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Flash Fiction

Today, we challenge you to try your literary hand at flash fiction.

"Flash" by Jodel Cuasay (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Flash fiction. You might know it by one of many other names, including sudden fiction, micro fiction, micro-story, short short, postcard fiction, or short short story. No matter which name you know it by, flash fiction is the ultimate challenge to writers everywhere — to tell a story in very few words.

While there’s no widely accepted length, flash fiction can include six-word stories on up to stories of about 300 words. We know it’s easy to write long. It’s much more difficult to kill your darlings — to write short — hence, the challenge. We hope you’re up for it!

The challenge

Not sure how to get going? Here are a few ideas to nudge your muse.

  • Write at least one piece of flash fiction. Each piece of flash fiction must be 300 words or less.
  • Write a six-word story. Need some inspiration? Check out some of the responses to the six-word story Daily Prompt.
  • Feeling extra sassy? Write at least one six-word story and one piece of flash fiction.
  • Not feeling into fiction? Write a flash fiction biography/autobiography.
  • Write a real-time flash fiction piece: the entire action takes place in the time it takes us to read it.

I have no idea where to start! HELP!

Need a bit of background on flash fiction? Check out some of the short short stories featured on Cease, Cows, an online literary journal dedicated to short works.

Here’s a sample bit of flash fiction called, The Femur by Curtis Sittenfeld:

On my 21st birthday, my father revealed two facts about himself: that he was colorblind and that before I was born, he’d served four years for armed robbery. I suspect the colorblind disclosure was a test of my maturity, and if I’m right, I must have barely passed. After he told me, I became petulant and said, “I just think it’s really weird you hid that for my whole life.”

Still stuck? Here’s some excellent advice from David Gaffney including six specific tips on how to write flash fiction. Our favorite from this list: 6. Write long, then go short:

Create a lump of stone from which you chip out your story sculpture. Stories can live much more cheaply than you realise, with little deterioration in lifestyle. But do beware: writing micro-fiction is for some like holidaying in a caravan – the grill may well fold out to become an extra bed, but you wouldn’t sleep in a fold-out grill for the rest of your life.

Now, get thee to your notebook and/or screen and start sculpting! We can’t wait to read what you write.

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  1. She stumbled, scratching her toes as she entered the shack. The tarpaulin slapped against her as it fell back in to place. For a second her eyes struggled to accommodate the gloom. She saw the grandfather sitting as ever on the shack’s in the corner.He grunted, and nodded at the whimpering child laying in the straw by his side. Nodding back she shuffled towards him. He averted his eyes, looking down at the mud floor. She handed him a sack hanging by her side. He reached in and pulled out the bread and a skin of wine. He quickly tipped the wineskin and let the bitter wine trickle over his wizen lips. Smacking his lips with satisfaction, he sucked on a lump of bread and grunted. Looking down at the still whimpering child he soaked a lump of bread with wine and stuck it between the child’s lips.The grandfather looked up at his grandchild and nodded in the direction of the fire. Beside it stood an old half oil drum filled with scummy water. She slipped out of her ragged clothes and stepped in to the drum, her feet breaking the scummy surfice. alowering herself in up until her shoulders. Grabbing a nearby rag she plunged it in to the water and scrubbed and scrubbed violently between her legs, as tears trickled down her face.

  2. I love writing flash fiction. It’s one of the things i hope to start doing again once school is out and I’ll only have one class to deal with in summer school. I also do this in fanfiction, but it’s called a one-shot. Although some one-shots end up being way longer than a one-shot should be and probably shouldn’t count XD.

    Will have to take up this challenge especially since I can use it accordingly with an OTP of mine I’ve had muse to write about~

  3. This is so incredibly ironic that this is the writing challenge for this week! I’m so excited because I wrote my very first piece of fiction ever, just the other day…& It was a 100 word flash fiction story! If you’d like to check it out, I titled it Homecoming : http://wp.me/p4jQFl-jm — Can’t wait to start this challenge. I’m super excited about trying a new direction with Fiction.
    Happy Writing, Everyone! Can’t wait to read the submissions to this week’s challenge. :)

    1. ^^^^^^Yes, that’s right ,everyone. This girl writes fiction so addicting, it’s deadly. Do give it a look! :D I finally found my inspiration, btw. Kinda nice having a 300 word limit, as opposed to a 100 word one, don’t you think?!

      1. You’re too kind! :) I finally finished!! I actually went in the same sort of direction you did – unintentionally. I don’t ever read other challenge entries until I am done with mine because I want my ideas to be as authentic as possible… But hey… great minds think alike. :)
        I was actually more intimidated by the longer word limit… but once I got writing it was fun having the ability to play on more emotion and detail.

  4. He paused for breath. At last a moment of peace. But something was wrong. Ninjas! He picked up the first thing he could find as they advanced toward him, seven in total. A coffee mug. It’ll have to do.

    As the first made a move for him he smashed the mug over his head. One down, but he was now wielding only half a mug. As the second lunged in with a staff he moved aside, narrowly avoiding a collision with the staff, and shoved the shattered end of the mug into his face. Taking the staff with both hand, he kicked his foe from its grip and spun round to sweep another onto his feet.

