FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11


Writing challenges, flash fiction, interesting anecdotes, amusements, and general miscellanea.

Moderator: Editors

User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3213

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post May 06, 2011, 06:03:37 PM

FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

"It's the Little Things" Challenge:



The other day I was reading an old collection of SF stories and came across a real gem that was about, of all things, flower arranging. I mean, terrestrial flower arranging is usually about as far as you can go from SF. It really struck as amazing how plainly this story about an admittedly not very bright woman trying to create her first 'good' flower arrangement started. With the frequent "help" of her young son the plot managed to turn into a quite good SF story without benefit of alien abductions, time travelers, or other such "shortcuts." In the story, the design of her arrangement combined with an attempt by her kindergartner to make the "roundest thing ever" wound up accidentally creating the world's first free-floating, stable force field without benefit of any power generation. The transition was quite subtle, I thought, from the here and now into science fiction, but very effective. The science of it was probably bonkers, but it was still an entertaining story.

It occurred to me that this would be a really good challenge for us here: Take an everyday event, like taking out the trash, checking out a book from the library, resurfacing your driveway, etc. and turn it into a SF story without the "crutch" of an alien or time travel. It's a simple event, (at least at the start) so it should fit within the flash size limitation, and frankly, it's surprisingly hard to take something that mundane and turn it into speculative fiction.

Plus, I think all of our brains need a little spring cleaning and exercise. So, have at you! Are you up to the challenge?





REQUIREMENTS: (1) Your story must tell the tale of what starts as a simple, mundane, current-day, and real-world task but instead becomes a science fiction story; (2) No "crutch" elements like aliens or time travel will be allowed ("Crutch" is in my judgment--PM me for a ruling if you think your idea may be out of bounds); (3) 1,000 words or less, not counting title, byline, or "The End"; (4) The characters, setting, 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 this on CSI?")

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-les Darween. All non-copyrighted settings are ok. Famous, unique sites like Stonehenge may be used over and again. No fan fiction, 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 prior to 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 the story titles are literally tossed into a hat and chosen at 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 22, 2011. The stories will then be posted for voting at 10 p.m. Voting will close on Monday, May 30th 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.

Every effort will be made to keep the voting fair. In the past, some voters have abstained from voting for some of the stories while voting for the others. Since total points scored decides the winner, this put the stories that weren't voted on at a disadvantage. Should this happen again, the skipped stories will be given marks equaling whatever the story's average is at the time of contest close. 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 or any 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.
User avatar

Master Critic

Posts: 845

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee    USA

Post May 06, 2011, 06:16:57 PM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

Wowsers!

Gonna have to thunk a bit on this'un, ah reckon.

BW
"I am Susan Ivanova. . . .I am the Right Hand of Vengence. . .I am Death Incarnate, and the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me."
User avatar

Long Fiction Editor

Posts: 2487

Joined: January 11, 2010, 12:03:56 AM

Location: by the time you read this, I'll be somewhere else

Post May 06, 2011, 06:58:52 PM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

"Thunk" indeed . . . sounds like a tough one. Should be interesting; I hope I can think of something for it.
I was raised by humans. What's your excuse?

Master Critic

Posts: 761

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Johnstown, Pa.

Post May 06, 2011, 08:10:33 PM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

I love the constraints Nate places us under! This one is tough and will require some thought. And that is what a challenge should do. To think outside your skull----I hate saying the box---will insure that every neuron will have to fire when thinking up material that will work under this challenge. And maybe even a few more neurons will grow!
Tesla Lives!!!

Master Critic

Posts: 3595

Joined: September 17, 2008, 10:10:20 PM

Post May 06, 2011, 08:47:40 PM

The Golden Rules

Okay, this time I'll even follow the rules!
Image
That would be nice!

Archive Editor

Posts: 2435

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Mass, USA

Post May 08, 2011, 07:14:44 AM

Re: The Golden Rules

Mark Edgemon wrote:Okay, this time I'll even follow the rules!
That would be nice!


This challenge is a piece of cake!*

It's quite clear that the motion of Mark's rulez smiley contains the precise timing of the only known copy of a 1938 Swiss pocket watch that Col. Francis Larrudy was known to show to friends before he went off to World War 2. Therefore Mark has been in touch with his widow's daughter, and is now one of only seven people in the country to know where Col. Larrudy buried the layout sketch of the German prison camp system.


*The Cake is a Lie.

Archive Editor

Posts: 2435

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Mass, USA

Post May 08, 2011, 10:25:42 AM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

To Nate's credit, this is one of the first topics that is helping to weaken my bad case of writer's block. I am churning out a story draft that feels "too big" for this challenge.
User avatar

Master Critic

Posts: 1148

Joined: September 18, 2009, 05:02:54 AM

Location: Italy

Post May 09, 2011, 09:19:19 AM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

That's very easy( again...)...likely tomorrow my entry will be completed...eh,eh :D

For TaoPhoenix.

writer's block.


