Flash Contest Ideas


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Post May 03, 2018, 04:13:26 PM

Flash Contest Ideas

Here is a topic to discuss ideas for upcoming flash contests.
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Post May 03, 2018, 04:16:52 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

This is a sticky now.
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Post May 04, 2018, 01:56:12 AM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

It might be interesting changing, or shifting, from one subgenre, like Steampunk or Urban Fantasy, from time to time, so as to have for example one Flash Challenge that has to be Sci-Fi- themed, then one about Fantasy, one about Horror, and so on... :D

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Post May 04, 2018, 06:08:58 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

ente per ente wrote:It might be interesting changing, or shifting, from one subgenre, like Steampunk or Urban Fantasy, from time to time, so as to have for example one Flash Challenge that has to be Sci-Fi- themed, then one about Fantasy, one about Horror, and so on... :D

Okay, good idea.
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Post May 04, 2018, 10:19:18 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

I'd say don't be afraid to really challenge the writers. Throw a sci-fi mystery, or fantasy romance, or even a magic realism superhero tale at them. Whatever you think would be a cool story to read, really. Those are the most fun to write as well.

They've pretty much always risen to the occasion. Push them.

But they might need a little more time for something so complex. Just a suggestion.
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Post May 05, 2018, 08:39:39 AM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

Ente per ente has a good idea. The more ideas that pop up, the better the contest.

We could have one with no constraints, no premise, just turn something in! Of course it must be sci-fi, horror or alternate even---stories if longer Aphelion would publish. Stories that are written under contraints give the writer a creative-problem solving exercise, while stories written with no constraints, let one's imagination run wild! Both are excellent challenges.
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Post May 05, 2018, 02:07:30 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

If you limit stories to a single genre, you might find fewer authors submitting; and there aren't that many to begin with. I, for example, have zero experience with Steampunk. If it were a requirement, I would need longer than one week to learn about the genre and write a story.
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Post May 05, 2018, 04:44:43 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

jpharrin wrote:If you limit stories to a single genre, you might find fewer authors submitting; and there aren't that many to begin with. I, for example, have zero experience with Steampunk. If it were a requirement, I would need longer than one week to learn about the genre and write a story.

What is Steampunk exactly? Is it the sum total concept of future technology in the past or are their more nuances and subtle aspects to it?

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Post May 05, 2018, 04:51:30 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

Megawatts wrote:Ente per ente has a good idea. The more ideas that pop up, the better the contest.

We could have one with no constraints, no premise, just turn something in! Of course it must be sci-fi, horror or alternate even---stories if longer Aphelion would publish. Stories that are written under contraints give the writer a creative-problem solving exercise, while stories written with no constraints, let one's imagination run wild! Both are excellent challenges.

I like this. Maybe we should do it ever so often, a "You Write the Premise" concept so each writer decides for themselves what they want to write. It might be a good vehicle to create a story that a writer has been thinking about, but hasn't had an outlet.

Of course the general rules would apply, which have no bearing on the concept theme.
Last edited by Jim Statton on May 05, 2018, 05:20:03 PM, edited 1 time in total.

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Post May 05, 2018, 04:57:20 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

kailhofer wrote:I'd say don't be afraid to really challenge the writers. Throw a sci-fi mystery, or fantasy romance, or even a magic realism superhero tale at them. Whatever you think would be a cool story to read, really. Those are the most fun to write as well.

They've pretty much always risen to the occasion. Push them.

But they might need a little more time for something so complex. Just a suggestion.

We get more writers involved, those mixed genres would be fun. I never even heard of mixing genres until I started following your challenges.

Every several months there is an extra week so we could have a two week writing time frame for a more complex writing premise.

Nate, what was the most rewarding challenge that you ever did over the 10 years you ran the challenges?
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Post May 05, 2018, 07:36:56 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

Jim Statton wrote:What is Steampunk exactly? Is it the sum total concept of future technology in the past or are their more nuances and subtle aspects to it?


