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?”
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!
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!
- Friday Flash Fiction – “Old News”
- Friday Flash Fiction – “Morning Glory”
- Friday Flash Fiction – “Missed Connections”
- Friday Flash Fiction – “My Cup Runneth Over”
- Friday Flash Fiction – “Demolition”
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