New Year’s Flash Fiction Challenge

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Your humble host.

A challenge should be, well, a challenge, right? A degree of difficulty. A little work.


And I promised these would be more challenging in the new year, didn’t I?


It occurred to me that this internationally acclaimed (by me) blog will reach different readers at different times. My Aussie friends may be reading this a full twelve hours before my California friends. Although knowing my buddies Down Under, they’ll be celebrating the New Year early and often and may not see this until Tuesday…


So I was BSing with an author friend the other day (Okay it was Allison) and she found a random character generator.


Bwahahaha – that’s fun right there. Hang on, we’ll get to that.


See, most of us can do the basic elements of writing pretty easily, so the challenge comes from the unknown. The “Can I do it?” thing.


And what are the hardest things to do? (Jenny addressed this HERE)

Make a reader cry

Make a reader laugh – actually harder than making them cry

Make a reader experience loss, love, longing, fear. Those are ALL hard to do!




If you can do them you become a literary GOD. (Trust me on this.) See this handy blog post by Allison for additional support for the theory of how these short stories make you a better writer HERE.


So that’s what we’ll do.


See, you will learn this here and then you’ll use it in your next book or something and people will say Wow you have become such a better writer and then you’ll be all like Gee, Dan was right and you’ll buy my novels and books about how to write better stories and how to market and… Uh, where was I? Those books exist, by the way. They aren’t published yet but you guys will get first crack at them. Be ready in January, that’s all I’m saying.


Oh, about this challenge.


First, let’s remove all the little obstacles. Go to the random character generator

and select your character. Copy paste the description into a document. It’ll look like this


A stubborn 39 year-old man, who comes from a wealthy background, lives in a fisherman’s cottage and tends to spend too much money.


or this


An overbearing 62 year-old man, who comes from a wealthy background, lives in a city apartment and tends to be rather lazy.


Then go to the random number generator

and put in the range 1 to 41, selecting the emotion you have to work with from the following list:


  1. Arousal – and yes this is hard to write*
  2. Aggression
  3. Anxiety
  4. Compassion
  5. Confusion
  6. Contempt
  7. Depression
  8. Desire
  9. Doubt
  10. Ecstasy
  11. Empathy
  12. Envy
  13. Embarrassment
  14. Euphoria
  15. Fear
  16. Forgiveness
  17. Frustration
  18. Gratitude
  19. Grief
  20. Guilt
  21. Hatred
  22. Hope
  23. Horror
  24. Hostility
  25. Homesickness
  26. Hunger
  27. Hysteria
  28. Loneliness
  29. Love
  30. Lust
  31. Paranoia
  32. Pity
  33. Pleasure
  34. Pride
  35. Rage
  36. Regret
  37. Remorse
  38. Shame
  39. Suffering
  40. Sympathy
  41. Wanting to murder someone – extra points if you choose this one. Just cos.


* This is hard to write. That’s why it’s in here.


I took these from after removing a few.


NO CHEATING! One spin of the wheel of fate for your emotion and for your character – otherwise, where’s the challenge? You can do it. The literary gods have spoken. Do not question them.


If you draw LUST or AROUSAL or whatever, keep your story rated G or PG for MY site, but if you really go hard R or whatever, have at it – just post the link and a warning okay? Some stories need require that, so don’t feel you have to hold back. You need to be able to go there, and that will take practice. This is your excuse, and the feedback will be valuable. No worries.


You have 500 words to create the emotion and really make it stick, using the character supplied. (It can be a little longer than 500, nobody’s gonna yell at you.)


I’ll give you a tip, too. Think about your own experience, a time when you felt the way your character has to feel. Write down how you felt, even if some of it doesn’t make sense, and then transfer it to your character. (CJ talks a little about that HERE)


Here’s another tip. Next week we’ll all be using the same emotion and different characters to see what that does.




You know the drill:


  1. Use the Random Character Generator to pick your character
  2. Use a Random Number Generator to select your theme
  3. Write a story up to 500 words that is obviously written using both the character and emotion.
  4. Post your story below in the comments with a link to your blog where
  5. You also post it on you blog (No blog? see #9)
  6. And mention what the heck this is so people don’t think you’ve gone schizo
  7. Read and comment on OTHER people’s entries. That makes it fun. Allegedly.
  8. You have one week. Noon Friday a week from this posting date (sunny, warm Tampa, Florida, USA time)
  9. If you don’t have a blog, post the whole story here as a comment. If it needs a warning, give us one.
  10. Don’t be afraid to tell us how hard or easy this was for you!


Get after it!


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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Click HERE to check out his other works.




55 thoughts on “New Year’s Flash Fiction Challenge

  1. Happy New Year!

    Thank you for the challenge, and this one definitely is challenging! I’ve got…

    A mysterious 45 year-old woman, who comes from a comfortable background, lives in the suburbs and tends to tell little white lies.

    I’m not going to tell you what emotion I pulled because my challenge to you (and anyone else who wants to play along) is to guess what it is. Why? Because that makes it much more important for me to make readers feel the emotion!!!

    I’ll post a link here when I’m done 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A courageous 39 year-old woman, who comes from a wealthy background, lives in a fisherman’s cottage and tends to be a bit forgetful. and # 20 guilt.
    Since I neglected to finish last week’s challenge about an adventure and an obituary I will try to roll all four elements into this one. LOL

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Ok, I meant to do the challenge last week but couldn’t finish it. What I did write was too weird anyway. This time I’m going to complete it because it’s only 500 words, and it will make me a better writer, right? Always a good thing.
    My character is a compassionate 28 year old woman who comes from a poor background lives in an architect designed home and tends to a huge collection of pot plants. (I’m assuming it’s begonias, not marijuana)
    My emotion is rage. I like both the character and the emotion so I think it will be interesting. I’m anxious to read the other entries

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Still no blog. Pasting here.