Steampunk is a lot of things to a lot of people. However, the writing genre of steampunk, as separated from the fashion, music, lifestyle, and art aspects is fairly easy to give examples of rather than define. It's mostly under the umbrella of Alternate History. The most accepted example of steampunk "before anyone ever thought of it as such" is the old TV series "Wild, Wild West." That show was set just after the US Civil War, but in effect was "what if James Bond was an American living in the late 1800s and all of the gadgets his version of Q built for him had to use the tech of THAT era?" (The modern-era Will Smith WWW movie is also quite steampunk, although it didn't make a lot of money in theaters.) Another example would be the movie "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" wherein various unconnected literary figures of the Victorian/Edwardian era found themselves in a sort of comic book superhero team-up. Other examples would be the various movie & TV versions of "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea," "Mysterious Island," "The Lost World," and so on.

For me, it's a Grand Adventure story using Vernian or Wellsian or Doyleistic, etc. characters and dialog, setting off to do something amazing, and whatever adventures they have along the way, with trains, airships, steamships and similar tech as the story props. Now, the important thing about any genre of alternate history story is to pick a point where history diverges from what we know today. Once you have that starting point, you can explore how things would be different from our world. And nothing says that you have to write stories set in the Victorian era, either. You could write a story set in the modern day, with nuclear-powered airships and trains and steamships if you like. But what I do should not set any limits on your imagination. Steampunk stories are about exploring a glorious past that never happened, but could have happened--and whatever future could have been built if that past had been the way history evolved.

Any alternate history story involves studying actual history first, then picking a point of divergence, and taking that to its limits.

Have fun!

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Post May 05, 2018, 09:14:23 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

Jim Statton wrote:
kailhofer wrote:I'd say don't be afraid to really challenge the writers. Throw a sci-fi mystery, or fantasy romance, or even a magic realism superhero tale at them. Whatever you think would be a cool story to read, really. Those are the most fun to write as well.

They've pretty much always risen to the occasion. Push them.

But they might need a little more time for something so complex. Just a suggestion.

We get more writers involved, those mixed genres would be fun. I never even heard of mixing genres until I started following your challenges.

Every several months there is an extra week so we could have a two week writing time frame for a more complex writing premise.

Nate, what was the most rewarding challenge that you ever did over the 10 years you ran the challenges?

Remember that everyone should be writing a simple, human story every time. That it might be set in outer space or perhaps the only two characters are a pair of rocks, is of no consequence. The story should be simple, and human, because that's what an audience relates to. Boy meets girl, someone seeks revenge, etc. In fact, Robert Silverberg used to use what he called the Generic Plot of all Stories, which you can read up on in this forum thread here. But I digress.

Most rewarding? Oh, boy. That's a hard question because things can be rewarding many ways.

Not in any particular order, but...

Our second challenge, way back when, was The Sound of Silence, in which, the main character had to be deaf. The stories we wrote were shown to someone who was, in fact, hearing impared, and she just loved them. I got a very warm, fuzzy feeling from that.

I especially enjoyed both Campfire Ghost Stories challenges, especially the first one. I really liked what everyone came up with, and I hope someone, somewhere, actually tells those some of stories around a fire.

I really enjoyed writing my story for the "Picture's worth 1,000 Words" challenge that used a picture drawn by Lester. It was an über hard challenge, really, but I liked what we did with it.

There are so many really. Space-Based Mom and Pop Shop, Reluctant Superhero... I made a great friend during Museum Earth. Jeez, there are too many. It's all been rewarding. Plus, I certainly would not want to forget to mention the excellent work by John, Eddie, and Daniel in their challenges. That others, including yourself, keep things going, gives me a really warm feeling as well.

