The Writer’s Room

  1. A Ficly Farewell

    This isn’t going to be easy to write, but it’s time to write it and time to give everyone fair warning for what’s going to happen. It’s time for Ficly to go away. I found out last week that Google is sunsetting their OpenId service – and that’s the last straw for a decision that I’ve known has been coming for months.

    Ficly has always been a passion project. Jason, Owen, Joe and I built it to keep the ficlets community alive and give them somewhere to go. That was over five years go – doubling ficlets’ lifespan – and resulted in over 30,000 stories added to the world. I feel pretty good about that.

    I don’t want those stories to disappear. Just like with ficlets, I’m going to keep an archive up of all the stories. The URLs to your stories and your author profiles won’t change. They’ll be here for as long as I can keep them up (which should be a good long time). But, around September 14th, you won’t be able to log in or create new stories. The site will be completely static and point somewhere else.

    Why shut it down now? The main reason is that I don’t have time to keep it going, and I can’t bear to watch it slowly decay anymore. Jason and I had big plans for Ficly, but life kept getting in the way. But, that’s an excuse. Ficly just wasn’t a priority, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. It’s also so old now that adding features to it would require an almost complete rewrite – which sounds like even less fun. I love the community that’s formed here. I love that this creative outlet existed and am proud that we were able to build something in our spare time that served the community this long and resulted in so many stories. But, when Google shuts down OpenID, you’ll be locked out and I don’t have a solution for that.

    What happens next? Here’s what’s going to happen between now and the time I shut the site down, and what I need from the community.

    Kevin’s list:

    • I’ll create the static version of the site so the transition from the current site to the archive is straightforward and seamless.
    • I’m going to remove all the passwords and other incriminating personal information from the code and put it up on github so if someone wants to use it, they can. It’s over four years old, so be prepared to battle some dragons.
    • I’m going to create XML and JSON archives of all the stories and put them up somewhere so the community can do something interesting with them if they want to.

    The community’s list:

    • Publish any stories you want to make sure are included in the archive before September 5th.
    • Help me find spam so we can remove it before we put everything in a glass case for posterity. You can report it on this GetSatisfaction thread.
    • Back up your stories if you want.
    • Share your favorite Ficly memories in the comments.
    • Call me dirty names under your breath.

    And in closing, I want to say a huge thank you to the Ficly community for hanging out here and creating things on this little app we built. It’s brought me a lot of joy over the years, and it hurts me to shut it down, but it’s time for me to stop feeling guilty for it and make room for me to be guilty about all new stuff.

    Keep writing, and be happy.

    Thanks,

    Kevin Lawver

  2. Family Begins Here

    After the Winter FicLympics, many of you, I included, seemed to take a hiatus.
    Kudos and many thanks to those that stayed and maintained vigilance over the Ficly site!

    It is time to wipe the dust off my pencils and start handing some out.

    It is time to write about every exciting or mundane moment in my life.

    It is time, dear friends and precious Ficly family, to carry the torch back to its home, right here.

    Good writing starts with you. Family begins here, in positive comments, in sequels, and in lovely notes.

    I have missed you all. I have missed my muses.

    Keep reading this entry...

  3. Authletes Assemble!

    “I declare open the Games of the 1st Winter Ficlympiad.”

    And with that, the Winter 2014 Ficlympics are underway. Let’s have some fun!

    Format

    There will be four events, each lasting one week, on the themes of Genres, Limitations, Inspiration, and Literary Devices. Each event consists of three challenges, all of which are issued at the start of the event and which last the length of the event.

    Judging

    I’ve had a number of volunteers for judges and I will select a core set of five judges for each event. These people must judge. However, anyone who is so inclined may also judge. Simply note me with your intention to judge and I will include your scores as well. I would like to see judging completed no later than two days after the event completes (but I can’t control that). Judges will submit their scores to me by note.

