FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016


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Post May 01, 2016, 03:11:21 PM

FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

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A Special Note:


This month's contest marks several milestones.

First, by my count, it is the 101st flash challenge since I started them in May, 2007. That also means this is the beginning of our 10th year of challenges (start of 10, not 10 done).

In that time, former Flash Editor John Rose ran 13 challenges and later Flash Editor Eddie Sullivan ran 13 challenges. This will be the 75th Flash challenge I've run.

Thank you to John and to Eddie for taking over with these where I left off when I moved to Short Stories Editor. Without their work and dedication, the challenges would not still be going. Now that I'm back to filling in, I realize how much I missed being a part of them.

Also, a thank you to each and every author who submitted an entry, time and time again. You fought your way through the long voting form and the week of waiting to see who won. You discussed each other's tales, helped each other, razzed each other, and pushed each other harder to write more and better stories.

You are all a really wonderful bunch of writers, and I'm glad to have known you.


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Post May 01, 2016, 03:12:59 PM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

The "A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words" Challenge:


We're trying something a little different for the first time, a purely visual prompt. We've always heard 'a picture's worth a thousand words,' but it's time to put that adage to the test.

I challenge you to write a speculative fiction story inspired by this image, drawn by our own Long Fiction Editor, Lester Curtis:

Image


What's going on in this picture? Who's that guy? What's he holding? What kind of bird is that? What are those tall things? Does the tree have only one branch? Don't you want to know? Let's find out together!


REQUIREMENTS: (1) Your speculative fiction story must be based in a world inspired by the sample picture above. (2) You must have at least two characters that "talk" to each other in some fashion. (3) 1,000 words or less, not counting title, byline, or "The End"; (4) The characters and story must be fictional and not previously published, even in these challenges; (5) One entry per author; (6) Give your story a title and a byline; and (7) Keep it clean. Rated 'PG-13'. (Basically, think, "Could I see or say this on network television, even late at night?" That allows a lot, really.)

CHARACTERS & SETTING: No copyrighted characters or settings, or references thereto. Famous, non-copyrighted fictional characters like Santa Claus, or religious figures such as the Devil, named angels such as Gabriel, or gods like Thor, etc. as supporting characters at best and at my discretion. The Wicked Witch and Dracula may be in the public domain, but don't expect me to allow them. No person that was ever a "real life" human being may be used as a character, but can be referred to, as in "President Kennedy had declared it would be so." Except as noted above under non-copyrighted fictional persons, character names may not be copied from fiction or real life, even if changed, i.e. Char-less Darween. All non-copyrighted settings are ok. Famous, unique sites like Stonehenge may be used over and again. No fan fiction or sequels, so don't bother putting your story in the Land of Oz or that great place you thought up two challenges ago.

DISQUALIFICATIONS/REFUSALS: If, in my judgment, any requirement or rule is missed, I won't post the story for voting, but authors are free to resubmit with changes until the deadline. Should a story be initially accepted and posted in the challenge, but then later judged by me to be in violation, the story may be disqualified and removed from contention at any time before contest end. Authors who feel a story may be in violation should send me a PM and state their case.

HOW TO ENTER: Stories must be sent by PRIVATE MESSAGE, and NOT posted into a thread. Just click the 'PM' button at the bottom of this post and paste your story in the message. You are responsible for doing your own formatting, and leave an extra line between paragraphs, just like when you see them in the 'zine. I will allow different colors, but not changed fonts or sizes, artwork, or any other embedded or external links.

DO NOT send a regular email to me.

Stories will be posted "blind"--without the author's name on them. All tales are literally tossed into a pith helmet and chosen in random order. When the poll closes after the voting week, I'll post a list of the stories and who wrote them. All entries will then be reposted in the Flash Archive with the author's byline.

Entries from new authors are strongly encouraged. C'mon. Give it a try!

NOTE: ONLY REGISTERED MEMBERS who have posted at least one message may submit a story. Without that one post, the system will not let you send a PM.

DEADLINE: Stories should be in by 9 p.m. Central Standard Time (GMT-6), Sunday, May 15, 2016. The stories will then be posted for voting at approximately 10 p.m. Voting will close on Sunday, May 22nd at approximately 9 p.m., GMT-6.

