What have I learned from #TicckleTuesday?

The idea is great
Although it was the first Ticckle Tuesday, with only a handful of entries, so far, I’ve had good feedback; especially on the fact that hearing a story in the author’s own voice is something special. The rigour of having to record only 30 seconds – inspired by Ticckle’s own technical restrictions – is also a critical part of this Flash Fiction Compo that makes it unique and worth continuing. Well, I think so anyway, but there will need to be a few changes for the next one…

Tech issues are a problem
Ticckle itself is in “beta”, so can be forgiven a few quirks. However, the biggest problem encountered was audio playback failing for some of my Ticckle videos; the ones giving examples and instructions. These played fine on my phone (in App and Safari/Chrome browser) and fine on an iMac, but when accessed via FaceBook link on PCs participants reported low/no sound. 🙁

Ticckle’s web site having no Search function doesn’t help, with the only filtering being an imposed popularity/recency floating of Ticckles to the top; only saved by how few there are currently. A shame, as it reduces ‘discovery’ of story entries. The only way round this I can see is to ‘suggest’ compo submitters ‘ticckle’ (that is their term for Like/thumbs up/voting for videos) the main theme announcement in App or on the web site, as well as promoting the direct link by FB/Twitter/blog.

Lack of audio presents accessibility issues as well. There is no means of subtitling ticckles 🙁 and I’ve noticed that FB style comments, while allowed, don’t seem to be getting counted properly. I left some explanatory text below a Ticckle video, leading to this blog and the FB group, but the no. of comments reported didn’t change from zero. Only clicking to comment revealed they were there at all.

Finally, Ticckle’s progress bar, which counts down the 30s, seems a bit laggy. As a matter of habit, I allow half a second after beig told “Go!” In recordings to make sure it has really started; more than this gets

uncomfortable for the listener. At two seconds most people will be assuming there’s something wrong, from my experience working in Radio, even with our most recent experience of “buffering” on the Internet. However, the bigger problem is the cut off at the end, which always seems harsh, and a little early (?) to me. So, I’m consciously finishing 1-2 seconds early now, to make sure Ticckle gets a clean fini…
🙂
Seriously, with a small curtesy delay in starting, and a necessary early finish, we really only have 28s to record our stories. So, I’d say don’t include the title in your recording!

Some authors need to submit text
Mostly, this is technically driven – audio drop outs, participants not being Ticckle-literate, etc – but accessibility us a problem generally. So, possibly stupidly, I’m offering to record submissions for those who cannot submit via Ticckle themselves. This could get out of hand, so I’ll need to keep reviewing the workload, but has several advantages:
1) it keeps 30s flash fiction open to as many writers as possible
2) it enables participation by those who don’t like (to hear) their own voice
3) it levels the playing field for Ticckle user votes, which were always intended to be part of the review process
4) it gives me a vocal challenge to interpret the texts
5) it renders the competition immune/separate from Ticckle itself, in case the service dies.

So, the competition lives on. Lessons have been learned. There’s still time to enter – here (leave a comment on the theme announcement post), the FB group, or directly via Ticckle

#finishthatthought #5 WINNER – “Here be dragon”

Alissa Leonard has created the Finish That Thought” Flash Fiction compo, which usually provides an opening line and some ‘special challenge’ words to include, and must be less than 500 words. This week’s compo opening line was “Hands trembling, [he] opened the door.” and the special challenge words were: hoard[s], mountain[s], scale[s].

Here is my story, if you don’t want to see it posted in its original place:

“Here be dragon” by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy)
266 words, special challenge accepted in one sentence!

Hands trembling, he opened the door. “I’m home… Dear.”

“Well, it took you long enough,” his wife snorted. “Gallivanting off while I have to clear up the mess left by that wyvern. You DID kill it? Tell me you got THAT right, at least!”

“Yes, I di…”

“Bad enough the Militia let the bloody thing raid the village. Stealing all our belongings. Smashing up our hovels!”

“Yes, D…”

“Call themselves yeomen? ‘NO men’ more like! Lazy useless good for nothings. And you’re just as bad”

“I did kill th…”

“Got our stuff back have you? Been down the Ale House, I suppose? The big hero triumphant.”

“I did stop off to retu…”

“Oh yes. ‘Have a drink, Wolfy! Thanks for saving us and retrieving our treasures, oh Dragon Slayer!’ I bet. And I’m here all alone and defenceless…”

“Hardly defenceless, Dear. You’ve got your tongue.”

“What’s that?”

“Nothing.”

“Don’t mumble. How are the villagers going to respect you if you mumble?”

“I’m sor…”

“My mother warned me. She said ‘You’ll need…”

“…a thick skin to survive marriage to a hero.’ Yes, I remember, Dear.”

“And don’t interrupt. It’s rude.”

“No, Dear… You’ve been busy. Everything back in its place.”

“Don’t change the subject. Is it dead? Did you get them? They’re needed for something I’m cooking up!”

“Yes. And yes.”

Of all his hoard from the mountain, the Dragon’s scales were the most valuable. He handed them to her.

“Finally. About time! Now hand me the flour. I need a pound for this loaf.”

“Yes, Dear.”

Some dragons, he thought, were harder to kill than others.

Something Meaningful

Less than 3 hours to go. @ticckle need #TicckleTuesday #flashfiction to be “meaningful” Ideas. Stories that other users can comment on too!

This is a result of some DMs back and forth about the nature of Ticckle itself. I was worried at first that this discussion would veto #TicckleTuesday before it had begun, but the point is to foster debate and share new ideas!

