Flash Fiction Month Win and NaNoWriMo Plans

I’ve just discovered that I was the Week One winner for this year’s Flash Fiction month!

Needless to say, I’m pretty chuffed about it. Despite having originally just joined on a whim (as the introduction to my first book [which I put together before I knew there would be a series {or how to use nested brackets} and now feels kind of weird] says), FFM has become something I really look forward to each year. As an event, it hits the perfect balance between being challenging and frivolous, and it’s a big part of the reason I write flash fiction at all.

I’m also chuffed because the winners for weeks Two, Three and Four are all people I’m glad to see get a mention for something FFM-related. Their names have all turned up in my collections at some point or another–usually as part of some kind of community/collaboration challenge–because these are (some of) the people I’ll look to when that sort of thing comes up:

:iconintelligentzombie:   :iconjoe-wright:   :icongdeyke:

In other FFM-related news, I’m afraid I’ve got a little held up getting Osiris Likes This set up as a paperback or the FFM collections in general into the Kindle Store. The reason for that is that I’m in the process of changing computers, and in this case operating systems as well. Not all the software I was using before will work on this system, and switching (say) word processors can cause problems with formatting. The laptop I was using before is physically falling apart and tends to overheat, but the desktop I’m using now is one I bolted together myself and I’m still working on it. I’m actually typing this on a PS2 keyboard. Not a PS/2 keyboard, but a PS2 keyboard: it was originally for a PlayStation 2. I’m still hoping to get the other versions of the book(s) out in good time, but since I’ll eventually have to use this computer for pretty much all my publishing-related stuff, I’d rather get it sorted out right than fast.

I’m also thinking ahead to NaNoWriMo, or NaTwiWriMo, as GDeyke and I will be working on interactive Twine stories rather than novels. I’m hoping to hit 100,000 words this year, as I missed the event completely last year and interactive fiction can make it a little easier to rack up words. Whatever I write will probably have to depend more on key plot choices than adding up lots of little decisions, which narrows down my options somewhat, but there’s still one really big question that’s on my mind right now.I’ve got an idea that I think could almost be a straightforward, linear novel, but that I think would benefit from being interactive. What I’m thinking of would be 100,000 words long on the “outside,” but from the point of view of the reader would be more like a novella. It would be the sort of thing that I might be able to adapt and publish as a traditional ebook or even paperback.

However, I’ve also dug my calculator out of the drawer, and I’ve worked something out. if I’m aiming for 100,000 words, that could be 10 10,000-word passages, or 100 1,000-word passages, or 1,000 100-word passages. Obviously you don’t need a calculator for that, but thinking about how those passages might fit together got me thinking about what choices might be involved. A 10 passage story would probably not offer the reader enough choices, and you’d think a 1,000 passage story would probably offer too many. But here’s where the calculator comes in.

If each each passage offers exactly two choices, and all of those choices are unique, the word count of the story will increase exponentially along with its length:

2 2
3 3 3 3
4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7

When you read 7 100-word passages–a story of 700 words–I’ve written 127 passages: a work of 10,270 words. If you bump the readable story up to 10 passages, the total work would require 1024 passages and be 102,400 words in length: just a smidge over my target for this year.

I’m not sure what sort of story it would be, but the simple fact that the numbers work out makes me curious as to what it would be like to write. If each passage were at least 98 words long, I’d be able to hit my target simply by writing 33 passages a day throughout the month. In the same way that I find it easier to write 10 1,000-word flash fiction pieces than a single 10,000 word story, I imagine that could actually make it easier to hit my target (though if it comes down to it, I’d rather write something good than something long).

Which option I pick will probably come down to what I feel like on or around November 1st, but I’d be curious to know what people think of these two options. Would you prefer an extended (serious) interactive story revolving around a few crucial decisions, or a (probably quite silly) flash fiction piece with 512 different endings?

I figure that I may as well set up a poll for this:

If it makes any difference, the idea I have for the extended story is high fantasy, set in a world where a wise ruler has gained godlike powers and created a utopia, but the main characters are in exile. I’ve got this one much more clearly planned out (and the other not at all) but the fact that it would be a serious story where every choice is significant could make it harder to pull together.

In any case, whatever I end up writing, I’m looking forward to November. If anyone else is planning to join in this year, please add me as a writing buddy over on the NaNoWriMo site.


  1. ipsenscastle

    Well done! This reminds me I’ve not checked my DA messages properly since the 1st of August, that’s going to be a job and a half. I should really give NaNo a serious try this year, I was thinking of trying a Twine game too but after my pathetic attempts to get my website working I don’t think I could actually pull off any of the CSS stuff I wanted to do.

    • Damon L. Wakes

      CSS is actually one of the things that’s been bugging me recently (though mostly because I’ve switched to Linux and now have to use Twine 2). It shouldn’t be that big a deal because it mostly just affects the story’s appearance, but at the same time that appearance can really change the feel of a story.

      Still, NaNo is really more about getting a draft together, and I figure you could take the same approach with Twine. Best of luck getting through those messages: I’m pretty sure I’ve still got some from 2013 myself. ^^;

  2. 500woerterdiewoche

    Congrats on winning FFM Week One!

    About the NaNoWriMo story… meh. I like both kinds of stories, so I can’t really help you with this decision. On the other hand, that means whatever you decide, I’ll probably be happy with the result, so for me it’s a win-win 😛 And don’t forget, the main thing is that you have fun writing it. So approaching it from the “I’ll write what feels best at the time” angle is probably a smart idea 😉

    • Damon L. Wakes

      Huh. I’m glad you agree with the “whatever feels best at the time” thing, because I felt kind of dumb writing it. Careful planning–particularly for something that’s got to hold together as an interactive system, as well as a story–seems like it should be pretty much essential, but partly because the Twine story is bound to be bigger than I can plan, that’s starting to matter to me less and less.

      The other concern is how I release the thing. The last couple of times I’ve participated, I’ve shared the first few days’ work as a preview and then kept the rest back in case I want to publish. With this one, I’d quite like to share the whole thing as I go along, but that makes the many choices option (currently the favourite in the poll) problematic in some ways. I wouldn’t want people to read through and find that most branches don’t have endings, but I wouldn’t like to be stuck writing entire branches at a time either.

      Are you tackling NaNo this year?

      • 500woerterdiewoche

        Maybe you could publish the work in progress with a disclaimer on a page in an unfinished branch, that you delete after wrapping it up? That way, you could publish as you write, but your readers wouldn’t be disappointed at every dead end, because they’d know where to expect it.

        Unfortunately, I have neither time nor ideas for NaNoWriMo, so no, I won’t even try. That leaves my hands free to cross my fingers for my favourite authors, though 😉

      • Damon L. Wakes

        I think I’d probably have to do something like that, but unfortunately the easiest way to produce Twine fiction is to create the next set of links/passages before you fill them with text, so early on at least there could be a lot of individual links with a “this goes nowhere” message. It could get kind of messy.

        One thing I could definitely do to boost the number of complete possible stories would be to focus just on one of the two original branches, which would give me 206 full story paths within two weeks (that is to say, I’d finish the “left” half of the story, rather than the first half). The only problem there is that it would mean coming back to that first choice after a gap of two weeks. Ideally I’d like the two main branches not to read like entirely separate stories. Events/characters in one branch should have alternate appearances in others where appropriate.

        Sorry to hear you won’t be joining in, but I hope you have a good month nonetheless. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Outpost | Damon L. Wakes
  4. Pingback: NaNoWriMo News | Damon L. Wakes

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