Archive | October 2020

Fire&Ice: Sol 11/19

§ Rebekah says: Surgery is a funny thing. A bit like writing, in a way: the prep (fix the hair to make sure it stays out of the surgeon’s way; tidy the bedroom & make sure last wishes are written up clearly somewhere just in case), the procedure, the recovery, the scar. OK, I didn’t say it was like the fun part of writing. 😀 Still, in past medical procedures I’ve sometimes heard echoes of writing’s intentionality; its hard work; the fears it requires I face; and the catharsis it often brings.  And then there’s the way it insinuates itself, carves itself permanently into the different me—hopefully a better me!—I now am as a result. 

By the time Sol 11 shimmers to a close tonight, I should be contentedly recovering from my latest surgery (and story 😀 ).  I dislike talking about it here (or at all). But 2020 seems to be an especially ripe time for fear-facing and truth-speaking, doesn’t it? So here, today, is a little piece of mine. Thank you for bringing your own wonderful, fear-facing, soul-sharing, tears-and-laughter-evoking writerly selves to Fire&Ice, and for walking through this brief shadow of time with us. How glad I am you’re here. 

QUESTIONS? Tweet us at @FlashFridayFic, shoot us a note here, or tap any of the judges.

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Fire&Ice Guidelines: 

Time: The Fire&Ice contest is open between exactly 12:01am to 11:59pm on Fridays, Washington DC time (check the current time here). Entries submitted outside of this window are welcome, but will be incinerated ineligible to win.

How to Play: Write and submit an original story 1) based on the photo prompt and 2) including EITHER the fire dragon or ice dragon‘s requirement. Pay attention to the 3) varying word count constraints! Story titles (optional) are not included in the word limit. At the end of your story, add your name or twitter handle, whether you chose the fire or ice dragon’s element, and word count. That’s it!

Be sure to review the contest rules here.

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JUDGES: Today’s judges are Tamara Shoemaker and Eric Martell. Check out their bios on the Fire&Ice Judges page.

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AND HERE IS YOUR PROMPT:

Each Fire&Ice prompt includes 1) a photo, 2) a required element (choose between the fire dragon or ice dragon’s offering), and 3) a specific word count. Your story must include all three requirements to be eligible to win.

Photo for Sol 11/19

Fire & Ice PromptRequired elements:

Fire dragon option: Include an unexpected joy

OR

Ice dragon option: Include an unexpected sorrow

Today’s word count:  between 185-195

Fire&Ice Sol 10/19: WINNERS

§ Foy says: Welcome, winners one and all! No new kittens here so we Foys are left to swoon, and swoon often, over the fire dragon’s furry wee one from afar. We are, however, celebrating (and mourning) the long-anticipated felling of our personal murder tree. A white oak upwards of 60 feet tall, mouse- and beetle-eaten with bare limbs like clawing fingers, she loomed over our heads and threatened to take out house or power with every spring and summer storm. The children are thrilled.

I’ll miss her. For the stories and fragments of poems she shook loose, I’m ever grateful, and doubly grateful that we aren’t limited to a single, solitary, entropy-bound muse! Thank you all for sharing yours with us every week. ❤

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Quick note on judging: Six pairs of judges across multiple nationalities and genres are taking turns reading your submissions (meet the judges here). As soon as each contest round closes, your stories are first stripped of all personal info before being sent on for judging. This represents our effort to maximize every story’s chances, whether it’s the first or hundredth story you’ve written. ♥ 


SOL 10’S JUDGES SAY:

Voima OyI’m so happy to be judging another round of Fire&Ice with my co-judge, AJ Walker. This time, the challenge was to write a story in 89 words! Can it be done? Yes! People really had to do more with less. I am amazed at the variety, ingenuity and beauty in all the stories. Well-done everyone! Thank you for sharing your stories. Monuments by Susan Stevenson (SS)–Although it was posted too late to be eligible, it deserves to be mentioned, too. A beautiful story of loss, resilience and gratitude. Firdaus Parvez‘s Decades Ago–for subtle depiction of class divide. It’s a tragic story of connection and loss. I would also like to mention Arcane Edison‘s Cuckoo–history, class division, and revenge.