    Scoring

    Judges will wait until the event closes before scoring the entries. Each entry will be scored between 0.0 and 5.0 for technical merit and between 0.0 and 5.0 for artistic impression. These scores will be added together to provide a score for the entry (between 0.0 and 10.0). All of the scores for an entry will be averaged to produce the entry’s official score. An authlete’s scores from all three challenges in an event will be added to determine the authlete’s ranking (it’s important to complete all three challenges) and the top three rankings will be awarded gold, silver, and bronze.

    The rankings from all four events will be added together to produce the aggregate score and the person with the highest aggregate ranking will be awarded platinum.

    As a guideline for scoring, I would expect that any competently written story would score somewhere between 3.5 and 5.0 for each of technical merit and artistic impression. I leave it to the judges discretion as to how to interpret the terms “artistic impression” and “technical merit.” We could discuss that in the comments below.

    Prizes

    There is a choice of prize for each award. The winner may elect to receive from me a handmade pen (I haven’t had the chance to make them yet as life is getting in the way.) or may elect to be satisfied with bragging rights. (In order to receive a pen, you will have to note me with your mailing address which I promise to not use nefariously.)

    Entering

    Nothing special here. Simply write an entry for the challenges in the event(s) that interest(s) you within the allotted time limit. You are limited to a single entry to be scored for each challenge. You may write as many entries as you want but only the one of your choice will be scored. If you’re a judge and have entered a challenge that you’re judging, abstain from submitting a score for your entry.

  4. Winter 2014 Ficlympics!!

    by: August Rode

    [cue inspirational music]

    I call upon all Ficly authors to assemble on January 5, 2014 to celebrate the Games of the First Winter Ficlympiad.

    There will be four events, one per week, each consisting of three challenges. The themes for these “triauthlons” will be Genres, Limitations, Inspiration and Literary Devices. Each authlete is encouraged to enter one story per challenge.

    Each triauthlon will have a panel of judges (who may enter but cannot score their own stories), each of whom will score the stories for both artistic impression (maximum 10 points) and technical merit (maximum 10 points). The authlete with the three highest scores for the event will win gold, silver and bronze virtual pencils for that event. The person with the highest cumulative score for all four events will be awarded the virtual platinum pencil. (For each gold, silver or bronze virtual pencil, I will handmake a mechanical pencil in wood for any winner interested. For the platinum virtual pencil, I will handmake a pen & pencil set in wood if the winner is interested.)

    I am looking for judges. Judges are permitted to enter events but can’t score their own stories. Ideally, I’d like to have 5 judges for each event so please consider participating as both authlete and judge.

    [fade inspirational music]

  5. Argh! My Eyes!!

    My apologies for being absent. Life happens. I really appreciate all the comments on the previous blog post. Also the kinds notes I received while I was ‘gone’. You are all my family!

    Since I am so busy, let one of our own step in and say a few words.
    Give it up for Jim Stitzel!

    Structure In Your Story: Carriage Returns

    Hey, Ficleteers, I’d like to make a suggestion to ponder as you craft your finely tuned stories: consider putting two full carriage returns between your paragraphs, so that instead of this:

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus dapibus, dui eget hendrerit congue, diam diam tempor mauris, nec blandit odio sapien ut ligula. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas.
    Mauris molestie tortor mattis sapien tincidunt tempus. Fusce sagittis, odio ac aliquam vulputate, enim velit hendrerit tortor, in luctus enim neque nec odio. Donec dictum feugiat eros, quis convallis nunc placerat id.

    Keep reading this entry...

  6. YOUR Ficly

    It’s time for your input! The future of Ficly is in your hands.

    Really, you are the lifeblood here.

    This community site needs people; people who love it, wander around, and participate among it’s pages. But we know that not everyone uses the site in the same way. So, now is the time to share.

    Keep reading this entry...

  7. July: Challenge Yourself!

    This month, let’s focus on the Ficly challenge.