The warmest feeling of all comes from looking at Iain's new linked index of more than 700 stories that have been written for the challenges since they started. That's one hell of a resource of fiction, and it came from an idea I had more than 10 years ago. Hopefully without blowing my own horn too much, that's pretty cool. I liked my old indexes better for the feel of them, but Iain's is more practical, considering the number of entries in it.

I hope that answered your question.
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Post May 06, 2018, 04:02:21 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

Vila wrote:Steampunk is a lot of things to a lot of people. However, the writing genre of steampunk, as separated from the fashion, music, lifestyle, and art aspects is fairly easy to give examples of rather than define.

So there is a romanticism about this genre of writing. It's not only about out of time technology. That's interesting.

Another example would be the movie "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" wherein various unconnected literary figures of the Victorian/Edwardian era found themselves in a sort of comic book superhero team-up.

I did like this movie. Strange, but compelling.

For me, it's a Grand Adventure story using Vernian or Wellsian or Doyleistic, etc. characters and dialog, setting off to do something amazing, and whatever adventures they have along the way, with trains, airships, steamships and similar tech as the story props.

This is more like it. A grand adventure utilizing Jules Verne, or H. G. Wells types of atmosphere and nuances. I wonder how to simplify a Steampunk story premise to minimize the historical research for the writers.

Now, the important thing about any genre of alternate history story is to pick a point where history diverges from what we know today. Once you have that starting point, you can explore how things would be different from our world.

So there would be a need for a cause for the introduction of future technology that gives a foundation for how the past or future changed at a single moment in time.

Steampunk stories are about exploring a glorious past that never happened, but could have happened--and whatever future could have been built if that past had been the way history evolved.

All the elements that make up our current society including technology and medicine all came from the dirt of the Earth, the same dirt that people of the past lived on. All they needed was the know how and they could have had the ability to cure major epidemics then that are considered minor illnesses today. The world could have had communications a thousand years ago if they knew they could.

Maybe we could do a two week Steampunk Premise soon.

We need a timeline. Should we do a futuristic type of story in our current time, like a momentous event in the year 2021 with technology in play from the year 3,000?

Or a story premise from the distant past?

We should all work it out in this topic so it would be a collaborative effort.

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Post May 06, 2018, 06:14:28 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

kailhofer wrote:Remember that everyone should be writing a simple, human story every time. That it might be set in outer space or perhaps the only two characters are a pair of rocks, is of no consequence. The story should be simple, and human, because that's what an audience relates to. Boy meets girl, someone seeks revenge, etc.

Yes, I can see that now that you pointed it out. A simple human story. That's nice!

Robert Silverberg used to use what he called the Generic Plot of all Stories, which you can read up on in this forum thread here.

I will take some time and study on this.

Most rewarding? Oh, boy. That's a hard question because things can be rewarding many ways.

Not in any particular order, but...

Our second challenge, way back when, was The Sound of Silence, in which, the main character had to be deaf. The stories we wrote were shown to someone who was, in fact, hearing impared, and she just loved them. I got a very warm, fuzzy feeling from that.

I especially enjoyed both Campfire Ghost Stories challenges, especially the first one. I really liked what everyone came up with, and I hope someone, somewhere, actually tells those some of stories around a fire.

I really enjoyed writing my story for the "Picture's worth 1,000 Words" challenge that used a picture drawn by Lester. It was an über hard challenge, really, but I liked what we did with it.

There are so many really. Space-Based Mom and Pop Shop, Reluctant Superhero... I made a great friend during Museum Earth. Jeez, there are too many. It's all been rewarding.

I can review those challenges and see what ideas I get from them.

I certainly would not want to forget to mention the excellent work by John, Eddie, and Daniel in their challenges. That others, including yourself, keep things going, gives me a really warm feeling as well.

Well, you laid the groundwork. I'm just seeing what you and those that came after you have done and utilizing those ideas.

The warmest feeling of all comes from looking at Iain's new linked index of more than 700 stories that have been written for the challenges since they started. That's one hell of a resource of fiction, and it came from an idea I had more than 10 years ago. Hopefully without blowing my own horn too much, that's pretty cool. I liked my old indexes better for the feel of them, but Iain's is more practical, considering the number of entries in it.