VOTING: Stories are now rated in two different ways. First, by a poll for most liked. Second, in a "long form" version on a scale of 0-10 in whole numbers in 6 different categories by filling in scores in a form that is posted by me immediately following the post containing the stories for this challenge. Entrants get a boost equal to one quarter of their story's percentage of the total poll vote to their total in the long-form vote. For example, if an entrant received 60% of the poll vote, their score would be multiplied by 15%.

Voters copy and paste the "long form" into a PM and send it to me for tallying. One vote per user (that is, per ip address), and authors may not vote for their own story in the long form. Authors may vote for their own stories in the poll if they feel their story truly deserves their vote.

IF YOU WISH TO SCORE A ZERO FOR A STORY, YOU MUST ENTER A ZERO IN THAT POSITION ON THE VOTING FORM.

Do not include comments about the stories with your vote. Post them in the forum after the contest is concluded. Discussion of stories is the whole purpose of our forum, so that is where your thoughts about them should be posted.

A challenge entrant who does not vote for the other stories in the long-form vote will receive a 10% deduction in their own score at the time of contest close, and the other stories will be given marks equaling whatever their story's average is at the time of contest close. Entrants may choose to vote or not in the poll portion of the voting, but only that portion is optional without penalty.

If more than two stories are tied at the end of voting, there will be a succession of one-day runoff votes until a single winner is chosen or the number of winners is reduced to two.

WHAT YOU WIN: Writers get improved short fiction skills, increasing their chances in the marketplace, without the lengthy investment in time a longer story would take. That, as well as bragging rights and pride--there is stiff competition each month amongst some great stories.

LEGAL STUFF: I'll try to do my best lawyer impersonation: By entering this challenge you are technically granting Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy perpetual electronic rights only to post and archive your challenge entry. Aphelion would rather not lay any claim on them at all, but by posting them on a public site, they'd legally count as being published no matter what.

Ok. A real lawyer would have been less interesting. I tried.


All the things I do to get Aphelion out each month (find the artwork, design the covers, correspond with submitting authors, read & format the short stories, format Dan's editorial, upload all the sections, and create the forum folders) do not allow me time to write an example. I will, however, write one right alongside the rest of you. Whatever I come up with, even if unfinished, will be posted for voting with the rest of the entries.

Good luck to all of us.
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Post May 01, 2016, 04:08:15 PM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

I'm going to jump out here and re-emphasize the changes in voting. We will use the poll in addition to the "long form." The poll will count into your final total.

For example, if you got 20% of the vote in the poll and scored a total of 200 points in the long form, you get a 5% boost (a quarter of your percentage of the poll), or in this example, 10 additional points for a total of 210. It's designed to give the poll weight in the decision but not more than the long form. In a close race, it might be enough to get you the victory.

Any forum member can vote either way or both ways. If all you have time for is the poll, then vote that way, it's ok. EXCEPT, entrants must submit a long form vote, just as it's been for years.
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Post May 02, 2016, 03:02:25 PM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

Glad I helped. Honestly I like writing in them better than running them. I am getting plenty enough responsibility elsewhere and it is more fun to cut loose and write. I never understood why we never got to the point where participation had to be invite only because of the overwhelming participation. It is one of my favorite parts of Aphelion.
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Post May 03, 2016, 02:56:53 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

I'm just back from Sankt Gallen, Switzerland, after my vacation, and I'm ready to enter this Flash Challenge of course...

By the way, a very good Flash Challenge cover art by Lester Curtis, for sure!!!

I have just to think of it and...well, done!

It's a pity that we can only submit one single entry, as that image is deeply evocative and just let me think of three possible stories coming out of it, one will be for the present Contest and the others, maybe, for some short-stories next... :D
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Post May 03, 2016, 09:32:58 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

Ok, my entry is completed...and now waiting for the very usual reviews/suggestions/corrections before sending it, anyway... :D
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Post May 03, 2016, 12:14:27 PM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

I was wondering what was taking you so long. :lol:

You have three stories for it? I want to see all of them. Just send the other two in the usual way.
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Post May 03, 2016, 03:05:09 PM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

Love it! What a great idea! This picture will generate many and I mean many ideas for a story. After I looked at it for a moment, several ideas popped into my head---some full length and others almost novel length!