Actually, for me the problem is blocking writing in some ways, not beating a writer's block...eh,eh :lol:

Archive Editor

Posts: 2435

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Mass, USA

Post May 09, 2011, 09:28:08 PM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

ente per ente wrote:That's very easy( again...)...likely tomorrow my entry will be completed...eh,eh :D

For TaoPhoenix.

writer's block.


Actually, for me the problem is blocking writing in some ways, not beating a writer's block...eh,eh :lol:


The story eventually became a 3000 word semi-serious tale making the phrase "Oh My God. Ponies!?" into a matter of National Defense. I was so taken with the concept (and the weakening of the aforementioned horrible drought) that I was giddy for hours afterward.

Master Critic

Posts: 761

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Johnstown, Pa.

Post May 10, 2011, 10:43:30 AM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

I still haven't thought of anything. But maybe it's the thinking that counts!
Tesla Lives!!!
User avatar

Master Critic

Posts: 1148

Joined: September 18, 2009, 05:02:54 AM

Location: Italy

Post May 10, 2011, 11:36:22 AM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

Mine has been already sent...eh,eh :D

Master Critic

Posts: 761

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Johnstown, Pa.

Post May 10, 2011, 11:42:10 AM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

ente per ente wrote: Mine has been already sent...eh,eh


I still can't think of anything! Oh, well---I guess I'll clean out the garage!!
Tesla Lives!!!

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 805

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Post May 10, 2011, 11:50:49 AM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mundane_science_fiction

I think that what Nate is describing could be classified as 'mundane science fiction' based on the little I've read about it. I'm hoping that looking into this subgenre will help generate some ideas that might work for this challenge.

Here's another link about it:
http://www.sfra.org/node/109

John

Archive Editor

Posts: 2435

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Mass, USA

Post May 10, 2011, 08:44:49 PM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

Megawatts wrote:I still haven't thought of anything. But maybe it's the thinking that counts!


This might be one of the only types that really flow clean.

I weakened a three year writing block on this one, but the result came out to 3000 words and I didn't care to "slice it down".

I don't yet know if I'll have a second one in time.

Archive Editor

Posts: 2435

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Mass, USA

Post May 10, 2011, 08:49:03 PM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

Megawatts wrote:
ente per ente wrote: Mine has been already sent...eh,eh


I still can't think of anything! Oh, well---I guess I'll clean out the garage!!


Think of it like an assembly puzzle.

"How can you make a story consisting of a broken fuel guage, a ripped stocking (from an ex?) used as an oil rag, and a coupon for 2-for-1 in the Utah Derby...

Edit. Oh Wait. That's the movie Fast Five. Sorry for the Spoiler. (Not really!)

Master Critic

Posts: 761

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Johnstown, Pa.

Post May 11, 2011, 02:11:49 AM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

TaoPhoenix wrote: Think of it like an assembly puzzle.

"How can you make a story consisting of a broken fuel guage, a ripped stocking (from an ex?) used as an oil rag, and a coupon for 2-for-1 in the Utah Derby...

Edit. Oh Wait. That's the movie Fast Five. Sorry for the Spoiler. (Not really!)


Like the way you think! Forced relation amough many apparently unrelated things---or ideas-- is a very good exercise in writing or inventing. It's easy to relate similar things together, but relating diametrically opposed concepts or systems or even cultures into a workable-useful venue is very, very challenging.

I love this May challenge because to me I'm up against a wall, yet!!

The old bottle of wine, a quiet time late at night with my dog near, and no noise outside will help!!!
Tesla Lives!!!

Master Critic

Posts: 3595

Joined: September 17, 2008, 10:10:20 PM

Post May 13, 2011, 04:00:25 PM

The 'Ole Bump and Grind

Move Topic To Top!
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3213

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post May 13, 2011, 08:39:28 PM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

Two in so far, and I was quite pleased with them both. If these are a sample of what's to come, this might turn out to be my favorite challenge.
User avatar

Long Fiction Editor

Posts: 2487

Joined: January 11, 2010, 12:03:56 AM

Location: by the time you read this, I'll be somewhere else

Post May 13, 2011, 09:41:13 PM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

I got nothin' . . . yet . . .
I was raised by humans. What's your excuse?

Master Critic

Posts: 3595

Joined: September 17, 2008, 10:10:20 PM

Post May 13, 2011, 10:07:45 PM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

You know Nate, If you ever have a clairvoyant themed challenge, you could give the race results before the stories are submitted! :idea:
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3213

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post May 19, 2011, 09:13:07 PM

Re: FLASH CHALLENGE: May '11

Another good one in!

Return to Fun and Games

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider], Istella [Bot] and 1 guest

cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware.