Discussion Thread - 300-word Writing Challenge #53 (April 2024)

A narrative with a beginning, middle and end. Conflict. Story elements. That's what I'm looking for...
Fair enough. However, flash fiction is and can be far more - or less - than that, and still have valid impact. Please do not denigrate the efforts of those writing within a medium you clearly do not fully appreciate - and may never do so. (I have several friends who would somewhat agree with you. They stick to reading fiction in longer formats.)

...writing such is so much tougher to pull off than a pleasing vignette.
That is true. But is any tale that entertains truly a failure? On some levels and under certain criteria, undoubtedly yes. But if the reader enjoys it or gets something from reading it, then it is - for them and the author - a success, regardless of rules applied or ignored during the creation.
 
So I've woven a longer shortlist than usual this quarter, but only after pruning heavily from a long longlist:

Astro Pen -- The Wool Spiders
Cats' Cradle -- Stored Away
Christine Wheelwright -- Exit Through the Gift Shop
Daysman -- The Embedding
johnnyjet -- Conquering the Most Beautiful
Luiglin -- Lost for Words
Peter V -- Unbreakable Connection
Paul J Menzies -- Without Reservation
Rafellin -- Respect
Teresa Edgerton -- untitled
Victoria Silverwolf -- The Spider Queen
My first vote was easy as I was enraptured by Rafellin's high-tech weaving on the first read, and the second vote came just as quickly, for Teresa's woven fairy tale of greed and revenge. Then came a lot of to-ing and fro-ing (like warping and wefting, only much messier...), reading and re-reading and changing my mind, and finally I settled on Daysman's tale of a web of greed and spun lies.

Many Scrounged and Scavenged Loom Thanks for the lovely mentions and shortlistings johnnyjet, Starbeast, MRG and Phyrebrat (glad you loved the ending!) and for the kind words Victoria, Parson and ARU. And Mega-Twisted Warp Thanks for the glorious votes, Teresa, pm and PJM! Oh. I've got 2 weaving-ninja votes -- a Multiplicity of Unravelled-Weft Thanks BigJ and CC!!
 
Thanks, Parson and The Judge!

_____
As for the question of what people vote for — Generally, I think, people choose stories that move them in some way: to laughter, sadness, to a sense of wonder, that chill them, make them think . . . whatever.

When I am choosing stories to vote for, I am drawn to those that have a plot with beginning, middle, and end, a conflict, a turning point perhaps— because I think that is part of the challenge, to accomplish these things with so few words. But the other comes into it, too, and sometimes I choose on that part alone, because the entry was that powerful at whatever it set out to do. Isn't that what stories are for, to affect us in some way? So if other voters only ever react to the stories without analyzing how those stories came together, I think that is quite valid Because for them the story they vote for did its job. But they don't really need my (or anyone's) validation. It's up to the voters to choose according to whatever criteria they choose. We don't include instructions in how to choose, and we never will.
 
As usual, I find the voting difficult to comprehend.

I understand that this is largely a subjective exercise, but aren't there some objective criteria? The competition rules require a story, ie some form of micro fiction, and yet vignettes, description, back story, lore, and other forms of expo are front-running the pack yet again this month, as they do every month. Pleasing yes, well done for what they are, yes... but are they stories? No. I know members here who have stated they won't vote for a piece if it has grammatical errors or typos... yet they apparently will vote for non-stories. I don't get the seemingly arbitrary application of the rules.

A narrative with a beginning, middle and end. Conflict. Story elements. That's what I'm looking for, and writing such is so much tougher to pull off than a pleasing vignette.

So for those who did deliver a story, a full-on standing ovation for your endeavour from me. Even better if your conflict or antagonist had some depth, sympathy, and/or grey-ness to it that made the writing feel less like polemic or propaganda and more like a story. So don't take the poll to heart: if you put up something with conflict in it, you've taken the harder path and your writing development will be better for it.

(And yes, I'm aware that the paragraphs above constitute stirring the pot. Good. As writers, we all want that over comfort and complacency, don't we?)