Yeah, I am impressed with that also and I posted a reply telling him so. So, his real name is Iain.
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Post May 06, 2018, 10:03:03 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

Jim Statton wrote:So, his real name is Iain.

Yes, Wormtongue, with the title poetry editor under his name is really Iain Muir. Now you know his secret identity. According to the rules of superherodom, you may now either become his ally or his arch nemesis. :) Strange that there are no other choices than that...

For anyone who didn't know, a look at the "Contact Us" page in the main magazine would also have told you this. His name is listed there under Editor for Poetry, Flash, and Archives, as he is currently doing triple duty.
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Post May 06, 2018, 11:03:37 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

Idea:

"Did you read the instructions?"

Owner's manuals and instruction sheets come with all kinds of things we're familiar with, like toasters, Ikea furniture, bicycles, you name it ... and we can add unfamiliar things like spellcasting kits and alien medical devices as possible examples.

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Post May 07, 2018, 01:08:46 AM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

Jim Statton wrote:This is more like it. A grand adventure utilizing Jules Verne, or H. G. Wells types of atmosphere and nuances. I wonder how to simplify a Steampunk story premise to minimize the historical research for the writers.


That'd be the tricky part, yes. Steampunk is complex because it involves a lot of different elements depending on the interests of whoever is writing it. If you can find a way to tell someone to "write a Jules Verne or Conan Doyle or HG Wells story, but base it in the year 2748" that might wind up being a steampunk story. But it might not. Steampunks, as people, enjoy the esthetics of Victorian and Edwardian society, but with toilet paper and fewer horrible diseases and a general absence of racism--on the whole. There are as many working class steampunks as there are Gentry at conventions--But that's the lifestyle incorporating modern values into the basic V/E timeframe.

Now, the important thing about any genre of alternate history story is to pick a point where history diverges from what we know today. Once you have that starting point, you can explore how things would be different from our world.

Jim Statton wrote:So there would be a need for a cause for the introduction of future technology that gives a foundation for how the past or future changed at a single moment in time.


Well, not the introduction of *future* tech, but the earlier development of historical tech, yes, exactly. For example, I have a novel in the works that postulated that Hero of Alexandria did a bit more with his "toy" steam engine than just boil water in it and let people watch it spin. He found a way to make it do useful work. So ancient Egypt and Greece had steam-powered water pumps, grist mills, horseless-battle chariots, and ships. So they conquered the young Roman Empire, drove the Visigoths and such back to their Northern European homelands, and turned back the Mongol Horde's invasion. Now, my novel is set in a modern-day world where that was ancient history. I followed the logic as well as I could to make things familiar, yet different from what we know. The hero is an old man in a steam-powered electric wheelchair who recounts his younger days when he was the captain of an airship.

It's like--once you change that one tiny detail in the past, all of the dominoes that make up our history fall into a different pattern than what we know today.

That's standard alternate history. The steampunk comes in when you use the styles of Victorian writers and the esthetics of the Victorian age to base your characters and their mind-set upon. It has to *read* like a Verne or Wells or Doyle story, in other words.

It's a huge genre, and there are a lot of people bringing their own different tweaks to the basic formula. And really, there are very few wrong ways to do it. But basically it all boils down to the writers of the Victorian age and the effects of the Industrial Revolution, but taken into an alternate history form.
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Post May 08, 2018, 02:23:50 AM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

Steampunk can open up new and exciting reads generated by imagination coupled with history. I worked in an 1800 megawatt generating station---retired almost ten years ago by an early out--and can state emphatically that steam is powerful! The station I worked at had 3000 psi steam at 1000 degrees before it entered the turbine! That is power! All nuclear submarines and nuclear aircraft carriers are just steam boats.