    Challenges are great ways to flex your writing muscles. Enter them for entertainment, for creative exercise, or to vainly get comments. No seriously, those who create challenges will read your work. Most often, those who enter and compete against you will also read your entry and leave a comment. Read theirs back. Comment on each other’s entries constructively and play fair.

    Challenges are fun to create as well. Entries always surprise you! Set a deadline of at least a couple weeks and check back every day to read entries and leave comments.

    Notice a theme? Comments are HUGE on ficly, and frankly, folks, I have not seen many of them flying around..

    GET COMMENTING!

    Keep reading this entry...

  8. June: NaFicWriMo

    Scrawler’s Secret began this challenge last June, so here for the second annual challenge: NAFICWRIMO!

    For this challenge “National Ficly/Ficlet Writing Month” I challenge you to write one Ficly, Ficlet for older members, each day of the month of June. (Yay Summer)

    The catch: None of them can be a prequel or sequel, of your own work or of others’.

    This challenge is just for fun and to make you dig deep and find your original ideas hiding deep inside of you as you burrow through the words laying near the surface.

    Happy writing!

    Keep reading this entry...

  9. How Do YOU Do It?

    Hi from Elsh,

    Checking in. I tried the ficly a day challenge, and I made it a month, but then college classwork took over all my spare hours outside of full-time teaching and raising two kids and remembering who my husband is.

    I can’t wait to come back! (Spring break is around the corner.)

    So, I am putting the question to you guys, tirelessly keeping this place alive. How do you make time, find time, steal time, or have time to continue listening to your muses and producing awesome snippets of fiction (and not-so fiction)??

    Post your tips below.

  10. January: Goal Setting

    New Year’s is always a time when I look at my goals. It’s important to reevaluate yourself, take stock of what you have, where you’ve been, where you want to go.
    This also applies to writing.

    Say you have a goal to write more, then join in AdrianHD’s Ficly a day challenge!

    http://ficly.com/challenges/1200

    Perhaps you would rather edit and complete a manuscript this year to be ready to submit it.

    Sorry, there’s not a Ficly challenge for that. However, there are a few blog posts to encourage you and maybe help you out.

    Keep reading this entry...

  11. December: The End

    I always find it the most difficult, but also the most rewarding, to finally write an ending to a novel. Sometimes the ending seems very far away and hard to reach. When all the loose ends are tied (or at least most of them) a satisfaction washes over you as you realize the story has come to its natural conclusion. You suddenly feel like celebrating. The freedom, the weightlessness, the happiness of being unburdened of such an overwhelming task envelops you and float to the metaphorical ceiling with joy. It reminds me of the fizzy pop Charlie and his Grandpa Joe drink in Willy Wonka’s factory.

    Keep reading this entry...

  12. November: The Month

    November is the month for writing.

    I want to. Oh, how I want to!

    My writing muscle needs flexing. I think I have a cramp.

    Here is the perfect month, the perfect opportunity. NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Writers everywhere sit typing in short bursts, typing anything and everything that comes to mind; saving often, coffee and hot cocoa going cold beside them.

    I am pining. I am withering!

    I have not joined the ranks.

    Keep reading this entry...

  13. How to Get Involved on Ficly

    With a few new people, and the blog lacking new material (oops), allow me to provide some base advice to those new here and some reminders to those lurking on the sidelines thinking they should wait for old friends to return before becoming active. If we all wait, nothing happens!

    How to Get Involved:

    • Comment!

    The first thing you should do is comment on a story. Go comment on several and make some friends.

    • Return Comment

    If someone comments on your story, return the favor. Offer up words of support, constructive criticism, advice, or awe.

    • Follow!

    Click on an author you think is da bomb and follow them.

    *Follow Back

    If you are followed by someone who thinks you are awesome, it is good manners to follow them back. You can click on the blue numbers above your followers to see a list of all of them if the number exceeds the viewable icon limits. This allows you to see all of their activity on your homepage

    Keep reading this entry...

  14. Sequels Are Awesome!

    I don’t know about you, but I am heaving a huge sigh of relief over the completion of NaFicWriMo.

