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Friday, December 07, 2007

Writing 55 Flash Fiction

UPDATE:7 Dec, 2007
The gadget is now showing up in the Google Gadget Directory when you do a search! Try "Flash Fiction" as shown below.
Do you hate having to count your 55s? I didn't like having to stop and count or keep a running count of how many words were on each line. So today, I did something about it. I wrote a page and a script to automatically count the words as they are typed.

"Cool," you may think, "but what good does that do for me?"

Well, friends, I'm making it available for each and every one of us. Its hosted on my AI-Scripting page, and I have a link "Write Your 55 FFFs" on my sidebar at the right. If you click it, this page will close (don't forget to come back) and open a very lightweight page with an ugly black background, a textarea in white, and a Word Count in red. Please use the gadget instead, it has a clear button which the original does not.

Let me tell you, its very satisfying to be able to just type and look up as the words flow from your mind to see how many are in the box, without having to manually count them, even as you backspace and erase words, it counts down. I hope you'll give it a try, and if you find any problems please let me know.

Update: 10 Nov, 2007.
I've added a Clear button so that you don't have to select the text and delete it.

UPDATE: 6 Nov, 2007 NEW!
Great news, I have successfully converted the tool into a Google Gadget! Now your blog or iGoogle page can sport your very own copy of
AI's 55 Flash Fiction Counter! You won't have to bookmark my page, you wont have to navigate to it, either. Just add the Gadget. You can find it use the following (Please put it all on one line):

<script src="

This is available in in a text file, so that you can add it fairly easily without having to do a copy of the above and deleting all of the linefeeds and possibly more.

Adding the Gadget to your iGoogle homepame is the easiest way to have your own copy, just click the button below the gadget on the footer of my page (+ Google), then on the Personalize Your Homepage page (where it shows the gadget on a light blue field) click the dark blue button with the white font that says "Add to Google". That's it, it puts it on the last tab of your iGoogle page that you had open.

Alternatively, you can just use the gadget in my footer.

UPDATE: 5 Nov, 2007 WORKING!!
OK, It works in IE6, IE7 and Firefox I am now told that Safari in Vista is confirmed to work and I will be told tomorrow about Safari on OSX will work.
I was also told that I should delete the text I inserted when the box was clicked on, so I added an event to do that, and to delete itself, so that once it clears the box once, you won't lose your text if you have to switch out and back. I also took care of the problem that if you deleted everything after starting, it didn't show 0 words, which it does now. Baby steps. So now it has more features than I ever intended.

If you have a different browser (Safari again, Opera?(it must have javascript)), please try it and let me know if it does or doesn't work.

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At Sunday, November 4, 2007 at 7:41:00 PM EST, Blogger MONA $visitorIP said...

YaaaY! Charles does it again!

He is the sweetest in his helpful ways!

You deserve a kiss on the cheek!


At Sunday, November 4, 2007 at 9:51:00 PM EST, Blogger S $visitorIP said...

Thank you Charles for the counter, I cant wait to try it out....I do hate counting em, and my "word" doesnt have a counter!

And, your suggestion for a birthday gift for vikram is most excellent! I think I might just do that....

You rock Charles!

At Sunday, November 4, 2007 at 9:56:00 PM EST, Blogger S $visitorIP said...

Its not working Charlessss, I must be doing something wrong.

At Sunday, November 4, 2007 at 10:41:00 PM EST, Blogger S E E Quine $visitorIP said...

` What is this flash fiction again?

At Monday, November 5, 2007 at 5:37:00 AM EST, Blogger Charles $visitorIP said...

Thanks for letting me know, I didn't use any code that should be different for IE as far as I know, but it would appear that is the case, it works in Firefox. I'll look to see if I can figure out why it doesn't seem to work for IE. It may be the security or something else, I haven't yet determined what. I'll work on it.

If you follow Susie's profile back to her blog, she has the rules and some history about it. In fact I have a link to that in my previous post. I'm really surprised you don't know offhand, since G-Man does it every Friday.

At Monday, November 5, 2007 at 6:22:00 AM EST, Blogger Queenie $visitorIP said...

Thank you, but I feel I'm doing something wrong. Will have another try later when I've more time, thats most proberly why I'm going wrong because I'm rushing, not just cos I'm useless at IT...

At Monday, November 5, 2007 at 7:34:00 AM EST, Blogger Mike M $visitorIP said...

Very cool Charles!