So, I’m going to give my example story – after all I do know the theme already 🙂 – as a personal, real life tale from my own memory. Other people can be more creative, but it’s Ticckle’s platform; if they want debate on instead of creative use of their service.

Getting ready for #TicckleTuesday

Less than a day to go. Putting out the RT requests on Twitter, etc, but I know it is going to be a slow start – unless Stephen Fry retweets of course 🙂 in which case we could get into double figures! – but I don’t mind a slow start. Writing for a 30 second story seems impossible, but if 50wordstories (search on FaceBook and Twitter) can succeed, so can we. It could be a joke, a poem, a “vertical slice” (effectively the pitch for what would really need to be something longer), or just a wonderfully compact narrative.

If nothing else *I* will be having a go. So, you will get at least one story on Tuesday. To give you an idea of what to expect, here (in text form) is a 50 word story I submitted to http://fiftywordstories.com/ for the SUMMER STORIES competition, which has the theme “camping or picnic”; there is still time to enter BTW. This can be performed in 30 seconds:

Title: Weather Warning

“Aren’t you worried about the hurricane warning?”

“No. Are you?”

“We’re rather exposed, under canvas, and the storm is nearly here!”

“This tent is foolproof. Once erected properly it will withstand a hurricane. The material is Force Ten proof. The poles, carbon fibre. And the pegs, machined magnesium alloy.”

“…Pegs?”

#TicckleTuesday Announcement of the first ever 30s Flash Fiction compo

Competition starts 12am 30th July where a theme will be announced on Ticckle, FB and Twitter. Participants will have 23 and a bit hours to write, record and upload a 30s story to Ticckle, the new social media platform. After that people can leave comments or response videos for any/all of the stories, and I’ll pick my personal favourite as well. The only prize will be honour, but since you can’t buy that it is priceless!

Sign up for the FaceBook Group

Follow @TicckleTuesday on Twitter

See the official announcement via @ticckle

#flashfridayfic – Ascension a 75 word story

Friday Fiction #34 entry here if you don’t want to look at the original entry.
http://flashfriday.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/flash-friday-34/comment-page-1/#comment-2991

Angelo only ever did the upward journey, then returned to the terminus. Not everyone would board the cable car. On the way up they would press faces to windows, straining to see their destination. Not everyone would get off at the top. Those headed back down would not press their faces to the glass. The remaining passengers knew where they were going. By the time Nick boarded for the downward trip they would be screaming.

#finishthatthought – “Doomsday… Check!”

Alissa Leonard has created the Finish That Thought” Flash Fiction compo, which usually provides an opening line and some ‘special challenge’ words to include, and must be less than 500 words. This week’s compo opening line was “One minute remained on the timer.” and the special challenge words were: twin[s], doctor[s], and luminescent[scence].

Here is my story, if you don’t want to see it posted in its original place:

Doomsday… Check!

by Dr. Mike Reddy (@doctormikereddy) [272 words]

One minute remained on the timer.

“Bishop to Queen’s Knight Four. Check.”

The US President gently switched the ticking to the other side of the table. The left hand clock still had four, maybe five minutes before the minute hand would let the metal flag fall. Under the dim lights, the twin luminescent dials glowed ominously, as the Soviet Premier’s doctor fussed over him.

“Nyet, nyet!” the most powerful man in the World said, with an impatient wave. “Queen takes Bishop. I am surprised at you.” He started the right hand clock again.

“I like living close to the edge, Comrade. Knight to King’s Bishop Three. Check.”

Still time. Still a tiny sliver of the hand holding up the red flag.

“Ahh… Bishop takes knight. You are being kind to me, I think.” The second hand started its slow sweep again, like Death’s Scythe reaping.

“Rook to King eight. Check.” Only mere seconds must remain. With every tick of the Premier’s clock, the President’s flag bounced a little. The most powerful man of the Free World willed it to stay up just a little longer.

The Premier laid his hand on the chess clock, pausing both clocks. “I see now the game you are playing. Each sacrifice. Each attack. Each loss. All meaningless. All done just to…” he searched for the right words.

“…to keep the Red Flag flying!”

The Premier slapped the table, spilling both his vodka and the President’s Jack Daniels.

“And so… we talk disarmament, yes?”

The President looked at both clocks, then smiled. His opponent had not noticed the red flag had fallen.

“I think we have time.”

#fivesentencefiction – Limitless

Lillie McFerrin Writes

Lillie McFerrin hosts a Five Sentence Fiction competition on her blog. This week’s theme is Limitless.

Here is my entry:

Tiredness was to blame for the accident, but Paul Berry’s helmet reduced his injury to mere concussion as he left the plane for the last time.

The 500th consecutive jump would have given Berry a world record, if only he had fallen down instead of up.

Paul couldn’t believe it when he woke floating on a cloud, standing in the dock accused of breaking the Law of Gravity.

The surreal trial ended, given the overwhelming evidence against him, with the judge donning the black cap.

So, when Berry woke up the second time, sentence was quickly served.

#FiveSentenceFiction – Wisdom

Lillie McFerrin Writes

Lillie McFerrin hosts a Five Sentence Fiction competition on her blog. This week’s theme is Wisdom.

Here is my first ever attempt at one:

Who would have thought a dentist, all dentists in fact, would be the centre of the World’s largest Satanic conspiracy?

It’s safe to tell you, now you are restrained and the anaesthetic is working, so there is no point in struggling.

You see, God does nothing without a purpose, including giving you a set of apparently useless teeth, seats for your soul.

I simply extract them, hand them over to this useful little demon here, and you won’t even remember a thing.

They’re not called Wisdom Teeth for nothing, you know…