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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Friday Flash Fiction – “Demolition”

“It has to be done.  We can’t just leave her there.”

“You’re the one who wanted to hide her behind the wall in the first place.”

“That was a long time ago.  I was afraid.  She didn’t know the difference once she was dead anyway.”

“Yeah, but now…it’s, like, decayed back there.”

“Maybe there’s nothing but dust now.  Either way, the house comes down tomorrow.  It isn’t right to let a stranger find her.”

With a gulp and eyes squeezed shut, the box was removed.  The siblings stared down at the stickers and childish writing covering the lid.

RIP Smokey

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Flash fiction is taking the world by storm, and everyone seems to have their favorite dazzling name for these word-limit wonders.  Pamelyn Casto, in her article Flashes On The Meridian, states that “other names for it include short-short stories, sudden, postcard, minute, furious, fast, quick, skinny, and micro fiction. In France such works are called nouvelles. In China this type of writing has several interesting names: little short story, pocket-size story, minute-long story, palm-sized story, and my personal favorite, the smoke-long story (just long enough to read while smoking a cigarette). What’s in a name? That which we call flash fiction, by any other name would read as bright.”  I like the idea of some of these names even better than “flash”. 

What are your favorite monikers for this up-and-coming genre? 

Could you invent one of your own?

Join the #FridayFictioneers each week for a photo prompt from Madison Woods.  Write your own 100-word story, then submit it to her site, or at the FaceBook location here.  Read you later!

Friday Flash Fiction – “My Cup Runneth Over”

  The water dripped thoughtfully – like a meditation.  Each drop released its energy into the great universe of the pool, radiating and becoming one with all liquid matter.

She watched the ripples ease and fade as they carried the essence of life farther away from the point of impact.  She thought of the years spent, so like the inexorable path of the water; the countless cutting moments of unkindness.

The drops darkened – a deep red before thinning out to pink swirls in the basin at her feet.

He shouldn’t have said that.

The more I explore the world of Flash Fiction, the more I love it – particularly what we do here with the Friday Fictioneers.  At just 100 words, it is technically called Micro Fiction.  Camille Renshaw, editor of Pif Magazine, lists a number of points specific to micro fiction, but my favorite is Implication.

“The key requirement of a literary short-short is implication. There’s no room for life stories. Just enough for resonance.”  She stresses the need to know the difference between a situation and a story.

  • Use a directive last sentence that gives narrative insight or opinion. Thomas Bernhard does this with nearly every story in his recent Micro-Fiction collection, The Voice Imitator. He uses closing sentences like, “In this way Fourati, as is well known, had ruined not only the lady’s life but his own as well.” Or, “He asked us what he should do to be freed from his guilty conscience, but we dared not give him any advice.”
  • Make rereads necessary or at least inviting. In “Three,” Gordon Lish tells us three stories. He prefaces them with the statement, “One of them taught me the meaning of fear,” but doesn’t say which one. In the first story he talks to a woman who enjoys the funeral of her lover. In the second he sees a headless baritone on the subway that sings to him. The last simply reads: “The third thing was I went home.” What is it he said in that first paragraph again?
  • Close with a phrase that sends the reader back into the story. Then it might sink into the reader’s own life. In Molly Giles, “The Poet’s Husband,” she writes, “…but later that night when she is asleep, he will lie in their bed and stare at the moon through a spot on the glass that she missed.” Wow. What did she miss? We don’t know, but within eighteen lines, just one sentence long, we’re stirred to think about the loved ones of all the writers we know. How do they feel about the ways and places that our fiction intersects with their lives?
  • Know when you’ve made your point.In Grace Paley’s “Mother,” the last paragraph reads, “And then she died.” Paley can end this way because she has summed up the distinctive character of her mother and made us miss our equally distinct mothers standing in doorways at night abrading us with, “You run around senselessly. What will become of you?” Mission accomplished.

     What implications do you find in short fiction,

and how do you weave them into your own pieces?

Leave a comment below, and link to your own flash fiction if possible.

Want more Flash Fiction? Visit these Friday Fictioneers for more 100-word heaven! (If you have a flash fiction piece to share, please leave a link in Comments!) You can also visit the originator of the photo prompts, Madison Woods, or follow the gang on Twitter – #FridayFictioneers.

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