Incidentally I like using the manual counter in MS Word because it makes me think of how to get my story out in very few words. If I go over, then I have to go back and edit it down without chopping the meaning out of the story.
I suppose this is the editors approach to 55FFF, but it's fun. This approach inspired my to come up with a new concept for 55FFF. It's called "55FFF: Interactions". I will post my first one this Friday.

Anyway, this is a very cool tool and I have it bookmarked to use when I get stuck. Thanks

At Monday, November 5, 2007 at 9:08:00 AM EST, Blogger Scary Monster $visitorIP said...

'Holy shit', said monster as he started to type. This thing make it easy for even the most brain dead to compute the exact amount of words needed to enter into the realm of those who create 55 flash fiction. Now all that be required of him is a sincere thank you to Charles.


At Monday, November 5, 2007 at 10:56:00 AM EST, Blogger lime $visitorIP said...

sounds liek a groovy idea. let me know when it works for IE. :)

At Monday, November 5, 2007 at 12:30:00 PM EST, Blogger S $visitorIP said...

LOL Charles here is my first 55 using your counter, and including your instructions.

Enter your 55 here to count the number of words.

I wonder if this works now? Excellent! Charles you are a genius! Now I dont have to stop and count words, and I can quit whenever it gets to 55 words, even if it doesn't make any sense at all! Isn't that wonderful? Charles rocks!

A very lame attempt on my part indeed, but anyway, you are my heroooooo! I really needed that counter.
So can we get a sidebar button for it now?

At Monday, November 5, 2007 at 12:42:00 PM EST, Blogger Charles $visitorIP said...

Whoo Hoo!
It works in IE6, don't know about IE7, because I'm not going to install it, but hopefully it does. If anyone does have it installed and could let me know the results, it would be great.
Hearing it worked in IE7 would be even greater.

At Monday, November 5, 2007 at 12:46:00 PM EST, Blogger Charles $visitorIP said...

Even better, I just checked and since Susie used it, and I can see she uses IE7, I have confirmation that it works in IE7. StatCounter rocks.

At Monday, November 5, 2007 at 2:09:00 PM EST, Blogger Charles $visitorIP said...

What do you mean by "get a sidebar button for it?" What are you asking for? A button to link to it, or it as a gadget or something? I'm not quite clear as to what you're requesting.

At Monday, November 5, 2007 at 4:36:00 PM EST, Blogger barman $visitorIP said...

Wonderful and I hope it is OK for me to use. I usually type in word and check how many words... now how many words. Chop or grow as needed, now how many words. This may be a problem with flow of thoughts but I could just ignore the counter at first. You did an awesome job and best yet, since I have a ton a typos and can not spell for anything, I love that FireFox is looking after that for me since I believe you told it that was a text field that could be spell checked or however FireFox handles it. Thanks again.

At Monday, November 5, 2007 at 5:28:00 PM EST, Blogger Serena Joy $visitorIP said...

That's a cool little doo-dad! I predict it'll get lots of use.

At Monday, November 5, 2007 at 5:43:00 PM EST, Blogger Charles $visitorIP said...

Of course, its OK. More than that, I am asking you and everyone else to use it. Isn't Firefox great that it does spell-checking?

I'm hoping it helps as many as can use it.

At Monday, November 5, 2007 at 8:58:00 PM EST, Blogger jillie $visitorIP said...

My problem is just trying to be creative with 55!

At Tuesday, November 6, 2007 at 12:42:00 AM EST, Blogger S $visitorIP said...

OK Charles never mind, I made a shortcut to the counter page for my desktop, but what I meant was, a button on the sidebar of our blog that would open another window which would have your counter in it? Does that make sense?
Otherwise, the shortcut is fine!

And I am glad you knew version of IE I had because I didnt know....
Canttt wait til Friday now!

At Tuesday, November 6, 2007 at 12:48:00 AM EST, Blogger S $visitorIP said...

Erm ok Charles, I see you have a link under tools! So, can I also have that link?

At Tuesday, November 6, 2007 at 1:29:00 AM EST, Blogger Queenie $visitorIP said...

Thank you so much, I now understand "DOH", I'm putting it in my bookmark, Thanks again you clever man.

At Tuesday, November 6, 2007 at 7:12:00 PM EST, Blogger Jim Jones $visitorIP said...

Hey...I'm a 55FFF'er, and just stumbled across this post. The web tool you created--fantastic! I love it...thanks, and I'll use it for my 55FFF this week (giving you full credit of course!)


