Thoughts, memories, sounds, smells. If I thought I could successfully portray a smell through the internet I would. So, instead, we’re going to go with some colors. While HTML defines a lot of colors you may have heard of, such as red and blue, there are some more obscure colors with some more interesting names. I’ve got three swatches below. The names are there, too, if you want some more inspiration. Just highlight the row and the text will appear.

Cadet Blue
Spring Green
Rosy Brown

Have fun with those!

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Flashathon 2012 Hour Fourteen

We’re deep into things by now. If you started early and kept going you might already be at twelve hours, or you might still have plenty of time to go. If you’re out west, I hope you’ve had some dinner. If not, order a pizza or something, get some carbs and protein into your system. This hour, a nice two word prompt.

Time travel.

You can either make time travel a central element of your story, or you can get into your personal time machine and head back to a previous prompt. Either an hour you missed, an hour you skipped, or an hour that had multiple options to pick another.

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Flashathon 2012 Hour Thirteen

Let’s do a little fancy HTMLing for this hour’s prompt. We’ve been hanging out together for a few hours now, I think a little tabling between friends. This is going to be a one word prompt, but you’re going to have to assemble the word out of the prefixes and suffixes below, turn it into a word, one that doesn’t actually exist, then use that word in your story.

Ex-
En-
Super-
Un-
De-
Re-
math
bio
-ology
-ing
-ment
-less
-ism

So this should create some interesting words. Best of luck!

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Flashathon 2012 Hour Twelve

We’re two thirds of the way through the Flashathon, right in the heart of it no matter which coast you’re on. So let’s try something different. I wanted to mix up the types of prompts, so this time we’re going with a piece of audio. The song is under three minutes. I’d suggest trying to ignore the title, but it’s hard not to show it. So give a listen, then give a write.

Best of luck this hour!

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Flashathon 2012 Hour Eleven

I hope everyone on the east coast got their dinner in. If not, get going. West coast, a bit of a snack right about now will keep you going. This hour might be a little bit of a challenge, since most of you are writing flash fiction if you’re writing to the prompts. But this hour…

Write a story with a twist ending.

So channel your inner M. Night…except maybe less telegraphed.

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Flashathon 2012 Hour Ten

Last year Bud Sparhawk provided one of the more abstract prompts of Flashathon. That prompt inspired a story by Day Al-Mohamed that resulted in a sale. She thanked him, and he provided another fantastic and abstract prompt for our enjoyment. It’s long, so let’s get right into it.

Short stories contrive to use a single incident to illuminate a whole life: They aim for a short, sharp shock. Novels, those fabulously loose and baggy monsters, frequently transcribe entire biographies, reveal cross sections of society or show us the interaction of several generations.  They contain multitudes.  In between lies that most beautiful of fiction’s forms, the novella or nouvelle.  Here, the writer aims for the compression that produces both intensity and resonance.  By focusing on just two or three characters, the short novel can achieve a kind of artistic perfection, elegant in form yet wide in implication.  The closest analogue may be Aeschylean tragedy – two actors on an almost bare stage, ripped by the torments of the human heart.

Bud Sparhawk is a hard science fiction short story writer who started writing in 1975 with three sales to ANALOG. Since returning to writing his works have appeared in ANALOG, Asimovs, several anthologies as well as in other print media and on-line magazines both in the United States and Europe. He has two short story collections and one novel. He has been a three-time Nebula finalist. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland and is a frequent sailor on the Chesapeake Bay. A complete biography, lists of stories, copies of articles, and other material can be found at his web site.

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