    Some of the things felt rushed and I learned that I prefer to take my time and craft a story, really fall in love with it, over having a deadline and some pressure. The most the deadline did for me was nag at me to do something.

    I picked up the proverbial pen and spewed forth words, but without the quality I desire for every piece. Some of them felt flat. That’s okay.

    June is over. So let us move forward to the new challenge: SEQUELS

    Keep reading this entry...

  15. NaFicWriMo: June!

    Scrawler’s Secret posted this challenge, which bears repeating LOUDLY from every rampart, bridge, tower, and observatory of the Ficly House. (See Our Strange And Wonderful House http://ficly.com/challenges/953)

    Who here has heard of National novel writing month? Raise your hand. Those who haven’t go to www.nanowrimo.org.

    It is a great challenge, writing 50,000 words in a month. But as you all know, not everyone particularly cares for writing novels.

    For “National Ficly/Ficlet Writing Month” I challenge you to write one Ficly, Ficlet for older members, each day of the month of June. In honor of this, and as a reminder, there will be a new button at the top of the webpage, for June only, that links to the official challenge, not to be judged.

    Do not enter the stories as if they were part of the challenge, instead tag them with NaFicWriMo.

    The catch: None of them can be a prequel or sequel, of your own work or of others’. One. New. Ficly. A. Day.

    You have the rest of May to prepare.

    Dig deep and find your original ideas hiding inside as you burrow through the words laying near the surface.

    (Adding a room to the Ficly House for yourself is a viable entry for at least one day of June!)

    Happy writing!

  16. Boating on Lake Ficly (32 Squared)

    There are multiple definitions for the word Draft.

    I attended an Able Bodied Seaman’s course. I had to get the license to work on a dock. Years later I spent a few summers sailing.

    In class, I was drawn to the word Draft and it’s marine/boating definition. I had heard the word many times before: Army draft, drafting table, writing a draft, drafting while riding a bike and a wind’s draft. But I never heard it used in it’s nautical form.

    Basically, Draft in maritime terms, is actually a question: ‘How is my boat settled in the water?’. A boat’s final draft measurement consists of multiple measurements of where the water is touching the boat’s hull, how the boat is riding in the water.

    Length
    Depth
    Width
    Volume
    Capacity
    Weight
    Stability
    Limits

    I found this definition could also be a map. How is a person floating in life? What is my role in this relationship? Am I trying to carry to much? Am I floating or sinking? And lately, Can I make my story (idea) float?

    Keep reading this entry...

  17. (32 Squared) The Author That Roared

    [Slightly edited by ElshaHawk]

    (Source: Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters)

    Notes/Letters between John Steinbeck and the many players in publishing his book, East of Eden. Pat is his editor.

    New York
    1952

    Keep reading this entry...

  18. March 10th

    This is the International Day of Awesomeness. An explanation can be found here.

    Go. See.

    http://dayofawesomeness.com/

    So be awesome, and write this post.

    Seriously.

    YOU are awesome and you can do this. Leave your awesome thoughts below.

    What is awesome?
    Why are you awesome?
    When is the most awesome time?
    How can we all learn to be more awesome?
    Where is it best to be awesome?

    Go. Do.

  19. Love and Support

    Ah, February. A time marked by the ancient practice of showering someone you love in little tithes of your devotion.

    Here on Ficly, a disturbing trend has emerged in this month of love — stories about blood, cutting, suicide, addiction, and death.

    Has February become a second October??

    Keep reading this entry...

  20. Editors Edit, or What To Do Once Writers Have Written (by August Rode)

    So you’ve written your story. Look! Words! Sentences! Paragraphs! Time to publish! Seriously? Are you kidding me?

    I look at story writing for Ficly as having two separate processes, writing and editing, and I switch back and forth between them at will. What happens in these processes is entirely different. When I write, I work out the details of the plot, invent the characters with their salient characteristics, and express my ideas in words in an effort to make the story leave my brain and splash onto the page.