I really don't know much about steampunk. I'm not sure if the Victorian age or the culture of the American wild west should be in a steampunk story. I know steam has to be the driving force of all motion whether train, ship, horseless carriage, balloon flight or a unique invention. Could someone further explain the requirement needed in a steampunk story?
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Post May 08, 2018, 05:43:05 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

Megawatts wrote: I'm not sure if the Victorian age or the culture of the American wild west should be in a steampunk story. I know steam has to be the driving force of all motion whether train, ship, horseless carriage, balloon flight or a unique invention. Could someone further explain the requirement needed in a steampunk story?


Steampunck stories can be set anywhere. The Industrial Revolution was world-wide. Any technological development between 1800 and 1910 is fuel for the writer's imagination. That also applies to earlier and later periods as well, though. Someone discovers something earlier than in the real word, and the effects of that change all of history thereafter. Generally speaking, the Victorian / Edwardian era was 1800 to 1910, but Nicola Tesla is one of steampunk's favorite inventors--so it wouldn't be odd to have his work, even from after 1910, in a story somehow. If you want to do a straight historical steampunk story, you could have steam-driven warships during the War of 1812, or steam-powered submarines during the US Civil War, or liquid-fueled steam engines powering airships then as well. You could even have a Vernean steampunk story with rockets in space, if you like. For that matter, Verne's and Wells' and Conan Doyle's work would be considered steampunk if they had been written today instead of back then. :) Lords and Ladies and Pirates and Cowboys and Indians and Mad Scientists and Jungle Explorers and Captains of Industry and on and on...

You don't have to restrict yourself to the Victorian Era as the time of your story. Although that's a very fertile ground to plant the seeds of your imagination. You could also explore the modern era of a society who never gave up steam power for diesel or gasoline internal combustion engines.

Or even something like I did and have the Industrial Revolution start centuries early, and explore what that world could be like. What would a modern world be like if the European settlements in North America never ran the Natives off of their Ancestral Homeland? Steamships exploring the Mississippi River and the Gulf of St. Lawrence would have opened up the interior of the US and Canada much earlier. Or what if China had gained possession of one of the Greek steam-powered chariots and learned to turn that engine into something to power their Navy's fleets--back in the Bronze Age? Or, there has been a naturally occurring nuclear reactor merrily boiling ground-water someplace in Africa (can't remember the name of the place at the moment) since before humans came to be. What if an explorer/scientist like Doyle's Professor Challenger had discovered it and figured out how to build a fission reactor back in the 1800s? There is a movie version of Verne's "Mysterious Island" starring Sir Patric Stewart as Captain Nemo which postulates that the Nautilus was nuclear powered, using thorium as the radioactive material.

Most steampunk stories feature characters who wouldn't be out of place in the Victorian Era, no matter what era of history they live within. It's as if steampunks believe that the Victorians merely sanitized their class system, modernized their medicine and hygiene, dropped the racism, and learned to be honest about enjoying sex as much as anyone in History--then moved forward in history still enjoying fancy dress for dinner, etc. (Of course, for that last bit I incorporated all the aspects of steampunk as a lifestyle, LOL!)

Steampunk is one of those things were there are so many opinions on how to do it "right" that it stays pretty much wide open. But there will always be critics who think that their viewpoint is the "one true Steampunk." :)

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Post May 10, 2018, 08:30:56 AM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

Here’s the link to an interview I did with Andrew McCurdy, editor of the Gallery of Curiosities podcast. This site specializes in steampunk.

http://sixquestionsfor.blogspot.com/201 ... ditor.html
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Post May 11, 2018, 10:50:11 AM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

My suggestion for two that could be done again and maybe repeated again many times are " Rope a Dope Trope" and "3 Random Things"
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Post May 11, 2018, 02:21:17 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

Vila wrote:
Megawatts wrote: I'm not sure if the Victorian age or the culture of the American wild west should be in a steampunk story. I know steam has to be the driving force of all motion whether train, ship, horseless carriage, balloon flight or a unique invention. Could someone further explain the requirement needed in a steampunk story?


