Announcing the TOUGHEST Flash Fiction Challenge Ever: 4-Way Dialog (AND a special surprise!)

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Your humble host saying Bwahahahahaha!!

We’ve discussed how difficult it is to write good dialogs. We’ve talked about avoiding dialog tags. We’ve talked about using “beats.”

But have we really put that talk into action?

Now we will.

WARNING: THIS IS THE TOUGHEST FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE EVER

Write a conversation between four characters.

What, that’s it?

Hey, it’s harder than you think. Heck, it’s difficult to write a conversation between two characters that follows the rules of interesting dialog (which is to make it interesting. Tough rules.)

Four characters in the same room/same setting (not over the phone) will have a conversation. Each must speak at least twice, and none can speak for a 500-word soliloquy. It’s a conversation.

SEXES: You will take four characters, both male and female, doesn’t matter how many of each; they all must speak (so the guy can’t be dead and the women mourning him, unless he’s a ghost.) You can have three men and one woman, you can have two and two, or one man and three women, whatever you want. You get to name them, you get to create their back stories.

EACH character must speak at least twice. No 500-word monologues. I’d prefer they each speak more than twice, but that’s your call.

SETTING: You get to choose the setting but all four characters are present to each other, so they are gathered in a limited setting like a bar or a lifeboat or a college dorm room or a workplace, hostages locked in a bank vault, friends visiting a graveyard, a family reunion at a park and they are gathered under the shelter while the kids play softball, driving in a car, whatever. They cannot be on the phone talking to each other. They need to be relatively contained, as in, they don’t all get up and run away. They can be sitting in a stadium watching the Super Bowl but they can’t be coming and going, they’d have to be sitting in a row or maybe they could be players in a huddle, but not players spread out all over the field, okay?

DIALOG TAGSVerboten – to an extent. As your characters converse, you can’t use dialogue tags like “she said” or “he cried” or “Bill said” or “Mary exclaimed” or “Jane said slyly.” You CAN use a few tags – a few – because you may have to, but try use beats (small pieces of action) instead, with potential he/she/name attached:

Clark took a sip of his beer. “That’s how we do it, honey. We’re the Griswolds.”

or:

Ellen patted Audrey on the back. “Kids, when this is over, your father may be going away for a while.”

That kind of thing.

ADVERBS: One per 1000 words, especially if it ends in “ly.” So, you can have one. Because

WORD LIMIT: 1000 words. (And you probably don’t need an adjective in just a thousand words.)

That’s it!

Thrill us with your skills!

Having four people converse, making them all interact in the conversation in a meaningful way, NOT letting them get up and run away or otherwise move much… that happens all the time in life! But we rarely see it done in stories, and even more rare, see it done well. Here’s your chance.

Do a good job.

(Hey, what was the special surprise? Oh, that’s not today. That’s tomorrow. But you’ll like it, I think. At least I hope you do. I’m excited about it. 

Check the fine print. It says announcing a special surprise. I announced it. There’ll be one. Tomorrow.)

You know the drill:

  1. Describe your setting – or don’t. Your call, but it should be obvious from reading your piece.
  2. Write a story up to 1000 words that is obviously utilizing four characters in a limited setting. You pick the genre.
  3. EXTRA POINTS if you make it funny.
  4. Post your story below in the comments with a link to your blog.
  5. You also post it on you blog (No blog? Just copy paste the whole thing here.)
  6. Mention me and what the heck this is so people don’t think you’ve gone bonkers.
  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 (beautiful, sunny and warm Tampa, Florida, USA time.)

SUBSCRIBE TO MY FREE NEWSLETTER! Get a FREE copy of “25 Great eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew,” FIRST SHOT at new stories, and exclusive behind the scenes access! We have some really great stuff coming for you in the mid-February letter.

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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.

IT… IS COMING!

A

VERY special surprise

is headed your way. Well… it’s headed here.

Not today and not tomorrow, but SOON.

I’m very excited about it.

I hope you will be.

I think you will.

I hope so…

If it were me, I’d check in Saturday,

for sure.

Unless I forget.  Then it could be a little later.

Oh, and sorry for all that false post crap yesterday. WP was messed up, I think. Pretty sure it wasn’t me.

SO: Flash Fiction Challenge on Friday,

THEN

a really cool surprise.

Are you excited? I am.

New Year’s Flash Fiction Challenge

Dan's pic
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!

 

But!

 

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

http://writingexercises.co.uk/character.php

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

http://www.mathgoodies.com/calculators/random_no_custom.html

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 http://www.listofhumanemotions.com/listofhumanemotions 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.

 

Ready?

 

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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Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

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.

 

 

 

Christmas Flash Fiction Challenge!

00 Santa Dan
This is the last one of these with the hat.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

This is your present, from me to you!

It occurred to me that you will have some down time this week. Not today, necessarily, but in a few days. At which time you’ll check in and see we had a writing challenge that could brighten your writing day. And here it is.

For the NEW YEAR, the challenges will be a little challengey-er!

More challenging! More difficult! More fun! (For me, anyway.)

So we better get ready. This challenge will do that because very few people will participate, but those who do will have a big advantage in the new year. Just sayin’.

00cp
It’s kind of like a gift. (Read on. You’ll see.)

Ready? Here we go.

