Here is the first entry to my ‘My Writing’ series. If you’re not sure what this is about, I invite you to visit this post, in which I explain what this series is all about.
This first entry regards flash fiction and it’s place in my writing life.
I hadn’t heard of flash fiction before join the Phoenix Writers. Indeed, I had only passing knowledge of the word counts related to flash fiction, short stories and novellas before joining that lovely group. My first taste of flash was in completing the then 100 word challenge from a trigger given during my first meeting.
How on earth could anybody tell a complete story in 500 words? Impossible!! How could I be expected to do it in 100 words? Pah. Well not only did I manage it, but I found that I enjoyed the discipline required to do such a thing. It’s incredible to realise how quickly one can rattle off a story when restricted to such a low word count. And then the editing process; how tightly one needs to be with words and how brutal one must be in cutting unnecessary faff. For reasons I can’t yet name, I found I got on with the medium far more than I anticipated I could.
The very first piece of flash fiction I wrote was from my own trigger word (doughnut – of course!) and if you’re interested, this is it:
He looked down at the plate. So full. His stomach gurgled in mingled fear and anger, anticipated yet more guests to follow.
“Can he do it?” The voice came over the speakers, echoing over the wide expanse of flattened grass. “One more… just one more, Bill, and the cup is yours!”
He turned to look across the stage, gaze skimming past the other fallen soldiers towards the far end where the small, silver cup sat on a cushion of velvet.
“You can do it, Dad!” A proud voice rose above the din of the crowd below as a child, no more than six, waved a brightly coloured flag from side to side.
Bill sighed. He looked down at the plate.
Thoroughly ignoring the complaints of his stomach, he lifted the last doughnut to his mouth.
The crowd cheered.
“Number twelve!” Said the voice on the speaker.
I remember feeling quite proud of that. ^_^ And then, my latest specimen (written last week):
“We’ll get caught.” Skylar rolled over, taking the sheets with her as she crawled up the bed. She tried to wrap them around her and giggled when deft hands plucked the fabric away.
“No, Mitt. Hank will be home in ten, you need to leave.”
In response, Mitt stroked a hand up her leg. He trailed his fingers along her skin from the curve of her knee towards the warm area where her thighs met. “You sure?” Walking his fingertips across the tops of her legs he spread the lingering moisture there between his wandering digits. “You don’t want me to stay?”
“Of course I want you to stay.” Skylar craned her neck, angling her gaze towards the window. “I don’t you to get in trouble.”
Mitt leaned in and bit the side of her neck. “I like trouble.” His voice became a deep, bear growl. “I live for it.” The free hand played at the base of Skylar’s throat. Drifted down. Brushed the dusky pink of an erect nipple. “You do too.”
With a nod, Skylar returned her attentions to Mitt’s perfect body.
She didn’t hear the sound of a key in the lock downstairs.
Yes that one was supposed to be ‘erotica.’
Flash fiction is also something that most professionals will bend over backwards to tell you to write. ‘Write flash fiction before you start a novel.’ ‘Build up a library of flash before you even think about a novel.’ ‘Most established authors started with flash in magazines before they moved onto novels.’ I have no idea how true all that is, but if you whizz on over to Josh’s blog, you’ll find a post all about people who pay for flash fiction. Now, whether or not I won’t be ‘taken seriously’ as an author without a backlog of flash fiction under my belt, it’s lovely to know that there are people out there looking specifically for something I find so easy to write. And there are competitions (I entered one a few weeks ago) designed for flash fiction (unfortunately I can’t post that story here while the competition is still running, but when it’s over I’m sure I’ll be free to. Unless I win o.O).
It seems to me, that with the dwindling attention spans of the average civilian, the ability to write short, snappy, engaging stories is a recipe for win. Also, because of their short nature, they are brilliant filler stories for magazines (print and online) so long as you know where to look. It is not something I’ve thought about overmuch, but with the growing list of flash written as exercises for the Phoenix Writers, I plan to polish a selection of it to send to competitions and magazines. I also gave myself an A-Z Flash Fiction challenge last year. I’ve not posted much of it here, but I haven’t forgotten it, and my plan was to polish up those 26 stories and publish them as an ebook.
In all, flash is a neat little form of fiction that gets over looked disappointingly often. In my situation, flash is a great form of getting stories down, either to keep as flash, or to expand into short stories or novellas when I have more time. With things so tight as far as time goes, flash fiction is a great way for me to keep my mind lively and the creative juices moving. It’s a form of fiction I’ll be enjoying for years to come, no doubt.
Have you guys written any flash fiction? Is it a form you’ve ever thought of before? What if I challenged you to write a piece of flash by this time next week… how do you think you’d do? 🙂