    Once I’ve done that, the hard work begins. Editing… it isn’t just making certain that the spelling and grammar of the piece are correct. There’s a lot of other factors that need to be considered. What follows is probably a very incomplete guide regarding things to think about when editing. These aren’t rules. Plainly and simply, if you don’t think that a particular guideline is appropriate to the story you’re writing, don’t follow it but do that knowingly.

    Since most people do think about spelling and grammar when they think about editing, let’s get that one out of the way first so we can focus on more interesting things. Spelling, grammar and punctuation are important for one reason and one reason alone: you should not expect anyone else to take your writing seriously if you can’t be bothered to take even the most basic of interest in the presentation of your own story. First impressions are important. Done with that.

    Now comes the interesting part. Dismiss that writer part of you from the room. Read your piece several times through as though you were not its author, and ask yourself the following questions as you do.

    Keep reading this entry...

  21. Will You Be My Friend?

    It’s the time of year for reflection…

    This year was the first that many of my good friends made right here have abandoned our personal chats for their academic pursuits.

    This is the first year I feel alone.

    Granted, it was always going to happen, all of us being from separate countries and states. Life events were going to get in the way. Even knowing that could not ease the sting.

    We’ve always said how much ficly was like a family; the way we really got to know one another, wrote each other into series’, noted back and forth, commented on each others works. We held together while the old site died and this new one was born, then again as the first wave of newbies joined in and ruffled feathers, or others spammed the place up. We stayed in touch during Nano and supported each other when our muses failed.

    I miss that.

    Keep reading this entry...

  22. Writers Write

    Nanowrimo is officially over. Most years, I’m ready to edit my November beast of a novel into something more, but I ended this year with a head cold and really could not care about editing.

    Instead, I am challenging myself, and you also, to keep writing! I know that after pounding out 50,000 words, the last thing you (or I) want to do is come up with MORE material.

    I’ve got news for you, that’s what we writers do!
    For every day you take off writing, your muse will take off three!

    Keep reading this entry...

  23. National Novel Writing Month Again (H.S. Wift)

    I first blogged for ficly just over a year ago, after sending THX a note suggesting that we have a blog about the upcoming writing challenge that would be consuming my November. He replied, agreeing that there should be a blog, and asked me if I would write it. Gladly, I accepted. Basically, I took it upon myself to be the herald of the apocalypse that is the National Novel Writing Month challenge.

    Elsha briefly mentioned “Nano” in the last blog post, and for most of you avid Ficlers out there, I’m sure that’s enough to reignite the sparkplugs in your brain that make you write obscenely large numbers of words each day. But I have noticed the small army of new blood that’s entered our brain trusts over the last year, and it’s for you that I write this blog post, to tell you what it’s all about.

    Keep reading this entry...

  24. Why Can't This Happen For Ficly?

    Not much action over on the forum, so you must all be gearing up for Nano! Either that or ‘Occupy-ing’ your town…but enough political yammering, this is a writing site!
    Back to the forum, 32 Squared shares a link that is truly inspiring. A story that first appeared as comments on reddit.com has become a movie!

    http://boingboing.net/2011/10/13/warner-brothers-to-film-rome-sweet-rome-movie.html

    There are countless ficly series’ that deserve a movie! I agree with Squared:

    “Why can’t this happen for ficly?”

    Keep reading this entry...

  25. We Will Be Awesome!

    Stumbling to the top of the highest hill overlooking a valley dark with spilled ink and good intentions, staggers a lone, short figure resolute in her duty. With her remaining strength she works, unfurling a blood and sweat soaked, frayed and muddied standard. Threading its eyelets along the clip of a giant pen with numb fingers, she sways in exhaustion. Finished, she checks her ties and with a gutteral yell the whole valley can hear, she thrusts the giant ballpoint tip into the soft earth.

    A stiff breeze catches the fabric and a standard proclaims the victors of a hard fought battle.