Great job Lester!

ente per ente---I agree with Lester. What took you some long?
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Post May 04, 2016, 12:09:40 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

Lester Curtis wrote:I was wondering what was taking you so long. :lol:

Yes, when I didn't see an entry from Sergio half an hour after posting the challenge, I wondered if I'd have to call out whatever the Italian version of Search & Rescue is! ;)
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Post May 04, 2016, 01:03:57 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

Well, now we know; he just went on vacation and had to leave his TARDIS at home.
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Post May 04, 2016, 03:27:58 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

Yes, when I didn't see an entry from Sergio half an hour after posting the challenge, I wondered if I'd have to call out whatever the Italian version of Search & Rescue is!


Well, now we know; he just went on vacation and had to leave his TARDIS at home.


Eh,eh...very funny, :lol: :lol: :lol: fact is that, unfortunately, we'll have to wait until 2017, and not just 2016, before the new season of Doctor Who, as the writer will change, after so long, and it seems that BBC Wales will need some time more to complete it...

If you want to have a look at one of the BEST EPISODES EVER with Doctor Who, well, just watch the episode titled:"Heaven Sent" ...one of the best stories ever written for a TV series, in my opinion, with a great surprise in the end, and after so many million years... :shock: :D
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Post May 04, 2016, 03:46:56 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

Just send the other two in the usual way.


Well, the other two are just a draft at the moment, but this is how they could develop ( these are the two ideas that I didn’t use for my entry for this Challenge, of course…eh,eh):

-1)Those tall crystal structures are the buildings of that fabled Fantasy city that the old man had always wanted to see, as he came here after so long…what he still doesn’t know is that those buildings are made out of those living crystals that grow out of the dead remains of the people and the palaces of that lost place, and the taller the structures, the older the crystals and the remains they came from…and also the old man will find out soon that his body itself is going to be part of that growing city, as he came here, never to be back one day, his body just being included in one of such half-living structures soon

-2)The old man went to the fabled city of that old, and lost, alien species, on this distant world, in the end. Problem is that, the city did not fall by itself, and the alien species didn’t disappear cause of its fault, but it was preserved forever from other more powerful aliens, by encasing all the buildings, and people, inside each one of those crystal structures, as a bad illness was killing all of them, and the only thing to do was to have the whole place stuck in time, until a new healing process might be found in the future by means of the same more powerful aliens in space...


For the full writing, well, when I have time to write them all down…and they will have to queue up at present, too ( two ) many short-stories to be completed before them so far…eh,eh :D :D :D
Last edited by ente per ente on May 04, 2016, 08:32:43 AM, edited 1 time in total.

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Post May 04, 2016, 08:10:47 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

I think the Chinese were wrong when they said a picture is worth a thousand words. This picture is at least a million!!
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Post May 04, 2016, 07:51:36 PM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

'A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words', this is an awesome concept. I've heard that expression, but to equate it with a flash challenge is genius.

The Italian man wrote, edited and submitted his challenge in six and a half hours? I heard that Italians were passionate, but hyper-creative too? I've been working two days on the storyline concept and I'm still on it.
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Post May 04, 2016, 09:39:52 PM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

The Dark Angel wrote:'A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words', this is an awesome concept. I've heard that expression, but to equate it with a flash challenge is genius.

The Italian man wrote, edited and submitted his challenge in six and a half hours? I heard that Italians were passionate, but hyper-creative too? I've been working two days on the storyline concept and I'm still on it.

You'll get used to that after a while. He does it all the time; we just don't know how. Various theories have been put forth about time travel or an army of clones. He just laughs.
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Post May 05, 2016, 02:28:05 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

or an army of clones


Clones are underrated maybe...eh,eh :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Post May 05, 2016, 08:33:11 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

I thought of a thousand stories when looking at Lester's picture, but can't seem to start one!
Maybe too many are washing over my thoughts? When I start one, another one pops up, one that I think is better. This is the first time I've had a problem like this one. What a good challenge this one is!!
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Post May 06, 2016, 10:13:25 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

I've got Sergio's entry, but as before, I'm not reading anyone's until I have my entry finished. I don't want to do anything that might be construed as an unfair advantage.


So far, I've found this to be a very difficult challenge. I only have about 250 words.

