Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Different Kind of Point of View -- You Can Play, too

By Pat Remick

Speaking of Point of View... as we have been for the past few days, my husband and I recently entered the same monthly “Flash Fiction” contest sponsored by the New England Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and one of us won (and turned out to be a bad sport about it, too, I might add).

The contest rules are simple: Generate the opening of a story with a given sentence, but write no more than 100 words. Our sentence was: “I was glad to find that the ground hadn't frozen yet.” We took those 11 words and each used our individual "point of view" to generate a story. As you'll see in a moment, the results were very different.

And, in what I hope will be a fun experiment, you can weigh in on which one you prefer (the loser is hoping to win the popular vote). My goal in all this is to try to remind the writers and readers among us just how subjective the process of creating - and evaluating -- fiction can be.

I believe it is so important to keep this in mind, especially when we are trying to find agents, publishers and readers. Just because one person doesn't love our writing, doesn't mean another won't -- as long as we don't give up on ourselves. We all need to maintain a positive "point of view."
Now for the Flash Fiction smackdown. I've listed the entries in random order -- well, as random as you can get with 2 entries -- so have a read and decide which one YOU like best.
I was glad to find that the ground hadn’t frozen yet. Mother Nature loved me. Last night at the camp, Harold had humiliated me. “A pistol on the partners hunting trip? Idiot!” This morning in the woods, I’d emptied it into his body. Now a shallow grave, dead leaves across the top, maybe a few branches. Tonight’s snowfall would cover everything. One fewer partner. A growl on the left broke my concentration. A scrawny wolf appeared from the brush, then another straight in front of me, then another to the right, and one behind. Maybe Mother Nature loved Harold more.
OR....

I was glad to find that the ground hadn’t frozen yet. It makes it so much easier to clean up the blood. The sight of crimson tentacles spreading through the fresh, white snow would set the wrong tone for the New Year anyway. While most people have traditions like making resolutions they’ll never keep, eating black-eyed peas or buying a new broom, I like to start mine with a clean slate. Unfortunately, that means getting rid of the old by Dec. 31. Good thing the fireworks and popping champagne corks make it hard to hear my Glock do its work.
Now go back up to the box at the top right part of the page and vote for the one you prefer. (It's anonymous so no one will know what you think -- but I'd appreciate it if you'd pick mine.) Voting closes at midnight. UPDATE--VOTING NOW CLOSED. Or, if you'd like, go to the comment section and share your 100 words that begin with "I was glad to find that the ground hadn't frozen yet."

20 comments:

Joyce said...

It was really hard to pick one! They're both very good.

I love writing flash fiction. I like the contests they have in the back of the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine where you have to write something about the photo on the page. I got an honorable mention for one I sent in last year.

PatRemick said...

Thanks Joyce.
Even if you don't win, it seems like Flash Ficiton can be a good writing prompt!
Congrats on the AHMM honorable mention -- such fun!

Hallie Ephron said...

Vive la difference! I did have a clear favorite... not telling which but I voted.

Paula Matter said...

What fun, Pat! I voted, but I'm not saying for which one.

I so agree with you about flash fiction being a good writing prompt. They're fun, quick, and easy. Good motivation!

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Like Hallie, I had a clear favorite.

ramona said...

Cast my vote as well, but I'm not telling.

Flash fiction is fun--and very marketable.

Annette said...

I voted. Not telling. Interesting exercise, Pat.

I have a horrible time writng flash fiction. SHORT fiction is tough enough!

Eddie said...

Enjoyed both, but -- alas -- had to vote for one!

Mari said...

I was glad to find that the ground hadn’t frozen yet. It was difficult enough to dig up dinner when the temperature wasn't six degrees below zero and the wind wasn't howling down the small space between your neck and your collar. Whose idea had it been to bury the stag in the first place? Somehow I think the video that posted on YouTube from the "Hunting Cam" totally defeats the goal of fooling the game warden. Better get this barbecue going or work on my alibi now!

Paula Matter said...

Well, apparently cheating is not permitted...

Votes (of which we are allowed only one apparently) are tied.

PatRemick said...

Thanks all for voting -- and to Mari for taking a turn at the 100-word challenge-- I promise tomorrow to post something here on which one was selected as the winner ... and who wrote it!

Patg said...

I like flash fiction, especially visuals, and have done some Drabble as well. That's 50 words.
I was glad to find the ground hadn't frozen yet. Being transfered to this miserably cold part of the country was bad enough, hardly any property available to rent near an entertainment center. Everyone wanted to huddle close so no outdoor walking was necessary. I found a spot thanks to some lucky sod transfering further south. Most of the foundation was already dug, and it wasn't too expensive to enlarge the softer ground as it helped remove all those blackened tree stumps. There was government subsidies for that. My house arrives tomorrow.
Patg

Gina said...

I was glad to find that the ground hadn’t frozen yet. The soft brown earth beneath the snow gave easily beneath my spade. Nearly three feet down before I finally hit the hard pan. I put the spade aside and bent to line the grave with Grandma's finest quilt. I piled the dirt around the edges where it would be easy to pull into the hole. Then I lay down and blanketed myself. Good bye, cold world.

Jemi Fraser said...

Wow - that was hard! I like both. Very different, although just a little similar too :)

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I just had to work a can of worms into the story. This one is for Jennie.

I was glad to find that the ground hadn’t frozen yet. Only an hour of digging and I had quite a can of worms. People already think I'm strange, especially the women at the Nightowl Bar.

I've seen the way they look at me; the disgust in their eyes. They think they're better than me, but they're not.

Yeah, I'm glad to find that the ground hadn’t frozen yet. The worms here seem to love dead human flesh. I don't see the disgust in their dead eyes now.

Jennie Bentley said...

Thank you, Freddy! I think...

PatRemick said...

These are some great Flash Fiction entries! Sure glad none of you were competing against us!

Wilfred Bereswill said...

You inspired me Jennie

PatRemick said...

The results --
56% preferred the first story about the woods and 43% the one related to New Year's, which proves my point that evaluating fiction is a subjective thing because the second story had won the contest(I wrote it)!

Thanks all for playing -- and allowing my husband to claim the popular vote.

Mari said...

If anyone is interested, I finished the story. You can find my completed flash at http://mari-thewritersblock.blogspot.com . I think it might surprise you.!

:-)