Friday, May 6, 2016

Use Challenges to Stimulate Your Writing - New Flash Fiction Piece - The Butterfly Effect

I am sure I am not the only one who has difficulty with writers block and finding interesting ideas to write about for both my non-fiction articles and my fiction.  I have cut back on working on a novel to focus on short stories in the hopes that if I could finish something, anything it would serve as a catlyst for me to be able to write more and more often in terms of my fiction.  I managed to have one story bought outright which will be published any day now in Weirdbook Magazine 32.  Not a bad start but instead of lighting a fire under me I seemed to become more hesitant than ever. So then I thought maybe flash fiction would work for me. Still I could not seem to get motivated.

That's not to say that stress hasn't played a large part.  With a major move coming up in two weeks with next to no notice stress is not a stranger.  When the world seems to be coming down on your head it can be exceptionally difficult to think of good ideas for writing.  (Although I do have a mold story germinating - no pun intended -  in my mind where all those involved in this mess who are working so hard to hide what is going on end up locked in the apartment and are overrun and consumed by mold!  See previous article on catharsis).  Aside from using the catharsis method of getting revenge, try looking online for writing challenges, prompts and contests.

Here are a few challenges that might provide some inspiration:

Monkeybicycle See if you can craft a story in just one sentence.  That's what they challenge you to at Monkeybicycle.  Check the link for examples and give it a try.  You can even submit yours for publication on their site if you choose.

Haunted Waters Press sponsors two flash fiction contests a year with three rounds each providing plenty of time to submit.  I won the earlier one this year which had a theme of "a slice of life of rural America" (scroll down to Oct. 28th 2015) and hope to submit for the 16 word challenge in June. The number of words and themes change each contest so take a look.

The Scottish Book Trust sponsors a 50 word flash fiction contest every month using a picture prompt. I entered this one several times and haven't yet won but have gotten some great story ideas out of it. The prompt for May is up so check it out.

[100 Word Story] sponsors a monthly contest using a photo prompt.  The May prompt is available and active.

Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner  provides a photo prompt every Friday and first sentence both of which you use to write a 200 word story.  The link will take you to the prompt posted today and the previous prompt is still open until 11:00pm for those of you who are inspired.  See my submission below.

For those with the desire to get invovled in writing challenges that are longer try these out.  They are bound to keep you motivated.

Nanowrimo/Camp Nanowrimo - This one is tons of fun.  In Novemeber every year people from around the world join together and pledge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of Novemenber.  There are meetups, write-ins, prizes, wordsprints and lots of comraderie.  Smaller versions called Camp Nanowrimo in July, and April  -  just finished April successfully - and for those you get to set your own wordcount.

Blogging A to Z Challenge (April) - This one you'll have to hold onto for next year.  In March, a theme is revealed for the challenge. You sign up in time for April 1 and start blogging. You write a blog for every letter of the alphabet starting on April 1st and writing one blog every day except Sundays.  More information can be found here.

For those writing reviews check out this link.  It is a challenge where you set a certain number of reviews to write during the year.  You sign up and they keep track of all your reviews until Dec. 31. You can still join for 2016.




The Butterfly Effect

I had waited years for this day, when I’d be hooded a Ph.D., and no giant ash cloud from an erupting Icelandic volcano would stop me.  Few pilots were flying. One ran by yelling, “Let’s go people, we’re skirting the cloud!” 

A young woman buckled in an old man across the aisle despite his obvious objections in a foreign language. Attendants dropped into seats grabbing for seatbelts even as the wheels lifted.
The old man held up a picture of a middle aged woman.  “My. . . wife.” 

I smiled and nodded my understanding.
 “We . . . dance. “You. . . have . . ?“ He touched his picture, looked back up.

“Dancing partner? No.  Maybe someday,”  I said.

 “Yes.  Someday you dance too.”

 I smiled doubtfully.

A wisp of grey, the first turbulent bump.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your pilot speaking, we have lost our engines but when we drop below we’ll be able to start them right up again.”

The old man looked at the picture, mixed feelings showing.  Putting the picture away, he removed his oxygen mask and seatbelt, palm held out, a question.  I took his hand and we stood.  Then we danced.


There you have it.  Two hundred words plus title. 30 minutes writing and editing it down from a whopping 1000.  For other visual writing prompts please visit my Pinterest page which I add to regularly.

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