Take a topic from the Random Subject Generator below

http://writingexercises.co.uk/subjectgenerator.php

and that will be the theme of your story. (Mine was about betrayal – which is pretty good!)

You build your story around that.

Easy, right?

BUT!

00 gs
Remember, he was a good guy by the end of the story.

You ALSO build your story within a classic genre, DERIVED BY A RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR!!

 

Bwahahahahahahahaaaaaaa!

 

There are two reasons to do this. One, I’m evil. But you knew that. Two, those writer muscles need to be built where they haven’t been. You fantasy folks need a little romance in your stories (Star Wars was a fantasy but it definitely had a romance going on underneath, didn’t it?) You romance folks need a little action adventure in your stories (Dr. Zhivago had a revolution going on for pete’s sake!)

 

Build those neglected writer muscles!

It only hurts for a little while but you might find out you’re good at it.

TheNavigatorsDanAlatorre
No, you cannot buy it yet.
Poggi cover FINAL
Can’t buy this yet, either.

For example, I have often mentioned the kiss I had to write for The Navigators. That was really difficult for me at the time (eight rewrites for one kiss), but friends here helped me learn how to do it. (Yes, I had several grown women “teach” me how to kiss.) That helped a lot when I had to do romantic stuff in Poggibonsi (I stretched those muscles but I also now had a network of people to bounce the scenes off of before they were aired to my critique group – HUGE benefit), and THAT helped when I had to do two steamy sex scenes in The Water Castle – which had readers fanning themselves, they were so hot. (It was all implied stuff, too. Much more difficult, IMO. But they were honest, realistic, sexy and tasteful. Because I developed some new writer muscles. Most important, they were well received – as in, they were good writing.)

If I can, you can.

A great story usually contains elements from several genres. Adding these things enhances you stories, and practicing them here makes you a better writer.

Thaaaaat’s what you want!

Eating_through_lunch
I DO want that.

(Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.)

Genres: Use the Random Number Generator to get one of these:

  1. Romance
  2. Murder Mystery
  3. Action Adventure
  4. Thriller
  5. Sci Fi
  6. Fantasy (like dragons and knights in shining armor, not sexual fantasies)

Random Number Generator: https://www.random.org/

You know the drill:

  1. Use the Random Subject Generator to pick your THEME
  2. Use a Random Number Generator to select your GENRE
  3. Write a story up to 3000 words that is obviously written using both theme and genre.
  4. Post your story below in the comments with a link to your blog where
  5. You also post it on you blog
  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 (EST – Tampa, Florida time in the U S and A) is plenty of time, slacker!
  9. IF you intend to play, post a comment below so I can give you crap when a week passes and you don’t post it, EMILY.
  10. Um… I think that’s it.

Get after it!

.

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Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

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.

Whaaat??? TWO Flash Fiction challenges in one week?

Dan's pic
Your humble host.

Sure, why not?

 

Let’s learn to write a blurb!

 

We all need to do it, and practice makes perfect!

But.

Let’s write one for a book or movie we all know, to learn the process. Because while we’re all slapping down words in volume to build a story, a blurb is baiting the hook to get readers to read the story. Completely different.

 

It’s a tease, a sales pitch, a… baited hook.

 

In her book Gotta Read It, Libby Hawker says there are 5 steps to a good blurb.

  1. A Character, who
  2. Wants something, but
  3. Something stands in her way, so she
  4. Struggles against that force, and
  5. Something important is at stake

 

We’ve seen something similar to this before.

In December 2013, Digital Book World’s Beth Bacon posted “4 Easy Steps To An Irresistible Book Blurb” Which we used to make some fun  stuff

(1) Situation.

(2) Problem.

(3) Hopeful possibility.

(4) Mood, tone or spirit of the story.

 

The next things Bacon recommends are:

  • Make it short.
  • Make it dramatic.

 

Readers want tension in a blurb.

If your blurb doesn’t hook your readers, they’re going to assume your book won’t hook them either.

 

And we did some of that for my new story. But like anything else, the more you practice it, the better you’ll get.

 

Let’s try it. Write your own blurb for a well-known movie or book. We will probably all come up with something similar, but we can see who’s we like the best. Vote for the best one by clicking LIKE or just saying you like it. (Write yours before looking at the other ones, or just go ahead and improve on somebody else’s, no problem.)

 

Here are your movies or books:

1 Titanic

2 Hansel And Gretel

3 Schindler’s List

4 The Little Red Hen

5 Jurassic Park

Savvy Stories – Oops! How did that get in there?

6 Chicken Little

7 Tom Sawyer

8 Noah’s Ark

9 The Hunt For Red October

10 The Terminator

 

Use the Random Number Generator, HERE  to select your story. (Spin again if it gives you one you don’t know.)

randomnumbergenerator2

Pick one and have at it. I’m curious to see what we come up with, and I’ll be posting my latest BIP (Blurb In Process) for The Water Castle soon!

 

Invite your friends to play along, especially if they are good at blurbs.

.

Dan's pic
Your humble host.

REBLOG me! Or SHARE this post on Facebook and Twitter! See those little buttons down below? Put on your glasses. There they are. Click them. The FOLLOW button is now in the lower right hand corner.

 

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Hit the Contact Me button and I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends.)

 

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.