Overall Ugly Words Challenge Review
Final Word Count: 137,933. This number is the words I posted for each day of the challenge. This count does not include the words written for previews and recaps, or all the words I wrote that didn’t get posted. The words that weren’t posted include he details I had to cut, or the plots I attempted and backed away from.
Things I Learned
I learned more than a few new words to add to my vocabulary. Mostly writing related (not a surprise), but still good things to know as I continue pursuing writing and other life goals.
Jumping Around the Plot
With this kind of writing experiment I had a feeling I wouldn’t be writing things in chronological order. It’s advice I see all over the place, that if you are stuck in writing, go ahead and jump to a scene you are excited to write, even if you aren’t there yet, and write it. I haven’t really tried that until now. Since I couldn’t be sure the words in the calendar would inspire things from beginning to end… and the fact I didn’t really have a plot set in stone anyway.
Sometimes I would write a few prompts that were related in a row, and other times I would bounce around quite a bit during a week. And then other times I would continue or reference previous flash fiction piece(s) a long time after writing the first one.
On one hand, I didn’t have much of a plot planned out when the challenge began. So, letting the words inspire moments that led me to a couple different plot points, even sub plots and such, was a good thing. On the other hand… once I had a feel for some of the things I thought would make a good plot… I didn’t like jumping around the timeline. As the author the plot felt more disjointed, and I had problems sometimes remembering the key points necessary in earlier flash fiction stories to properly connect or continue them.
Writing is one of those things where there is a ton of advice and tips on how to accomplish what you want. Like most writing advice, it doesn't mean it will work for every author. This one, I get where it is coming from, and it was helpful as I first started re-exploring these characters and this universe, but otherwise I’m not sure this piece of advice will help me as much as others that are directed at helping a writer when they are stuck.
I enjoy either bouncing to a different project temporarily, or taking the characters out of the current plot and write them in an unrelated scenario to figure them out better.
I know I tend to leave out, or not bother being super descriptive for settings. If something is important, I’ll make sure to describe it, but I certainly don’t bother with a lot of detail for every place and situation characters may find themselves in. Does it hurt? Or, does it make my writing, less immersive, or a poorer experience for the reader?
In some instances, probably. It might make a reader cringe if I didn’t describe that a desk had a panel that reached all the way to the floor so when a character ducked under it they wouldn’t be seen. Especially if that reader envisioned a completely different desk which wouldn’t allow a hiding place. It would hurt when I put a character in a setting that is not a situation they may experience, particularly an every day one. Most readers will have a picture in their mind when I say office building, kitchen, or space ship. And, especially for stories where my chosen top word count was five hundred words, I depended on the reader to… well, fill in the blanks.
I’m proud that in some instances, I’m hoping the instances that really needed me to be clear in the where my characters were, I managed to add in more details. I also have a feeling that due to either the word count, or even time in the day, there were times I fell short of giving the reader a clear mental picture of the surroundings.
What I hope to draw from this challenge, is that sometimes, shortcuts may be necessary. A long description could make the pacing too slow, or why describe the usual cubicles or rows of desks in an office building if I’m expecting that’s the reader’s default picture? When instead I could use the words to elaborate the odd wallpaper, or scratches on the wall which would be important for some overall plot or mystery down the line?
I know my settings usually aren’t very descriptive, and this challenge wasn’t exactly meant for me to tackle it, but in seeing how sparse a lot of my settings were in this experiment, I know I don’t want to leave settings, even ones that a reader will have a basic image for, that sparse.
I think I learned a little bit, how to make the most of moments, and pick out what is going to be the most important in those moments, making sure the reader has a clear picture of them. And I hope I’ll be able to better apply that to a longer, larger plot, when I write projects that don't have such a limited word count and likely have a plot more planned out than this one.
I had a feeling that writing a flash fiction story every day was going to include me creating new characters as a way to continue bringing the world of Skylar, Emily, and John alive. Originally I planned on keeping track of these characters as I created them… and then, well, I forgot. And with every new character I created the task of going back and recording names and any physical details became more daunting.
I really wish I had done as I originally intended, since it would have saved me so much time and frustration when I wanted to double check a name or something. So there may be continuity problems with regards to names, because I couldn’t or didn’t have the time to scan through all the pieces already written.
It was really fun creating new characters and I probably created a few that wouldn’t necessarily fit the plot I’m mostly likely going to use in a novel. I might be able to use them in other situations though, so I won’t toss them aside just yet.
Lesson learned though, for any new novel or ongoing projects, I should keep a list of characters and other important details.
For Skylar and the Qwortarians I had decided they as a species would be agender. Most of the time I used they as the pronoun for Skylar, Jatydid, Leama/Lucky, Benti, and other Qwortarians. I know I messed up a few times, sometimes catching it before posting, sometimes not seeing it until later. Where I messed up the most with this was with Skylar, Leama, and even Charwin while they were disguised as humans. So I would use he/him/his or she/her/hers sometimes and not catch it.
A lot of the times I know I was in a rush to post because I had to get to bed for my early day at work, so the final edit wasn’t as thorough as I would have liked. Lesson learned, pronouns are easy to skip over in a rush, so best take my time to make sure I’m using the right pronouns for the characters in future editing sessions. (For all future projects.)
So, I’ve had my share of time management successes and failures over the years. I survived high school and college, with multiple extracurricular activities and good grades, so I knew how managing time made things easier.
Good experiences managing my time doesn’t mean I always managed my time well. Some days I could get a lot of the days flash fiction written out during breaks or the commute to work, and other days I didn’t do much. I always regretted wasting time on other activities when it was crunch time to post, and yet on days where I was unexpectedly busy, or just took longer decompressing from a long day at work, it would turn into a rush again as the time to sleep crept up.
I know I could have managed my time better most days. It was another lesson that when I have stuff to do, I better plan out my time accordingly.
Personal Favorites (And Nots)
Catawampus- narrowly beat out epiglottis, but I decided to go with catawampus because it is a new word I learned thanks to this challenge, while I was already familiar with epiglottis.
Least favorite word
Nudnik- I remember having a lot of trouble coming up with a plot for this word. And it is… an odd looking word. I feel like it doesn’t match it’s meaning very well, since the combination of letters is odd and thus I expected something more interesting for its definition.
Nubbin- It was a nice story. It was a bit ridiculous, I admit, but it was the only story I think, that gave a glimpse into Raymundo’s childhood, and a moment with his father. The only time any hint Raymundo had as a child that he was different than all those around them.
Least favorite story
Crepuscular- I had so much trouble figuring out what to write for this word. I mean, it just means twilight or dusk. It didn’t matter what the plot was as long as it happened at that time of day. But this word gave me so many problems. And after a quick reread, I don’t like it. Specifically I don’t think it matches Raymundo’s character. Since in this story he is all for risking getting found out for the chance at finding Sarah’s murderer. And then in later prompts he is completely paranoid at getting found out. I do like the implication that the shape shifting ability could be used in forensics, but after getting to know Raymundo better, I don’t think it fits his character arc.