Writing for Liberty

Black Cat © Ann M. LynnFrom Liberty Hall Writers [link corrected], I’m re-learning how constraints can lead to greater freedom.

Liberty Hall Writers (LH) is an online community mostly consisting of speculative fiction writers.* Registration and navigation of LH is difficult, at best, and it isn’t friendly with the Windows Internet Explorer browser. That said, it’s a productive sort of place full of interesting and talented people.

Last week, I joined the community to compete against some of those people (and myself) in the weekly Flash Challenge. The challenge is to write and submit a story in less than 90 minutes based on a prompt. When submissions close, the competitors and other members critique the stories and vote for their favorites.

It’s amazing what people can do in a 90 minute time constraint. Really amazing. I’m amazed at what I can do in that amount of time.

Not only did I complete a draft of a story that hadn’t existed as so much as a concept before the timer started, but I realized a few things about myself.

I realized I write Literary fiction when I’m pressed for development time. I stay more in the moment when there’s no opportunity to slip away. Also, I’m better at writing setting description than I’d previously thought.

Not that my story had a chance to win Best Setting Development in the challenge. That honor went to a half-completed story that introduced readers to a believable future world–more difficult to construct than a familiar setting in the current, real world.

However, my story did win in one of the categories: Best Characterization. It also came close to tying with the winner of Best Hook.

I’m proud of what LH has helped me accomplish so far. Now let’s see if I can write a better story this week.

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*I learned from a post by  C.L. Holland that a community similar to LH, but more focused on Literary fiction, is ShowMeYourLits. Note that you may need extra courage or self-confidence to join LH’s sister, as she’s as a little more bawdy.


4 thoughts on “Writing for Liberty”

  1. Wow! That’s great Ann. Best Characterization…I’m impressed.

    I think you’re brave. I wouldn’t have the courage to attempt something like that. It sounds as though you discovered something about yourself as a writer, and that very good news!

    1. My courage failed this week. I requested the prompt and wrote 1,000 words. Yet, I decided not to submit my entry. I was nearing the story’s end, running out of time, and thinking about what people might think if I submit an incomplete or late story.

      Next time, I’ll complete the story and submit it late. Late entries are ineligible for votes but still posted for critiques. It’s better to fail a tiny bit than to wonder at a story’s value.

      The challenge is an amazing learning tool. While writing this second story, I realized Good Enough still doesn’t mean much to me.

  2. What a great exercise (and it sounds like a great group), especially since it offered so much insight into your writing. Congrats on the Best Characterization. And, close to tying on Best Hook sounds like a win to me!

    I would love that kind of exercise! I know what I can do in less than 24 hours with a prompt, but I’ve never tried 90 minutes. I’ll have to check out that group.

    1. Christi, the stories on your blog are interesting, and I’d like to see what you come up with in less than 90 minutes. I hope you join.

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