While this is not an exhaustive list of those entries that did have an actual story with actual conflict, I personally thought these writers provided the best efforts out of that group:

@johnnyjet
@AnRoinnUltra
@The Judge

@Cat's Cradle
@Starbeast
@Ursa major

With the top 3 as my picks.
If we all wrote the format you are looking for then where would be the fun in reading them? Half the joy is seeing how someone has tuned their inner creativity to conjure up a piece of work. You may not agree with the format, like a style, understand the work or enjoy the finished piece. That, as the reader, is your prerogative. That as a voter, is your prerogative.

And that's what makes it fun.

I don't strictly follow the rules (except for the genre and theme in the 75, and sometimes there I bend them). I write for me, and me only.

Likewise, my votes go with what appeals to me, depending on my mood or what I need at that point. Just as my day-to-day reading goes. A pick me up, Pratchett. Angry, Donaldson. Bubblegum for the fantasy brain, Eddings etc

My 300 this month came from a dark place. It was a cathartic piece and one that had to come out. I'm fed up with my writing. It doesn't give me joy anymore. The day job has ground it out of me. So, this month doesn't have a traditional start, middle and end. It doesn't have an overt antagonist. Do I care? No. Does it make it any lesser a piece of writing than any of the others? No. Has it made me feel any better? No. Would it appeal to everyone? No. Do I mind that? No.

What I'm trying to say is that we all have our reasons for our creations. And they are often hard enough to get out without limiting ourselves to objective criteria.

So, for me, anyone who plucks up the courage and enters a piece for their peers to peruse is a winner already. They have taken a step where many don't.

Take care folks :)
 
The poll has closed and we have a winner:

Congratulations, Christine Wheelwright!
 
As usual, I find the voting difficult to comprehend.

I understand that this is largely a subjective exercise, but aren't there some objective criteria? The competition rules require a story, ie some form of micro fiction, and yet vignettes, description, back story, lore, and other forms of expo are front-running the pack yet again this month, as they do every month.
Hi Paul. The rules explicitly call for a Fantasy, SF or Spec fiction story. Did your story deserve any votes given that criteria?
 
Congratulations to Christine Wheelwright! Well done, Teresa Edgerton, for closing so fast, and making it so close.

I voted for Victoria Silverwolf, Christine Wheelwright, and The Judge.

Sincere thanks to everyone who listed, or voted for, my entry. Another good Challenge, and that owes in large part to the terrific inspiration photo from TDZ.

Great reviews, too - thanks Parson and Victoria! CC
 
Whilst accepting everyone is different, I do tire of the preposterous focus on votes in these challenges.

Why enter if you’re after votes? I’ve been here since 2011 and tend to do poorly in the 75; better in the 300.

One thing I know is when I post something I usually think : that’s it, nailed it, I’m winning this b**** only to be disabused of my confidence :D

My advice if you’re doing these for votes is to quit and give me better odds ;).

But seriously, keep writing, but for yourself.

I’d never written anything until I joined here. The challenges have helped me become a writer I’m proud of, irrespective of votes. Can you guess how many times I have heard the phrase ‘ don’t like horror’ ? — usually from people who conflate horror movies with horror literature, I might add.

If I were to be looking for validation of horror on a website like this, by votes, I’d be going about things the wrong way.

I have a thread in the publishing forum called submissions call roundup which shows what publications are taking submissions. The only person I consistently see in the thread is @Juliana which makes me wonder how serious some people really are about their writing. I say that as somebody who has only submitted once or twice to a publisher, but my point is if you want genuine feedback on your writing, start submitting it.

Vote for who you want to vote for; write what you want to write; but most of all be true to yourself.

I’ve spent 10 years in therapy and recently referred for diagnosis of ADHD and some other ASD and neurodivergent things. I’m not going to stop writing about the bitternesses of life — in particular cancer, dementia and the loss of a loved one — because I’ve suffered so much loss. But I know that this gets me very few votes.

There is an outstanding book by Ray Bradbury called Zen in the Art of Writing. It’s a collection of essays he’s written which cannot fail to inspire and encourage the most challenged authors.

It’s a lone occupation being a writer and it’s easy to fall into traps, self loathing, even ennui but I would recommend remembering why you’re writing in the first place. Is it for us or is it for yourself.

