WELCOME BACK to another sizzling Flash! Future! It is my great pleasure to spend a few moments with you today blurbling about one of the loveliest endeavours ever to come out of Twitter, #VSS365. If you’re a #VSS365 regular, please share in the comments what #VSS365 has meant to you and help us celebrate! If you’re new to #VSS365, I hope this introduction will inspire you to join. All it takes is—well, have a read and find out. ♥
Who are these fiery Flash! Future figures?
What Is It??: Twitter-sized stories incorporating a daily word prompt
I want to host a month—who coordinates this?: Arthur Unk
IN THE BEGINNING: The Flash Circuit
Back in the day, and I mean back in the day!, when flash fiction was really getting going in popular writing, thanks to Twitter you could find a free writing contest (or two or three) every day of the week. Take for example—this is nowhere near a complete list—
- Motivation Mondays (Wakefield Mahon), Menage Mondays (Cara Michaels),
- Tuesday Tales (Stevie McCoy), 5 Minute Fiction (Leah Petersen, Nicole Wolverton), Finish That Thought (Alissa Leonard)
- 55 Word Challenge on Wednesdays (Lisa Hollar),
- Thursday Threads (Siobhan Muir, whose weekly contest is still alive & kicking here! HAPPY NINTH YEAR, Siobhan!),
- Flash! Friday (me & a host of valiant word-dragons), and
- Angry Hourglass/Flash Frenzy (Rebecca Allred) on Saturdays.
TL;DR: folks wrote together & realized together meant something magical, even on social media
AND THEN ALONG CAME Mark A. King
Mark’s writing crashed into the flash circuit like a bolt of lightning: his stories were lyrical and rich, stirring and memorable, vibrant and heartfelt. He swept top honors at Flash! Friday multiple times and did the same at other contests.
“You’ve chopped into my chest cavity and tapped my lifeblood,” said one judge (our current ice dragon, actually!).
Despite his stories’ frequent appearances on the flash circuit’s daises, it was his passion for the electric community of writers he’d stumbled into that seemed to drive him most. He gave the roving, ferocious community a name—the FlashDogs—and organized anthologies to showcase their work. (Liz Hedgecock discusses the books here; I also interviewed Mark & some of his phenomenal team myself here for the first anthology in 2015, and again here a year later when he oversaw a double sequel.) And this while navigating the writing and eventual publication of his own work: Metropolitan Dreams.
THE BIRTH OF #VSS365
Then came the day when the existing flash circuit began to fizzle and Mark, rather than ceding defeat, summoned inspiration. What if he kept the writing prompts going—daily, even!—and encouraged the FlashDogs and anyone else who wanted to join, to write very short stories on Twitter!? Very Short Stories, 365 days a year…. (Read Mark’s own telling of the VSS story here.)
After a year of lovingly tending #VSS365 and shepherding its tremendous anthology, Mark handed the baton to Voima Oy.
“Turns out,” says Voima, who has since passed the baton to Arthur Unk, “many people wanted to keep doing it, and soon, there were volunteers to host the prompt words, too.”
“With me being a constant Twitterer it was instantly something I could get into,” remembers AJ Walker, another early participant who discusses #VSS365 in more detail here. “I think it is fab and have loved being involved in it over all the years.”
The venture, embracing its heritage of writerly support & community, soon crackled into a rather spectacular life of its own. Today #VSS365 connects with hundreds of thousands of people on a daily basis, and it has birthed countless additional writing prompt hashtags itself.
“There are communities within the community,” says Voima. “There are writers who have done their own collections of stories. Many people say #vss365 has changed their lives.”
Who at #VSS365 should one be sure to follow? To the hyperlinks!
Don’t miss the Very Short Stories of:
- the current host/moderator @ArthurUnkTweets
the #VSS365 ambassadors:
- the (by turn) haunting, funny, challenging words of @derickijohnson,
- @KelvinROfficial, regaling Twitter w/ tales of Haskins & the Commander
and most definitely:
- @VicenteLRuiz (who also hosts #StoryCubeTales)
- @250Fiction (who also hosts #Sunthing)
- @storysmithscb (who writes #VSS365, hosts numerous hashtags, and publishes anthologies, too!)
- AJ Walker, @zevonesque (who also hosted The Seedling Challenge where #VSS365 writers could expand their stories)
BUT HOW DO I START??
“At the end of the day it’s not difficult,” says AJ. “Don’t stress it. If the word doesn’t strike your muse, then move on. There will be another one along tomorrow.”
Voima agrees. “Just do it. Just write and see where the words take you. There are many other hashtag prompt places, too. You can follow them and writers who inspire you. You can find kindred spirits here.”
Are you a #VSS365 regular? What do you love about the community? Who are your favorite writers to follow? Have any advice for first-timers? Share in the comments! And then—oh yes, we double FlashDog dare you—if you haven’t already, head to Twitter and write your very own story and RT someone else’s. Discover just how magical writing together truly can be.