    The Race

    “It that everything Mr Unger?”
    Maxwell surveyed the counter. “Yeah, thanks Charlie. I’m glade you had the rat poison on hand. Those little bustards managed to break in last time the place sat for a while.”
    “Well, this should take care of the problem.” Charlie came around the counter and handed him the bag. He opened the door for him. “Are you watching the race?”
    Max smiled. “That’s why I’m here. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time.”
    Maxwell hummed as he went down the ramp and hoisted himself into the driver seat. In another ten minutes he would be in paradise, free of the confines of urban life. Not that California didn’t have its perks, but the smell of the evergreens lightened his heart. He was headed for Gods country. Everything would come together there.

    His cabin was just the way he left it, an advantage of having no one.
    He dumped last months dead flowers into the garbage and set the vase on the kitchen counter. The sun streaming through the warmed him. Outside, the lilacs bloomed in purple glory. They would make the room smell great, but did they have the lasting scent he needed? He checked his watch. There wasn’t enough time to pick flowers. He had to stay on track.
    Max emptied the contents of the bag on the table. The rat poison was in powder form. It would make a nasty cocktail, but the end results would be exactly what he desired.
    He opened the front window. He would be allowed a great view of the runners from this position. The location of his cabin offered a spectacular view, of the participants coming to towards him, and when they rounded the curb, of their numbers on their back as they headed away.
    The ice clinked as he dropped it into his drink. The only thing left to do was load his 308 and wait.
    Twenty years ago, when he was a younger man, this was his favourite race to run. The money raised was allocated to saving the wildlife in immediate area. California needed more green spaces. Everyone needed to do their job to keep this planet spinning.
    Of course he hadn’t ran in a quiet a while. Not since Harvey Logan smashed his half ton into him during an early morning bike ride. He’d lost track of the years between that horrible day and now, but memory was still fresh. It was quiet a thrill to discover Harvey’s son would be participating in this race.
    Maxwell wheeled himself to the window. He sat his drink on the window sill and waited. Life had a unique way of offering wonderful opportunities.

    A cheerful sixty year old man who comes from a wealthy background, lives in an Eco-friendly home, and loses track of time.



    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t have a blog so here’s my story. I stated the subject and emotion above. Tell me if you like it (I’m insecure) or if you don’t (trying to get over my insecurities). Thanks.
    Anger and Orchids
    The bowl of the special plant serum was first, followed by the syringe that was used to administer it. They clattered to the floor. None of it splashed on my skirt because I stood on the third step of a ladder. My employer, whom I called the professor, stood in front of me waving his cane, an expression on his face I had never seen. At last I had shocked him. I fancied his gray hair stood on end. His blue, usually opaque eyes were clear and open wide. His mouth formed into an O and for once he was speechless. Maybe it was worth me deliberately spilling his precious concoction all over the floor.
    The heat came first. It started at my chest and spread to the top of my head. Then the accelerated heartbeat, the increased breathing, the fists that used to be hands, the knees that pressed against each other to stifle the scream that boiled in the back of my throat. I had worked for the obsessive compulsive professor for three months, but suspected this was to be my last day.
    “Whatever has gotten into you, my dear? Are you ill? There’s red blotches all over your face. Get off of that ladder and sit down.”
    What? No recriminations for wasting his plant food? None of the angry retorts I was so used to since I started looking after his extensive collection of orchids when I didn’t deliver just the right amount of liquid at the precise spot on the roots? Had I possibly misjudged this wealthy, snobbish, irritating old man? The one whose son’s advances I had rebuffed, thinking they must be two of a kind?
    My breathing slowed just a little. I got off the ladder, my legs still unsteady. The professor tried to take my arm but I shook my head. He hobbled along putting minimal weight on his plastered foot. When that came off he could take care of his own flowers. I hoped they all would dry up and die. That was a bad thought, wishing death on living things.
    The long suffering maid had laid out the tea according to the specifications of the old man. It had to be the right teapot, the strainer for the leaves, the sugar cubes, the milk in the china creamer. He poured it himself, an unprecedented event and actually handed me one.
    “Now, tell me what’s wrong.”
    This was my chance. “I’m not sure if you really want to hear.” My voice held an inflection I had rarely heard before—shrill and laced with the vestiges of rage.
    He stared. His teacup shook. “Please.”
    “I’m angry, that’s all.”
    “Angry? Whatever for?”
    This was my chance, and since I would be fired anyway,,, “Because of your constant criticism and especially for you never failing to mention how much better you are than the people living on the other side of the lake. For your information, that’s where I grew up.”
    I thought he would tell me to get out but incredibly he began to laugh. He put down the teacup and wiped his eyes with his hanky.
    “But how did you go to university? You’re a first class botanist or I never would have let you touch my orchids.”
    “I worked my way, waitressing mostly, if you must know.” He made me feel younger than my twenty-eight years. “What’s so funny?”
    “Just that I came from the other side of the river as well. I was putting on airs for you, fool that I am. Finish your tea and let’s get back to work, and when my son asks you for a date again, please say yes.”

    Sorry to exceed the word limit. It’s about 600

    Liked by 1 person

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