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FLASH CHALLENGE: December 2016

PostPosted: December 04, 2016, 07:27:06 PM
by kailhofer
The "Elf Help" Challenge

The challenge this December is to help a wayward elf find his or her holiday spirit.

That's right, you've just bumped into an elf on present-day streets--pointy ears and everything.

A real elf.

A really lost elf, but by that I don't mean he or she doesn't know they are standing on the corner of Lexington and Third or any other streets. I mean this elf has lost his or her holiday spirit, which is making them dysfunctional and downtrodden. He or she looks so sad. Can we help?

Yes, we can!

Your character's job is to help that elf find that holiday spirit. Do you feel up to the challenge?

SPECIAL BONUS: I will award a 10% bonus to the score of any story I deem to be funny, or at least trying to be.

REQUIREMENTS: (1) Your story must be set on present day, this reality Earth and must center on trying to help an elf regain his or her "holiday spirit;" (2) 1,000 words or less, not counting title, byline, or "The End"; (3) You must have at least two characters that "talk" to each other in some fashion. (4) The characters and story must be original, 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 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 non-human religious figures such as the Devil, named angels such as Gabriel, or gods like Thor, etc. as minor 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. For the purposes of these challenges, all human (or born of man) individuals who appear in Greek or Roman mythology, the Bible, Torah, Quran, Mahayana Sutras--basically any major religious text--are considered real people, and therefore may not appear. One of the objects here is to practice creating fictional characters.

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, December 18, 2016. The stories will then be posted for voting at approximately 10 p.m. ***NOTE:*** Due to the Holidays, voting will close on Friday, December 23rd 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 Private Message (PM) and send it to me through the forum for tallying. One vote per user (and/or per ip address). Authors may not vote for their own story, but must vote for all of the other stories in the contest. A challenge entrant who does not vote for the other stories will receive a 30% 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 section stories, format Dan's editorial, upload all the sections, and create the forum folders) do not allow me time to write an example story. 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.

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: December 2016

PostPosted: December 05, 2016, 03:31:58 AM
by ente per ente
Ok, good concept..and my entry is already done...just the time to get the usual useful reviews/Siggestions before sending,eh :D

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: December 2016

PostPosted: December 06, 2016, 07:58:11 AM
by ente per ente
My entry has been sent,eh :D

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: December 2016

PostPosted: December 06, 2016, 04:48:47 PM
by kailhofer
And I just accepted it!

(Plus, mine is ready, too.)

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: December 2016

PostPosted: December 07, 2016, 08:26:10 PM
by jpharrin
Just sent mine.

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: December 2016

PostPosted: December 08, 2016, 10:47:57 AM
by kailhofer
I got it. We definitely have enough entries to make it a race, now.

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: December 2016

PostPosted: December 12, 2016, 01:24:39 PM
by kailhofer
Pretty quiet out there. Is everyone off on Christmas break already?

How could one not want to help an elf? They're so cute!

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: December 2016

PostPosted: December 12, 2016, 09:41:18 PM
by KateStuart
Well, I got mine in.

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: December 2016

PostPosted: December 15, 2016, 10:22:45 PM
by kailhofer
Then they were five. Stories, that is.