At Tuesday, November 6, 2007 at 7:19:00 PM EST, Blogger Charles $visitorIP said...

Hi Queenie,
I don't know if I ever welcomed you, I've seen you so many times elsewhere. So if I didn't, allow me to now. Welcome.

Hi Jim,
Welcome, I ran across a comment you made today, myself. Please use it with my blessings, that's why I put it out there.

At Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 8:44:00 AM EST, Blogger Jessica $visitorIP said...

Hey! I'm having a great day, so I thought I would share the love from Freezing Florida (that should not be allowed!!) XOXOXOX

At Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 12:16:00 PM EST, Blogger S $visitorIP said...

LOL Charles I am going to become a 55 writing fiend with a Charles box right there on my sidebar!
It could turn into the daily 55 instead of the Friday!

It could get addictive.

At Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 12:28:00 PM EST, Blogger Charles $visitorIP said...

Cool, I'm glad it meets your approval, I kind of was thinking of doing it as a gadget at first, but then when you asked about a button, I thought it would be better if I went ahead and did it. It took me both more time and less time than I would have thought. I'd been reading about how to do the gadgets previously, but hadn't had anything to really try it on, and then I ran into some (minor) problems with the way things get treated in gadgets. Once I got it working, then it would seem to break. I finally figured out part of the problem was replication/distribution of the files isn't nearly as instantaneous as it could be, and that my working changes took a while to make it out to the servers.

At Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 12:42:00 PM EST, Blogger Top cat $visitorIP said...

You Da Man!:)

At Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 1:46:00 PM EST, Blogger Charles $visitorIP said...

Thanks. You're the kind of kind man I want to be, kind of. :D (the last two words just seemed to want to come out for the humor.)

At Monday, November 12, 2007 at 11:47:00 PM EST, Blogger $visitorIP said...

This is a really neat utility Charles! I don't write 55FF but I can see how this would be really useful to someone who does.

But it's a little hard to add it to the iGoogle page though ( read, I couldn't manage it ), it doesn't show up in the Gadget Search, I looked for 'flash fiction counter' but got nothing.

At Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 7:51:00 AM EST, Blogger Charles $visitorIP said...

Well, I guess if you had problems with it, I should give a better explanation.
The easiest way is just click the button below the gadget on the footer of my page (+ Google), then on the Personalize Your Homepage page (where it shows the gadget on a light blue field) click the dark blue button with the white font that says "Add to Google". That's it, it puts it on the last tab of your iGoogle page that you had open.

At Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 10:10:00 PM EST, Blogger $visitorIP said...

Ah! I see the problem; the counter gadget is on your blog's homepage! And I was on this post's page; which did not have that gadget, only the Spyber client info one! I did see that you'd mentioned the 'Add To Google' button but I didn't see it anywhere. Maybe you could put just the button in your sidebar.

P.S. Your layout seems messed up, the sidebar is way down on the page since you added that new stuff to your footer :(

At Saturday, December 8, 2007 at 6:56:00 PM EST, Blogger smarmoofus $visitorIP said...

For anybody who's interested, I've been using Charles' 55 counter since before he gadget-ized it, and I created a button image where I'd linked to it. You're welcome to come steal the button from me. It mimics the appearance of Charles' blog layout. Just come look at my Links section on my blog and right-click to nab the image. I'm generous. Or if you want, you can just use the image where I've got it hosted, too. I'm really generous. If you don't know what I'm talking about, um... just ask.

(Charles, feel free to steal the image and share it on your page.)


At Sunday, December 9, 2007 at 6:39:00 AM EST, Blogger Charles $visitorIP said...

Yes, I'd rather call you that than the contraction with the not so nice connotation.
I'll leave the non-gadgetized version where it is for those who do use it. I've changed the link in my sidebar though, to encourage use of the gadget. Thanks for making it easier for folks, I have the gadget version in my footer also, for any who do not want to install a gadget also. The advantage of the gadget is that should I need to change anything, it changes it for everyone, like the addition of the clear button, which makes writing multiple 55s easier (not by much, granted, but easier.)

At Sunday, December 16, 2007 at 4:06:00 AM EST, Blogger $visitorIP said...

Cool, that the gadget is now visible in the search results; hopefully you'll get many more users :)

At Sunday, December 16, 2007 at 7:04:00 AM EST, Blogger Charles $visitorIP said...

I was pleasantly surprised, and share that hope, I hope it helps others with their efforts. I find writing the 55s does provide a much needed outlet for creativity.

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