FLASH CHALLENGE: August 2016


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Post August 07, 2016, 05:59:55 PM

FLASH CHALLENGE: August 2016

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge:



One of the basic needs we all have is friendship.

Without friends, we are lonely and bitter, and we wonder, did we lose them because of something we did, we said, or perhaps wouldn't say? Maybe we never had them in the first place, which is tragic.

On the other hand, sometimes we have great friends. People we know, we trust... people we play games with, people we help move into a new house, people we make godparents, or even people who help us hide a body. (There are all kinds of reasons to have friends.)

Universal needs like this exist in our audience, too, not just in us as writers, which means it gives us shortcuts we can use in our stories, making it an excellent candidate for a short flash piece. You can use "friend shorthand" like simply stating your characters were best friends, and the audience will fill in a good deal of their back story for you from their own experiences.


Our task this month is to tell a tale of two friends in a fantasy setting. These friends could be a pair of orcs or kobolds, perhaps two dragon groomers, or even dwarven arrow makers... anything fitting to a fantasy setting. The story could be about them becoming friends, losing their friendship, or maybe they have been best pals ever since they were hatched, and they're in the middle of an adventure. The choices are vast, and up to you.

Then, to make things a little more challenging, your story must include an ocean, a catapult, and an onion.



C'mon, let's have some fun! Join in!



REQUIREMENTS: (1) Your fantasy story must be about two friends, and must include an ocean, a catapult, and an onion; (2) You must have at least two characters that "talk" to each other in some fashion. (2) 1,000 words or less, not counting title, byline, or "The End"; (3) The characters and story must be fictional and not previously published, even in these challenges; (4) One entry per author; (5) Give your story a title and a byline; and (6) Keep it clean. Rated 'PG-13'. (Basically, think, "Could I see or say this on ABC 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 using that great character 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, August 21, 2016. The stories will then be posted for voting at approximately 10 p.m. Voting will close on Sunday, August 28th at approximately 9 p.m., GMT-6.

VOTING: Stories are rated 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. Voters copy and paste the 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.

IF YOU WISH TO SCORE A ZERO FOR A STORY, YOU MUST ENTER A ZERO IN THAT POSITION ON THE VOTING FORM. A challenge entrant who does not vote for the other stories 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.

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 flash 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 August 08, 2016, 04:25:10 AM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: August 2016

Great!!! Already done and completed...eh,eh...now, I'm just waiting for the usual useful reviews/suggestions before sending it... :D
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Post August 09, 2016, 02:59:50 AM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: August 2016

Mine was sent today...eh,eh :D
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Post August 11, 2016, 07:46:57 PM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: August 2016

Mine has been first drafted, and I just accepted Sergio's. That makes two.

Care to join in?

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Post August 13, 2016, 05:03:42 PM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: August 2016

I a gonna start mine soon! I think I'll tie mine to a previous one!
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Post August 13, 2016, 05:08:19 PM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: August 2016

Megawatts wrote:I a gonna start mine soon! I think I'll tie mine to a previous one!

Well, I'm glad you're going to try and join in!

Be careful, though, with linking it to a previous one. The rules prohibit sequels and re-using characters.

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Post August 14, 2016, 08:09:09 AM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: August 2016

I forgot about that one. Maybe one challenge in the future should be to connect a story to a previous one!
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