    LoA

    Slowly, figures climb the hill to salute the standard, recoup, and help each other honor the flag of their freedom. Freedom to comment. A pledge for cooperation. A talisman for Awesomeness.

    Keep reading this entry...

  26. Help Wanted

    Ficly is a family and like all families, it’s quickly changing. Little chicks grow and soon leave the nest; family members come and go.
    That means there is ALWAYS a space at the table for you!

    Would you like to feel more involved in the ficly community?

    Do you have a topic, idea, or burning desire to share your thoughts about ficly and writing with others?

    Join the bullpen! We convene at ficly.freeforums.org.

    Keep reading this entry...

  27. Read With An Eye For Craft

    Not only am I writing a story right now, but I am simultaneously reading a few books. Reading with my writing in mind, I stumble upon inspiring tidbits that I can incorporate to make my own story better, stronger.

    For example, relationships between middle aged adults are expected to have gone through some hardship and therefore it’s not so traumatic when you hear they have broken up or had a fight. (They are often secondary characters, anyway.) On the other hand, relationship failures between youths are more tragic to the reader; perhaps because first-times hold much more emotional trauma in our lives. Can you think of any stories where youths are not more sympathized with than grown ups?

    Keep reading this entry...

  28. Pen and Paper

    Recently, I have had many friends take a leave of absence from our normal communication routines. Whether it is travel, school, work, or something else, it is nice to be able to stay in touch. While I have Skype for some, twitter, facebook, Google Plus, or IM for others, nothing beats a good old fashioned snail-mail letter. I know, I know, low tech, but before you shun me, let me make my point.

    When I wrote out my first draft correspondence, it was awkward and messy. I had to think harder, to write too much and then edit it down to fit in an envelope. I had to better word my feelings than ‘lol’ or ‘smh’. And much like sealing a manuscript into a manilla envelope and wishing for the best, writing that address on the outside of the envelope and attaching a stamp became an unexpected emotional ordeal. This was a piece of my heart I was sending on it’s merry way, each word carefully thought out. How would the other person receive it?

    Keep reading this entry...

  29. Unclogging Writer's Block (by Tad Winslow)

    Writer’s block is more closely related to unreasonably high standards than it is to bouts of utter blankness of thought. I mean, the words are always there, right? They haven’t squealed out of the driveway in your car. They’re half stuck in the ground just waiting to be unearthed, polished, and constructed into the storied chapters of your skyscraping novel, or thatched into the loose-leaf roof that tops your poem’s humble hut.

    Imagine a plumber stepping away from a flooded sink, yanking his pants back into place, and attributing his work stoppage to “plumber’s block.” How ridiculous? That would never fly. So how do writers get away with it?

    Keep reading this entry...

  30. A Juxtaposition of Dreams and Failures (by Robert Quick)

    I’m beginning to lose patience for people who “want to do things”. I think having dreams and goals is good for a person, but a lot of people in my life have recently adopted a defeatist attitude. Usually the invisible ending to “I want to that-”, or “I wish I could do that-”, or “I’d like to do that-” is “-but I can’t.”

    Yes, you can. I fill up my days so that I am busy every day of the week (or near enough). From sports to video games, to creative writing labs, I don’t leave myself a lot of down time. There is very little time spent on a couch flipping through channels filled with junk. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll make time for Fringe, Good Eats, or the Daily Show but I don’t sit down to watch tv with nothing in mind. I’m not looking for a pat on the back. I don’t need it- I’m busy!

    The same people who have been telling me they “want to do things” also call me lucky. Luck has very little to do with it. I put together most of the events. I plan the things that I want to do, and here is the key part-then I do them. I would say that the only lucky part of my life is being open to opportunities that presented themselves. I would never have started playing Thursday night foursquare (yes with the red rubber ball) if I hadn’t of accepted the random invitation by a stranger in an English class.

    How does this relate to you?

    Keep reading this entry...