Steampunck stories can be set anywhere. The Industrial Revolution was world-wide. Any technological development between 1800 and 1910 is fuel for the writer's imagination. That also applies to earlier and later periods as well, though. Someone discovers something earlier than in the real word, and the effects of that change all of history thereafter. Generally speaking, the Victorian / Edwardian era was 1800 to 1910, but Nicola Tesla is one of steampunk's favorite inventors--so it wouldn't be odd to have his work, even from after 1910, in a story somehow. If you want to do a straight historical steampunk story, you could have steam-driven warships during the War of 1812, or steam-powered submarines during the US Civil War, or liquid-fueled steam engines powering airships then as well. You could even have a Vernean steampunk story with rockets in space, if you like. For that matter, Verne's and Wells' and Conan Doyle's work would be considered steampunk if they had been written today instead of back then. :) Lords and Ladies and Pirates and Cowboys and Indians and Mad Scientists and Jungle Explorers and Captains of Industry and on and on...

You don't have to restrict yourself to the Victorian Era as the time of your story. Although that's a very fertile ground to plant the seeds of your imagination. You could also explore the modern era of a society who never gave up steam power for diesel or gasoline internal combustion engines.

Or even something like I did and have the Industrial Revolution start centuries early, and explore what that world could be like. What would a modern world be like if the European settlements in North America never ran the Natives off of their Ancestral Homeland? Steamships exploring the Mississippi River and the Gulf of St. Lawrence would have opened up the interior of the US and Canada much earlier. Or what if China had gained possession of one of the Greek steam-powered chariots and learned to turn that engine into something to power their Navy's fleets--back in the Bronze Age? Or, there has been a naturally occurring nuclear reactor merrily boiling ground-water someplace in Africa (can't remember the name of the place at the moment) since before humans came to be. What if an explorer/scientist like Doyle's Professor Challenger had discovered it and figured out how to build a fission reactor back in the 1800s? There is a movie version of Verne's "Mysterious Island" starring Sir Patric Stewart as Captain Nemo which postulates that the Nautilus was nuclear powered, using thorium as the radioactive material.

Most steampunk stories feature characters who wouldn't be out of place in the Victorian Era, no matter what era of history they live within. It's as if steampunks believe that the Victorians merely sanitized their class system, modernized their medicine and hygiene, dropped the racism, and learned to be honest about enjoying sex as much as anyone in History--then moved forward in history still enjoying fancy dress for dinner, etc. (Of course, for that last bit I incorporated all the aspects of steampunk as a lifestyle, LOL!)

Steampunk is one of those things were there are so many opinions on how to do it "right" that it stays pretty much wide open. But there will always be critics who think that their viewpoint is the "one true Steampunk." :)

Dan

You are certainly an authority on this genre. You sound like a university professor, teaching Literature.

After looking at this type of writing, I can see the pageantry and style that must be included for it to be a true representative of the Steampunk genre.

As I build the contests, I will study the subtle nuances of this literary style for a future contest premise.

Thank you for thoroughly explaining what this style of writing is all about.

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Post May 11, 2018, 02:26:26 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

kailhofer wrote:I'd say don't be afraid to really challenge the writers. Throw a sci-fi mystery, or fantasy romance, or even a magic realism superhero tale at them. Whatever you think would be a cool story to read, really. Those are the most fun to write as well.

They've pretty much always risen to the occasion. Push them.

But they might need a little more time for something so complex. Just a suggestion.

Those genre mixing suggestions sound really good. Sci-Fi mystery or a fantasy romance would be a new and fresh approach.

Thank you Nate.

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Post May 11, 2018, 02:29:59 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

kailhofer wrote:
Remember that everyone should be writing a simple, human story every time. That it might be set in outer space or perhaps the only two characters are a pair of rocks, is of no consequence. The story should be simple, and human, because that's what an audience relates to.