A.J. Walker: Well 89 words ain’t an awful lot to write a story, especially with such an evocative photograph, but thirty five intrepid writers gave it a go. Thanks to all of you for your efforts. As ever we have judged them blind so won’t find out who our winners are until you guys do. This time my co-judge and myself have been a bit closer with our views than on our last get together. So thanks again for that! In Arcane Edison‘s Cuckoo we have a story based on the recent past setting in train a future that will end badly. There was so much going on with so few words to play with. Maybe he could have used the Mindsweeper or do his best to find another path. Futures by Marsha AdamsWill the protagonist work himself out of his years of servitude and one day be a tourist like those he sees every day; that drives the economy and gives opportunities for the few. I am hopeful he will. I enjoyed – if that’s the right word – the desperately sad Different Beat by Tamara Shoemaker. The description is lively and brought to life; and sad. As someone who struggles each week with a guitar I wish they’d teach me the rhythm too.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Untitled by Eric Martell

VO: I loved the mythic power of this story. It is beautifully written, humble and cosmic–the weaving of the roads of life.

AW: The untitled story aka ‘26’ on my list (why don’t people title their stories?) was a great take on our universe. How much has been written of our future? What paths are we free to take or we inevitably follow? It has a great Eastern religion feel and a great interpretation of a roadworker.

Mindsweeper by Karl A. Russell

VO: A wonderful take on the challenge–so much fun! And such a generous spirit to the story–a gift to share humor in these dark times.

AW: I loved ‘Mindsweeper’. But was torn about choosing it for the tangential reference to students. But it did mention them and it was too good to discount. A witty take on Total Recall with Myanmar taking the place of Mars. Maybe I was mindswept by Postukpak-4 – I don’t remember calling them. But I wouldn’t, would I?

RUNNER UP

Don’t Worry if it’s Not Good Enough by Tinman

VO: Give them names, and the characters come alive! I loved the different characters in this story, the struggles of a group of musicians, and how one of them made it in New Orleans. The ending is great. Bravo, Two-Flutes!

AW: There wasn’t too much humour in the stories this weekend with the exception of Mindsweeper. However I must give a special mention to Thet, from ‘Don’t Worry If It’s Not Good Enough’, who made it to New Orleans to play jazz under the nickname ‘Two Flutes’. That made me laugh.

And now: it is our pleasure to present to you our

FIRE&ICE WINNER

MARK A. KING!!!

for

The Mist of Myanmar

VO – The Mist of Myanmar–even the title is evocative and mysterious. It is a story from out of the mists of time. The voice is the spirit of this place–the people, their lives, the farms and the pagodas. Every word tells a story. There are so many stories in this story. And stories yet to come. Beautiful!

AW — I’m currently reading a book about the history of opium (‘Milk of Paradise’) so seeing it mentioned in ‘The Mist of Myanmar’ was nice. Even better for me it happened to be my favourite story. It is nice to see a non-preachy story nudge us to think of a country and its people in more than one way. East Asia is a beautiful place and it is not about what we first think of when you say Vietnam or Cambodia – or Myanmar. Countries are people and we’re the same over despite what the news and some histories try to tell us… my soul is my children.

Congratulations, Mark! Here’s your winning story:

THE MIST OF MYANMAR

“Burma”, you say? And you think of war, genocide, opium, and human rights.
I smile, for you do not know me. How can you?
My heart is the golden sunrise at Shwedagon Pagoda.
My voice the melodic roadworkers of Bagan.
My skin the verdant furrows of Kyaing Tong.
My eyes the crystal waters of the Mergui Archipelago.
If I am a story, then my birth is forgotten, my life misunderstood, my ending yet to come.
My soul, well, this is my children, born in the swirling mists of Myanmar.

Flash! Future: Genre & Archetypes

HAPPY FLASH! FUTURE follow-up, dear ones! While marveling last Sunday over Silvia Moreno-Garcia‘s ability to “genre-molt”, I was reminded of a lecture series the fire dragon introduced me to a couple years ago: Brandon Sanderson‘s BYU creative writing course on Science Fiction & Fantasy (the 2016 course, I believe; a former student of his has outlined each of those class days here). One of Fantasy’s most prolific writers, Sanderson is also a born-teacher, and perhaps no online resource has been more helpful for me in thinking about how to construct a genre-bound story than his 2016 and 2020 courses. 

The video below is part two of his section on Plot where he details how he uses plot archetypes (think: The Heist, The Hero’s Journey, The Master-Apprentice plot) to achieve a certain style in the story and produce a certain emotion in the reader. It’s worth staying through the end as he illustrates his particular outline method as a plotter before wrapping up. Whether you’re thinking of story in the context of major genres or breaking it down further into archetypes within those genres, the secret seems to be studying what works well, and learning how to incorporate those elements into a story that’s uniquely yours.      


Brandon Sanderson