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Friday Flash Fiction – “The Assistant”

“Sing a song of sixpence, a pocketful of rye…Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie…” The childish notes pierced up to the top of his branches.

Why was the world so violent against his kind?  Or was it his color?  His maligned black brethren were forever croaking “Nevermore”, and to be taunted by this lonely girl was really too much.

The wolf was right.  This was their woods.  They should work together to keep it free from oppression. 

Her red cape was so easy to pick out on the ground.  Even easier once she was stilled.

The Friday Fictioneers is a group of writers who strive each week to tell a story in just 100 words.  Using photo prompts by group founder, Madison Woods, the Fictioneers can be found on FaceBook, Twitter (@FridayFictioneers), or linked throughout the web via their individual blogs.  Read more of today’s Flash here:

Flash fiction is not only fun, it’s become a forcible genre all on its own.  Lee Strickland, writer and lecturer, comments on the ever-pressing need for “sentences that command attention”.  Or, as flash fiction rock star Ravi Mangla puts it, “dynamic sentences that can rise above the noise.”

How did one writer rise above the noise on Twitter?  She dribbled her 8,500 word story “Black Box” out for one hour a night, for ten nights in a row.  Jennifer Egan’s story has now been printed in New Yorker‘s Science Fiction Magazine, complete with the 140-character tweets separated graphically on the page.  And as Strickland says, “You taste the work sentence by sentence.”  That certainly gives writers pause to assess the worth, weight, and value of each sentence in a piece, and cut accordingly!

Friday Flash Fiction – “Repeat Customer”

English: I took this picture myself and hereby...

The color seeped through the petals like drops of blood beneath a crisp white shirt.  She smiled at the memory.

A shame, really.  Their meeting was so perfect, so destined, that for half a breath she had believed it could be like a fairy tale.  A charming prince.  A happy ending.

Her damsel in distress act was flawless.

He had no suspicions, right up to the short, sharp stick amidst the crowd.  The confusion of the dancers; her feigned shock and dismay.

She breathed in the aroma of the bouquet, closing her eyes and exhaling with a whispered moan.

“You buyin’ those?  That’s your third bunch this week.”

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The Friday Fictioneers is a group of writers who strive each week to tell a story in just 100 words.  Using photo prompts by group founder, Madison Woods, the Fictioneers can be found on FaceBook, Twitter (@FridayFictioneers), or linked throughout the web via their individual blogs.  Read more of today’s Flash here:

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A Word About Critique

Lots of aspiring writers – or insecure writers of all levels – post rough drafts of their work and ask for feedback.  (Sometimes they aren’t really “rough drafts”, but we keep up the fiction to save face.)  Irish writer Gaius Coffey, remarks,

  “Sometimes early drafts are uploaded with a request to “ignore the typos” and just say whether something works or is worth continuing with. The request is like a sculptor holding up a slab of chipped marble and asking if it will be a good statue… Critique is not about reassurance.

Sometimes early drafts are uploaded as a form of defence (sic) with the writer thinking the sting of criticism can be softened or written off with “well, it’s only a draft.” If so, self-defeat is not self-defence.

By uploading the best piece I can for critique, I maximise (sic) my benefit from the critique. I have

already corrected all the problems I can see, so anything that remains is news to me. I cannot hide behind the pretence (sic) that it is an early draft and I would’ve corrected it myself, because I clearly hadn’t.”

I think Mr. Coffey makes some excellent points here, and there’s a good case for just cracking on with your piece instead of clamoring for early validation.  If you believe in it, the writing should come through and make it something others can see too…AFTER you’ve done the polishing!

Writer Wordart
Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

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Friday Flash Fiction – “Hot Water”

Hot - canon 550d
Hot – canon 550d (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

The plumbing spoke to her behind the wall, but she gave it the silent treatment again.  After the heat of the day, she couldn’t face a warm bath, and turned the tap marked “cold”. 

Call Landlord, she noted, before closing her eyes and visualizing her toes being lapped by salty waves instead of the sulphur stench of the bath.  She heard the cry of a gull; the creak of a beach umbrella opening.  A breeze lifted the hair from her neck.

A man’s voice behind her rasped, “You called?”

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The puppet masters of the writing world used to say your first page, or even your first paragraph was important to hooking the reader and keeping them reading.  With flash fiction, we don’t have time for that.  For many pieces, the first paragraph IS the story (and forget about a whole page of words!).  I love what Jim Harrington, Fiction Editor for Apollo’s Lyre, has to say:

Competition is tough for the limited spaces in elite journals–online or print–and authors need to pay attention to the details of writing in order to be successful. Do you have a dream journal you’d like to be published in? Instead of reading a few full stories, read just the first paragraphs and write down everything you learn in that brief span. Now take a new look at the openings of stories you’re having difficulty placing. Do they yank the reader into the story? Or do they limp along with too much description, burdensome backstory, or a lack of focus? If so, rewrite them to give them some spark. Heck, it’s even possible that you’ve started in the wrong place. Maybe your story really begins with the second or third paragraph. Whatever you decide is the best way to start your story, keep in mind the importance of grabbing editors by the throat (or heart) and not letting go until they read The End.

This is great advice for honing the micro-fiction craft to an even finer point.  (Before long, we’ll all be writing on the head of a pin!)

Happy writing, and see you next Friday Flash!

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Friday Fictioneers is a group of flash fiction fans and writers who gather each week to respond in 100 words to a photo prompt.  Begun by author and photographer Madison Woods, the group can now be found on FaceBook and Twitter (#FridayFictioneers), or by following the blog links at Madison’s weekly photo posting!

Click our happy friend below to view a listing of links to more of this Friday’s Flash Fiction…


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