The Story’s Told With Facts And Lies

Hey y’all! It’s Asha. I’m excited to be filling in for Christine this week.

It’s been a tumultuous week around the world. When events and emotions feel overwhelming, I take comfort in little things. My dog snoring softly beside me, the sunshine chasing away the chill of a spring morning, my house filled with music I love, and writing.

I have extremely eclectic tastes in music. I have all the musical influences of my parents, and my three siblings, as well as developing my own tastes with friends. Like a ethnomusicological sponge, I absorb the music around me and filter out what doesn’t fit my personal taste. If you’re not sure what ethnomusicology is, and didn’t click the link, it’s the study of music from the cultural and social perspectives of the people who make it.

My current playlist includes a mix from Leonard Cohen (he has a huge body of work you may be familiar with, including HallelujahSuzanne, and this week’s prompt Nevermind) to Luis Fonsi (you’re bound to have heard at least one version of Despacito).

This week I was inspired by my working playlist of songs. The prompt, “I live among you well disguised“, comes from Leonard Cohen’s song Nevermind (you can click the link to see the full lyrics and listen to the song). Your submission must be exactly 45 words. You shouldn’t include the exact prompt phrase in your micro, but we should be able to see how you incorporated it.

Y’all know we believe strongly in teachable moments, so let’s look at some ways to break this prompt down.

 

Hi, Rowan here. I’m the last living human who hasn’t heard a version of Despacito. I’m wearing my Halloween costume already because it’s the Best Holiday and also it fits the theme of this month’s microprose challenge. I’m gonna show you what we look for when we look at a prompt like this one.

The first thing I see when I look at this prompt is “I live among you.” The I and you together mean that my story will need to include more than one character. Because you is paired with among, that means at least several, and probably many, characters. Not “I live with you” which would imply a one-on-one interaction, but “I live among you” which implies one amidst many.

Also implicit in this phrase is the I/you separation that means the I and you are not alike. This is reinforced when I look at the end of the prompt and see well disguised. What’s a disguise? Well, it’s some kind of deception, not necessarily visual, that fools the you into perceiving the I in a way that doesn’t match reality. And well disguised, so the deception is effective. In order to show that disguise I’m going to need to put something in the story that allows the reader to distinguish between reality and the image crafted by the disguised character. If I were writing a literal “wolf in sheep’s clothing” story, for example, I’d describe all of the sheep, and then describe one barking.

Finally, I doublecheck the verb tense. I live among you, well disguised. That means the disguised character is currently living among the others, and the disguise is effective at the time the story is being told. That means I can’t write an unmasking story without screwing up the verb tense, but I could write a story where the disguised character is fearful of being revealed, or plans to reveal themself in the future.

So here’s the checklist I’d use to make sure I had all the elements of this prompt incorporated into my story, and it’s probably what I’d pass on to my beta readers to ask if they could find:

  • I – a character, not necessarily the narrator
  • live among you – an ongoing action involving several other characters at least
  • well disguised – a deception physical or spiritual, that the other characters don’t know about but that the lone character knows about and the reader can identify.

Finally, because the prompt necessarily involves some othering, I’d ask my beta to make sure I haven’t made a fool of myself and written something racist or transphobic, because we all have blind spots.

Need a hand?

Microprose sounds easy. After all, how hard can it really be to write a story with fewer than 100 words incorporating a prompt or two? But it turns out it’s our hardest challenge to really get right. Whether you’re a seasoned micropro or a brand new microwriter, it’s worth taking a minute to glance through the tips and tricks our editors have put together, like this quick refresher on what makes a micro great, or this one on how to incorporate mandatory prompts into adjudicated challenges. Make sure you make it to the vote this week: check your wordcount (we count those footnotes!) and prompts!

This is the badge you need:

Below is the YeahWrite badge you need for this month’s microprose challenge. Under the badge is a few lines of code. See that? Copy it and then paste it into the “text” or HTML view of your post editor. If you don’t copy it exactly, the image will not appear correctly in your post, and you will receive an error message when you submit the post to Inlinkz. If you have any questions regarding adding this code to your post or website, please contact us at editors@yeahwrite.me.

How to submit and fully participate in the Microprose Challenge

Basic YeahWrite guidelines: must respond to the prompt found in the introductory post (above); your entry can be dated no earlier than Wednesday October 4th; fiction or nonfiction, told in exactly 45 words (remember we count intros and footnotes but not photo credits and required notices); no poems, please. You many enter only one microstory per monthly challenge.

How to submit and fully participate in the challenge:

  1. Please grab the code beneath the microprose badge in the body of this week’s post and paste it into the HTML view of your entry;
  2. Follow the Inlinkz instructions after clicking “add your link” to upload your entry to this week’s challenge grid;
  3. Your entry should appear immediately on the grid if you don’t receive an error message;
  4. Please make the rounds to read all the entries in this week’s challenge; and
  5. Consider turning off moderated comments and CAPTCHA on your own blog.
  6. Having trouble? Check out our tutorial or hit us up with an email or on social media!

Submissions for this week’s challenges will close on Wednesday at 10pm ET. Voting will then open immediately thereafter and close on Thursday at 10pm ET. The winners, as always, will be celebrated on Friday.

Thank you for sharing with us your hard work! Good luck in the challenge…

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About the author:

Asha keeps moving from one side of the world to the other. Her most recent move has taken her back to Perth, Western Australia where she grew up. She lives near the beach but hates sand between her toes. It’s a real conundrum. Asha began blogging at YeahWrite in October 2014 with this post, and YeahWrite was lucky to pull her on board as a Contributing Editor in December 2016. She is currently working on a novelette that grew from a series of flash fiction pieces. Asha is published in a variety of places including Modern Loss, PANK, Dead Housekeeping, and SheKnows. You can find her inconsistent blogging at Parenting In The Wilderness, or at her fiction blog, FlAsha Tales.

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