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Getting Revved Up for Flash Fiction!

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ottersdaughter View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ottersdaughter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jul 2017 at 11:19pm
Originally posted by CobainaMercury CobainaMercury wrote:

I am a first time participant who is vibrating with nervous anticipation! Any tips for process or general sanity are welcome.

Everyone is different for process, so my only advice there is that beta readers are awesome - even if you end up deciding they don't know what they're talking about, you'll think more carefully about your story than would otherwise be the case. And honestly, every beta reader I've had has given me something. There's a facebook group that Vernacula started last year that I've had good luck with - PDQ Beta Reads (https://www.facebook.com/groups/193899421057056/)

For sanity..?
  • Caffeine will only do so much. Get some sleep at some point.
  • Don't worry about word count until you get a draft done. My feeling is that a lot of the time, having to make painful cuts really forces you to focus on what's important and what's good.
  • Along with the one above - KEEP A COPY OF EVERY DRAFT, in multiple places. You don't want to have to reconstruct something you cut but then realized you need, or worse, have to reconstruct the whole thing with the clock ticking.
When the time comes to post here for feedback, read the directions and ask for help if you need it. If you're not a computer person it can be confusing, but with help, it can be done even then :) And don't talk yourself out of posting - the forum feedback is the most valuable part of the whole thing!

Good Luck!
2017 ShSC CH1: Catching Up - 15pts

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CobainaMercury Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jul 2017 at 11:44pm
That might have been an optimistic request. I suppose knowing I am in good company will have to do!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote jenspenden Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jul 2017 at 11:46pm
Originally posted by CobainaMercury CobainaMercury wrote:

I am a first time participant who is vibrating with nervous anticipation! Any tips for process or general sanity are welcome.

I posted this back a few pages for another newbie requesting advice. Hope it helps!

I take a very similar approach as Hrafnkel. This will be my 5th FFC, and 17th round of NYCM comps, so I've come up with a basic strategy that works really well for me (but, as Hrafnkel mentioned, everyone works differently, so take my advice with a grain of salt).

Let me preface all of this by saying I'm usually a "pantser." When it comes to my own work, I don't plan or outline anything in advance. I just go with the flow. But, with NYCM, I'm much more of a plotter. I don't have the luxury of time to fiddle around. Things have to be "right" as early on as possible. 

So, with that said, on Friday night, I stay up until I've brainstormed the crap out of my prompts. Remember to think outside the box (duh), and to consider tossing your first idea because the rest of your group probably thought of it too. After I have my idea, I figure out a solid plot and work through all of its foreseeable kinks and loopholes. More than once, I've discovered fatal flaws halfway through the weekend that forced me to abandon an story and start over--SO STRESSFUL! It's better to try and think ahead and stop the bleeding before you've wasted 24-hours on a doomed story. (Again, I'm not usually a plotter, but I recommend it for these fast-paced contests.)

Saturday: WRITE, write, write! My goal is to send a decent draft to beta readers before I go to bed. 

Sunday: EDIT, edit, edit! I tend to go over the word count by 200-500 words. So, Sunday is all about chopping, refining, and beta reading. Beta reading is vital (IMO). You need fresh, unbiased eyes on your work to see what you can't (be that grammar blips, plot holes, etc.). If you don't have any beta readers you can turn to, someone usually starts a thread on the forum during the weekend that helps connect competitors to each other. As long as you're not in the same group, you can help each other out.

A few other general tips: 
  • Keep things simple. Simple, simple, simple! This doesn't mean dumb down your plot or language or whatever. It just means to narrow your focus. For example, don't have more than four named characters, and choose one major event/theme for your story. This way you can really dig into the plot/characters, and actually develop them in 1K words. 
  • Turn your story in well before the deadline. My goal is to submit a couple of hours before (if not sooner). The submission system tends to get slower and slower the closer we get to deadline, so if you wait, you'll risk missing the cut off time (or experiencing a system crash). 
  • Whatever genre you get, roll with it. Don't give up if you see political satire, romance, action-adventure, or whatever genre that makes you go, "YUCK!" Dead We've all received "YUCK!" Dead genres, and we've all wanted to throw in the towel. DON'T! If you need to cry, scream, or throw a tantrum, go for it. But, then sit your booty in front of the computer and get to work. The clock's ticking, haha.
Hope that helps! I'll be a bit rusty this round since I skipped the last NYCM contest and have been focusing on a novel the past six months...Cramming a full story into 1K words is going to be HARD! 

Good luck!


Edited by jenspenden - 14 Jul 2017 at 11:46pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zinnia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jul 2017 at 11:50pm
also a newbie! also generally in agony. 10 minutes... 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote CobainaMercury Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jul 2017 at 11:50pm
Originally posted by ottersdaughter ottersdaughter wrote:

Originally posted by CobainaMercury CobainaMercury wrote:

I am a first time participant who is vibrating with nervous anticipation! Any tips for process or general sanity are welcome.

Everyone is different for process, so my only advice there is that beta readers are awesome - even if you end up deciding they don't know what they're talking about, you'll think more carefully about your story than would otherwise be the case. And honestly, every beta reader I've had has given me something. There's a facebook group that Vernacula started last year that I've had good luck with - PDQ Beta Reads (https://www.facebook.com/groups/193899421057056/)

For sanity..?
  • Caffeine will only do so much. Get some sleep at some point.
  • Don't worry about word count until you get a draft done. My feeling is that a lot of the time, having to make painful cuts really forces you to focus on what's important and what's good.
  • Along with the one above - KEEP A COPY OF EVERY DRAFT, in multiple places. You don't want to have to reconstruct something you cut but then realized you need, or worse, have to reconstruct the whole thing with the clock ticking.
When the time comes to post here for feedback, read the directions and ask for help if you need it. If you're not a computer person it can be confusing, but with help, it can be done even then :) And don't talk yourself out of posting - the forum feedback is the most valuable part of the whole thing!

Good Luck!


Thank you for the advice and encouragement! A big reason I'm doing this is to push past the fear of sharing my work and getting feedback, so I shall take your words to heart.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zblugg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jul 2017 at 11:56pm
Almost there..
SSC C1 Nary a thought... (15pts)
SSC C2 May Contain Attraction [soon...]
FFC C3 In the Long Whiteness
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote THubbs72 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jul 2017 at 11:59pm
Counting down to 11:59 pm is like counting down the ball for New Year's Eve. Can't wait to get started. Good luck everyone!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ankh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jul 2017 at 7:28am
Originally posted by Yossarianduck Yossarianduck wrote:

I've just registered for the first time and I may be a just a little bit terrified. 
The structure of each round sounds like the literary equivalent of a fine cuisine cook-off, with hopefully a tiny but delicious dish at the end of it. I just hope I don't burn the whole plate...

Hey, fellow Aussie! Welcome :-) It's only my second challenge - I signed up for the Short Story Challenge earlier this year and loved it. Just participated in the Flash Fiction and already found it much easier to craft a story from the prompts, even though I'm still a novice. It's an interesting process. Hope you enjoyed it!

Edited by ankh - 17 Jul 2017 at 7:31am
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