Back in 2004, when I decided to make a determined effort to focus on my writing, I joined the Writer's Digest Forum. I spent a few years running around the circles, learning, posting stories, and exposing my writing to criticism. As a group, we had fun with different writing contests. Some of the forumites had a Halloween contest, others a Friday 13th contest. In the summer of 2007, I took the idea of a Secret Santa and proposed the Holiday Story Exchange.
The premise was simple. Each writer would complete a questionnaire, giving personal details. Examples of questions included "What is your favorite food?" and "What is your favorite book or movie?" The point of answering the questions was not to be too direct, but rather to give a little peek into the person. For instance, I could have responded to the food question by noting that I "... absolutely love deep-fried frog legs, covered in pepper sauce. You ever hear of Buffalo Wings? Well this is the same, only with a little extra kick!" Joking aside, though, it was those kinds of responses that made HSE so fun. The other part of the fun was seeing what another writer could do with this completed questionnaire.
After all the questionnaires were submitted, they were then redistributed to other participating writers, who then took the information and created a story with the subject writer as their lead character. Once finished, the writers submitted their stories, which were then posted on a secure website without naming who wrote what. Finally, we added a little extra fun by trying to guess the Secret Writer. The best part of HSE, however, was each writer seeing what someone else could write about them.
This year marks the 5th Anniversary of something that started as a bit of fun, but then carried over each year since. When I came up with the idea, I originally thought it would only last a year. To my surprise, many of the original participants asked when we would do it again. The rest, as the cliché goes, is history.
This year, I would like to extend a personal invitation to all of my #FridayFlash friends out there. If you've never done anything like this before, now is a good opportunity to check out something new. To participate, all you need to do is come join the fun out in the Writer's Digest Forum. I have a post set up in the Take It Outside! forum. If you've never been a member of the forums, it's not that hard to sign up. And best of all, it's free.
Finally, to give you an idea of the types of stories we write, you can see an example here. This was a story originally written as part of the 2007 HSE, and then, with the approval of my subject, it was later submitted and published by Long Story Short.
Anyway, if you're interested, we in the forums would love to have you join us.