The image is great for suggesting a scene, but nothing has gelled in my head yet that would make it a good story.
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Post May 09, 2016, 11:42:36 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

I've got about 900 words done. Just need to figure out something to tie this all together.

Once again, this has been a very difficult challenge, and I really didn't think it would be. Apart from Sergio, who apparently can write a flash story with the speed of a sneeze (Who knew speed writing could be a superpower?), how are the rest of you doing? I haven't seen any more entries.
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Post May 09, 2016, 11:48:30 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

Maybe this is tougher than we expected (whatever we were expecting). Hell, I drew the thing, and I can't think of what to write about it! :lol:
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Post May 09, 2016, 07:25:21 PM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

I just started mine, but I don't have much faith in myself. I don't know, but---and I said this before---that's what so good about these challenges! Trying to write when it feels impossible, is well worth the effort, even if the story that you come up with is terrible! We never want a bad story, but a bad story is better than no story in my opinion! So I'll have something.
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Post May 10, 2016, 11:25:57 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

I completed the first draft on mine, so I looked at the submissions so far. One story accepted and one sent back for potential rewrites.

So, with luck, we'll have at least a three-way race.

Join in--you know you want to.
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Post May 11, 2016, 11:19:29 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

Three in now. Some very different takes on this picture.
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Post May 12, 2016, 09:51:58 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

Didn't think I had anything but the heck with it I'm in. Sent one to you Nate.
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Post May 14, 2016, 04:15:39 PM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

I can't think of any completed story to send in. Many starts fill my mind, but none come to completion. This challenge is one hell of a challenge!!
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Post May 14, 2016, 04:40:03 PM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

Megawatts wrote:I can't think of any completed story to send in. Many starts fill my mind, but none come to completion. This challenge is one hell of a challenge!!
C'mon, George, don't let Sergio, Michele, Eddie, and I have all the fun by ourselves.

You can't go 'neener, neener' to the rest of us if you win if you don't enter! :)
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Post May 14, 2016, 10:10:38 PM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

I have been flash editor here, I run my own zine, I have a serial published and two short stories. I have never once, never ever? no never ever won this contest. You can put something up, if you really want to. Will it win? maybe not, but you can't enter! nope don't believe it. Not from you. I have seen what you are capable of. Don't believe it. If you want to say hey I have other things right now then fine. But I know you can do it. You have a day. Do it!
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Post May 15, 2016, 11:14:54 AM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

EddieSullivan wrote:I have never once, never ever? no never ever won this contest.

I'm torn between two standpoints:

#1 (supportive) Every dog will have its day. You wrote a pretty good story.

or

#2 (martial arts master) Get up! Move faster! Write better! :) (I'm pretty sure a real martial arts master wouldn't put a smiley face in their statement.)


You've mentioned this a couple times. Since the 'not winning' bothers you a little bit, then it's time to look at your writing for trends. What are people liking, what are they not? Why? Even more important, think about what your strengths are in your stories. How can you write a story that more plays to your strengths? That's where you (and when I say 'you' I mean everyone even thinking about entering any challenge) should look.

Generally, it bothers everyone to not win. Some a lot, some a little. These challenges can be very hard, that's why keeping at it until you do win makes it feel that much more rewarding. Of course, then you have to win again to prove it wasn't a fluke. ;) Somewhere down the line, you become a much better writer.

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Post May 15, 2016, 06:03:40 PM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

Well, I sent something in. What that something is only the readers will tell!
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Post May 27, 2016, 02:41:26 PM

Re: FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: May 2016

ente per ente wrote:
Just send the other two in the usual way.


Well, the other two are just a draft at the moment, but this is how they could develop ( these are the two ideas that I didn’t use for my entry for this Challenge, of course…eh,eh):


Oh Sergio, always so enthusiatic...
But I Iwonder, what would have happend if some perticipant hab been working on ideas vaguely related to those you had posted. Would your post have affected their entries?
As nobody has complained: no harm done. But maybe it might be preferable in the future to hold back with posting ideas until after the submission deadline?

Here are some of my own reations to the picture::

The human and bird of prey in the picture together made me think of the movie "ladyhawke".

Also I found quite a lot of references to Inanna and Dumuzi...

v.

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