I'm pinning that up on my concept folder so I'll see it when planning contests.

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Post May 11, 2018, 02:31:18 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

Lester Curtis wrote:Idea:

"Did you read the instructions?"

Owner's manuals and instruction sheets come with all kinds of things we're familiar with, like toasters, Ikea furniture, bicycles, you name it ... and we can add unfamiliar things like spellcasting kits and alien medical devices as possible examples.

Take it away.

That sounds like a good sci-fi story premise to me.
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Post May 12, 2018, 11:24:09 AM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

Jim Statton wrote:You are certainly an authority on this genre. You sound like a university professor, teaching Literature.

After looking at this type of writing, I can see the pageantry and style that must be included for it to be a true representative of the Steampunk genre.

As I build the contests, I will study the subtle nuances of this literary style for a future contest premise.

Thank you for thoroughly explaining what this style of writing is all about.


Thank you! I don't consider myself an expert, though. Just a working writer with a few steampunk stories out there. But I am a convention-going Steampunk and I've witnessed several varieties of those infernal "that's not steampunk" arguments on various forums online--and live on convention panels. My posts above pretty much just summed up a few of the points raised by various steampunks who are experts, but in my own words.

Dan
"Extremely difficult- Virtually impossible- However, it should only take me ten minutes or so..."
Brice Linch - Max Headroom

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Post May 24, 2018, 04:06:18 AM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

kailhofer wrote:I'd say don't be afraid to really challenge the writers. Throw a sci-fi mystery, or fantasy romance, or even a magic realism superhero tale at them. Whatever you think would be a cool story to read, really. Those are the most fun to write as well.

They've pretty much always risen to the occasion. Push them.

But they might need a little more time for something so complex. Just a suggestion.


Hallo y'all again!

I found some more strength to do some more Aphelion things!

The movie "Hancock" just showed up again on my radar - "A Broken Hero" (Somehow the movie didn't pound in quite enough how he came apart so badly) is NOT an "Anti-Hero"! Rather, "Hero Powers" sorta "are just stuck to the "hero".

Upon reviewing it in light of my own recent struggles, the first half of the movie was pretty crisp, and could have done nicely as an Indie film.

but then it got all ___, and I'm still torn about the Shaggy Dog Buildup setting up pretty "story-risky" last element of what caring means etc... I still don't know if it "worked" properly or not!

Somewhere in this note I think is a "___ realism" story might be implicitly inheriting MORE story "responsibility" to be written REALLY well, because you can forgive cardboard characters in a regular superhero story "with the usual backstory".

CW's series The Flash tried to do that this year, with a couple episodes notably about mental illness, and I think it had more brilliance mixed with more missed chances, but it was at least a step towards reviving the formula. As the characters themselves "4th walled it", for once it wasn't "oh look, another speedster, Montage, Win".

Leaving further heavy topics for elsewhere, some quick story tips as I see them with "the passing of time in genre".

1. "Don't Drop the Keys". At one point that actually could qualify legit for "excitement", but those days are gone...

2. "A lot of the Classic Formulas have life in them, but some of the ... Wells ... are drying up."

3. "It's a Better Trained World". The basic functional skills of anyone doing anything at all, need to be nudged up just a little.

4. "___" "Realism" ... is an Uncanny Valley. If you have decided not to just write "mainstream fiction", be careful the plot is not 1983 with some sphaghetti sauce on top. We have such a "that" President right now, to me it feels like a bit of a blinding agent. For literary reasons among others, I am "quietly"excited who the next President will be. Then that plus the Genre Element ...

More later!

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Location: Mass, USA

Post May 24, 2018, 04:22:52 AM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

kailhofer wrote:
Jim Statton wrote:So, his real name is Iain.

