For the past couple of months, Charli Mills has been posting a flash fiction challenge on her site Carrot Ranch Communications.
I have been really enjoying the challenges as I hadn’t tried writing fiction in such brevity before. I do like having a go at various genres but the main focus of my writing is education and literacy learning. I am currently developing resources for children, parents and teachers which I plan to make available on a future website.
Having many years’ experience in writing these types of resources, I sometimes think I would be willing to develop any resource requested by an early childhood teacher. Participating in the Flash Fiction Challenge was a way of proving to myself that I could attempt any topic and genre.
However, I have not found writing a response to this week’s prompt so easy. Charli’s challenge was to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a travel horror story.
I am not a fan of horror (real or imagined) and I haven’t done enough travel to have experienced a horror story (thankfully) but I was still keen to have a go and keep up my good participation record.
The difficulty I was experiencing with this writing task made me think about writing tasks that are set for children in school. How many children have ever returned from holiday and been set the task of writing about “My Holiday”?
Maybe that’s not so bad, they have all experienced it. But what about other topics that are of little interest to them.
This week across Australia students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are sitting NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) tests.
Students in those year levels are set the same writing task . They are given “a ‘prompt’ – an idea or topic – and asked to write a response of a particular text type”
Information on the acara (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority) webstite explains that
“In 2014, as in previous years, the Writing task will be a single common task for all students. The 2014 Writing test will require students to respond to either a persuasive or narrative Writing prompt. However, the genre of the prompt will not be disclosed prior to the test period.”
It goes on further to say that
“The provision of a rich and broad curriculum is the best preparation for NAPLAN, including the Writing task.”
I think I have a fairly rich and broad educational background with a reasonable level of literacy skills; but I am not convinced that, on any given day, in a restricted amount of time, under the watchful eyes of supervisors I would produce my best work in response to a prompt about which I may have little experience, knowledge or interest.
What about you? How do you think you would go?
Below is my response to Charli’s horror travel prompt. I don’t think it is my best work.
She willed the doors shut forever, knowing that open they must, or she’d be left behind.
She mentally checked and re-checked required items. Surely there was something she had missed?
Dread gripped her ankles, threatening her balance.
Fear squeezed her chest, constricting her breath.
Heights and enclosed spaces were not her thing.
She straightened, attempting to hide the tremble from fellow travellers.
“Don’t be crowded. I need space, air to breathe.”
The doors opened. She was swept inside.
They closed, encasing her. No escape now.
Would she make the distance, mind intact?
Floor 35. Here already.
The NAPLAN writing tasks are marked against a rubric of 10 criteria. I wonder what the criteria for flash fiction would be and how I would score.
Please share your thoughts.