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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Your humble host.

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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.