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Accepting the Challenge

March 25, 2011

So the second Crusader “Challenge” was a writing prompt to write a story in less than a hundred words beginning with, “The goldfish bowl teetered…”  My first thought was:  BORING.  Flash fiction “stories” are easy because they don’t have to be stories.  In “Name That Tune” fashion, I bet I can write that story in 50 words.  Or even less.

The supposed added challenge would be writing it in your favorite genre.  Isn’t that LESS of a challenge?  A real challenge would be writing it in genres you DON’T write normally.

I’m going to go even one better than that and write stories using these four words in several different genres.  This goes along with my previous entry about how little difference there is between genres.

Here we go.


Version 1:  Sci-Fi Version

The goldfish bowl teetered on the command chair.  A tentacled hand reached out to snatch the bowl before it could fall.  “Take this back to the cargo hold,” the giant space octopus said.  “And now that we’ve finished collecting samples, you may begin demolishing this puny world.” (47 words!)


Version 2:  Fantasy Version

The goldfish bowl teetered on the table.  The dark wizard steadied it with the end of his goat-headed staff.  He leered at the tiny fish swimming inside.  “Now, King Corwin, all of Middle Narnia will be mine!” (37 words!)


Version 3:  Mystery Version

The goldfish bowl teetered on the shelf as the body of Mrs. Parmalee hit the floor.  The killer stood over her a moment, making sure she was dead.  Then he wiped her blood from the knife, stuck it into his pocket, and disappeared into the night. (46 words!)


Version 4:  Thriller Version

The goldfish bowl teetered on the table as the body of Martin Hicks hit the wall.  He ducked just before the masked assailant launched a roundhouse kick that would have taken his head off.  Hicks stuck out his legs to sweep the attacker’s legs from under him.  The attacker hit the floor, the goldfish bowl falling to shatter on his head.

Hicks reached into the man’s pocket, finding the final scrap of map.  At last he would know where to dig for the lost Ark of the Covenant. (88 words)


Version 5:  Romance Version

The goldfish bowl teetered on the shelf as Miguel pressed Amanda against the wall.  Their lips pressed together passionately while Miguel’s hands worked to frantically unfasten Amanda’s gown.  “I’ve waited so long for this, my darling,” he said.

“Mother will be furious if she finds out,” Amanda said.

“What does it matter?  I love you.”

“I love you too,” Amanda said, beginning to undo the buttons of Miguel’s shirt.

The dress and shirt hit the floor at the same time.


Version 6:  Literary Version

The goldfish bowl teetered on the table as Conor slammed down the sweaty bottle of Jack Daniels.  He held up the letter to see it better in the dim gold light from the dark green table lamp, the only thing left to him by his father.

He read over the letter again, tears streaming down his cheeks.  It was over now.

Conor picked up the Colt revolver next to the goldfish bowl and then pressed it to his temple.

A shot rang out.

The rejection letter from Random House drifted to the floor like a piece of blood-drenched snow. (99 words!)


So there you go.  I could do tons more I’m sure.  Which one is your favorite?  I’m not going to enter any of them because as I said last Tuesday, I’m a terrible coward.  I’m not going to risk losing to win some crappy prize.  (A discount on editing?  Really?)  But I hope this helps you to see how easy it is to make flash fiction, which to me is a bastard art form because it lacks all the depth of novels or even short stories.  Most of these have as much depth as a movie trailer.

Sunday concludes the Worst Book Ever Tournament!


From → Uncategorized

  1. LOL I liked all of these. The rejection letter one (the last one) is my favorite though. Why aren’t you entering? You don’t have to cash the prize you know. It’ll be fun.

    • I’m one of those people who can’t enter any competition for fun. I’m in it to win it, though I never do and then I’m bummed out. Don’t try, don’t fail. Win-win. Or more of a tie.

  2. That sounds a lot like asperger’s syndrome. I played with some people who had that in World of Warcraft (I was in an extremely competitive guild and we were really really good). They couldn’t have fun unless they could win. They would never play anything just for “fun”.

    • What can I say, Captain Kirk was one of my role models, especially in “Wrath of Kahn” where he tells Saavik, “I don’t like to lose” and they talk about how he reprogrammed the simulator so he could win. That’s what I’d do in a no-win scenario. Or like last night when the computer was going to beat me at Wii Sports Resort basketball I just hit the reset button. (Though in part I do that because if you lose it takes away some of your experience points, which is just annoying.)

      I mean the first time my tee ball team lost, I cried. We’d won a bunch of games and I didn’t realize we could lose. Losing sucks.

      Fortunately I have the prescription for how to cope with losing on next Wednesday’s entry.

  3. LOL, I love the snarky attitude on this blog. Love them all!

  4. Christopher Pine recently got the script for the new Trek movie and declared he’s got a love interest in it. I really like Pine’s version of Kirk.

  5. I love Pine’s version of Kirk. My hubby is slightly jealous. Hubby is also not a big Sci Fi fan, but I married him anyway. *sigh* I love that Star Trek is on Netflix.

  6. I liked the mystery version, LOL!

  7. So many versions (and all so good!). I had a hard enough time coming up with one!

  8. You are the King of snark, but that’s why I love ya. Although I strongly disagree that flash fiction is a “bastard art form”.

    My favorites out of all of these are the mystery and the literary.

    Your short story collection is on the way from Amazon. Can’t wait to read it.

    P.S. Enter the contest.

    • What contest? It’s too late for the Crusader one. And actually it occurred to me I was doing what Mike wanted. By not entering I made it not about winning and more about having fun and making a point. So there you go.

  9. OMG, I’m cracking up over the romance version. Who knew goldfish and romance could hold hands together? Awesome job.

  10. LOL! Those are great! Very clever of you. You should enter anyway. I bet you’d win. Then you could just have the satisfaction of acknowledgment and pass the prize onto the runner up. Everyone will bow their heads at your chivalry. We’re not worthy. 🙂

  11. Looks like the right one won! I really liked Bess’s entry, so I was glad it won. And it was a million times better than any of these. Because she actually put some effort into hers. I wonder what she’ll do with the “prize?” LOL.

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