HURRAY!!!!! I love, love results day: a (small) way to honor some really fine storytelling. This week’s round — the last round of that sort of contest prompt here — how do you feel? are you ready? eager? skeptical? annoyed? READY FOR A MAGICAL ADVENTURE?? — struck especially close to home for us. Lots of really funny stories, and lots that… weren’t. The writing life ain’t easy: no matter how many blogs you’ve read or how supportive your writing groups, at the end of the day it’s just you and the white space… alone…. (As my mother says, It’s only you and Jesus in the dentist’s chair…) If you haven’t read through the stories yet, please take a few minutes to skim through. Writing about writing is where we’re at our most vulnerable, like a whole glorious parade of nekked Emperors. Thank you so much for sharing your skills and hearts with us.
RING OF FIRE!!!! You poor, patient draggins. I’m shockingly behind on updating the Wall of Flame, and here we are, nearly finished with June! Scandalous! IF YOU HAVE WRITTEN FOR FLASH! FRIDAY at least three times in May and/or June, please let me know here (note: check the Wall first; I think we are current on all requests so far), and I’ll catch that list right up today. Details here!
Judging for us this round were the fab Beth Deitchman & Emily June Street of Luminous Creatures Press. Many thanks to this valiant team who read and wept and laughed and battled over your writerly adventures, even while, in some cases, hanging upside-down. Such a privilege having you join us in this capacity; thank you so much! Now, here’s what they have to say before gracefully flinging trophies every which way:
Judging such diverse stories is always difficult. We Luminous Creatures tend to focus on certain recognizable literary elements to help make our job easier and provide a structure by which to order our judging. There were, as always, so many worthy stories put before us, but we had to narrow it down to these few. We focused on choosing stories with strong narrative arcs, conflict, resolution, layers of meaning, and solid writing craft.
Eliza Archer, “Let Me Sleep, He Pleaded.” For engaging humor and excellent character names
Nancy Chenier, “The White Flag.” For strong writing and memorable images
Caitlin Gramley, “Lively Imagination.” For use of dialogue to tell an amusing story
Reg Wulff, “Never Ending.” We enjoyed the great opening line and satisfying ending of this piece, as well as the layered commentary on the nature of writers not finishing stories. Haven’t we all been there?
C.A. Crawford, “Symbiosis.” This story hinged on the clever and diverting twist of prizing a writer’s words above an actor’s physical beauty. How could we not love it?
THIRD RUNNER UP
Michael Seese, “A Work of Fiction.” This was a creepy meditation on what writers do. Careful word choice created a deft slide from the metaphorical to the literal in lines such as “capturing realistic characters” and characters who “positively leapt into her life.” Well-written and strongly structured, this sinister tale had a satisfying and complete story arc. We were greatly entertained by the choice of Chastity as the name for the evil romance writer.
SECOND RUNNER UP
Steph Ellis, “Writer’s Block.” We love it when a writer takes risks, and this one did, by using puns throughout the story. This could have gone badly wrong, but the author applied the phrases with a deft and judicious hand, slipping in references to “sentences” and “rejection” that worked on multiple levels. We appreciated this unique approach to the prompts. The author’s cleverness permeates the entire story and the puns never overshadowed that fact that a story was being told. Subtle world building and multiple layers of meaning rounded out this stellar tale.
FIRST RUNNER UP
Foy S. Iver, “Conflicted Flesh.” This strongly written story had layers and layers. The bold language fit the subject matter, offering us such lines as “two heads bound by the same flesh” and “It raked his soul to form the words.” The world building was impressive given the constraints of two hundred words. The juxtaposition of the backstory with the italicized text that the author/narrator struggles against writing developed engaging narrative tension. This story gave us just enough information to incite the imagination, and the fact that the author managed to mention some “luminous sisters” tickled us, too. We wanted to learn more about this world, and yet with each reread, we saw more, too. A truly solid submission, only a hair’s breadth from being the winner.
And now: shattering all records, it’s our very first FIVE-TIME:
“Dashiell vs the Dragon Invaders, Chapter 3“
We have the ultimate respect for this story that shows confidence, restraint, and panache on the part of the writer. Never overwrought or overwritten, it directly and relentlessly focused on the purest endeavor of writing: to tell the story. Whether by natural skill or by ruthless editing, this writer knows how to slay darlings and focus on action. With a satisfying story arc, narrative tension, vivid imagery (“mottled orange sun,” “razor claws”), engaging humor, dragon references (!), cinematic action, and solid writing, this story scored high on all our favorite elements. Like the best genre fiction, it hooked us and reeled us in with fast pacing and perfect delivery, exemplifying that timeless writing rule: show, don’t tell.
Congratulations, Phil! You are the FIRST five-time winner of Flash! Friday in its over 2.5 years of life. What are we gonna do with you, hmmm??? I’m thinking at the very least a magical mug from the Dragon Emporium is in order. Here’s your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please stand by for questions for Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story:
Dashiell vs. the Dragon Invaders, Chapter 3
The mottled orange face of the alien sun loomed large in the viewscreen. Sweating bullets and gasping for breath, Dashiell pressed his browline glasses back up his nose. Blood dripped from the clawmark across his chest. “Just a scratch.”
Leaning against the cryogenic conduit to cool himself, Dashiell checked his .38 revolver. “One bullet left.”
With a crash, the hatch deformed visibly, struck by some awesome force. “I may be a washed-up pulp writer,” he shouted, “but I’m a fighter.” Razor claws forced the hatch open. Dash took aim as the reptilian entered. “Somehow I’ll get back to Earth. Then I’ll let everyone know aliens are real.”
The quadrupedal alien approached deliberately, licking its lips. He backed away. “They say write what you know. Want to hear the title of Dashiell Pendragon’s next bestseller?”
The creature lunged at him, seeming to soar through the air. Leaping aside, Dash took aim and squeezed the trigger. The bullet whizzed past the reptilian’s crested head, striking the cryogenic conduit. As liquid oxygen gushed onto the scaly beast, it writhed in pain. Dashiell covered his ears to muffle its death shriek.
When it fell silent, Dashiell prodded the lifeless alien’s face with the muzzle of his revolver. “Slaying the Dragon.”