Yes, Wormtongue, with the title poetry editor under his name is really ... ((mask returned to Poetry Hero!)) you may now either become his ally or his arch nemesis. :) Strange that there are no other choices than that...

For anyone who didn't know, a look at the "Contact Us" page in the main magazine would also have told you this. His name is listed there under Editor for Poetry, Flash, and Archives, as he is currently doing triple duty.


I better get ahead of this one!

I created a deep digital strategy in 2004 that's almost coming home in 2018 - I'm quite clearly on the Emeritus page, but in the fancy terminology, "cultural evolution", we're slam bang between Need for Privacy and Need for Disclosure, and exactly last year new entries are entering into the "dial back" camp.

My simple premise was simply not to entertain "unfocused" people on a "bored search" of my name and get SIX THOUSAND replies from all my posts in my digital life!

So I'm an Emeritus now, the last couple of years were not up to my standards, so be it. (But I daresay it will make my writing stronger, what a curse this endeavor can be!!)

But it's there on the Emeritus page and I'm proud of my earlier 3/4 of the period. So that page will come up when, I'm almost strong enough to work again, some HR pre-assistant glances over my name. But the strategy keeps random internet posts out of the way.

- ---------

HOWEVER... "uses for a Poetry Supero.... only two choices...."?!

Watch me! : )

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Posts: 235

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Post May 24, 2018, 03:50:20 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

TaoPhoenix wrote:
kailhofer wrote:I'd say don't be afraid to really challenge the writers. Throw a sci-fi mystery, or fantasy romance, or even a magic realism superhero tale at them. Whatever you think would be a cool story to read, really. Those are the most fun to write as well.

They've pretty much always risen to the occasion. Push them.

But they might need a little more time for something so complex. Just a suggestion.


Hallo y'all again!

I found some more strength to do some more Aphelion things!

The movie "Hancock" just showed up again on my radar - "A Broken Hero" (Somehow the movie didn't pound in quite enough how he came apart so badly) is NOT an "Anti-Hero"! Rather, "Hero Powers" sorta "are just stuck to the "hero".

Upon reviewing it in light of my own recent struggles, the first half of the movie was pretty crisp, and could have done nicely as an Indie film.

but then it got all ___, and I'm still torn about the Shaggy Dog Buildup setting up pretty "story-risky" last element of what caring means etc... I still don't know if it "worked" properly or not!

Somewhere in this note I think is a "___ realism" story might be implicitly inheriting MORE story "responsibility" to be written REALLY well, because you can forgive cardboard characters in a regular superhero story "with the usual backstory".

CW's series The Flash tried to do that this year, with a couple episodes notably about mental illness, and I think it had more brilliance mixed with more missed chances, but it was at least a step towards reviving the formula. As the characters themselves "4th walled it", for once it wasn't "oh look, another speedster, Montage, Win".

Leaving further heavy topics for elsewhere, some quick story tips as I see them with "the passing of time in genre".

1. "Don't Drop the Keys". At one point that actually could qualify legit for "excitement", but those days are gone...

2. "A lot of the Classic Formulas have life in them, but some of the ... Wells ... are drying up."

3. "It's a Better Trained World". The basic functional skills of anyone doing anything at all, need to be nudged up just a little.

4. "___" "Realism" ... is an Uncanny Valley. If you have decided not to just write "mainstream fiction", be careful the plot is not 1983 with some sphaghetti sauce on top. We have such a "that" President right now, to me it feels like a bit of a blinding agent. For literary reasons among others, I am "quietly"excited who the next President will be. Then that plus the Genre Element ...

More later!

You're a fountain of ideas. I'm placing these concepts on a list.

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Posts: 851

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Location: Johnstown, Pa.

Post June 02, 2018, 03:05:59 PM

Re: Flash Contest Ideas

This might have been mentioned, but one time Lester drew a picture, and we had to write a flash fiction based on how the picture inspired us. It was an interesting take, and I enjoyed it. We created a story from a picture!
Tesla Lives!!!

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