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Flash Fiction, Writing

FFC2013: No Go on “Young Astronaut”

Here’s what I got:

Dear Andree,

Thank you for entering, ‘Young Astronaut,’ in FFC’s String-of-10 FIVE Flash Fiction Contest. Although we enjoyed reading what you sent us, your story has not been chosen to go through to the next round. We sincerely hope you will submit again in 2014.

Thanks for making this our best year yet!

The Flash Fiction Chronicles Staff

And here’s what I sent:

John McGilicutty arrived at the entrance of the barracks at 4:30pm:
it was winter, and thus it seemed close to evening; the sky held a bit of
roseaccent that was quickly fading. He made his way to the captain’s
office with his tear-jerking story rehearsed. A rap at the door and he
entered to find a hardened creature behind a desk filled with folders.
“Who are you and what do you want?” the captain growled, with a voice
that rattled like deep quarry fill.
John gave a slight bow. “Name’s McGilicutty, sir. I’m here to sign
The captain’s eyes quickly closed to near slits. “How old are you,
Having spent so much time carefully preparing what he had planned to
say when he got to the captain’s office; it took John close to a minute
to regain his composure. He again cleared his throat and answered, “I’m
18, sir,” with as much bravado as he could muster.
The captain let out a bark of a laugh. “So you’re 18 and you want to
sign up. What for?”
John talked about how much he’d dreamed of going to the stars, of
exploration, of coming back a hero. He could tell the captain was caught
up in his tale; the office was as quiet as a grave. The end of his plea
was dramatic: “I want to put a ding in the universe, sir.” And with that,
the captain pushed the enlistment papers to John, along with a pen.

I was adventurous, in that I used the entire string of word prompts as well as the phrase prompt, all within 250 words. I still like it, and may expand it one day…I welcome your critique, response, and comments!


  1. Gretchen February 17, 2013 5:28 pm

    I like it too. Not sure what a “ding” is but I’m intrigued. And rejection is just another opportunity to tighten it up and keep making it better! Looking forward reading more.

    • AR Neal February 17, 2013 6:20 pm

      To “ding” something means to dent it, usually (like “I put a ding in the car door when I accidentally opened it against the parking meter.”), so the phrase was designed to suggest someone who wanted to make a difference in the world. I took it more literally, writing about an aspiring astronaut who, by going into space, would in fact put a ding in the universe 🙂

      Thank you so much for your comment!!

  2. shgday February 17, 2013 7:37 pm

    Hey, this is gay degani from FFC and I wanted to congratulate you personally on a very strong story. We had over 200 entries this year, almost twice as many as we’ve received in the past which means the competition was fierce. We had to turn away many many good stories.

    I want to encourage you and others who’ve received our notice yesterday to take a look at what you have and decide where you might want to send it. Then read a couple of published stories at that journal. Compare yours to those and decide what you might do to appeal to the editors. Do they want deeper character? Do they want more elevated language? Do they look for perhaps one or two surprises beyond what you’ve given them? Each publication is different and that difference often helps writers to take a fresh look at what they have written. Looking at a piece of writing from many angles helps to produce a highly original piece.

    We’re reading our stories blind–we don’t know who has written them–so the story is everything. Your astronaut angle WAS different from so many we read and that shows originality. We like that, but as I’ve said, sooooo many stories this time to choose from.

    By the way, if you are on Facebook, please come join us at our New and Emerging Writers Group:


    And thanks for entering. gay

    • AR Neal February 17, 2013 8:15 pm

      Thank you, Gay– I appreciate your feedback. I love a good challenge and hope to expand this story at some point 🙂 Congrat’s to those who got a thumbs up this go round!

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