I say all this fully understanding that our brains and circumstances are different (I doubt anybody here without ADHD understands the impact of rejection sensitive dysphoria, which is usually comorbid with ADHD, for example), so I appreciate my advice may seem throwaway.

But if you stick to the simple rule of what you like when you’re writing or voting you won’t go wrong.
 
As usual, I find the voting difficult to comprehend.

I understand that this is largely a subjective exercise, but aren't there some objective criteria? The competition rules require a story, ie some form of micro fiction, and yet vignettes, description, back story, lore, and other forms of expo are front-running the pack yet again this month, as they do every month. Pleasing yes, well done for what they are, yes... but are they stories? No. I know members here who have stated they won't vote for a piece if it has grammatical errors or typos... yet they apparently will vote for non-stories. I don't get the seemingly arbitrary application of the rules.

A narrative with a beginning, middle and end. Conflict. Story elements. That's what I'm looking for, and writing such is so much tougher to pull off than a pleasing vignette.

So for those who did deliver a story, a full-on standing ovation for your endeavour from me. Even better if your conflict or antagonist had some depth, sympathy, and/or grey-ness to it that made the writing feel less like polemic or propaganda and more like a story. So don't take the poll to heart: if you put up something with conflict in it, you've taken the harder path and your writing development will be better for it.

(And yes, I'm aware that the paragraphs above constitute stirring the pot. Good. As writers, we all want that over comfort and complacency, don't we?)

While this is not an exhaustive list of those entries that did have an actual story with actual conflict, I personally thought these writers provided the best efforts out of that group:

@johnnyjet
@AnRoinnUltra
@The Judge

@Cat's Cradle
@Starbeast
@Ursa major

With the top 3 as my picks.
@Paul J. Menzies, thanks for this.

Regarding the voting. I try to vote along similar lines to you but, on a couple of occasions in the past, I got drawn in by a peice that didn't meet my criteria but was so well written that I forgot and voted for them anyway.

Regarding the writing. You've made me rethink and re-evaluate some of my own stuff and that can only be a good thing. Thanks.
 
Whilst accepting everyone is different, I do tire of the preposterous focus on votes in these challenges.

Why enter if you’re after votes? I’ve been here since 2011 and tend to do poorly in the 75; better in the 300.

One thing I know is when I post something I usually think : that’s it, nailed it, I’m winning this b**** only to be disabused of my confidence :D

My advice if you’re doing these for votes is to quit and give me better odds ;).

But seriously, keep writing, but for yourself.

I’d never written anything until I joined here. The challenges have helped me become a writer I’m proud of, irrespective of votes. Can you guess how many times I have heard the phrase ‘ don’t like horror’ ? — usually from people who conflate horror movies with horror literature, I might add.

If I were to be looking for validation of horror on a website like this, by votes, I’d be going about things the wrong way.

I have a thread in the publishing forum called submissions call roundup which shows what publications are taking submissions. The only person I consistently see in the thread is @Juliana which makes me wonder how serious some people really are about their writing. I say that as somebody who has only submitted once or twice to a publisher, but my point is if you want genuine feedback on your writing, start submitting it.

Vote for who you want to vote for; write what you want to write; but most of all be true to yourself.

I’ve spent 10 years in therapy and recently referred for diagnosis of ADHD and some other ASD and neurodivergent things. I’m not going to stop writing about the bitternesses of life — in particular cancer, dementia and the loss of a loved one — because I’ve suffered so much loss. But I know that this gets me very few votes.

There is an outstanding book by Ray Bradbury called Zen in the Art of Writing. It’s a collection of essays he’s written which cannot fail to inspire and encourage the most challenged authors.

It’s a lone occupation being a writer and it’s easy to fall into traps, self loathing, even ennui but I would recommend remembering why you’re writing in the first place. Is it for us or is it for yourself.

I say all this fully understanding that our brains and circumstances are different (I doubt anybody here without ADHD understands the impact of rejection sensitive dysphoria, which is usually comorbid with ADHD, for example), so I appreciate my advice may seem throwaway.

But if you stick to the simple rule of what you like when you’re writing or voting you won’t go wrong.
Come on PB, there's nothing wrong with votes. It's nice to be appreciated by people you respect.
 

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