    No time to deal with him – there were still four more active ninjas! Turning again, he beat one senseless with an extraordinary blow to the head, then jabbed backwards, just enough to keep the one behind away for a moment. Without hesitation he walked up to the final pair, dropped the staff and smashed their heads together, putting them out of action.

    He turned to face one ninja (the one he had jabbed) and one stirring on the floor, scrambling to regain his balance. The first of them came in with a punch. He parried and turned the ninja to his side, exposing his kidney and ribcage. With two punches he squashed one and broke the other.

    The one on the floor was standing now.

    “I’ll give you the option to walk out of here alive.” He knew the ninja would do his duty to his last breath, but he didn’t want to fight if he didn’t have to. “All you have to do is tell me where The Emerald Sun is.”

    Silent, the ninja replied. To ignore Will is to defy Will.

    1. Veni Vidi Scribo – I came I saw I wrote :-) I only thought of that because of a wine coaster we have that says Veni Vidi Vino – I came I saw I drank

  5. Here’s my attempt, again!

    The good times had been over since the turn of the century. She was ebullient with the soft flow of time making its way to a climax not yet experienced before. She could feel the wonder of it all in her bones but, especially her toes.

    God had broken a new trail for her and laid his hand upon her shoulder, urging her to escape the monotony of her troubled mind. Effortlessly, she walked forward, as if it was what she had been created to do, and found herself in unknown destinations.

    The reproach of others unwilling to foresee the circumstances under which their demise depended no longer stung her or caused her cheeks to redden. She lifted one arm as if hailing the new day and thrust her body forward to experience all that had been created before her. Lost was the anxious child, depressed by societies indifference to her needs.

    Each proceeding step forward became easier and propelled her toward the new future, away from the criminal wanting that characterized the last century. The good times were over. Apple no longer ruled the world or dictated a never-ending want for greater and greater technology. Crisp, alive, plants baring sustenance waited for her in the garden.

    1. I see your entry on the list. Note that if you use “https” as part of the link, as opposed to http, it can prevent the pingback from working as expected.

  6. The Princess in the Cooler
    or
    Marianne’s Day to Chill Out

    “Blast!” Marianne swore as an egg fell onto her shoe. Brown eggs don’t any more have red yolks than cheese is made from people’s feet, she thought.
    Marianne scraped the egg off her shoe, then went to the door of the walk-in refrigerator and pushed.
    It wouldn’t budge.
    “Gehenna!” she swore.
    YOU ARE NOT LOCKED IN!, read the sticker below the knob.
    “Liar,” she said, kicking the door.
    Think outside the icebox, Marianne.
    She pounded on the door with her fists, giving up when she gave out. “Stupid door.”
    The ice princess sighed and sat on her throne, or rather on one of the empty, upturned milk crates. Bored, she picked up a container of soy milk to read the propaganda on the back. Who drinks this bile, anyway? Oh, yeah, Michael. Her brother seriously had tofu for brains. She replaced the bottle as she tried to come up with some other way to entertain herself. Where are cereal boxes when you need them?
    Two hours passed.
    Marianne was getting refrigerator fever, if that was possible, having memorized all the flavors of Yoplait. If I want something that tastes like Boston Cream Pie, I am going to eat a piece of Boston cream pie.
    Suddenly, the light went off and she ran to the door and started beating. Tracy, the manager, opened, chuckling at the vanilla frozen treat before him.
    “Marianne! What the devil are you doing there in the dark?”
    She gave him a look. “I got stuck.”
    “Didn’t anyone buy milk while you were in there?”
    “Well, sure,” Marianne said, wondering what the Hades he was getting at. She cussed inside like a Christian sailor.
    “Why didn’t you just grab their attention and ask them to get help?”
    “I didn’t think of that,” she whispered, thawing with the flush that rose up her neck and into her face. Darn rosacea!
    Tracy grinned then and said, “Albertson’s own frosted flake.”

  7. Training Dr Ryan

    April 28, 2014 fangtales 

    He quickly snapped the umbrella shut, waded onto the carriage entrance and continued, dripping a trail along the already wet floor to the lower compartment. He sank into the aisle seat at the very back, threw the backpack onto the next vacant lot and hung the brolly’s neck onto the seat in front. The train started forward.

    He perused the bodies fencing the aisle and windows. His oral cavity yawned – a momentary lapse in concentration. His preference was for the thinner variety; not much fat to fight against in trying to reach one’s destination. Delicate females made ideal specimens. It was a pity that the translucent skin was pigmented formaldehyde yellow once assigned to him, so masking the underlying architecture.

    His mind turned the page to lunch. Vegan Monday; he was consoled by the idea of lunch prior to anatomy class today.

  8. I publish flash fiction twice per week at http://twivelist.com/ . I’ve been doing this type of writing regularly for four years as an exercise in editing. I write about a dramatic moment–might be a decision, a physical action, etc.–in 1,400 characters or less–that’s ten tweets. I usually go over by 400 characters, then I look for shorter ways to get to my point. I post on Wednesday and Sundays. This type of writing gets my brain in high gear quickly.

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