Posts Tagged Post-Mortem

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 Post-Mortem. With Questions!

First, I would like to thank everyone who participated in Flashathon this year.  Tonight I’m going to go through and see who reached what levels of participation.  Since relatively few people joined in, I’m probably going to scale back the three-tier system to just two since one of the tiers would be unused.

I feel like the event was a mixed bag.  I was hoping that we would have at least one participant from outside of Cat Vacuuming Society, and indeed we did have one.  So a big thanks to Dana Gunn for joining us in the insanity.  Would more people have thrilled me?  Absolutely.  But the first year of Nanowrimo had only 21 participants, and the eighth week of 5 Minute Fiction (earliest I can find) had 9 participants.  While I don’t think that this event will grow to the hundreds of thousands that the former now gets each year, I’m hoping it can quickly get to the 20-25 core regulars of the latter.  However, I’m not getting down on the event.  I heard from every participant that they felt several of their stories were usable as starting points for longer pieces, and that thrills me!  I myself had at least four stories that I think can be cleaned up, re-imagined, lengthened, or in some way improved upon.  So from that perspective I can only consider the day a smashing success.

The challenge going forward will be growing momentum and popularity for what I envision as only being an annual event.  Because as fun as Saturday was, I can’t even wrap my brain around making it monthly.  I’m a fan of the weekend, being close to Nanowrimo without butting immediately up next to it, so next year’s event will probably be October 20, 2012.  That’s still a Saturday.  I’m not sure how much Saturday hurt or helped attendance, but it’s hard to imagine doing it on a weekday, so Saturday it will remain.  I am considering playing with the hours a little.  I chose noon to midnight, eastern time because that would allow participation across the United States, being 9am-9pm Western Time.  While we didn’t get that kind of participation this year, I still want to keep the hours accessible to everyone.  That said, the participants I did have felt the bigger burn-out wasn’t writing 12 stories, it was writing anything so late in the day.

Thus, I’m considering a move to an 18 hour event next year.  NOT with the intent of people participating in all 18.  The participation tiers would still be 2, 6, and 12 hours.  Instead it would be to let people choose the hours more comfortable for them.  And even potentially skip an hour for lunch or dinner without sacrificing full participation.  With this being an inaugural event, I was shocked by the number of guest inspiration posts I was able to put up, we ended up with exactly the right number, so this would also allow for expansion of guest posts.  This is still an idea I’m toying with, but I would be interested to hear what people think.  I’d probably have the posts run from 9am to 3am Eastern Time, figuring that 9am is the earliest anyone would start on the east coast, and midnight the latest anyone would want to go on the west coast.

So.  I’m very serious about this.  I want to know what the participants felt was good about it, what they felt was bad about it (be honest), what they would change about it.  I’d also like to hear from people who had considered participation but were unable to as to what I could have done differently to assist with that participation.  Any feedback I can get will go towards making next year’s event bigger and better.

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