by Dave Smith

This week kinda fell apart. The challenges were to be entries, using a random plot scenario generator, for the Flash Fiction Challenge over at Chuck Wendig’s blog, terribleminds.com. In characteristic fashion, we fell victim to indecisiveness and real life schedules and just didn’t do it. So, in an effort to maintain writing momentum, I’m reflecting and rambling on my own process as it has manifested thus far.

As best as I can recall, the past couple of weeks have been the first sustained efforts I’ve put into any kind of creative writing since those magnificent days of parachute pants and rat tails. It was assigned work back then and made me want to stab eyeballs. Now, I’m doing it for fortune and glory entertainment and pleasure.

Ideas have never really been a problem. Getting them out has been. I think in what I best describe as movie snippets, “seeing” short, non-sequential scenes play out in my head. But that’s usually where they stay. Writing these stories has forced me to focus on those snippets and record them before they disappear, then organize and make some kind of sense of the mess. It’s like trying to pass a 20lb dumbbell: you get the first part out, screaming and cursing until you find relief. Then you realize, well shit, you’ve still got the ending to push out.

Coming from a background where brevity and economy of words rule the day, building a compelling story has been a real challenge. Making emotional connections between the characters and readers hasn’t been my strongest suit so far (I read encyclopedias for fun when I was a kid, for cryin’ out loud), and my endings have fallen a touch flat, but I hope those will develop with practice.

The single idea behind all of our challenges has been to just write; to get off our asses of pondering ideas and then sitting on them. Get them planted and grow them into a story, good, bad, or indifferent. Three weeks in, I think we’re accomplishing that.

So, what’s in store for next week?

We’re going to give the latest Flash Fiction Challenge a shot. This time we have to incorporate four random items from a list of ten, all in about 1000 words. It’s easy to start and wrap up a story in 3500 or more words, but having to compress it all into only 1000 will be a challenge all on its own. All stories are due by high noon on Friday, so even our deadline gets moved up a bit. It sounds like fun, and we’ve both found terribleminds.com tremendously entertaining, so we’re looking forward to it.

Please, join us back here after noon on Friday, August 2. And if you participate in the challenge too, let us know.

Happy scrivening!